The Globe-trotter Travel Guidebook, which is the official English name for 地球の歩き方 (Lit: The way to wander the world) is the most popular Japanese travel guide series. All around the world you can spot Japanese tourists from dozens of meters away by their bright neon yellow Chikyû no Arukikata travel books.
Among those who travel abroad, I think it is reasonable to suggest that travel guidebooks are one of the most important sources of historical information about the world that we are likely to read after the completion of our formal education along with popular fiction and media such as movies and TV. Given that fact, I think that historians might do well to consider the importance of travel guidebooks (and I mean those of our own time, since the travel guides of past ages have gotten the ample and well deserved attention of scholars).
How does Japan’s most popular guidebook series, 地球の歩き方, describe China’s modern history in the 2006-2007 edition of its China volume (D01)? China is Japan’s largest and most important neighbor, but one with which it shares a deeply troubled 20th century history. This has been a major theme in most of my postings both here at Frog in a Well and on my own blog at Muninn.net. One would expect, then, that there would be certain important 20th century events which would need a minimum degree of coverage and be dealt with some degree of care by the authors.
Below I will briefly consider how the 2006-7 edition covers some of these events in : 1) Descriptions of some of the Beijing locations 2) Nanjing locations 3) Some miscellaneous other locations and most importantly 4) in its survey essay on Chinese history located at the back of the book. Read on…
The book makes several references to the destruction caused by European powers in 1860 in its descriptions of 颐和园 and 円明園, for obvious reasons. Mention of China’s relations with Japan in the Beijing section only appear in the descriptions of the following locations:
中国人民革命军事博物馆 (given 1 out of 3 stars)
“Various modern weapons such as Japanese and former-Soviet made tanks, planes, machine guns, and boms are on display. There is a valuable collection of Japanese weapons requisitioned by the Chinese and later used by the PLA. Also, there are detailed descriptions of China’s wars and weapons and [displays] are divided into easily understood categories of China’s ancient and modern wars, weapons and themes.” (50)
Notes: This museum is China’s premier military museum and in terms of nationalist content, is matched only by Korea’s independence memorial museum. There are major sections of the museum dedicated to the “Anti-American war of resistance” and the “Anti-Japanese war of resistance.” It contains major exhibits on Japan’s atrocities, including the Nanjing massacre. A few pictures from my last visit below.
卢沟桥 (2 out of 3 stars)
“…Known as marco polo bridge…苑平城，on the eastern side of the bridge is the first fort occupied by the Japanese military in the Marco Polo bridge incident on July 7th, 1937 and its remains are left in their original form, including the remains of shots fired by the Japanese military.” (51)
Notes: As the site of the opening of the Second Sino-Japanese war, it is remarkable that there is no context or mention of the location’s significance for the war in this short description, despite much longer historical contextual descriptions for other locations. Some of my own pictures below.
中国人民抗日战争纪念馆 (1 out of 3 stars)
“A historical exhibition of the Second Sino-Japanese war completed in 1987 and located about five minutes walk from the East of the Marco Polo bridge. 5490 meters squar. Historical materials related to the Nanjing massacre, Unit 731 and the Marco Polo Bridge incident are on display. There is also a large diorama reenacting the Marco Polo Bridge incident.” (51)
This museum is a large structure filled with exhibits on the war. Unlike many other museums in China, almost all of the captions have Japanese translations, while English translations are fewer and far between. Some of my pictures below.
The introduction to Nanjing’s history makes no mention at all of the Sino-Japanese war. In does say that it was the capital of the Taiping rebellion’s government and it was also the capital of the “中華民國臨時政府” or the Chinese provisional government. This is referring to Sun Zhongshan’s first government in Nanjing established in 1912 but I find this a very strange thing to note. This initial government was short lived and it would probably be better to note that it was the capital several times during the Republican period. The name 中華民國臨時政府 is ambiguous, since it could also refer to the puppet government established in Beijing during the Second Sino-Japanese war and later merged with other puppet governments when Wang Jingwei comes to power under a new collaborationist regime in Nanjing in 1940.
In terms of Sino-Japanese relations, perhaps the most important museum in Nanjing is dedicated to the history of the massacre in 1937:
侵化日军南京大屠杀遇难同胞纪念馆 (1 out of 3 stars)
I feel I should include the original Japanese here along with translation for reference:
“In December of 1937 the Japanese military invaded Nanjing and occupied the walled city. On the Chinese side it is generally claimed [定説=generally accepted opinion] that at this time there was an indiscriminate massacre of the city’s inhabitants. This Memorial Hall for Comrades Murdered in the Nanjing Massacre Committed by the Invading Japanese Military was built to pass on knowledge about the Japanese military’s massacre to future generations. In the memorial hall there is exhibited part of a mound of bones, the testimonies of survivors, pictures, former-Japanese military weapons. On the site can also be found stone monuments left by Japanese and trees planted in remembrance.” (294)
Notes: The most interesting point here is, of course, the wording of the second sentence in this description. I don’t think it needs any comment from me.
Miscellaneous Other Cities
Tianjin – Mention that Japan is among the 9 foreign settlements here.
Dalian – After the Russo-Japanese war the city “came under Japanese influence” and discussion of the remains of Japanese structures.
Shenyang – mention of Japanese structures connected to the South Manchuria Railroad.
Changchun – Mention of it being the capital of Manzhouguo – under the name of Xinjing. Lots of Japanese lived here from 1930-1945. 伪满洲国务院 mentioned, completed in 1936, various other buildings still in use so you can’t go walking around in them.
Chongqing – brief mention of it as temporary capital during the Second Sino-Japanese war.
Survey of Chinese History
At the end of the book there is a 4.5 page survey of Chinese history. The last two sections are “China in Chaos – The Period of the Establishment of the Chinese Republic 1912-1945” and “The Establishment of the People’s Republic of China 1945-Present”
Below I’m quoting all of the material from just before World War I until 1945, with the exception of one paragraph on the Nationalist and Communist parties. I’m also adding the first line of the next section. Do you notice anything missing in this narrative?
[One paragraph on the formation of the Nationalist and Communist parties, the northern expedition and the transfer of power from Sun Zhongshan to Jiang Jieshi and the oppression of the Communists. No mention of Japan.]
…After this the conflict centering on the warlords intensified and this was taken advantage of by foreign powers. Japan was especially blatant in its interference. Japan established a foothold for its expansion in China during the Boxer rebellion and the Sino-Japanese war. When World War I broke out and the European powers were weakened, it despatched troops to the Shandong peninsula, forced its 21 demands on China and accepted the transfer of vast rights in China. Japan succeeded at the 1919 negotiations on the Versailles Treaty in Paris to get other nations to accept its rights but Chinese who heard this news began anti-Japanese demonstrations. Before long they had spread throughout the country (May 4th movement).
[Skipped paragraph, see above]
In this vacuum [caused by conflict between Nationalists and Communists] Japan schemed to move into the Northeast of China. In 1932 Japan succeeded in persuading the last Qing emperor Puyi to come to power again and established the Manchurian Manshûkoku. Manshûkoku was destroyed by the Soviet invasion in 1945, disappearing in only 13 years.
The Establishment of the People’s Republic of China 1945-Present
Japan surrendered and when it withdrew from China, a civil war broke out between the Nationalists and Communists. (705)
As you can see there is no mention whatsoever here about the Sino-Japanese war between 1937-1945, Japan’s occupation of most of China, let alone of the atrocities etc. which have become such an issue in Sino-Japanese relations today. It looks almost as if a complete paragraph was completely cut out. Even the coverage of the establishment of the Manchurian puppet state leaves out any mention of the military campaign which first conquered the territory needed for the new state.
This posting will be followed by a second post soon on the treatment of Korean history in 地球の歩き方’s 2005-6 Korea edition. Although I won’t be taking up the task myself, it would be interesting if someone went further and compared treatment of Chinese and Korean history in the 地球の歩き方 series across several editions, going back a decade or more (The first guidebooks by its publisher apparently came out in 1979).