Modern Japanese Diaries: The Japanese at Home and Abroad as Revealed Through Their Diaries

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This is a collection of journals written by Japanese men and women—from samurai and other government officials to novelists and poets—who journeyed to America, Europe, and China between 1860 and 1920. The diaries faithfully record personal views of the countries and their cultures and sentiments that range from delight to disillusionment. At once an intimate account of the travellers' lives and a testimony to the greater struggles and advances of their cultures, Donald Keene's eloquent translation and commentary invites the reader to partake in the world as each person experienced it.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
A collection of thirty essays that Mr. Keene originally published in Japanese in the Tokyo newspaper Asahi Shimbun. The book begins where his earlier volume on pre-modern diaries, Travelers of a Hundred Ages, leaves off. There may be few people in Japan, a nation of diarists, who have not kept private records at some time in their lives. The aims of individual diarists, however, differ widely; so do their styles, ranging from the severely objective to the confessional. . . . In each chapter, Mr. Keene provides a narrative of the events in the diarist's life that the work illuminates, with quotations from that work in passing.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Using excerpts from the diaries of diplomats, artists, writers, women and students, Keene, Shincho professor emeritus at Columbia University, discusses Japanese history and culture through Japanese reactions to the West from the mid-19th century, when the country was first opened up to the outside world, to 1920. Each diarist's account is accompanied by the author's commentary as well as notes and bibliography that provide a context for the individual's remarks. In 1859, Muragaki Norimasa, a high-ranking officer of the shogunate, went as an envoy to Washington, D.C., where he met President Buchanan and attended a session of Congress. He complained of the ``lack of distinction between high and low'' and noted that the president ``dressed exactly like a merchant." Some of his compatriots enjoyed the informality and freedom of America; all seemed troubled by foreign dress, food and manners. In these journal entries the distinctions between Japan and the West become more vivid than in many formal accounts. Though a knowledge of Japan's history and literature would help readers, this is still a superb contribution to our understanding of the Japanese. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Japanese traveling from 1860 to 1920 reflect on foreign lands, their homeland, and themselves. (LJ 2/1/95)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231114431
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 3/14/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 5.97 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

DONALD KEENE is Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and University Professor Emeritus at Columbia University.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
The Early Missions to Foreign Countries
Diary of a Voyage to America 9
Journey to America in His Excellency's Service 31
Leisurely Journey of a Fly on a Horse's Tail 43
Diary of a Journey to Europe 57
Journey to the West 64
Journey to France and England 73
Voyage to the West 77
True Account of a Tour of America and Europe 90
Journal of a Voyage to the West 119
Travelers in Asia
Bridges in the Clouds, Rain in the Gorges 135
Travels in the North 148
Exploration of the Southern Islands 164
Writers Abroad
The Diaries of Mori Ogai 189
The European Diary of Natsume Soseki 213
The Diaries of Niijima Jo 225
Diaries by Politicians
The Diary of Kido Takayoshi 249
The Diary of Ueki Emori 254
Diaries by Women
Koume's Diary 269
The Diary of Higuchi Ichiyo 284
The Diary of Tsuda Umeko 304
Mineko's Diary 313
The Diary of Shimomura Toku 321
Poets and Novelists
An Undeceitful Record 329
The Diaries of Masaoka Shiki 355
The Diaries of Ishikawa Takuboku 377
The Early Twentieth Century
Record of Impressions 403
The Diary of Kotoku Shusui 436
The Diary of Tokutomi Roka 447
The Diaries of Kinoshita Mokutaro 470
The Diaries of Nagai Kafu 488
Conclusion 507
Index 511
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