A Cultural History of U.S.-Japan RelationsBook - 2011
Beginning with the first Japanese and Americans to make contact in the early 1800s, Michael Auslin traces a unique cultural relationship. He focuses on organizations devoted to cultural exchange, such as the American Friends’ Association in Tokyo and the Japan Society of New York, as well as key individuals who promoted mutual understanding.
Decades before Americans cheered on Ichiro Suzuki, Japanese baseball fans swooned over Babe Ruth. And a century prior to the craze for anime and manga, American art collectors hoarded Japanese woodblock prints. Few relationships can match the depth, or importance, of the cultural ties between America and Japan over the past two hundred years. In Pacific Cosmopolitans, Michael Auslin tells this absorbing history in full for the first time.
From the moment adventurers reached each other's shores in the early 1800s, cultural encounter formed the bedrock of U.S.–Japan ties. Such casual connections turned into formal cultural exchange within the emerging global society of the late nineteenth century. As both countries became great powers, new cultural institutions supplemented political ties and helped promote economic trade, shaping the Pacific world yet becoming entangled in controversy. These trans-Pacific activities faced critics in both countries and were overwhelmed by rising nationalism and geopolitical crisis in the early twentieth century.
In the decades since World War II, however, U.S.–Japan cultural exchange has again been seen as a crucial means to strengthen the bonds between the two nations. Bringing together philanthropists like the Rockefeller family and artists like Akira Kurosawa, along with untold numbers of ordinary Americans and Japanese, the acolytes of exchange continue to believe that cross-cultural understanding will promote a more peaceful future, even in the face of competing national interests.
Japanese studies, foods, and manga comics are now popular in the US, while Tokyo residents frequent American fast food franchises and movies. In this history of the relationship between Japan and the United States since the 18th century, Auslin (Japan studies, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research) highlights the unique organizations and individuals (some pictured) who promoted this cultural exchange. The author also provides valuable insights into this bond in the broader contexts of each nation's national policies, and tensions among Japanese groups with differing attitudes toward this exchange: the cosmopolitans, nationalists, and internationalists. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)