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Since MeijiPerspectives on the Japanese Visual Arts, 1868-2000$
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J. Thomas Rimer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834418

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834418.001.0001

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Okakura Tenshin and Aesthetic Nationalism

Okakura Tenshin and Aesthetic Nationalism

(p.212) 9 Okakura Tenshin and Aesthetic Nationalism
Since Meiji

John Clark

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines the aesthetic nationalism of Okakura Kakuzō (Tenshin), with particular emphasis on his notion of a unitary Asia. In Meiji Japan, Okakura’s ideas were part of an ideological current that held strongly to nationalist ideas. However, his ideas later came to be associated with what may be retrospectively regarded as “ultranationalism.” This chapter first considers aesthetic nationalism as a theoretical concept before discussing the issues raised by the contradiction in Okakura’s thought by analyzing one of his texts, The Ideals of the East (1903). It then explores Okakura’s views about Japanese art as well as the implications of his concept of a unitary Asia and its intellectual basis in opposing the “West.” It also assesses the relationship of Okakura’s thoughts to contemporary intellectual currents, along with his awareness that artistic creativity must be based on a forward-looking art history. Finally, it describes the notions of cultural continua used by Okakura to understand Japan, China, and India, and how his writing fits into our current understanding of the postcolonial.

Keywords:   aesthetic nationalism, Okakura Kakuzō (Tenshin), Asia, Japan, ultranationalism, Japanese art, West, art history, cultural continua

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