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The transcultural approach to Japanese art history embraced by the contributors to this volume centers on the dynamic aesthetic, artistic, and conceptual negotiations across cultural, temporal, and spatial boundaries. It not only acknowledges material objects, people, and technologies as agents, but also intangible practices such as knowledge and concepts as vital agencies of interaction in transcultural processes. With its premise on connectivity, trans-territoriality, networks, and their transformative potential, this research destabilizes categorical configurations such as “center vs. periphery” and “high vs. low,” calling into question the classical canon of Japanese art history.
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In: Journal of Japonisme
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Abstract

The Japanese pavilion at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition was much admired by visitors. Unlike most of the fair buildings, however, the Ho-o-den remained in situ on the Wooded Island long after the exposition was over, thus providing an architectural reference for anyone interested in Japanese design. This is the second of two articles, the first of which appeared in issue 8.2 of the Journal of Japonisme and detailed the design, construction and initial reception of the Ho-o-den at the fair. This second instalment explores Ho-o-den’s influence on the design of 20th century architecture and graphic design.

In: Journal of Japonisme
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Abstract

The American industrialist Charles Lang Freer (1854–1919) amassed an outstanding collection of Asian, Near Eastern, and contemporary American art that he bequeathed to the Smithsonian Institution in 1906, together with plans for a museum to house his collection, the Freer Gallery of Art. Deeply influenced by the innovative American artist and Japoniste James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903), Freer envisioned the museum as a holistic setting for his collection, harmonizing aesthetics from both East and West. Freer’s meticulous attention to design and detail extended to the mountings for his large collection of Chinese and Japanese paintings. His plans included hiring scroll mounters from Japan to remount over 350 of the paintings onto panels, choosing antique textiles to suit his taste, a taste inspired by antiquarian trends. Together with archival records and textile sample books, an album of photographs and other mementos from the Miura family of mounters recently acquired by the museum elucidates this remarkable achievement and the historical context of Japanese scroll mounting in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

In: Journal of Japonisme
In: Journal of Japonisme
Part of a formidable publishing industry, cheap yet eye-catching graphic narratives consistently charmed early modern Japanese readers for around two hundred years. These booklets were called kusazōshi (“grass books”).
Graphic Narratives from Early Modern Japan is the first English-language publication of its kind. It enables anyone new to kusazōshi to gain comprehensive knowledge of the field. For the specialist, our edited volume marks a turning point in scholarship, uncovering fresh research avenues.
While exploring the powerful effects of the visual-verbal imagination, this collection opens up bold new vistas on the act of reading and advances provocations around comics and manga.
Contributors are: Jaqueline Berndt, Joseph Bills, Michael Emmerich, Adam L. Kern, Fumiko Kobayashi, Frederick Feilden, Laura Moretti, Matsubara Noriko, Satō Satoru, Satō Yukiko, Satoko Shimazaki, Takagi Gen, Tanahashi Masahiro, Ellis Tinios, Tsuda Mayumi and, Glynne Walley.

Abstract

In Chapter 6, “Celebrating the Present: The New World of Kibyōshi Unlocked by Mr Glitter ’n’ Gold,” Tanahashi Masahiro complicates our understanding of the 1775 Kinkin sensei eiga no yume (Mr Glitter ’n’ Gold’s Dream of Splendor), ubiquitously celebrated as the first kibyōshi (yellow-cover book). English-language scholarship has insisted on its intertextual qualities and its ability to define, albeit obliquely, the essence of the Edo sophisticate. There is some recognition that it displays an interest in the latest fashions. Tanahashi pushes this line of inquiry further, arguing that engagement with the here and now is what mattered most in (this) kibyōshi. Tanahashi deploys his encyclopedic knowledge to meticulously illustrate how Kinkin sensei eiga no yume is a celebration of whatever was topical, including the economic and political reality of its time. Tanahashi’s analysis points to a reading experience akin to a hunting expedition. Those in the know can discern the subtle hints to the extradiegetic reality. The others are left with the pleasing façade of the rise-and-fall story of Mr Glitter ’n’ Gold, before the moment of awakening. Tanahashi explains that by the 1820s Kinkin sensei eiga no yume had become almost impenetrable. This, in turn, alerts us to the difficulty of unlocking the pleasures of kibyōshi when reading them in the twenty-first century, without the chance to experience the early modern daily life of Edo. Tanahashi teaches us that engagement with the present is a major hallmark of early modern Japanese graphic narratives.

In: Graphic Narratives from Early Modern Japan
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Abstract

In chapter 2, “The Creative Process,” Takagi Gen discusses the creative team that is behind the publication of early modern Japanese graphic narratives by delving into a close reading of a double-page spread from the 1818 gōkan (combined booklets) titled Takarabune kogane no hobashira (Golden Mast of the Treasure Ship). We learn that kusazōshi were the product of a team of professionals that included publisher (hanmoto), author (sakusha), illustrator (gakō), copyist (hikkō), block-cutter (hangishi), and printer (hansuri). Takagi’s close reading of the visual and the verbal components of this spread takes us behind the scenes of the publishing process, revealing the craftsmanship involved in the making of these books and bringing us closer to the many human struggles that these professionals faced. A fascinating reading for anyone interested in questions of authorship.

In: Graphic Narratives from Early Modern Japan

Abstract

In Chapter 8, “Generative Interactions: The Osmotic Boundaries Between Kusazōshi and Ukiyo-e,” Fumiko Kobayashi deploys her vast knowledge of both early modern Japanese art and literature, and asks us to bridge the two disciplines. This chapter is a fascinating and unconventional journey into one of the most celebrated Japanese artists of all times: Hokusai (1760–1849). By working with kusazōshi both penned and illustrated by Hokusai as well as with his single-sheet prints, Kobayashi shows how Hokusai used kibyōshi (yellow-cover books) to experiment with ideas that his artistic genius would later refine. Along the way Kobayashi introduces us to less-known texts that play with the complexities of the figurative language. Kobayashi argues that humor, blissfully inconsequential humor, is unleashed as a result. This chapter appeals to anyone interested in knowing more about Hokusai and his genius.

In: Graphic Narratives from Early Modern Japan