Nikutai is the name of a short-lived journal that began publication in 1947. Its title, The Body, and its date immediately connect it to my discussion and to the postwar interest in the carnal body. The "body" discussed in this literature is the nikutai of the journal title, a term that gained new currency in postwar Japan. In the postwar era, nikutai signified the expressly carnal and physical and was posited as the ground for individual identity. 1 Nikutai (肉体) operates on three semantic axes: first, within a set of works which explore the physical body; second, in the context of the personal and physical which contrasts with the non-physical, roughly equating to the meanings of "spiritual"; and, finally, on the social/externallevel, it operates in contrast to the kokutai (国体), the body politic. Niku (肉), meaning meat, muscle, or flesh, paired with the character for body, the tai (体), connotes the physical carnality of the body and oper-ates on the second axis of body meanings. The postwar usage reflects a group of meanings that builds on a long history of usage to contrast to other words for "body," such as karada (体) or shintai (身体). Iwaya Daishi recalls nikutai being a loaded term (gokan) at this time, noting that "before the war we would not have used nikutai but shintai [when referring to the body]." 2 While this accurately captures the nuances embedded in the writings I consider here, it seems slightly too schematic given that a number of earlier examples argue against Iwaya's assertion. For one, the authoritative dictionary of Japanese usage, the Nihon kokugo daijiten gives, as definition, "the body comprised of meat/muscle (肉)" and offers karada as one synonym, although qualifying nikutai as "the body [karada] of sexual desire." At the same time, nikutai rōdō, or manual labor, emphasizes the physical muscle necessitated by construction work. For another, and these reach back to much earlier usages, the authoritative dictionary of Japanese, the Nihon kokugo daijiten cites examples of nikutai from Samuel Smiles' Self Help (translated into Japanese as Saikoku risshi hen) of 1877 and Fukuzawa Yūkichi's Bunmeiron no gairyaku of 1875. The nineteenth-century usages associate to the English-language backgrounds of these two works (in that Fukuzawa is drawing from his travels in the West), where the negative associations of the carnal and the sexual resonate. The same connotations appear in other contexts, as well. Nikuyoku, as "carnal desire" (肉欲) is accompanied in the Nihon kokugo daijiten by citations of late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century works by novelists Morita Sōhei and Arishima Takeo. Older citations in the dictionary include the classical niku byōbu, or "flesh screen," where a man is surrounded by beautiful women who screen him off from the cold. Hirabayashi Taiko gives nikutai another nuance in her fiction of the 1930s, consistently using nikutai when she discusses the (female) body in sickness, weakness, pregnancy, and childbirth, which is far from the sensual body imagined by the flesh writers. These contrasting examples show that Iwaya's statement, which seems commonsensical at first encounter, elides the historical usages propelling these postwar invocations.