By R. Starrs
An in-depth and finished account of the complicated heritage of eastern modernism from the mid-19th century 'opening to the West' until eventually the twenty first century globalized global of 'postmodernism.' Its inspiration of modernism encompasses not only the cultured avant-garde yet a large spectrum of social, political and cultural phenomena.
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Small ships plied navigable rivers; sailing ships crossed the high seas, horse-drawn carriages trod the roads, letter carriers ran between stations. Soldiers, using copper cannon or ﬂint riﬂes, fought within a restricted battle area. Woolen cloth was the ﬁnery of the wealthy. 9 The main implication of this, of course, is that it was quite possible for Japan to catch up to the West within a similar timeframe of a few short decades. Since this is exactly what happened, one might say that Kume proved to be a remarkably prescient man.
This would eventually become Keio University in Tokyo, now considered one of the two major private universities in the country. But even in his writings Fukuzawa was above all an educator who aimed to instruct his countrymen in the ways of the West. At the heart of the values Fukuzawa had absorbed from middle-class mid-Victorian liberalism was the tenet that strong, successful, independent individuals made for strong, successful, independent nations. 14) In his view this was the main moral, social and political lesson that Japan had to learn from ‘Western civilization’: the value for the nation as well as for the individual of personal success and self-reliance achieved through education, hard work, and ﬁnancial or business acumen.
The most famous of these, as we shall see, even became an ardent Japanese nationalist and strongly supported the island nation’s emergence as the ‘Great Britain of the East’, a major imperialist power and a modern exemplar of the ‘samurai tradition’. Thus, ironically, even those who advocated a ‘return to Japanese tradition’ were strongly inﬂuenced by modern Western ideas of exactly what was meant by ‘Japanese tradition’. In other words, when we attempt to analyse Meiji constructions of Japanese tradition, we must also Part I Modernism and Anti-Modernism in Meiji Japan 39 take into account the inﬂuence of Victorian views of that tradition, as well as of Victorian views of ‘national tradition’ in general, which also played a signiﬁcant role in shaping Meiji nationalist ideologies.