File:Lafcadio hearn.jpg

Japanophilia is an interest in, or love of, Japan and all things Japanese. (Its opposite is Japanophobia.) One who has such an interest or love is a Japanophile.[1]

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Carl Peter Thunberg and Philipp Franz von Siebold, who stayed in the Dutch outpost of Dejima, helped introduce Japanese flora, artworks, and other objects to Europe. Some consider them to be among the earliest Japanophiles.[2][3] (This was before the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when Japan became more open to foreign trade.)

Lafcadio Hearn, an Irish-Greek author who made his home in Japan in the 19th century, was described to be "a confirmed Japanophile" by Charles E. Tuttle Company in their foreword to most of his books.[4]

In the first decade of the 20th century, British writers were lauding Japan. In 1904, for example, Beatrice Webb wrote that Japan was a "rising star of human self-control and enlightenment", praising the "innovating collectivism" of the Japanese, and the "uncanny" purposefulness and open-mindedness of its "enlightened professional elite". H. G. Wells similarly named the élite of his A Modern Utopia "samurai". In part this was a result of British industrial decline, with Japan and Germany rising at the same time. Germany was seen as a threat close to hand, but Japan was seen as an ally. The British sought efficiency as the solution, and after the publication of Alfred Stead's 1906 book Great Japan: A Study of National Efficiency, pundits in Britain looked to Japan for lessons. This interest ended with World War I.[5]

The United States went through a similar period of Japanophilia starting in the 1980s, anticipated in the 1960s by the writing of Peter Drucker, who pointed to the "consensual decision-making" in Japanese corporations and celebrated Japanese corporate management techniques (even claiming credit for giving this system to the Japanese via his books and seminars). During that period, American students[who?] took Japanese language classes with the hope of doing business with Japan. This was also a decade in which numerous shows from Japan, such as Voltron, were being dubbed and shown on American television; this phenomenon accelerated in the 1990s with shows like Power Rangers, Sailor Moon and Pokémon.

See also


  1. "Japanophile". Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster. 2002. Retrieved 2008-01-08. one who especially admires and likes Japan or Japanese ways 
  2. William R. Johnston (1999). William and Henry Walters, the Reticent Collectors. JHU Press. p. 76. ISBN 0801860407. 
  3. Robin D. Gill (2004). Topsy-Turvy 1585. Paraverse Press. p. 25. ISBN 0974261815. 
  4. "Lafcadio Hearn, Heather Hale looks at the life of the noted writer". Japanfile, the Website of Kansai Time Out Magazine. 1990-09.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. Bruce Cumings (1999). "Archaeology, Descent, Emergence: American Mythology and East Asian Reality". Parallax Visions: Making Sense of American-East Asian Relations. Duke University Press. p. 25. ISBN 0822329247. 

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