The Visual Culture of Meiji Japan : Negotiating the Transition to Modernity book cover
1st Edition

The Visual Culture of Meiji Japan
Negotiating the Transition to Modernity

ISBN 9780367612849
Published December 31, 2021 by Routledge
216 Pages 11 Color & 55 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This volume examines the visual culture of Japan’s transition to modernity, from 1868 to the first decades of the twentieth century.

Through this important moment in Japanese history, contributors reflect on Japan’s transcultural artistic imagination vis-a-vis the discernment, negotiation, assimilation, and assemblage of diverse aesthetic concepts and visual pursuits. The collected chapters show how new cultural notions were partially modified and integrated to become the artistic methods of modern Japan, based on the hybridization of major ideologies, visualities, technologies, productions, formulations, and modes of representation. The book presents case studies of creative transformation demonstrating how new concepts and methods were perceived and altered to match views and theories prevalent in Meiji Japan, and by what means different practitioners negotiated between their existing skills and the knowledge generated from incoming ideas to create innovative modes of practice and representation that reflected the specificity of modern Japanese artistic circumstances.

The book will be of interest to scholars working in art history, Japanese studies, Asian studies, and Japanese history, as well as those who use approaches and methods related to globalization, cross-cultural studies, transcultural exchange, and interdisciplinary studies.

Table of Contents


Introduction. In-Between Temporality and Spatiality: Visual Convergences and Meiji Hybridity

Ayelet Zohar and Alison J. Miller

  1. Between Kanji and Hiragana: An Allegorical Reading of the Katakana (Non-) Space 

  2. Michio Hayashi

  3. Modernization as Rejection of Westernization: The Case of Japanese Calligraphy
  4. Eugenia Bogdanova-Kummer

  5. Classical Greece in Japan and Why It Matters: A Postcolonial Perspective
  6. Michael Lucken

  7. Medievalism, Modernity, and Militarism in Imperial Japan
  8. Oleg Benesch

  9. Dinner Table Negotiations: Tableware and the presentation of Japan at the Enryōkan
  10. Mary Redfern

  11. Imaging Industry: Woodblock Prints, Factory Women, and Sericulture in Meiji Japan
  12. Alison J. Miller

  13. Negotiating Realism: Kawabata Gyokushō’s Strive for Modern Japanese Painting
  14. Katharina Rode

  15. Mural Paintings in late 19th and early 20th century Western-style Public Buildings in Japan
  16. Emiko Yamanashi

  17. Framing Scenery: A Potential History of Landscape Photography in Colonial Hokkaidō
  18. Ayelet Zohar

  19. Colors of Empire: Watercolor in Meiji Japan
  20. Chinghsin Wu

  21. Exploring Tokyo’s Hidden Spaces in Nagai Kafū’s Hiyorigeta (Fair-Weather Clogs, 1914) with Charles Baudelaire’s Flâneur and Walter Benjamin’s Porosity

Evelyn Schulz

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Ayelet Zohar is Senior Lecturer of History of Art at Tel Aviv University.

Alison J. Miller is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of the South (Sewanee).