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Hinomaru

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Hinomaru

Artist: Lynne Yamamoto (American, born 1961)

Date: 2003
Medium: Mixed Media (hand-cut archival digital ink jet prints, silk, frame)
Dimensions:
Overall: 27 x 3in. (68.6 x 7.6cm)
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 2003.22
Label Text
Artist's statement:

"Hinomaru literally means "round sun." Alone, it refers to the post-World War II Japanese flag, which is the round sun in a white field. I was thinking of it as a symbol of patriotism as well as of the Emperor, who is (according to mythology, common belief, monarchal fabrication, depending on who tells the story) descended from the sun goddess Amaterasu. The rising sun was such a symbol of the ascendent Japanese State in wartime rhetoric." [Lynne Yamamoto - 2003]

As a Japanese-American born and raised in Hawaii, Lynne Yamamoto is ambivalent about the unresolved nature of Japan's responsibility for World War II. Her recent work examines wartime symbols to gain understanding of the cultural forces that create nationalistic and religious zealotry. Hinomaru, for example, frames thousands of paper cherry blossoms, each of which has at its center the photograph of a Japanese suicide pilot from World War II.

Within the round frame, Yamamoto placed hundreds of paper cherry blossoms, many of which include the face of Japanese kamikazes. Yamamoto examines how the Japanese Imperial Government during World War II manipulated religious symbols (including the cherry blossom) to provoke its citizens into a hyper-nationalistic fervor that could produce suicide pilots. Though Yamamoto uses a historical subject, the implications are relevant for life and death in the 21st century.

MEM
July 2005

Author Kerri Sakamoto explains, "Soldiers going off to war believed they would triumph if not perish in glory for their divine ruler and nation, blossoming in fire as they took down their Western enemies like cherry blossoms at the flush of most intense life. …They were promised a glorious death and a serene afterlife where they would be reunited with other dead soldiers and loved ones."

Yamamoto chose a round frame because Hinomaru means "round sun." Today it refers to the post-World War II Japanese flag, but Yamamoto also sees it as a symbol of patriotism and of the Emperor, who is (according to mythology, common belief, monarchal fabrication, depending on who tells the story) descended from the sun goddess Amaterasu. Yamamoto states, "The rising sun was such a symbol of the ascendent Japanese State in wartime rhetoric."

Yamamoto invites museum visitors to contemplate the conditions, values, and states of mind that conspire to create extreme responses to conflict. She does not intend Hinomaru to be a memorial to suicide pilots and describes it instead as a study on "the manipulation of the cherry blossom as a symbol, so that its ephemerality and beauty were linked with death and sacrifice (the dead sons, brothers, husbands et al. being one of the terrible costs of that manipulation). If anything, it is an ambivalent memorial."

MEM
10/03

Copyright
© Lynne Yamamoto