A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Study of ‘Japonisme’ in South Asia in the Late Nineteenth Century:

New Aspects of Thought on the Relations between Japan and South Asia

Yuki Meno

Professor, Faculty of Physical Education, Kokushikan University, 7-3-1, Nagayama, Tama, Tokyo, Japan, (International Affairs Centre). E-mail: meno@kokushikan.ac.jp


Japonisme, which is defined as a unique cultural phenomenon and fashion from the 1860s to the 1910s, is the technical term for “having a liking for many Japanesque items, patterns andpaintings”. This French word and concept have been studied for several years only in Western collections and in cities like Paris, London and Vienna, which had direct relationships with each international exhibition in the late 19th
century. After Japan’s period of isolation from the 17th century to the late 19th century, many such international exhibitions in Western countries started introducing Japanese arts and crafts to the Western world for the very first time. That was the standard explanation concerning Japonisme at that time. However, before then, only a little Japanese art had been reported on or studied by researchers in South Asian museums during the 19th century. Although, under the current understanding of Japanese history, the term Japonisme, which was used by Western nations, may not be appropriate or reasonable now. Therefore, at the moment, if one starts to investigate Japanese art in the 19th century in South Asia with comprehensive analysis, it may result in something new and of value. This paper describes the possible presence of studying Japonisme by researchers of Japan in South Asia.

Keywords Japonisme. Japanesque items, patterns, paintings. Japanese swords. Japanese arts and crafts in Western world. Japanese art in South Asian Museums. Japan’s National Isolation Policy. Anglo-Indian Banking System in Japan. Colonial finance and intra-Asian trade. Japanese yen before First Sino-Japanese War. Multidisciplinary approach toJaponisme.