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 — 1890 — read Natsume Soseki’s masterpiece, Kokoro (1916).
- Sources, 108-116, 127-133, 140-44
- Natsume Soseki, Kokoro (all)
- Review the images on Civilization and Enlightenment for you Kokoro prep.