Description - Japan Encounters the Barbarian by W. G. Beasley
Since the 19th century the Japanese have looked to the West for ideas, institutions and technology that would help them achieve the goal of "national wealth and strength". In this book an historian of Japan discusses Japan's "cultural borrowing" from America and Europe. W.G. Beasley focuses on the mid-19th century, when Japan's rulers dispatched diplomatic missions to the West to discover what Japan needed to learn, sent students to learn it, and invited foreign experts to Japan to help put the knowledge to practical use. Beasley examines the origins of the decision to initiate direct study of the West, at a time when western countries counted as "barbarian" by Confucian standards. Next, drawing on letters, diaries, memoirs and reports, he describes the missions sent overseas in 1860 and 1862, in 1865-1867, and in the years after 1868, in particular the prestigious embassy led by Iwakura in 1871-1873. He also tells the story of the several hundred students who went abroad in this period.
He concludes by assessing the impact of the encounters on the subsequent development of Japan, first by examining the later careers of the travellers and the influence they exercised (they included no fewer than six prime ministers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries), and then by considering the nature of the ideas they brought home.
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(234mm x 156mm x 16mm)
Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
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Book Reviews - Japan Encounters the Barbarian by W. G. Beasley