Area of Research

Meiji and later

In 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry sailed his “Black Ships” into the Bay of Edo (Tokyo). The US government had tasked him with forcing Japan, which was isolated from the West, to establish trade relations. For Japan, this visit marked the start of a new era associated with reforms under Emperor Meiji. Within just a few decades, the country was modernized in almost every area of life in order to be able to can keep up with West from a technological standpoint. The triumph of Japanese aesthetics, which began in the great world exhibitions of the 19th century, has been duly honored. Thus our interest lies less in the various Japonisms than in the contradictions and conflicts, the turmoil between tradition and progress within Japan and its Pacific sphere of influence.