Sept 24/26 – Modern Japan

If we can say that the 1870s-80s was the period of Civilization and Enlightenment, or the age of Fukuzawa, we could also say that after 1890 the tide turned against Fukuzawa in some ways. Fukuzawa had little interest in the exact nature of the Japanese emperor or Japanese identity for that matter. For him all nations were playing the same game: Civilization. Later thinkers thought long and hard about what the Japanese identity might mean in the modern world. Nitobe Inazo based his vision on a shared “samurai-ness” that identified the Japanese soul. Okakura Tenshin had a different view based on “Tea-ism.” Rather than immediately see this as the Japanese finally “returning to their roots” after “dabbling” with Westernization, we should consider that this simultaneous expansive universality and an internalized identity may be part and parcel of the nation-state form itself. Recall Fukuzawa himself never equated Civilization with the West as some of his critics suggested. And the identity thinkers maintained the state form of borders, constitution, trade, etc., etc.

Lastly, and as one summation of our first moment — 1868 — read Natsume Soseki’s masterpiece, Kokoro (1916).

Fukuzawa, 10,000 yen

Fukuzawa, 10,000 yen

Soseki, 1000 yen

Soseki, 1000 yen

Nitobe, 5000 yen

Nitobe, 5000 yen


  1. Sources, 108-116, 127-133, 139-44
  2. Natsume Soseki, Kokoro (all)
  3. Review the images on Civilization and Enlightenment for your Kokoro prep.
  4. recommended: Meiji satirical piece, Kangaki Robun, “The Beefeater

Monday Slides

Writing Exercise #1 “1868”

EA 950 Modern Japan

27 Sept 2018

Writing exercise #1

Choose at least THREE of the following four texts and while making specific references to the textsthink through the issues and fault lines of “1868” in modern Japan. One of your choices MUST be Kokoro— you may choose all four if you like:

Outline of a Theory of Civilization(1875)

A Reconsideration of Human Rights(1882)

Ueki Emori’s three essays (1878-1885)


This is a writing exercise focusing on texts, not contexts, so only include biographical information if you absolutely must to make a specific point. You should not only state your points, but demonstrate them. That said, this is an analytical exercise, not a critical one, meaning you should not have to chime in yourself with a sweeping conclusion that resolves all issues. Let them fight it out on your page. This method requires that you are always absolutely clear who is speaking at any time. This can be as simple as, “Fukuzawa states…”, or “But Kato would reject this saying…”, etc.

Be sure, then, that you not merely state your point, but demonstrate it with specific references. You may, if you need to, cite other texts from our Sources book but that is not required—again text, not just context. If you read closely, you’ll notice the context itself is often other texts.

Use Chicago or Turabian style footnotes, not endnotes. You can find many examples of these online or in the Chicago Manual of Style (print or online).

1000-1500 words

Due Friday Oct 5 at noon in Assignments tab of NYU Classes