China Underground > China Book Library: Uncover Rich Chinese Literature and Art > Kaleidoscope by Naoko Kato

Kaleidoscope by Naoko Kato

The establishment of a bookshop in Shanghai by a Japanese businessman in the 1920s altered the course of history by creating a venue for the exchange of ideas between Chinese and Japanese intellectuals on the major topics of the day.

The narrative of Uchiyama Kanzo and his bookstore is being examined in a new light in Naoko Kato’s dramatic book Kaleidoscope, which divides it into a series of reflections that change as the year progresses. The Chinese Communist Party, at the time an illegal organization in Shanghai, was supported by many of the members of Uchiyama’s salon, which was located in his bookstore. His narrative has a special intercultural appeal because of Uchiyama’s bookstore’s capacity to transcend academic boundaries and borders. The setting of Uchiyama’s attempts to broker peace between his native Japan and his new home of China is perhaps one of the most intellectually inspiring tales of the 20th century.

At St. Mark’s College, Naoko Kato teaches East Asian history. At Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia, she has also instructed classes on the migration of Asians to Canada. The North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources employs Ms. Kato as an expert in information resources. She formerly served as the Japanese language librarian at the University of British Columbia Library, where she created digital teaching materials on Meiji Japan. Her current work focuses on the writing of Japanese Canadian history and Japanese-language sources.

“A fascinating historical account of a subject that has mostly been treated in biographies. Kato’s contextualization of the Uchiyama bookstore offers important insights on Pan-Asian ideas and networks, and reveals the ideological links between groups and events across the span of the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and the years leading up to it. While Sino-Japan relations can be easily haunted by the “history problem,” Kato reminds us of another side of the relationship that should be fully acknowledged, one of cooperation and friendship.”

— Xia Yun, Professor of History at Shanghai University, College of Liberal Arts

“Dr. Naoko Kato’s Kaleidoscope is a positive, human-centered, and beautifully written story of Chinese-Japanese friendship and cultural exchange during an era of intense conflict and war. Fascinating and often inspiring, it reveals up close an unknown part of the history of the Second World War.”

— Mark Metzler, Professor of History and International Studies, University of Washington

“Naoko Kato’s Kaleidoscope is a fascinating account of the human networks created by Uchiyama Kanzō in Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s. At a time when Sino-Japanese relations were characterized by growing hostility, Uchiyama’s bookstore became a center for intellectual, political, and creative exchange between some of China’s leading writers and artists and figures in the Japanese creative and political worlds. Kato’s carefully researched and written work provides a window on a long-forgotten world and the role of Uchiyama in promoting Sino-Japanese friendship from the 1920s to the 1950s.”

— Linda Grove, Professor Emerita, Sophia University

“This carefully researched and moving book brings to life a corner of Shanghai where the tensions between the two Asian powers, China and Japan, played out in the 1920s and 1930s, with the Uchiyama bookstore taking the star role. Its proprietor became a proselytizer for peace between the two countries, and this unsung story deserves to be so much better known, both in Asia and the West.”

— Betty Barr, author of Shanghai Boy, Shanghai Girl

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