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When Tengu TalkHirata Atsutane’s Ethnography of the Other World$
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Wilburn Hansen

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832094

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832094.001.0001

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Constructing Japanese Identity

Constructing Japanese Identity

Senkyō ibun

(p.17) Chapter 1 Constructing Japanese Identity
When Tengu Talk

Wilburn Hansen

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter locates Hirata Atsutane in the milieu of 1820s Edo Japan, assessing his stance and attitude toward three powerful “enemy” discourses. These discourses originate from within Japan, but each of them concerns what Atsutane conceived as a foreign culture and a threat to his own ideological end. This ideological end is shown to be the construction of a unique Japanese cultural identity, one that was clearly separate, independent, and superior to those offered by the three foreign cultures. Ultimately, Atsutane’s technique is recognized as being in defiance of the accepted practice of history in his day, and his methodological move beyond the history and philology of his time is characterized as a move toward anthropology and ethnography.

Keywords:   Hirata Atsutane, Edo Japan, foreign cultures, Japanese cultural identity, philology, anthropology, ethnography

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