KAMIKAZE Silkscreen for sale

KAMIKAZE limited and signed 26 X 34 inches silkscreen for sale --------------------------------------------------------- PAUL ABRAHAM ART BLOG

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Paul Abraham - Watercolour from Miosabuto Yamamoto picture, Japanese army lieutenant, 1st Kaiten Unit,
Killed in action April 18, 1945 near Fukuoka, North of Kyushu Port. It is quite depressing to note that this young pilot in his twenties ended as a kamikaze in a human torpedo (kaiten) very far from heaven... 
In April 1945, planes were becoming very rare
My 3 months trip to Japan on the footsteps of Kamikaze pilots of World War II left a big impression on me. It took me quite a while to digest the impact and be able to work on the subject in an artistic manner, leaving behind the journalistic, historic and social information gathered during the journey and letting the emotions transform into creative expression. I am slowly coming back to the drawing board. Meanwhile, I will share here my knowledge on the subject matter and document my progress on my “kamikaze” project. In the intro article of the blog I explain how the Kamikaze subject came to my mind and how it fits into my art practice. 

Confronted with the cultural and historic reality of Japan I am still struggling today to understand the suicidal acts of these young pilots. 

Paul Abraham - Watercolour - Departure for a suicide mission
Visiting the country and the kamikaze pilots dedicated sites and museums I gradually understood that these young men were also victims, not only heroes.
This was confirmed to me when, for example, i learnt that a lot of young pilots were forced in physical or psychological manners to crash their planes into enemy's ships. They were unwilling pilots being forced into reeducation camps, where only a few were real volunteers*. 
I found another very convincing explanation in the book of Ian Buruma: “A Japanese mirror”, where his knowledge of Japanese culture enlightened me. I will share further down some extracts of his book.

Visiting Yushukan temple and museum in Tokyo and Chiran Peace museum in Kyushu, who celebrate the glorious acts of war of Japanese military and kamikazes, I was struck by the youth of the Kamikaze pilots, by their beauty. Here is what Ian Buruma writes about it:

“In Classic Kabuki (theatre) the most splendid death is reserved for the true hero/heroine ... and heroes never win.... Kabuki samurai almost invariably end up getting killed or else killing themselves.... (At the same time) two people caring for each other can only be lovers in heaven.... This pessimism is deeply rooted in Japanese culture.... 
In occidental culture people ideally choose their own destinies in an imperfect world which we have to improve ourselves. The possibilities for individuals to change the world are infinite. In Japan, as the proverb says, a nail that sticks out, must be hammered in. Ordinary (heibon) is cited by majority of Japanese as the most desirable thing to be.... 
In Occident conscience in the Christian sense, transcends society. Japanese etiquette does not. Individual integrity, appears to count less than the expectations of the social environment one happens to live in. Thus, in fiction at least, people are always victim of fate, never its master. Though being true to oneself is not a Japanese maxim, and behaving as expected is certainly the proper way, there is still a nagging conflict here: for the more one is forced to act, the further one drifts away from the pure state of childhood (innocence-integrity) and falls into the corrupt world of adulthood. Thus the emphasis in so many Japanese stories including those on the Takarazuka stage, is on the ending of youth, on the destruction of it.... 

Kamikaze pilots were compared to cherry Blossoms. Indeed the explosive coffins they crashed into American battleships were called cherry blossoms (Oka).... The cult of cherry blossoms, which only last about a week in Japan, is the same as the worship of the bishonen (androgynous young heroes, beautiful youths) and the two are often compared.... Bishonen are treated as outcasts, they are the pure, eternally young victims of adult corruption....
Youth is beautiful precisely because it is so short-lived.... The sacrifice of Kamikaze pilots in the prime of their youth spoke to the popular imagination for the same reasons (and it seems still the case today).... Bishonen heroes in history, legends and modern pop culture almost always die.... Before that Young boys smashing an overwhelming opposition of sword-wielding fighters by waving their pretty fans or ornamental daggers like fairy wands is one of the clichés of Kabuki drama. Japanese audiences are fascinated by the idea of spirit overcoming force, and skill overcoming brawn.... 
Many were convinced that the show of pure spirit of kamikaze fighters would shock the enemy into defeat.” 1

1. Ian Buruma, A Japanese Mirror, Heroes and Villains of Japanese Culture, 1984
* Tokkou no machi: Chiran (Special attack corps town: Chiran) by Sanae Sato, Kojinsha, 200, Chapter 8 and 9. From the testimony of Reiko Tohirama, daughter of Tome, owner of the Chiran designated Army restaurant for the Chiran base Pilots.