In 188687 fenollosa and okakura had traveled to

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Unformatted text preview: rectly influenced by conceptions of illusionist realism in Western-style painting.”24 Here is an example of one of Shiki’s tanka in the mode of realistic depiction that, in fact, is very much like a haiku in its poetic effect: Encounter with the West 264 At the verandah’s edge The tightly curled young plantain Unfolds its leaves, And five feet of green Cover the wash basin.25 It appears that, with Shiki, we have still another example of the strong impulse on the part of so many modern Japanese scholars and artists (indeed, probably all of them during at least one phase or another of their careers) either consciously or unconsciously to relate to their own national past those features of modern culture that emerged in the West and that they admire or wish to utilize. But history is cruel to this impulse, for the unalterable fact is that the West evolved such things as modern realistic literature first and the Japanese will never know whether they could have done it independently. In contrast to their relatively recent exposure to Western literature (that is, belles-lettres), the Japanese had had a rather long historical acquaintanceship with the visual arts, particularly painting, of the West. Unencumbered by a language barrier, the visual arts are obviously more amenable to cross-cultural transmission, although in the case of Japan this in fact meant simply that the inevitable clash between Japanese tradition and Western modernity could be precipitated even more readily and with greater abandon than it could in literature. At the same time, as Sansom has suggested, it is also possible that in the visual arts Japan’s aesthetic heritage was better prepared than it was in literature to stand up against Western intrusion.26 The Jesuits had first introduced Western visual arts to Japan in the sixteenth century and had even trained Japanese artists in contemporary painting techniques. But the anti-Christian measures of the Tokugawa shogunate had, of course, eliminated this and almost all other Western influences from the coun...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.

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