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Okakura Tenshin: Writing A Good History Upon A Modern Plan

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Chapter Summary

In East Asia, Pan-Asian ideologies have been seen as ideological tools in support of Japanese expansionism and colonization. Japan's relationship with the Asian continent has been shaped by geography as much as by history. In the modern period, new notions of empire, as well as the pressures of Western imperialism, led Japan to cobble together its own colonial dominion. Okakura Tenshin's cultural critique of Western civilization found its expression in the three English books he wrote. Japan, because it has preserved its independence, and is the repository of Asian culture, has a responsibility to lead Asia. Early writing on Japanese history was also influenced by the works of Guizot and Buckle, and, under this influence, writers sought to understand Japan within the terms of European civilization. Okakura sees the period from the late eighteenth century to the early nineteenth century as marking the transition to the modern world.

Keywords: Asian culture; East Asia; European civilization; Japanese history; Okakura Tenshin; Pan-Asian ideologies; Western imperialism



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