Michael Bourdaghs, Associate Professor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations, reveals the history of previously unrecorded concerts of iconic Japanese artists such as Misora Hibari and Yamaguchi Yoshiko in his new book, Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon: A Geopolitical Prehistory of J-Pop. As the article details, the source material for this work was discovered in 2009, when a Canadian collector contacted Bourdaghs after procuring unmarked wire recordings from eBay that they suspected were of Yamaguchi and Misora.
This discovery enriched Bourdaghs’s book, which tracks Japanese pop music from 1950–the first year Japanese performers were permitted to travel overseas since the end of World War II–to the early 1990s. In his work, Bourdaghs argues that pop music became a way of working through tensions between Japan and the United States. To listen to music clips or watch video samples, check out the book’s online companion.