Professor Takenaka specializes in social and cultural history of modern Japan with her research focusing on memory and historiography of the Asia-Pacific War. Trained as an architect and an architectural historian, she is particularly interested in the intersection between memory and space, and has examined a variety of memorial spaces broadly conceived, including memorials, museums and urban spaces, as well as virtual spaces of memory. Her teaching interests include war and society, nationalism, memory studies, and visual culture. Prior to coming to UK, she has taught as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan.
Professor Takenaka's first book, entitled Yasukuni Shrine: History, Memory, and Japan's Unending Postwar, is forthcoming from the University of Hawai'i Press (and in the series Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute). The work explores Yasukuni Shrine as a physical space, object of visual and spatial representation, and site of spatial practice in order to highlight the complexity of Yasukuni’s past and critique the official narratives that postwar debates have responded to. She is currently working on her second book project entitled War, Trauma, and Postwar in Japan and East Asia, an examination of ways that memories of the Asia-Pacific War has been shaped and reshaped in the postwar decades. The project is currently funded by the Japan Foundation Long Term Research Fellowship.
In addition to the new book, she is working on two projects. The first examines what she calls “architectural survivors” of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: those built structures that have been transformed into cultural heritage and object of tourism by having survived the nuclear experience. The second is a study of peace promotion initiatives in Japan, including war and peace museums, grass-roots movements, and oral history projects.
“Aestheticizing Sacrifice: Media, Education, and Ritual during the Asia-Pacific War,” in Minh Nguyen ed., New Essays in Japanese Aesthetics (Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, forthcoming).
“The Construction of a Wartime National Identity: Japanese Pavilions in Paris and New York,” in Rika Devos, Alexander Ortenberg, and Vladimir Paperny eds., Architecture of World Expositions 1937-1958: Reckoning with Global War (Ashgate Publishing, 2015, forthcoming).
"Reactionary Nationalism and Museum Controversies: The Case of Peace Osaka," in The Public Historian 36.2 (May 2014): 75-98.
- “Politics of Representation or Representation of Politics? Yasukuni the Movie” in Review of Japanese Culture and Society (Winter 2009): 117-136.
- “Architecture for Mass-Mobilization: The Chūreitō Memorial Construction Movement, 1939-1945,” in Alan Tansman ed., The Culture of Japanese Fascism (Duke University Press, 2009), 235-253.
- “Enshrinement Politics: War Dead and War Criminals at Yasukuni Shrine,” in Japan Focus (posted June 7, 2007).
- “Exhibiting World War II in Japan and the United States,” in The Pacific Historical Review 76 (February 2007): 61-94 (with Laura Hein; revised version posted on Japan Focus on July 20, 2007.
- “Pan-Asianism vs. Changeless, Timeless Japan: The Construction of a Wartime National Identity,” in Thresholds 17 (Spring 1998): 63-68.