Who’s the ‘great imitator’?

Critical reflections on Japan’s historical transcultural influence

Authored by: Fabienne Darling-Wolf

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Media

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138917415
eBook ISBN: 9781315689036
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the early global spread of Japanese popular culture known as the Japonism(e) movement, which accompanied Japan’s opening to the West after the 1868 Meiji Restoration. While the Meiji era is typically characterized as a period of intense importation of Western ideas aimed at thwarting the Western colonial threat, the period was also marked by equally strategic efforts on the part of Japanese leaders to export Japanese culture abroad. The chapter examines the consequences of this strategy and some of the possible reasons behind the relative lack of recognition of Japan’s early cultural influence on the West.

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