Immigrant Panics, then and now.

There’s not all that much to add to George Takei’s devastating response to Roanoke Mayor David Bowen’s attempt to rationalize refusing Syrian refugees by citing the internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II. I’ve written about the internment before, and my conclusion thirteen years ago stands up reasonably well: What is the […]

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The Chinese as children of Japan

Above is a nice image that I use in class. I think I got it from Fairbank. I am not quite sure where it comes from, but it is clearly dealing with the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. A version I found through Google Image suggests that it was published in 1902.


The reason I bring this up is that I just found1 another  version, published in China in 1904


This is clearly a re-drawn version, either from the Japanese original or from some intermediary version. The Chinese version has a caption, which laments the Chinese being compared to the child-like Koreans, but as I don’t have a Japanese caption I can’t really compare that. It is the picture I find interesting. I get the impression that the purpose of the Japanese original is to make Japan and Britain look equal. and China and Korea were just minor elements. The Chinese version changes a number of things, and while this may just be a hurried artist at work I find the changes interesting. Japan and Britain are the center of the Japanese version, but the Chinese version has a more balanced composition.   Height changes a bit between the two versions. In both Japan and Britain are the same height. (Britain looks taller, but that is just because she is cheating with that helmet technology. At a spiritual level they are equal.) In the Japanese version China is taller than Korea, but in the Chinese version the Koreans are taller, perhaps to emphasize China’s humiliation.  The Chinese figure in the Japanese version is more active (I think) than his Korean counterpart, but in the Chinese version they are both static and being observed by those above. Most interestingly, the Chinese figure has been completely re-drawn. The Japanese version has him in something that looks vaguely like an official’s hat, identifying him with the dynasty. The Chinese version has a more generic hat, identifying him with the race. The Chinese version has a very obvious queue, perhaps identifying him with subservience to the Manchus. The Japanese version seems to assume a public capable of identifying national stereotypes without a caption, but the Chinese version adds them. I don’t know what to make of the fact that the Chinese version seems impelled to turn this into a landscape by adding a ground, or the fact that it both images we have two male figures subordinate to two female figures, but nevertheless they are interesting images.

  1. from Paul Bailey, Gender and Education in China: Gender Discourses and Women’s Schooling in the Early Twentieth Century.London: Routledge, 2012.  

Teaching in Japan

So, we are getting into the late middle of the Fall semester here in North America. If you are finding the whole teaching thing is getting you down, here is something  from Sugawara No Michizane, who eventually became the Japanese God of Literature, which is sort of like making tenure only even better. As a […]

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Pictures of Japan

Do you teach about Japan? If so you might want to check out the Toshidma Gallery. Teaching is always better with pictures, and if you do Japan you are probably always on the lookout for good pictures of things like the Kanko-Maru Japan’s first steam warship.  (formerly the Dutch Soembing Or a picture of the […]

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Science, Social Science, and Pseudoscience of Diet/Culture Thesis

Eminent food historian Rachel Laudan alerted me recently to the existence of new scholarship, cultural psychology, giving support to the idea that different basic grains gave rise to different cultures which have measurable effects at the individual level: “Large-Scale Psychological Differences Within China Explained by Rice Versus Wheat Agriculture.” The research is intriguing for its […]

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Yes, I watched it.

As Jamie Noguchi said, I see these movies so you don’t have to: my review of 47 Ronin is up at HNN. As expected, it’s a blazing failure, with few details of either the original incident or famous dramatizations left intact. A subtitled video of the 1748 Bunraku play would have been better, artistically and […]

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Modern Japan in Anglophone Historical Fiction

ASPAC 2013 Jonathan Dresner Pittsburg State University “But writers of fiction do not stumble onto locales or times: they choose them and they use them to serve their narrative and aesthetic ends.” — Jonathan Dresner “…flaws typical of the genre: a carefully set but very selective milieu; characters cobbled together from cultural and psychosocial fragments; […]

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