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Cobbing, Andrew John (1997) The Japanese experience in Britain, 1862-1876: Japan's cultural discovery of the Victorian world in the early years of overseas travel. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The overseas investigations undertaken in the pursuit of knowledge by early Japanese travellers during the 1860s and 1870s have left a unique record of life in the West as seen by visitors whose understanding of developments in the world outside had been limited by centuries of cultural isolation. Fascinated by the extent of British political and commercial influence they observed during their travels, they paid particularly close attention to the Victorian world, and London became the base of the largest group of Japanese students to emerge overseas. This thesis examines the nature of these travellers' experiences and their perceptions of Victorian Britain. The period addressed covers the unprecedented boom in overseas travel from its inception during the last years of bakufu rule, and through the first years of the Meiji regime until 1876, when new government regulations were already beginning to curb the numbers of Japanese students abroad. The study presents an analysis of the diaries in which many early travellers recorded their observations of life outside Japan. It also examines a selection of particularly significant published works that some wrote following their return, which gave readers in Japan their first detailed introduction to civilization in Britain. In addition to well-known figures such as Fukuzawa Yukichi. this features long-overlooked writers like Nomura Fumio and Nakai Hiroshi whose works were also influential in the early Meiji years. The experiences of early overseas travellers in the 1860s and 1870s led to rapid advances in Japanese understanding of the world outside. By examining in detail how first-hand observations enabled travellers to develop increasingly sophisticated views of the Victorian world, this study clarifies the underlying forces at work in shaping perceptions of the West as a whole during this most formative stage in the modern history of Japan.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:03

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