We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Nagai Kafu's Occidentalism

Defining the Japanese Self

Rachael Hutchinson

Publication Year: 2011

Describes how writer Nagai Kafuµ (1879–1959) used his experience of the West to reconcile modernization and Japanese identity. Nagai Kafuµ (1879–1959) spent more time abroad than any other writer of his generation, firing the Japanese imagination with his visions of America and France. Applying the theoretical framework of Occidentalism to Japanese literature, Rachael Hutchinson explores Kafuµ’s construction of the Western Other, an integral part of his critique of Meiji civilization. Through contrast with the Western Other, Kafuµ was able to solve the dilemma that so plagued Japanese intellectuals—how to modernize and yet retain an authentic Japanese identity in the modern world. Kafuµ’s flexible positioning of imagined spaces like the “West” and the “Orient” ultimately led him to a definition of the Japanese Self. Hutchinson analyzes the wide range of Kafuµ’s work, particularly those novels and stories reflecting Kafuµ’s time in the West and the return to Japan, most largely unknown to Western readers and a number unavailable in English, along with his better-known depictions of Edo’s demimonde. Kafuµ’s place in Japan’s intellectual history and his influence on other writers are also discussed.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Front Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-ix

The bulk of this volume was completed on a sabbatical supported by a Picker Research Fellowship, granted by the Colgate University Research Council. I owe sincere thanks to Julie Nelson Davis and Cappy Hurst of the University of Pennsylvania Center for East Asian Studies for hosting me as visiting researcher...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-16

In the opening years of the twentieth century, Japanese intellectuals were faced with a pressing, seemingly unsolvable question. How could Japan modernize without losing its sense of identity, rooted in hundreds of years of aesthetic tradition? In the rapidly changing environment of the Meiji period...

read more

1. Constructing the "West": Binarism and Complexity in Kafū's America

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 17-58

Nagai Kafū sailed for America on the Shinanomaru on September 22, 1903. Kafū's dream was to travel to France to become a writer, as he had a keen interest in French literature. An acquaintance with the playwright Fukuchi Ōchi had introduced him to the works of Émile Zola in 1900, after which membership...

read more

2. Imagining Authenticity: Literature and Civilization in Kafū's France

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 59-93

It is clear from the final stages of Amerika monogatari and Kafū's diary of 1906-1908 that it was the literature and lifestyle of France that captivated Kafū in New York. Given his view of America as merely a stepping-stone on the way to France, it is not surprising that the wish to complete his travels weighed heavily...

read more

3. Positioning the Observer: Kafū's "Orient" and Orientalism

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 95-132

Where Amerika monogatari constructed an image of America through contrast with Japan, and the beginnings of Furansu monogatari saw Kafū reveling in an idealized world of art and aesthetics, the latter part of Furansu monogatari turns to an examination of the wider world as Kafū leaves...

read more

4. Occidentalism: Contrast and Critique in the Returnee Stories

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 133-171

Through Amerika monogatari and Furansu monogatari, Kafū showed an increasing disillusionment with his home country, first in comparison to America and France, and then as the realization hit him that he must return to Japan. Where the young narrators of Furansu monogatari often...

read more

5. Resistance: Defining and Preserving the Japanese Self

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 173-233

Nagai Kafū's Returnee Stories laid out a challenge to the Japanese people, to discover the meaning of "Nihon to iu Originalité." Where Kafū's work of 1909-1910 puts forward an argument for preserving Japanese culture in the face of superficial Westernization, his writing after this period shows the working out of this argument...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 235-250


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 251-261


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 263-289

Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF

E-ISBN-13: 9781438439082
E-ISBN-10: 1438439083
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438439075
Print-ISBN-10: 1438439075

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 794925094
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Nagai Kafu's Occidentalism

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Nagai, Kafū, 1879-1959 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Civilization, Western, in literature.
  • East and West in literature.
  • Japan -- In literature.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access