The beginning of the Meiji Era in Japan coincided with the development of nineteenth-century middle-class tourism. Suddenly, people could travel the world and experience new cultures in a way that had not previously been possible.
Japan was of particular interest because it had not been accessible during the centuries of the Tokugawa shogunate. Japanese culture, the Japanese people, and even the landscape and architecture of the country attracted a wide range of visitors.
Many of the European and American travelers who went to Japan, whether they were only there for a short visit or lived there for a longer period of time, wrote about their travels for an international audience fascinated with the country.
In this presentation, I will look at the writings of these travelers to Japan during these decades of incredible change and significant continuity. What were their expectations? What were their experiences? How did they present Japan and Japanese culture to the rest of the world?
Dr. Jennifer Welsh, Assistant Professor of History, Eastern New Mexico University (Ph.D. Duke University).