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Edo no igirisu netsu [Britain in the Edo Period]

Screech, Timon (2006) Edo no igirisu netsu [Britain in the Edo Period]. Kodansha.

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Abstract

It is known that the English East India Company played an important role in the early Edo period, during the decade of its operations in Japan (1613-23). The role of Great Britain in ‘opening’ Japan in the early 19th century is also often discussed. This book, however, is the first monograph to consider the image of England (then Britain) during the 200-years without direct contact. The Dutch East India Company alone among European business operated in Japan during this period, and habitually everything is attributed to them, with the term ‘Dutchmen’ often being used by modern historians to refer to Europeans, and with all imported items being referred to as Dutch. True, at the time, Japanese scholars referred to a new discipline called ‘Dutch Studies’ (Rangaku), but conversely, my research revealed, and this book sets out for the reader, how great an interest was shown in Britain. A surprising amount of information, impressive in quantity and accuracy, circulated, relating to British institutions and history, and readers were made aware that this was a different country from the Netherlands. London was a perennial subject of fascination, with its cathedral and famous bridge. Images of British sites were made and quite widely circulated. Although some other European countries were also mentioned, no other elicited this degree of interest. The mid-18th century saw the rise of Great Britain, and its increasing penetration overseas. Imported British objects arrived in Japan in large numbers, especially, highly-finished items like clocks and scientific instruments. Buyers and sellers were perfectly aware that these were British. Pocket watches became known as ‘London clocks’, and one of the shoguns was buried with his; the shogunal observatory used many London-made pieces of equipment with dials written in English.

Item Type: Authored Books
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Art and Archaeology
ISBN: 4062583526
Depositing User: Huei-Lan Liu
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2008 09:58
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/4217

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