This study of modern Japan engages the fields of art history, literature, and cultural studies, seeking to understand how the “beautiful woman” (bijin) emerged as a symbol of Japanese culture during the Meiji period (1868–1912). With origins in the formative period of modern Japanese art and aesthetics, the figure of the bijin appeared across a broad range of visual and textual media: photographs, illustrations, prints, and literary works, as well as fictional, critical, and journalistic writing. It eventually constituted a genre of painting called bijinga (paintings of beauties).
Aesthetic Life examines the contributions of writers, artists, scholars, critics, journalists, and politicians to the discussion of the bijin and to the production of a national discourse on standards of Japanese beauty and art. As Japan worked to establish its place in the world, it actively presented itself as an artistic nation based on these ideals of feminine beauty. The book explores this exemplary figure for modern Japanese aesthetics and analyzes how the deceptively ordinary image of the beautiful Japanese woman—an iconic image that persists to this day—was cultivated as a “national treasure,” synonymous with Japanese culture.
In the late 1800s, as Japanese leaders mulled over the usefulness of religion in modernizing their country, they chose to invite Unitarian missionaries to Japan. This book spotlights one facet of debates sparked by the subsequent encounter between Unitarianism and Buddhism—an intersection that has been largely neglected in the scholarly literature. Focusing on the cascade of events triggered by the missionary presence of the American Unitarian Association on Japanese soil between 1887 and 1922, Michel Mohr’s study sheds new light on this formative time in Japanese religious and intellectual history.
Drawing on the wealth of information contained in correspondence sent and received by Unitarian missionaries in Japan, as well as periodicals, archival materials, and Japanese sources, Mohr shows how this missionary presence elicited unprecedented debates on “universality” and how the ambiguous idea of “universal truth” was utilized by missionaries to promote their own cultural and ethnocentric agendas. At the turn of the twentieth century this notion was appropriated and reformulated by Japanese intellectuals and religious leaders, often to suit new political and nationalistic ambitions.
Haiku at its best is an art in which the poet takes a natural, most ordinary event, and without fuss, ornament or inflated words makes of it a rare moment — sparely rendered, crystallized into a microcosm which reveals transcendent unity. Small wonder haiku has a growing audience throughout the world.
In all arts — music, painting, dance, theatre — change has come with that startling moment of dissatisfaction when the artist upends complacency, shocks the old to its foundations, and emerges with clear vision. He has had the courage to rescue his art from dullness. Two of Japan’s “Great Four” of haiku, Basho (1644-94) and Shiki (1862-1902), were such revolutionaries, albeit two hundred years apart. Before Basho, haiku was but a pleasant occupation for the idle. He set about transforming it with such success that experts to this day agree that his were the first true haiku.
Shiki, who lived into the 20th century, was passionate in his attempt to salvage haiku from its past, sending out shock waves by dismissing virtually all earlier work, including most of Basho’s. He saw it as his mission to make a difference — to let nothing, not even the most revered, stand in the way. He proclaimed, “A poem has no meaning. It is feeling alone.” And he practiced what he preached.
lies, lies, lies.
These modern Japanese poets, many of whom are translated here into English for the first time, learned as much from Basho as from Shiki, and from Buson (1715-83) and Issa (1763-1827), the “Great Four.” Yet in a sense they are followers of Shiki, in spite of the harshness of his views and the impossibly high standards he demanded. They were forced to reckon with him, became willing participants in a heated dialogue with him. They had to: his spirit dominated the age. Stryk captures that spirit here, in this Cage of Fireflies.
Gendered Power sheds light on the sources of power for three prominent women of the Meiji period: Meiji Empress Haruko; public speaker, poet, and diarist Nakajima Shoen; and educator and prolific author Shimoda Utako. By focusing on the role Chinese classics (kanbun) played in the language employed by elite women, the chapters focus on how Empress Haruko, Shoen, and Shimoda Utako contributed new expectations for how women should participate in a modernizing Japan. By being in the public eye, all three women countered criticism of and commentary on their writings and activities, which they parried by navigating gender constraints. The success or failure as women ascribed to these three figures sheds light on the contradictions inhabited by them during a transformative period for Japanese women.
By proposing and interrogating the possibility of Meiji women’s power, the book examines contradictions that were symptomatic of their struggles within the vast social, cultural, and political transformations that took place during the period. The book demonstrates that an examination of that conflict within feminist history is crucial in order to understand what radical resistance meant in the face of women-centered authority.
In the past quarter-century, gender has emerged as a lively area of inquiry for historians and other scholars, and gender analysis has suggested important revisions of the “master narratives” of national histories—the dominant, often celebratory tales of the successes of a nation and its leaders. Although modern Japanese history has not yet been restructured by a foregrounding of gender, historians of Japan have begun to embrace gender as an analytic category.
The sixteen chapters in this volume treat men as well as women, theories of sexuality as well as gender prescriptions, and same-sex as well as heterosexual relations in the period from 1868 to the present. All of them take the position that history is gendered; that is, historians invariably, perhaps unconsciously, construct a gendered notion of past events, people, and ideas. Together, these essays construct a history informed by the idea that gender matters because it was part of the experience of people and because it often has been a central feature in the construction of modern ideologies, discourses, and institutions. Separately, each chapter examines how Japanese have (en)gendered their ideas, institutions, and society.
Investing Japan demonstrates that foreign investment is a vital and misunderstood aspect of Japan’s modern economic development. The drive to become a modern industrial power from the 1860s to the 1930s necessitated the adoption and internalization of foreign knowledge. This goal could only be achieved by working within the overarching financial and technological frameworks of Western capitalism. Foreign borrowing, supported by the gold standard, was the crux of Japan’s pre-war capital formation. It simultaneously financed domestic industrial development, the conduct of war, and territorial expansion on the Asian continent. Foreign borrowing also financed the establishment of infrastructure in Japan’s largest cities, the nationalization of railways, the interlinked capital-raising programs of “special banks” and parastatal companies, and the rapid electrification of Japanese industry in the 1920s.
Simon James Bytheway investigates the role played by foreign companies in the Japanese experience of modernization while highlighting their identity as key agents in the processes of industrialization and technology transfer. Investing Japan delivers a complex, multifaceted analysis, intersecting with the histories of formal and informal economic imperialism, diplomacy, war financing, domestic and international financial markets, parastatal and multinational enterprise, and Japan’s “internationalization” vis-à-vis the emerging global market.
Historians have long been aware of the richness and complexity of the intellectual history of modern Japanese politics. Najita's study, however, is the first in a Western language to present a consistent and broad synthesis of this subject. Najita elucidates the political dynamics of the past two hundred years of Japanese history by focusing on the interplay of restorationism and bureaucratism within the context of Japan's modern revolution, the Meiji Restoration.
Japan’s Holy War reveals how a radical religious ideology drove the Japanese to imperial expansion and global war. Bringing to light a wealth of new information, Walter A. Skya demonstrates that whatever other motives the Japanese had for waging war in Asia and the Pacific, for many the war was the fulfillment of a religious mandate. In the early twentieth century, a fervent nationalism developed within State Shintō. This ultranationalism gained widespread military and public support and led to rampant terrorism; between 1921 and 1936 three serving and two former prime ministers were assassinated. Shintō ultranationalist societies fomented a discourse calling for the abolition of parliamentary government and unlimited Japanese expansion.
Skya documents a transformation in the ideology of State Shintō in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth. He shows that within the religion, support for the German-inspired theory of constitutional monarchy that had underpinned the Meiji Constitution gave way to a theory of absolute monarchy advocated by the constitutional scholar Hozumi Yatsuka in the late 1890s. That, in turn, was superseded by a totalitarian ideology centered on the emperor: an ideology advanced by the political theorists Uesugi Shinkichi and Kakehi Katsuhiko in the 1910s and 1920s. Examining the connections between various forms of Shintō nationalism and the state, Skya demonstrates that where the Meiji oligarchs had constructed a quasi-religious, quasi-secular state, Hozumi Yatsuka desired a traditional theocratic state. Uesugi Shinkichi and Kakehi Katsuhiko went further, encouraging radical, militant forms of extreme religious nationalism. Skya suggests that the creeping democracy and secularization of Japan’s political order in the early twentieth century were the principal causes of the terrorism of the 1930s, which ultimately led to a holy war against Western civilization.
Students of the late Tokugawa and Meiji periods have long recognized the critical role of rural elites (the gōnō) in Japan’s economic transformation, but the largely impressionistic and episodic scholarship on this pivotal class has created an image of rural elites as successful trailblazers of industrial society. Through a close examination of economic trends and case studies of particular families, this study demonstrates that Japan’s protoindustrial economy was far more volatile than portrayed in most studies to date. Few rural elites survived the competitive and unstable climate of this era. Onerous exactions, interregional competition, market volatility, and succession problems propelled many wealthy families into steep decline and others into drastic shifts in the focus of their businesses.
Making History Matter explores the role history and historians played in imperial Japan’s nation and empire building from the 1890s to the 1930s. As ideological architects of this process, leading historians wrote and rewrote narratives that justified the expanding realm. Learning from their Prussian counterparts, they highlighted their empiricist methodology and their scholarly standpoint, to authenticate their perspective and to distinguish themselves from competing discourses. Simultaneously, historians affirmed imperial myths that helped bolster statist authoritarianism domestically and aggressive expansionism abroad. In so doing, they aligned politically with illiberal national leaders who provided funding and other support necessary to nurture the modern discipline of history. By the 1930s, the field was thriving and historians were crucial actors in nationwide commemorations and historical enterprises.
Through a close reading of vast, multilingual sources, with a focus on Kuroita Katsumi, Yoshikawa argues that scholarship and politics were inseparable as Japan’s historical profession developed. In the process of making history matter, historians constructed a national past to counter growing interwar liberalism. This outlook—which continues as the historical perspective that the Liberal Democratic Party leadership embraces—ultimately justified the Japanese aggressions during the Asia-Pacific Wars.
John Lie Harvard University Press, 2004 Library of Congress DS832.7.A1L53 2001 | Dewey Decimal 952.004
Multiethnic Japan challenges the received view of Japanese society as ethnically homogeneous. Employing a wide array of arguments and evidence--historical and comparative, interviews and observations, high literature and popular culture--John Lie recasts modern Japan as a thoroughly multiethnic society.
Lie casts light on a wide range of minority groups in modern Japanese society, including the Ainu, Burakumin (descendants of premodern outcasts), Chinese, Koreans, and Okinawans. In so doing, he depicts the trajectory of modern Japanese identity.
Surprisingly, Lie argues that the belief in a monoethnic Japan is a post–World War II phenomenon, and he explores the formation of the monoethnic ideology. He also makes a general argument about the nature of national identity, delving into the mechanisms of social classification, signification, and identification.
The eleven chapters in this volume explore the process of carving out, in discourse and in practice, the boundaries delineating the state, the civil sphere, and the family in Japan from 1600 to 1950. One of the central themes in the volume is the demarcation of relations between the central political authorities and local communities. The early modern period in Japan is marked by a growing sense of a unified national society, with a long, common history, that existed in a coherent space. The growth of this national community inevitably raised questions about relationships between the imperial government and local groups and interests at the prefectural and village levels. Moves to demarcate divisions between central and local rule in the course of constructing a modern nation contributed to a public discourse that drew on longstanding assumptions about political legitimacy, authority, and responsibility as well as on Western political ideas.
Offering the first systematic examination of five modern Japanese fictional narratives, all of them available in English translations, Atsuko Sakaki explores Natsume Sōseki’s Kokoro and Kusamakura (The Three-Cornered World); Ibuse Masuji’s Kuroi ame (Black Rain); Mori Ōgai’s Gan (Wild Geese); and Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s Manji (Quicksand). Her close reading of each text reveals a hitherto unexplored area of communication between narrator and audience, as well as between “implied author” and “implied reader.” By using this approach, the author situates each of these works not in its historical, cultural, or economic contexts but in the situation the text itself produces.
In Seeing Red, Cari M. Carpenter examines anger in the poetry and prose of three early American Indian writers: S. Alice Callahan, Pauline Johnson, and Sarah Winnemucca. In articulating a legitimate anger in the late nineteenth century, the first published indigenous women writers were met not only with stereotypes of “savage” rage but with social proscriptions against female anger. While the loss of land, life, and cultural traditions is central to the Native American literature of the period, this dispossession is only one side of the story. Its counterpart, indigenous claims to that which is threatened, is just as essential to these narratives. The first published American Indian women writers used a variety of tactics to protest such dispossession. Seeing Red argues that one of the most pervasive and intriguing of these is sentimentality.
Carpenter argues that while anger is a neglected element of a broad range of sentimental texts, it should be recognized as a particularly salient subject in early literature written by Native American women. To date, most literary scholars—whether they understand sentimentality in terms of sympathetic relations or of manipulative influence—have viewed anger as an obstacle to the genre. Placing anger and sentimentality in opposition, however, neglects their complex and often intimate relationship. This case study of three Native American women writers is not meant to fall easily into either the “pro” or “anti” sentimentality camp, but to acknowledge sentimentality as a fraught, yet potentially useful, mode for articulating indigenous women’s anger.
Nearly half a century ago, the economic historian Harold Innis pointed out that the geographical limits of empires were determined by communications and that, historically, advances in the technologies of transport and communications have enabled empires to grow. This power of communications was demonstrated when Japanese Emperor Hirohito’s radio speech announcing Japan’s surrender and the dissolution of its empire was broadcast simultaneously throughout not only the Japanese home islands but also all the territories under its control over the telecommunications system that had, in part, made that empire possible.
In the extension of the Japanese empire in the 1930s and 1940s, technology, geo-strategy, and institutions were closely intertwined in empire building. The central argument of this study of the development of a communications network linking the far-flung parts of the Japanese imperium is that modern telecommunications not only served to connect these territories but, more important, made it possible for the Japanese to envision an integrated empire in Asia. Even as the imperial communications network served to foster integration and strengthened Japanese leadership and control, its creation and operation exacerbated long-standing tensions and created new conflicts within the government, the military, and society in general.
Maeda Ai was a prominent literary critic and an influential public intellectual in late-twentieth-century Japan. Text and the City is the first book of his work to appear in English. A literary and cultural critic deeply engaged with European critical thought, Maeda was a brilliant, insightful theorist of modernity for whom the city was the embodiment of modern life. He conducted a far-reaching inquiry into changing conceptions of space, temporality, and visual practices as they gave shape to the city and its inhabitants. James A. Fujii has assembled a selection of Maeda’s essays that question and explore the contours of Japanese modernity and resonate with the concerns of literary and cultural studies today.
Maeda remapped the study of modern Japanese literature and culture in the 1970s and 1980s, helping to generate widespread interest in studying mass culture on the one hand and marginalized sectors of modern Japanese society on the other. These essays reveal the broad range of Maeda’s cultural criticism. Among the topics considered are Tokyo; utopias; prisons; visual media technologies including panoramas and film; the popular culture of the Edo, Meiji, and contemporary periods; maps; women’s magazines; and women writers. Integrally related to these discussions are Maeda’s readings of works of Japanese literature including Matsubara Iwagoro’s In Darkest Tokyo, Nagai Kafu’s The Fox, Higuchi Ichiyo’s Growing Up, Kawabata Yasunari’s The Crimson Gang of Asakusa, and Narushima Ryuhoku’s short story “Useless Man.” Illuminating the infinitely rich phenomena of modernity, these essays are full of innovative, unexpected connections between cultural productions and urban life, between the text and the city.
First published in Japan in 1983, this book is now a classic in modern Japanese literary studies. Covering an astonishing range of texts from the Meiji period (1868–1912), it presents sophisticated analyses of the ways that experiments in literary language produced multiple new—and sometimes revolutionary—forms of sensibility and subjectivity. Along the way, Kamei Hideo carries on an extended debate with Western theorists such as Saussure, Bakhtin, and Lotman, as well as with such contemporary Japanese critics as Karatani Kōjin and Noguchi Takehiko.
Transformations of Sensibility deliberately challenges conventional wisdom about the rise of modern literature in Japan and offers highly original close readings of works by such writers as Futabatei Shimei, Tsubouchi Shōyō, Higuchi Ichiyō, and Izumi Kyōka, as well as writers previously ignored by most scholars. It also provides a new critical theorization of the relationship between language and sensibility, one that links the specificity of Meiji literature to broader concerns that transcend the field of Japanese literary studies. Available in English translation for the first time, it includes a new preface by the author and an introduction by the translation editor that explain the theoretical and historical contexts in which the work first appeared.
Throughout the nineteenth century, Native and non-Native women writers protested U.S. government actions that threatened indigenous people's existence. The conventional genres they sometimes adopted—the sensationalistic captivity narrative, sentimental Indian lament poetry, didactic assimilation fiction, and the mass-circulated commercial magazine—typically had been used to reinforce the oppressive policies of removal, war, and allotment. But in Unconventional Politics Janet Dean explores how four authors, Sarah Wakefield, Lydia Huntley Sigourney, the Muscogee/Creek S. Alice Callahan, and the Cherokee Ora V. Eddleman, converted these frameworks to serve a politics of dissent. Intervening in current debates in feminist and Native American literary criticism, Dean shows how these women advocated for Native Americans by both politicizing conventional literature and employing literary skill to respond to national policy.
Dean argues that in protesting U.S. Indian policy through popular genres, Wakefield, Sigourney, Callahan, and Eddleman also critiqued cultural protocols and stretched the contours of accepted modes of feminine discourse. Their acts of improvisation and reinvention tell a new story about the development of American women's writing and political expression.
The history of Japanese aviation offers countless stories of heroic achievements and dismal failures, passionate enthusiasm and sheer terror, brilliant ideas and fatally flawed strategies.
In Wings for the Rising Sun, scholar and former airline pilot Jürgen Melzer connects the intense drama of flight with a global history of international cooperation, competition, and conflict. He details how Japanese strategists, diplomats, and industrialists skillfully exploited a series of major geopolitical changes to expand Japanese airpower and develop a domestic aviation industry. At the same time, the military and media orchestrated air shows, transcontinental goodwill flights, and press campaigns to stir popular interest in the national aviation project. Melzer analyzes the French, British, German, and American influence on Japan’s aviation, revealing in unprecedented detail how Japanese aeronautical experts absorbed foreign technologies at breathtaking speed. Yet they also designed and built boldly original flying machines that, in many respects, surpassed those of their mentors.
Wings for the Rising Sun compellingly links Japan’s aeronautical advancement with public mobilization, international relations, and the transnational flow of people and ideas, offering a fresh perspective on modern Japanese history.
Women and Public Life in Early Meiji Japan focuses on women’s activities in the new public spaces of Meiji Japan. With chapters on public, private, and missionary schools for girls, their students, and teachers, on social and political groups women created, on female employment, and on women’s participation in print media, this book offers a new perspective on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Japanese history. Women’s founding of and participation in conflicting discourses over the value of women in Meiji public life demonstrate that during this period active and vocal women were everywhere, that they did not meekly submit to the dictates of the government and intellectuals over what women could or should do, and that they were fully integrated in the production of Meiji culture.
Mara Patessio shows that the study of women is fundamental not only in order to understand fully the transformations of the Meiji period, but also to understand how later generations of women could successfully move the battle forward. Women and Public Life in Early Meiji Japan is essential reading for all students and teachers of 19th- and early 20th-century Japanese history and is of interest to scholars of women’s history more generally.
Writing Technology in Meiji Japan boldly rethinks the origins of modern Japanese language, literature, and visual culture from the perspective of media history. Drawing upon methodological insights by Friedrich Kittler and extensive archival research, Seth Jacobowitz investigates a range of epistemic transformations in the Meiji era (1868–1912), from the rise of communication networks such as telegraph and post to debates over national language and script reform. He documents the changing discursive practices and conceptual constellations that reshaped the verbal, visual, and literary regimes from the Tokugawa era. These changes culminate in the discovery of a new vernacular literary style from the shorthand transcriptions of theatrical storytelling (rakugo) that was subsequently championed by major writers such as Masaoka Shiki and Natsume Sōseki as the basis for a new mode of transparently objective, “transcriptive” realism. The birth of modern Japanese literature is thus located not only in shorthand alone, but within the emergent, multimedia channels that were arriving from the West. This book represents the first systematic study of the ways in which media and inscriptive technologies available in Japan at its threshold of modernization in the late nineteenth to early twentieth century shaped and brought into being modern Japanese literature.