Orientalism, Absence, and Quick~Firing Guns:
The Emergence of Japan as a Western Text

Once a landscape has been established, its origins are repressed from memory. It takes on the appearance of an ‘object’ which has been there, outside us, from the start. An ‘object,’ however, can only be constituted within a landscape. The same may be said of the ‘subject’ or self. The philosophical standpoint which distinguishes between subject and object came into existence within what I refer to as a ‘landscape’. Rather than existing prior to landscape, subject and object emerge from within it.

—Karatani Kôjin, Origins of Modern Japanese Literature

I. The Legacy of Seclusion

’Twas yours to dream, to rest,
Self-centred, mute, apart,
While out beyond the West
Strong beat the world’s wild heart.

—A. C. Benson, ‘Ode to Japan’, 1909

    On the afternoon Perry arrived at Uraga the most complete Western histories of Japan were English, French, Dutch, German, Russian, and Latin editions of the History of Japan, by Engelbert Kaempfer, written around 1695 and first published in 1727. The only English monograph on the Japanese language had been compiled by a Sinologist who could neither read nor speak Japanese. European and American imaginative writing had occasionally evoked a place called Japan, but most often as an image of the enigmatic and unknown, as distant from London and Paris as Lilliput and Cockaigne. Images: .  

In July 1853 when Matthew Perry arrived with four men-of-war at the harbour of Uraga to demand the opening of Japan to American trade, few countries were as indefinitely formed in the Western imagination. The Japanese policy of national seclusion had been in force for two centuries. [1] After 1635 government decree had forbidden the dispatching of ships abroad and stipulated that Japanese caught trying to leave the country were to be executed. Four years later the passing of information to a foreigner became an imprisonable offence, and foreign ships, with limited exceptions for the Dutch, Chinese, and Koreans, were prohibited from approaching Japanese ports under penalty of death for passengers and crew, an edict enforced at Nagasaki in 1640 with the decapitation of sixty-one Portuguese emissaries arrived from Macao to negotiate relations. In 1641 Dutch trade was limited to Dejima, a 130-acre artificial island at the opening of Nagasaki Bay, and thereafter, apart from the odd landing party forced at once to leave, the odd raid on a coastal outpost, and a small cadre of imprisoned Russians—naval lieutenant Vasily Golovnin and comrades, from 1811 to 1813 [2] —the only Europeans to set foot on Japanese soil in 212 years had arrived at Dejima on a Dutch commercial vessel, their actions and fraternisations closely supervised by government-appointed intermediaries forbidden by law to provide information of the country. Dutch ships averaged three a year, and Dutch residence at Dejima was limited to twenty. Through the decades and then the centuries some few gathered what information they could, but little was published, little of that translated, and what had been a limited but inquisitive knowledge of Japan in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century writing in Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and English, and French translation of these, gradually lost pace with a widening European knowledge of other Asian civilisations. On the afternoon Perry arrived at Uraga the evidence is that no native of Britain or America spoke or read more than a few words of Japanese, [3] little was known in European and American academies of Japan’s literature, art, or religion, and the most complete Western histories of the country were English, French, Dutch, German, Russian, and Latin editions of the History of Japan, by Engelbert Kaempfer, (1651-1716), written late in the seventeenth century and first published in 1727. [4] European and American imaginative writing had occasionally evoked Japan, or a place called Japan, but most often as an image of the enigmatic and unknown, as distant from London and Paris as Lilliput and Cockaigne. [5]

Historians have debated the effects of the years of seclusion on the Japanese, but little attention has been given the effects of Japanese seclusion in Europe and America. This may seem an odd issue to raise, but the point is simply that an absence may have consequences as notable as a presence, and for Europe and America during the years of Japanese seclusion the absences vis-á-vis Japan were many. In 1853 there had been no Anquetil-Duperron, Jones, Champollion, or Burton to unravel the mysteries of the Japanese language, no Diderot or Goldsmith to satirise European society through the eyes of a Japanese, no Voltaire, Chateaubriand, Moore, Byron, or Nerval to represent Japanese manners to European theatre-goers or readers of verse, no Delacroix or Decamps to represent on canvas the quality of light on the Inland Sea, no Daniel Marot or John Nash to bring Japanese lines to the European palace or English pavilion, no Félicion-César David to weave French choral with Japanese melody, no Edmund Burke or James Mill to theorise the administration of Japanese government or law, no collection of representative works at the British Museum or Louvre, in Japan itself no colonial administrator, clerk, or footman, no reporter for the Times or Le Figaro. Emerson, Thoreau, and others of the New England Idealists had incorporated European representations of Buddhist, Confucian, and Hindu texts, but nothing of or said to be of Japan, into the discourse that came to be called American Transcendentalism. For more than a decade Max Müller had been at work on the study of comparative religion that under his editorship would result in the fifty-one-volume Clarendon Press Sacred Books of the East, studies that range from the Apocrypha to Zoroaster and James Breasted’s Egypt to James Legge’s China, but nothing of or from Japan. After 238 years of British commercial relations with China, eleven of British extraterritoriality in the ports ceded by the Treaty of Nanking, scholars such as Legge and Thomas Francis Wade had carried important works from the Chinese canon into English, but for lack of materials and informants could not extend their studies to the ideographically-similar Japanese. Like points might be made about European and American knowledge of Japan regarding virtually any part of the orientalist canon as it existed at mid-century.

  The few European works describing Japan during the years of seclusion came mainly from those attached to the Dutch factory at Dejima. The major exception was the work of naval lieutenant Vasily Golovnin, whose best-selling accounts of Japan and the Japanese were based on two years in prison at Hakodate. Top: Carl Peter Thunberg, Voyages de C. P. Thunberg au Japon, 1796; middle: Golovnin in Russian (1816) and German (1817); bottom left: Izaak Titsingh, Illustrations of Japan, 1822; bottom right: one of two abridged editions of Kaempfer published in London in 1852-53, timed presumably to coincide with the popular excitement attending Perry’s journey to Japan. Images: .  

The few European works describing Japan that had appeared during the years of seclusion came almost exclusively from those attached to the Dutch factory at Dejima, and though several of these are remarkable given the limitations on access to information, [6] none had contributed more than Kaempfer to the formation of a popular Western image of the country. Two widely-read compilations published in London and New York in the years prior to the Perry expedition, M. M. Busk’s Manners and Customs of the Japanese (Murray/Harper, 1841) and Charles MacFarlane’s Japan: An Account Geographical and Historical (Routledge/Putnam, 1852), fairly summarise what was known in Europe at mid-century, but both are of necessity superficial, and both rely heavily on Kaempfer, as do Alexander Knox’s lengthy ruminations about ‘what we . . . really know of Japan’ in the October 1852 Edinburgh Review. [7] By the time Perry arrived at Uraga readers on both sides of the Atlantic were eager for information of the country, but their choice of material was more limited than publishers and compilers readily allowed. In London bookshops in the summer of 1853 five newly-released studies of Japan sold briskly: Busk and MacFarlane (a new edition of the former had appeared in 1852), a deceptively-titled reprint of Golovnin’s account of his captivity, Japan and the Japanese (Colburne, 1852), and new abridgements of the old standard, Kaempfer, in Universal Library of Standard Authors editions from both Blackwood (Remarkable Voyages and Travels, 1852) and Cooke (An Account of Japan, 1853). Knox, among others, had assured English readers that in a country such as Japan nothing much had changed through the centuries (‘Everything . . . is so immutable in this empire that things remain at the present moment . . . as they were in Kaempfer’s time’), but his own language belied the confidence with which he made the point. Japan ‘remain[ed]’, for Britain and America, a ‘mystery’, a ‘sealed book’, and ‘a vague and shadowy idea’.

    Perry’s aims were commercial, but the popular interest that followed his journey derived from longing for commerce of a different sort. Walt Whitman in response to a parade in honour of the first Japanese embassy to the United States speaks to the point. What he saw in the procession of the ‘nobles of Niphon’ was the ‘intense soul’ of the Orient itself. Images 2 and 3: ‘The ring is circled’: the nobles of Niphon in the United States ().  

Perry’s aims were largely commercial—the Treaty of Kanagawa that his warships brought about granted the Americans free access to ports at Shimoda and Hakodate, the right to a consulate, and most-favoured-nation status—but the popular European and American interest that followed the opening of Japan derived from longing for commerce of a different sort. The first serious English-language poem with a Japanese subject, Whitman’s ‘Errand Bearers’, published in 1860 in response to a parade in Manhattan in honour of the first Japanese embassy to the United States, speaks to the point. What Whitman saw in the procession of the ‘nobles of Niphon’ was the ‘intense soul’ of the Orient itself, ‘our Antipodes’, the ‘Originatress’ and ‘bequeather of poems’, whose arrival on American shores represented both a fulfilment of destiny and a point of departure:

The sign is reversing, the orb is enclosed,
The ring is circled, the journey is done,
The box-lid is but perceptibly open’d, nevertheless the perfume pours copiously out of the whole box. [8]

Whatever might be said of the reasons for seeing things this way, or the placement in New York of a centre to which fate had pulled the Japanese (their own diaries kept on the journey present a radically different interpretation of the embassy and its implications), [9] Whitman’s lines were prophetic. The perfumes that poured from the box newly opened were copious indeed, and soon were to be diffused throughout the aesthetic landscape of Western Europe and the United States, with effects considerable and wide ranging. In the first half-century following Perry’s arrival at Uraga these would be felt most keenly in the decorative and fine arts, but by the second they would be conspicuous in disparate and surprising fields, architecture, interior design, fashion, dance, popular and avant-garde theatre, stage design, music, landscape gardening, ceramics, religious studies, and literature, among others.

    Early interest was in the decorative and visual arts. The ‘discovery’ of Japanese art in Europe is most often attributed to the French designer Félix Bracquemond, who in or around 1856 came across a copy of Hokusai’s Manga sketchbooks in a Paris studio, and soon was incorporating motifs from Hokusai into his own work, and extolling the virtues of Japanese design to a large circle of acquaintances, including Manet, Degas, Pissarro, Cassatt, and others who came to be associated with the Impressionist school. Images:  

At first European and American interest arose from what could be seen, that is, from what could be interpreted, rightly or wrongly, without aid of an intermediary. In explaining the background to this study this is an important point. The earliest Japanese influences in the West were not textual because so few in the West could read the texts. The popular imagination was stirred, however, by the curios—fans, kites, combs, parasols, sword guards, porcelains, dolls, kimonos, and the like—that constituted the first Japanese cultural exports of the modern period, and by ukiyoe—the ‘pictures from the floating world’ still so much associated in the West with the Japanese tradition. An exhibition of Japanese applied arts took place in London as early as 1854, at the premises of the Old Water Colour Society at Pall Mall East, [10] but the ‘discovery’ of Japanese art in Europe is most often attributed to the French designer Félix Bracquemond (1833-1914), who in or around 1856 came across a copy of Hokusai’s Manga sketchbooks at a Paris studio, and soon was incorporating motifs from Hokusai into his own work, and extolling the virtues of Japanese design to a large circle of acquaintances, including Manet, Degas, Pissarro, Cassatt, and others who came to be associated with the Impressionist school. [11] By 1862 ukiyoe and other Japanese objets dart were readily available in Parisian shops frequented by enthusiasts from both sides of the English Channel, [12] and in that year the Japanese Court at the International Exhibition at London was a great success, and further excited the growing interest.

  The International Exhibition at London in 1862 opened by chance less than twenty-four hours after the arrival in London of the first Japanese embassy to Europe. The Ambassadors’ appearance and demeanour on tours of Britain created a ‘public sensation’, and contributed to interest in the 623 artefacts from Japan on display at the Exhibition’s ‘Japanese Court’. These had been gathered by the first British Minister to Japan, thereafter hailed as an expert on Japanese art, on day-trips from his residence in Edo. Image: the Ambassadors at the International Exhibition, from the Illustrated London News.  

The Exhibition opened on 30 April, by chance less than twenty-four hours after the arrival in London of the first Japanese embassy to Europe, whose appearance and demeanour on tours of London, Woolwich, Portsmouth, Aldershot, Newcastle, Liverpool, and Birmingham created what one writer has called a ‘public sensation’, and this no doubt contributed to the interest afforded the 623 Japanese artefacts on display at South Kensington. The embassy’s presence at opening ceremonies lent the Court an air of official sanction, even though it had been prepared not by Japanese hands but by Rutherford Alcock, first British Minister to Japan, and consisted largely of porcelains, bronzes, and prints he had collected for the purpose on day-trips from his residence at Edo, apparently without realising that many were quite modern and demonstrated the early signs of a European influence already infiltrating the Japanese decorative arts. The success of the exhibition, however, established Alcock as an authority on Japanese art, and the four-day public sale of the artefacts late in the year ‘attracted unusual interest’, according to the Times, and afforded Alcock a profit that would not have discouraged others from exploiting a favourable rate of exchange and the new but not quite discriminating public taste for things Japanese. [13]

    By 1889 Oscar Wilde was able to declare ‘the whole of Japan . . . a pure invention, simply a mode of style and an exquisite fancy of art.’ Thirty-six years after Perry landed at Uraga Japan had become for Europe and the United States a fashion more than a geography, and the ‘mode of style’ associated with it had provided critics with a new term, Japonisme, which by the turn of the century denoted not only a widespread fascination with things Japanese, but also an important aesthetic movement that somewhere behind Wilde’s exquisite fancy had roots in the artefacts and popular visual arts of the Edo period.  

Similar successes followed at other venues—a series of triumphant private exhibitions in Paris from the mid-seventies forward, the Exposition Universelle at Paris in 1867, International Exhibitions at Dublin in 1865, Vienna in 1873, Philadelphia in 1876, and Paris in 1876, 1878, and 1889—and publications proposing to educate an eager public about the merits of Japanese design followed one upon the other. By 1885 a Japanese Village complete with villagers from Japan was on display at Knightsbridge, shops devoted to Japanese art and bric-a-brac thrived in London and New York, interiors on both sides of the Atlantic were decorated ‘in the Japanese style’, kimono had become standard house-dress for the rich and well-connected, and the Impressionist painters and others had turned to ukiyoe for subject matter, theories of composition and colour, and justification for a perceived break with European tradition. In 1889 Oscar Wilde declared ‘the whole of Japan . . . a pure invention . . . simply a mode of style’ and ‘exquisite fancy of art’, [14] and in many ways he was right. Thirty-six years after Perry landed at Uraga Japan had become for Europe and America a fashion more than a geography, and the manners and figures associated with it had provided first French and then English critics with a new term, Japonisme, which by the turn of the century denoted not only a widespread fascination with things Japanese, but also an important aesthetic movement that somewhere behind Wilde’s exquisite fancy had roots in the artefacts and popular visual arts of the Edo period. [15]

    Japonisme had literary manifestations, as well. The many popular novels set in the country in this period have been forgotten by all but those with a historical bent, but taken together they are nonetheless more engaging than their their counterparts in verse. W. E. Henley’s ‘Ballade of a Toyokuni Colour Print’ is typical.

Discussions of nineteenth-century Japonisme most often focus on the visual arts, but literary manifestations are apparent as well. Of many popular novels set in Japan in this period most have been forgotten by all but those with a historical bent, but taken together they are nonetheless more engaging than their counterparts in verse and drama. A few serious poems with Japanese subjects appeared and remain readable—Longfellow’s ‘Keramos’, Ernest Fenollosa’s ‘East and West’, and Kipling’s ‘Buddha at Kamakura’ are the most interesting in English—and critics have called attention to a relationship between ukiyoe and the literary Impressionism of writers such as Swinburne and Wilde, but the poetry and drama of nineteenth-century Japonisme is largely an exercise in the fanciful, what Swinburne as early as 1888, in a different context but anticipating a current in twentieth-century critical response to japonaiserie in English poetry, described as ‘the fairy-land of fans . . ., the paradise of pipkins . . . and all the fortuitous frippery of Fusi-yama’. [16] In many ways typical is W. E. Henley’s ‘Ballade of a Toyokuni Colour Print’:

Was I a Samurai renowned,
Two-sworded, fierce, immense of bow?
A histrion angular and profound?
A priest? a porter?—Child, although
I have forgotten clean, I know
That in the shade of Fujisan,
What time the cherry-orchards blow,
I loved you once in old Japan.

As here you loiter, flowing-gowned
And hugely sashed, with pins a-row
Your quaint head as with flamelets crowned,
Demure, inviting—even so,
When merry maids in Miyako
To feel the sweet o’ the year began,
And green gardens to overflow,
I loved you once in old Japan.

Henley’s work continues through further stanzas that ply the staple images, ‘rice fields round’, ‘cranes circling, sleepy and slow’, a bamboo bridge, a ‘flirted fan’ and ‘plum-tree’s bloomy snow’, and adds in the end a nod to the Buddhist conception of reincarnation, for the events described took place, Henley allows, ‘a dozen lives ago’. The Ballade and like poems are unencumbered with facts about Japan—the shade of Fujisan and the merry maids in Miyako are separated by three hundred miles, Utagawa Toyokuni and the world of his prints precede Henley by one generation, not a dozen—but nonetheless by the eighties, along with their more exuberant cousins in the musical theatre, they were ubiquitous. [18]

  Several works have addressed the literature of Japonisme, but of these only the first, Earl Miner’s Japanese Tradition in British and American Literature, directly addresses the epistemological foundation of literary Japonisme. After wrestling with the question of why Japan has held such fascination for English-language writers, Miner resigns himself to the conclusion that it ‘seems to defy explanation’, and decides that he is ‘happy to turn [it] over to the cultural historian or to the anthropologist’.  

The only writer to address this body of work in more than a passing way is Earl Miner, in The Japanese Tradition in British and American Literature, a study that for four decades has defined the incorporation of Japanese subjects by British and American writers. Miner finds poems such as Henley’s representative of a ‘chronological exoticism’ that seeks to idealise the past of an ‘unfamiliarly refined’ culture, and notes that in regard to Japan this impulse has ‘born little fruit for our literature’. [19] This assessment surely is accurate in literary terms—at the dawning of the twenty-first century no one would suggest that nineteenth-century literary Japonisme represents more than a curious backwater in relation to the mainstream of the English literary tradition—but it is not of much help in explaining the popularity of such poems and plays, their relationship to the Japonisme of the visual arts, or to the literary response to Japan that followed in the twentieth century. Miner himself is aware of the difficulty, but suggests that we are ‘apt to be teased out of thought and even out of patience’ if we try to decide what the attraction of Japan for the West has meant in ‘significant historical or cultural terms’; an attraction ‘has existed and continues, but . . . seems to defy explanation’, and though Miner posits certain ‘imponderable elements in the Western spirit’ that may be explained ‘only by the postulate of an Oriental cultural attraction for the West’, he finds the problems involved in accounting for this ‘difficult’, and beyond discussion of the results of that part of the attraction that concerns literature in English, though the larger issue ‘teases’, he is ‘happy to turn [it] over to the cultural historian or to the anthropologist’. No subsequent account of the relationship of Japan and the West, however, by cultural historian, anthropologist, or literary critic, has addressed the point in a substantive way.

Part of the difficulty Miner notes lies in the historicity of a critical language with which representations of the foreign have been addressed. In 1958, when Japanese Tradition appeared, no body of literary analyses had established a vocabulary sufficient for the task of resolving the problems to which Miner refers. The Anglo-American critical ethos that determined ways of looking at a text had for years emphasised not looking outside it, but by definition what is at issue here is the relationship of text to what is external, exotikos, of the outside in relation to a centre mutually inhabited by writer and reader. Another way to say this is that until recently a term such as exoticism could hardly but have been imprecise as a figure of literary-critical discourse in English, more evaluative than descriptive, leading to closure rather than opening in lines of analysis. Miner’s equation of exoticism with idealism no doubt is accurate in many cases, but does not address the nature of the impulse itself, and so cannot explain its appeal for the writers and readers of texts like Henley’s. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, echoing an understanding of exoticism traceable to Irving Babbitt, defines the term as the ‘persistent incidence . . . of nostalgia directed toward the distant and the strange’, [20] but this too avoids a central issue by placing exoticism in terms of a second concept equally elusive. Nostalgia, originally a ‘form of melancholia caused by prolonged absence from one’s home or country’, has been generalised in the twentieth century to include connotations of ‘sorrowful longing for the conditions of a past age’, [21] and in recent critical writing has been explored in terms helpful here, as in Susan Stewart’s On Longing:

Nostalgia is a sadness . . . which creates a longing that of necessity is inauthentic because it does not take part in lived experience . . . . The past it seeks has never existed except as narrative, and hence, always absent, that past continually threatens to reproduce itself as a felt lack. Hostile to history and its invisible origins, and yet longing for an impossibly pure context of lived experience . . . nostalgia wears a distinctly utopian face . . . that turns toward a . . . past which has only ideological reality. This point of desire which the nostalgic seeks is in fact the absence that is the very generating mechanism of desire. [22]

    Recent work on exoticism as a mode of representation helps establish a critical vocabulary that facilitates analyses of a sort that could not have been held in place before.  

This equation of nostalgia with desire, and of both of these with absence, is drawn from a study of particular cultural manifestations of longing, but understanding of an interplay between absence and desire informs as well a series of recent analyses of exoticism as a mode of representation—by H. H. Remak, Francis Affergan, Denise Brahimi, Wolfgang Zimmer, Chris Bongie, Tzvetan Todorov, Dorothy Figueira, and Roger Célestin, among others [23] —that together with related studies has established a vocabulary that facilitates analysis of a sort that could not have been held in place in 1958. Again, however, with the exception of Célestin’s reading of Roland Barthes’s Empire of Signs, a work that at its outset identifies the Japan under discussion as a ‘fantasy’, [24] this way of seeing has not been brought to bear on European and American representations of Japan. This is an absence itself related to larger issues that are of interest here, and would reward exploration, but for present purposes suffice it to say that seen in these terms desire and exoticism are two sides of one impulse, the former originating in an absence that for some writers and artists initiates representation, the latter the act of this representation when its object is or is of a foreign culture.

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[1] Terminology about this period in both Japanese and English has been the subject of controversy, and the ‘seclusion edicts’ themselves were not always clear about what they did or did not specifically prohibit. Their result, however, was the effective closing of Japan to Europe. For a general overview of the policies and their interpretations see the Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1983), s.v. ‘anti-Christian edicts’ and ‘National Seclusion’.

[2] None of this led to a noteworthy increase in European or American knowledge of Japan beyond that she remained intent on keeping her inviolability, though Golovnin’s account of his captivity, in Russian (1816), German (1817), and English, Narrative of My Captivity in Japan (London: Colburne, 1818), excited popular interest in the country throughout Europe.

[3] No full study has been made of this matter, but it is touched upon by W. G. Beasley in ‘The Language Problem in the Anglo-Japanese Negotiations of 1854’ (Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 13 [1950]: 746-58) and ‘Japanese Castaways and British Interpreters’ (Monumenta Nipponica 46 [1991]: 91-103); to Beasley’s discussions may be added that in 1853 the only English-language monograph about the Japanese language, W. H. Medhurst’s English and Japanese, and Japanese and English Vocabulary (Batavia: n.p., 1830) had been prepared by a Sinologist who did not speak Japanese and as late as 1861 could read only those characters his training in Chinese had made possible (see Beasley, ‘Japanese Castaways’, p. 100).

[4] Engelbert Kaempfer, History of Japan, trans. J. G. Scheuchzer (1727; reprint, 3 vols., New York: AMS, 1971); see Derek Massarella and Beatrice M. Bodart-Bailey, eds., The Furthest Goal: Engelbert Kaempfer’s Encounter with Tokugawa Japan (Sandgate: Japan Library, 1995), and Detlef Haberland, Engelbert Kaempfer, 1651-1716: A Biography, trans. Peter Hogg (London: British Library, 1996); for notes about the limited direct relation of Kaempfer’s work to this study see D1a.

[5] For background to the period of seclusion see George Sansom, The Western World and Japan (1949, see D22), C. R. Boxer, The Christian Century in Japan: 1549-1650 (Manchester: Carcanet, 1951), and Derek Massarella, A World Elsewhere: Europe’s Encounter with Japan in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (New Haven: Yale UP, 1990); Arthur Walworth’s Black Ships Off Japan (New York: Knopf, 1946) and Peter Booth Wiley’s Yankees in the Land of the Gods (New York: Viking, 1990) provide the fullest accounts of the ‘opening’ of Japan, W. G. Beasley’s Great Britain and the Opening of Japan, 1834-1858 (London: Luzac, 1951) the fullest treatment of Britain’s role in that enterprise; for selections from and commentary on early European writing about Japan see two works edited by Michael Cooper, They Came to Japan: An Anthology of European Reports on Japan, 1543-1640 (Berkeley: U of California P, 1965) and The Southern Barbarians: The First Europeans in Japan (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1971); for examples of the incorporation of ‘Japan’ into English-language imaginative writing during the years of seclusion see the works noted at CA1.

[6] Most notable are the works of Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828), Izaak Titsingh (1744?-1828, see D1c), Hendrik Doeff (1777-1812), and Phillipp Franz von Siebold (1796-1866); Thomas Baty’s ‘Literary Introduction of Japan to Europe’ (Monumenta Nipponica 7 [1951]: 24-39) is dated, and limited in its reliance on works available to the author in Tokyo, but remains the sole English-language overview of seclusion-period European writing about Japan.

[7] Alexander Knox, ‘Japan’, Edinburgh Review 96 (1852): 181-200 .

[8] Walt Whitman, ‘The Errand Bearers’ (1860); reprinted as ‘A Broadway Pageant’, in Leaves of Grass: A Textual Variorum (New York: New York UP, 1980), pp. 513-17.

[9] See Masao Miyoshi, As We Saw Them: The First Japanese Embassy to the United States (1979; reprint, London: Kodansha, 1994), which includes English translation of passages from the diaries and bibliographical information about their publication in Japanese.

[10] ‘Japanese Exhibition’, Illustrated London News, 4 Feb. 1854, p. 98; for discussion of Japanese art and artefacts in Europe before this date see John Ayers, Oliver Impey, and J. V. C. Mallet, Porcelain for Palaces: The Fashion for Japan in Europe, 1650-1750 (London: Oriental Ceramic Society, 1990), and Toshio Watanabe, ‘Japanese Art in the West Before 1853’, in High Victorian Japonisme (see CC11), pp. 53-71.

[11] Gabriel , ‘Félix Bracquemond and Japonisme’, Art Quarterly 32 (1969): 57-68; Martin Eidelberg, ‘Bracquemond, Delâtre and the Discovery of Japanese Prints’, Burlington Magazine 123 (1981): 221-27; Klaus Berger, Japonisme in Western Painting (1992, CC9), p. 13; Toshio Watanabe, High Victorian Japonisme (see CC11), p. 85.

[12] Gabriel Weisberg, ‘Japonisme: Early Sources and the French Printmaker, 1854-1882’, in Japonisme, Japanese Influence on French Art 1854-1910 (1975, see Weisberg et al., CC11), pp. 3-4; Toshio Watanabe, High Victorian Japonisme (see CC11), pp. 83, 94-98.

[13] Notes about the public reaction to the 1862 embassy may be found in Toshio Yokoyama, Japan in the Victorian Mind (1987, CC7), pp. 76, 191 (n. 54), and the anonymous ‘From Yeddo to London with the Japanese Ambassadors’ (Cornhill Magazine 7 [1863]: 603-20), which according to Yokoyama was written by John MacDonald, Supernumerary Assistant at the British Legation at Edo; for a catalogue of the works on display at the Japanese Court see Rutherford Alcock, International Exhibition, 1862: Catalogue of Works of Industry and Art, Sent from Japan (London: International Exhibition, 1862), and for details of their sale see ‘Chinese and Japanese Works of Art’, Times, 5 Dec. 1862, p. 5; for recent assessment of the Exhibition see Ellen P. Conant, ‘Refractions of the Rising Sun: Japan’s Participation in International Exhibitions 1862-1910’, in Tomoko Sato and Toshio Watanabe, eds., Japan and Britain: An Aesthetic Dialogue 1850-1930 (1991, see CC11), p. 81, and Toshio Watanabe, ‘The 1862 International Exhibition in London’, in High Victorian Japonisme (CC11), pp. 89-94.

[14] Oscar Wilde, ‘The Decay of Lying’ (1889), in De Profundis and Other Writings (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986), p. 82; for discussion of Japanese participation in nineteenth-century international exhibitions see Ellen P. Conant, ‘Refractions of the Rising Sun’; Yamamoto Mitsuo, Nihon hakurankaishi (Tokyo: Risôsha, 1970); Neil Harris, ‘All the World a Melting Pot? Japan at American Fairs, 1876-1904’, in Mutual Images: Essays in American-Japanese Relations, ed. Akira Iriye (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1975); and Toshio Watanabe, ‘The 1865 International Exhibition in Dublin’ and ‘The 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris and After’, in High Victorian Japonisme, (see CC11) pp. 99-107; for the most influential of nineteenth-century English-language works about Japanese art see Rutherford Alcock, Art and Art Industries of Japan (London: Virtue, 1878); Christopher Dresser, Japan, Its Architecture, Art and Art Manufactures (London: Longmans, Green, 1882); and Artistic Japan, a monthly published from June 1888 to May 1891 by Parisian art dealer Siegfried Bing, which appeared simultaneously in English, French (Le Japon artistique), and German (Japanischer formenschatz).

[15] According to Gabriel Weisberg the first to use the term ‘Japonisme’ in print in both French and English was the Parisian art collector Phillipe Burty, in articles in the May 1872 La Renaissance littéraire et artistique and August 1875 Academy (‘Philippe Burty and a Critical Assessment of Early “Japonisme”’, in Chisaburô Yamada, ed., Japonisme in Art [1980, see CC11], p. 116), but the earliest to identify Japonisme as a cultural ‘movement’, and to champion its central importance in nineteenth-century European style, were the brothers Goncourt, calling attention to a phenomenon their own enthusiasms had helped to create: ‘la recherche du vrai en littérature, la résurrection de l’art du xviiie siècle, la victôire du japonisme: ce sont . . . les trois grands mouvements littéraires et artistiques de la seconde moitié du xixe siècle’ (Jules de Goncourt, quoted by Edmond de Goncourt, preface to Chérie [1884; reprint, Paris: Charpentier, 1901], pp. xv-xvi).

[16] Algernon Swinburne, ‘Mr. Whistler’s Lecture on Art’, Fortnightly Review NS 43 (1888): 749; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ‘Keramos’ (1878), in The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, vol. 3 (Boston: Hougton Mifflin, 1904), pp. 221-34; Ernest Fenollosa, ‘East and West’, in East and West: The Discovery of America and Other Poems (1893; reprint, Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Literature House, 1970), pp. 3-55; Rudyard Kipling, ‘Buddha at Kamakura’ (1892), in Kipling’s Japan, ed. Hugh Cortazzi and George Webb (London: Athlone, 1988), pp. 202-04; among the more readable of nineteenth-century English-language novels set in Japan are William Dalton’s The English Boy in Japan (London: Nelson, 1859), Thomas Wallace Knox’s Adventures of Two Youths in a Journey to Japan and China (New York: Harper, 1879), Arthur Collins Maclay’s Mito Yashiki (New York: Putnam, 1889), and John Luther Long’s Madame Butterfly (New York: Century, 1898); the first critic to note a relation between Japonisme and literary Impressionism was Earl Miner, and his discussion in The Japanese Tradition in British and American Literature (1958, A25, pp. 80-87) remains the most engaging.

[17] W. E. Henley, ‘Ballade of a Toyokuni Colour Print’ (1888), in Poems by William Ernest Henley (London: Macmillan, 1921), pp. 55-56.

[18] Most of these appeared in newspapers and journals and were not reprinted, or lie buried in volumes just as well forgotten, but a fair sampling by poets well regarded in their day may be found in, for example, John Hay’s Poems (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1890) and the ‘poems of Japan’ in Edwin Arnold’s Potiphar’s Wife (London: Longmans, Green, 1892) and The Tenth Muse (Longmans, Green, 1895); regarding the ‘craze’ for the ‘pseudo-Japanese’ in the English musical theatre, see Earl Miner, The Japanese Tradition in British and American Literature, pp. 52-61, and Tomoko Sato and Toshio Watanabe, Japan and Britain, pp. 133-34.

[19] Earl Miner, The Japanese Tradition in British and American Literature, pp. 269-70.

[20] Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, rev. ed., ed. Alex Preminger (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1974), s.v. ‘exoticism’; Irving Babbitt, Rousseau and Romanticism (1919; reprint, New York: AMS, 1979), p. 251: ‘exoticism is the infinite of nostalgia’.

[21] OED, s.v. ‘nostalgia’.

[22] Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (Durham: Duke UP, 1993), p. 23.

[23] Henry H. H. Remak, ‘Exoticism in Romanticism’, Comparative Literature Studies 15 (1978): 53-65; Francis Affergan, Exotisme et altérité (Paris: PUF, 1987); Denise Brahimi, ‘Enjeux et risques du roman exotique français’, and Wolfgang Zimmer, ‘Voyages africains de recherche et de découverte á l’intérieur de l’Allemagne’, both in L’Exotisme, ed. Alain Buisine and Norbert Dodille (Paris: Didier Erudition, 1988); Chris Bongie, Exotic Memories: Literature, Colonialism, and the Fin de Siécle (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1991); Tzvetan Todorov, On Human Diversity: Nationalism, Racism, and Exoticism in French Thought, trans. Catherine Porter (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1993); Dorothy M. Figueira, The Exotic: A Decadent Quest (Albany: State U of New York P, 1994); Roger Célestin, From Cannibals to Radicals: Figures and Limits of Exoticism (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996); other recent works in which absence and desire are centrally positioned in relation to Western representation of non-Western subjects include Marianna Torgovnick, Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects, Modern Lives (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1990); Lisa Lowe, Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell UP, 1991); and Meyda Yegenoglu, Colonial Fantasies: Towards a Feminist Reading of Orientalism (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998).

[24] Roland Barthes, Empire of Signs, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982), p. 3; Roger Célestin, ‘Barthes: The Splendor of the Signifier’, in From Cannibals to Radicals, pp. 134-74.

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