Japan's Orient: Rendering Pasts Into History
This study examines how Japanese historians during the late 19th and early 20th centuries created the equivalent of an Orient for their new nation ... Show synopsis This study examines how Japanese historians during the late 19th and early 20th centuries created the equivalent of an Orient for their new nation state. After the Meiji Restoration, Japan faced the necessity of becoming modern while both shedding the Western characterization of Oriental and maintaining its own identity. The concept of toyoshi (Oriental studies) made it possible to fit the changes of the previous century - the arrival of the West with its technical and cultural baggage and the decline of China - into a comprehensive ideological system. Unlike other scholars, who depict the encounter between Japan and the West as a struggle between modernity and tradition, Tanaka argues that the Japanese were, in fact, attempting to use a variety of pasts - Chinese, Indian, and proto-historic Japanese - to construct an identity that was both modern and Asian.