Okakura Kakuzō:A Reintroduction
In 1905, Okakura Kakuzō (1863-1913)1 designed a small hexagonal pavilion that overlooks the Pacific Ocean by Izura Bay on his country estate in rural Ibaraki Prefecture and named it Kanrantei (Big Wave Viewing Pavilion). Commonly known as Rokkakudō (Six-Sided Hall), the recently reconstructed Kanrantei, destroyed by the tsunami of March 11, 2011 (see frontispiece to the volume), serves as an architectural analogue for the complexity of Okakura's historical persona and discursive profile. It invokes many of the characteristics associated with this turn-of-the-century transnational intellectual who played such a significant role in the art and cultural patrimony of the Meiji era (1868-1912). While the six-sided Rokkakudō appears deeply rooted in the traditional architectural typologies of East Asia, its classicism is in fact inventive, as it represents a rare building form with no major precedents or obvious points of reference.2 Not only is the symbology of its form obscure, but so are the circumstances surrounding its construction—as part of the sequence of events related to the relocation of the Japan Art Institute (Nihon Bijutsuin) from Yanaka in central Tokyo to the remote fishing village of Izura. It evokes the momentary isolation of this major Meiji-era alternative art institution founded by Okakura, and by extension his renegade reputation and cult-like status among his circle of artist-friends. Furthermore, the Rokkakudō's setting, a rocky outcropping off of the Izura Coast, resonates with Okakura's self-image as an exilic and reclusive figure. The dramatic vantage point it offers onto the Pacific Ocean manifests its creator's own far-reaching vision and an overseas career that witnessed extended sojourns in Boston and Calcutta, as well as shorter stays throughout Europe and China. The Rokkakudō embodies the erudition, antinomianism, and internationalism that so indelibly marked Okakura's own career.
The destruction and subsequent rebuilding of the hexagonal structure also provide a timely pretext for a reconsideration of Okakura's discursive legacy. This legacy has [End Page 1] been conditioned by the prerogatives of specific interpretive communities throughout the twentieth century. Their cumulative effect has been the mythologization of "Okakura Tenshin" as the father of pan-Asianist discourse, and a casting of him as the father of modern Japanese art. The present issue of the Review of Japanese Culture and Society was conceived from a position of skepticism with regard to such epithets. Its main proposition, as explored through the articles by noted specialists found in this volume, is that a close reading of Okakura's writings and circumstances presents a more subtle and complex historical profile, and raises different types of questions: What are the main themes and commitments of Okakura's body of writings? How might these writings be understood as unified? How did the radically disparate environments through which Okakura moved inflect his thought? And how did he conceptualize the history of Japanese art at the end of his life, after playing central roles in the government-led surveys of cultural treasures in the 1880s, the founding of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (Tōkyō Bijutsu Gakkō) and the Japan Art Institute, and the amassment of an Asian art collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston? Even though we fall far short of answering these questions in full, it is our conviction that a sustained attention to them opens up new and oblique ways of understanding both the historical position of Okakura and the contingencies of the Meiji art world.
In adopting this approach, we have been inspired by the writings of Kinoshita Nagahiro (also a contributor to the present volume), who has disarticulated more than anyone the many myths of Okakura. And in keeping with Kinoshita's practice, whenever referring to Okakura, we have chosen to avoid the common sobriquet "Tenshin" that has come to be associated with a specific way of imagining Okakura, and instead have chosen to call him by his given name, Kakuzō. As Kinoshita reminds us in his essay included in this volume, "Tenshin" was one of the names Okakura occasionally used when signing his personal letters and poems, although he never used this name in public. It was Okakura's close associates at the Japan Art Institute who began calling him "Tenshin" posthumously out of reverence, and the Japanese rediscovery of Okakura as "Okakura Tenshin" in the 1930s was predicated on this essentially hagiographical tradition. There is a need to distinguish Okakura Kakuzō from his much romanticized afterlife as Tenshin. Hence the title of this special issue, "Beyond Tenshin: Okakura Kakuzō's Multiple Legacies."
In surveying the historiography of Okakura, several moments stand out as especially important in shaping his reception.3 The first moment arose in the 1930s, two decades after his passing. It was from the wartime period of the 1930s through 1945 that the Japanese intellectual community rediscovered Okakura and created the influential image of "Tenshin" as the visionary pan-Asianist who asserted, "Asia is one." It was not until the mid-1930s that the complete works of Okakura, including a full Japanese translation of his English books, were published, appearing under the name "Okakura Tenshin."4 [End Page 2] Seibunkaku published a three-volume collected works (Okakura Tenshin zenshū) in 1935-36, and Rikugeisha published a five-volume collected works with the same title in 1939; both sets were edited by Okakura's son Kazuo. The Society to Commemorate the Accomplishments of Okakura Tenshin (Okakura Tenshin Iseki Kenshōkai), established in 1942 and led by the Nihonga painter Yokoyama Taikan, also began to publish yet another set of collected works (Tenshin zenshū) in 1944, but Japan's defeat in the war the following year left this project unfinished. As for more accessible publications, Iwanami published a paperback translation of The Book of Tea in 1929, followed by The Awakening of Japan in 1940, and The Ideals of the East in 1943.5 Okakura wrote all of his books in English, which were materially available in Japan, but intellectually accessible only to a limited readership, and therefore it is not an exaggeration to state that Okakura was not well known in Japan as a thinker until his writings became available through these Japanese translations. The re-emergence of Okakura as "Tenshin" was the result of the various efforts of a number of institutions and individuals, including Okakura's family (his son Kazuo and Okakura's younger brother Yoshisaburō, a prominent scholar of English), artists of the Japan Art Institute led by Yokoyama Taikan, the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, and critics such as Yasuda Yojūrō and Kamei Katsuichirō, who were associated with the literary journal The Japan Romantic School (Nihon Roman-ha; published between 1935 and 1938).6
The literary critic Yasuda Yojūrō in particular played an instrumental role in forging the mythology of Tenshin as a prophet of Asian spiritual unity. In his 1942 exegesis of "Asia is One (Ajia wa hitotsuda)," Yasuda called Okakura the greatest Meiji thinker and the most exemplary patriot (shishi),7 and cited the nationalist poet Asano Akira in declaring Okakura's writings to be Meiji Japan's greatest "war literature."8 "Asia is One" began to take on a life of its own with "O" capitalized (in symbolic alteration of the non-capitalized "o" in the original). In 1944, "Ajia wa hitotsu" was selected as the aphorism of the day for December 8, the day that marked the beginning of the "Greater East Asia War," in the propaganda calendar Almanac of National Aphorisms (Kokumin zayū no mei) edited by the Patriotic Association for Japanese Literature (Nihon Bungaku Hōkokukai).9 There is little doubt that the name "Tenshin" was invoked to justify Shōwa Japan's war in Asia and the Pacific as the necessary and cumulative destiny of modern Japan.
The 1938 discovery of a short unpublished manuscript that Okakura wrote in English during his first stay in India in 1901-2 also helped to cement his heroic image as a visionary pan-Asian thinker.10 This manuscript contains heated passages, such as "The glory of Europe is the humiliation of Asia!" and "European imperialism has itself furnished the weapons by which it shall be destroyed."11 Okakura wrote it during his intense collaborative phase with Margaret Noble (aka Sister Nivedita, 1867-1911), whose own agenda of anti-colonial agitation also hovers over Okakura's The Ideals of the East. In 1939, the poet Asano Akira, a former-Communist-turned-ultranationalist who began to [End Page 3] write prolifically on Okakura during wartime, translated and published this manuscript under the title The Awakening of the East (Tōyō no kakusei). Though this title was Asano's invention, its catchy resonance with Okakura's own titles The Ideals of the East and The Awakening of Japan has made it the standard "title" for this originally untitled piece of writing to this day. As with the phrase "Asia is one," this text too has been accorded an outsized importance in the inflation of Okakura as a pan-Asian ideologue.
Okakura's wartime reputation has shaped subsequent historiography in Japan in a number of ways. First, it resulted in a powerful cult of personality, one that went well beyond the coterie of Okakura's close associates at the Japan Art Institute who were the first to venerate Okakura as "Tenshin" shortly after his death. This personality cult revolved around the still popular image of Okakura as a tragic hero, whose lofty ideals went unrealized because they went against the prevailing tide of his time.12 This mournful pathos that pervades Yasuda's discussion of Okakura reveals a highly aestheticized fascination with imminent loss, death, and defeat that is also present in Yasuda's other writings. It is significant that Yasuda's characterization of Okakura, rendered in his notoriously opaque, self-indulgent style, is far from the simplistic portrayals that one typically associates with state propaganda. In fact, the very appeal of Yasuda's writings at the height of the Pacific War rested on an ornate literariness that set them apart from the impoverished prose of military-fed propaganda. It is perhaps also for this reason that the critic Takeuchi Yoshimi, in his 1962 essay on Okakura, translated in this volume, observed that "[d]etaching Tenshin from fascism is not too hard, but detaching him from the Japan Romantic School's interpretation is not accomplished as easily as one might expect." Although the propagandistic appropriation of "Tenshin" during wartime is now well understood as a stain on Okakura's profile, the actual content of the Tenshin myth that so captivated the Japanese intellectual community at the time still awaits careful examination.13 Only such an analysis will finally enable us to assess how the writings by the Japan Romantic School have mediated our own imagination of Okakura.
Another consequence of the wartime rediscovery of Okakura is that he was reintroduced in Japan more as a pan-Asian ideologue than as an art historian. As Inaga Shigemi points out in his essay in this volume, this discontinuity of Okakura's intellectual legacy in Japan had been prepared by what he terms the "patricide" of Okakura by subsequent art historians. As a result, the most sustained interpretative tradition on Okakura to this day is constituted by scholars of intellectual history rather than of art, including figures such as Maruyama Masao, Hashikawa Bunzō, Takeuchi Yoshimi, and Matsumoto Ken'ichi more recently. Critiqued from an array of ideological positions, Okakura continues to be regarded as a key figure through which to reflect on the nature of Japan's modernity and the meaning of its geocultural position in Asia.14 We have chosen to translate Takeuchi's short yet influential essay "Okakura Tenshin: Civilization Critique from the Standpoint of Asia" (1962) as representative [End Page 4] of this interpretative approach. Takeuchi was a leading postwar thinker on the left, who sought an alternative intellectual tradition for modernity in Asia, most notably in revolutionary China.15 In this vein, he also argued, and not without controversy, that Japanese pan-Asianism contained a legitimate critique of Eurocentric modernity. Within this larger project, Takeuchi came to position Okakura as an early critic of Eurocentric modernity who believed in the equation of "beauty, spirit, and Asia," and presented The Ideals of the East as the pinnacle of Okakura's achievement as a thinker (despite his own warning that this text alone does not represent the entirety of Okakura's significance). While this casting of Okakura as a committed critic of Western-style modernization prefigures similar re-castings of Okakura from a postcolonial perspective, Takeuchi's interpretation is unable to offer a convincing discussion of Okakura's career in the Meiji cultural bureaucracy or his later curatorial work in Boston, as neither supports the image of Okakura as a strict opponent of Western-style modernity inside or outside Japan.
The second significant moment in the historiography of Okakura can be situated in the 1990s, a moment that is still proximate to us. In the 1990s, the Japanese scholarly community became engaged in a self-reflective critique of its own history as institution, prompted by the widespread sentiment that a particular phase of modernity had ended. This awareness was reinforced by the end of the long Shōwa era (1926-89) and the bursting of the so-called bubble economy. In this postmodern climate, the invented nature of Japan as nation state (kokumin kokka) came to the fore. Art historians such as Kitazawa Noriaki and Satō Dōshin published seminal works that investigated the discourse of bijutsu (fine art) as a constitutive element in the production and maintenance of national identity in modern Japan. If Japanese artists have been engaged in the institutional critique of art since the 1960s, it was not until the 1990s that the community of art historians and museum curators began to pursue a similar critique of their own system. In this new line of inquiry, Okakura was positioned as a key figure who conceived the very idea of "Japanese art" as we know it today. In the 1990s Okakura also began to receive serious scholarly attention by Japan specialists outside Japan as an early architect of Japanese cultural nationalism.16
This recent wave of scholarly literature has benefitted from the sustained archival research and documentation that culminated in the two multi-volume publication projects of Okakura's collected writings in both Japanese (1979-1980; nine volumes) and English (1984; three volumes) by Heibonsha. These Heibonsha publications represent a substantial upgrade from the last publication project of a similar magnitude that took place during the wartime. And yet, the impetus to compile these resources was rooted in the personality cult of Okakura. In the mid-1960s, the Nihonga painter Yasuda Yukihiko, then a doyen of the Nihonga establishment as chairman of the Japan Art Institute and a representative of the last generation to know Okakura in person, expressed the desire to produce an authoritative monograph on Okakura to commemorate the centennial of his [End Page 5] birth, which led to the publication of his collected writings. As Satō Dōshin has observed, in the 1960s, as Japan prepared to observe the centennial of the Meiji Restoration, there was a widespread effort to preserve primary materials and documentary accounts of Meiji Japan.17 Around this time the art of the Meiji period also began to be integrated into the scholarly field of Japanese art history. The critical re-assessment of Okakura's legacy, together with the compilation of related primary materials, was an integral part of this discursive process of transforming Meiji into history.
The site of Izura, already mentioned at the beginning of our introduction, has played an important role in this postwar afterlife of Okakura, in mediating the tradition of the "Tenshin" personality cult that intensified during the wartime and the more recent reevaluation of Okakura as a historical figure of academic interest. The movement to preserve the Izura property epitomized the wartime worship of Tenshin catalyzed by figures such as Yokoyama Taikan. After the war, in 1955, the estate was entrusted to Ibaraki University by Taikan, and in 1963 a memorial museum was established with a collection of artworks donated by families of Okakura's close associates at the Japan Art Institute as well as by living members of the Institute. In 1971, the Izura estate was renamed the Izura Institute of Arts and Culture (Izura Bijutsu Bunka Kenkyūjo), and the Institute's annual publication Izura Collection of Essays (Izura ronsō) has provided a forum to promote scholarship on Okakura. The memorial museum, rehoused in a new building designed by Naitō Hiroshi, was reopened as the Tenshin Memorial Museum in 1997. In this way, Izura serves the double role of a center for Okakura studies and a local tourist attraction that ensures the popularity of Okakura as a cultural icon.
Another notable aspect of Okakura's reassessment since the 1990s is his reevaluation as one of the first transnational intellectuals from Asia who mediated the cultures of East and West (or, perhaps more accurately, as someone who proposed an influential self-definition of "the East" through a strategic alignment and distanciation from the equally putative "West"). This approach has been informed by Orientalism and postcolonial studies. Historians of modern Indian art and culture have investigated the significance of Okakura in the discursive making of "Indianness" in the early twentieth century, for example, while scholars in North America have paid renewed attention to the influential role Okakura played in the American imagination of the East. In contrast to the more "traditional" pan-Asianist reading of Okakura, Okakura's vision of the East in this recent body of literature is assessed less in terms of its political impact, nor does it seek to place Okakura into a genealogy of pan-Asianism. Instead, this recent literature seeks to consider, perhaps for the first time, the transnational meaning of Okakura's career and thought on art. As representative of this approach, we have selected to translate the article by Inaga Shigemi titled "Okakura Kakuzō and India: The Trajectory of Modern National Consciousness and Pan-Asian Ideology Across Borders" (2004). Inaga positions Okakura's interpretation of Asian art within the complex international debate that preoccupied Indian, British, and Japanese art historians around the turn of the twentieth [End Page 6] century. Inaga's interest in Okakura resonates with the broader intellectual concern of the art history community worldwide today to re-examine its own history and practice from a more global perspective, and to explore possibilities of a history of art that does not simply reify the geocultural binarism of the West and the rest.
This cursory review of the reception of Okakura shows that his legacy has been defined in ways that, in hindsight, clearly served the needs of specific communities of thinkers and institutions. The present volume consciously positions itself vis-à-vis this commentarial history and its various lacunae. Accordingly, what the essays gathered here contribute is an intensively local approach to a number of micro-contexts surrounding Okakura's doings and writings, in the process reconceiving the raw material from which to assess his career. Two examples suffice to introduce this manner of approach, centering around Okakura's two most famous texts, The Ideals of the East (1903) and The Book of Tea (1906).
The latter text has been hailed as a highly influential and, for its time, definitive summa of Japanese aesthetics and its relationship to the tea ceremony, as formulated by Okakura for Western audiences. A closer look at the context in which The Book of Tea was authored, however, offers a more fine-grained assessment of the audiences presupposed by Okakura for his exposition of "Teaism." As Allen Hockley discusses in his contribution to this issue, at the turn of the century Japanese tea culture was poorly understood and chanoyu the subject of much misinformation. These mischaracterizations appear to have conditioned, at least to some extent, the agenda of The Book of Tea. Noriko Murai's essay included here argues for the importance of reading The Book of Tea against the context of Okakura's highly performative role of a Japanese aesthete to Boston high society. His interactions with members of the Isabella Stewart Gardner circle as a chanoyu master proved to have been a particularly effective medium for the introduction of Japanese aesthetic ideas to these prominent cultural figures in Boston.
As the historiographical survey above makes clear, The Ideals of the East, celebrated (or vilified) for its opening line, "Asia is one," has generally been understood as an early and forceful articulation of pan-Asianism. As Kinoshita notes in his essay here, however, Okakura only used the phrase "Asia is one" (with "one" uncapitalized in the original) for the opening of The Ideals of the East; he never repeats it, or any similar phrase, in any of his other published writings.18 Indeed, it is difficult to discern elsewhere in the text or in Okakura's other major writings an explicitly political expression of pan-Asianism associated with this expression, let alone the expansive Japanese ultranationalism often assumed from it under the banner of Asian solidarity. There is no doubt that the intellectual and artistic empathy Okakura experienced in India left a lasting impact on his conception of Asia. He was also among the first intellectuals in Asia to voice a critique of modern Eurocentrism by turning its cultural logic against itself and by proposing an alternative geo-cultural heritage, however inventive.19 At the same time, this opening line has been allowed to play an outsized role as an epigraph for Okakura's legacy. [End Page 7]
Rather, it is more important to assess The Ideals of the East within the context of Okakura's transformative travels and evolving networks at the turn of the century. Most important among these was his relationship with Margaret Noble, otherwise known as Sister Nivedita. As John Rosenfield explores in his essay for this volume, Okakura's text was authored through close partnership with Nivedita, and was the result of a momentary confluence of historical trends circa 1900, including the emergence of interfaith dialogue, the popularity of Swami VivekΠnanda and the therapeutic aestheticism of "Eastern spirituality" in Boston high society, Okakura's promotion of the Japan Art Institute artists, and the Indian independence movement. Furthermore, as Inaga argues in "Okakura Kakuzō and India," The Ideals of the East was in dialogue with an emerging discourse on "Eastern art history" during the first decade of the twentieth century. Positioning the authorship of The Ideals of the East within this complex calculus of historical phenomena is more meaningful than understanding it as the static reflection of its author's purportedly strident pan-Asianism. Indeed, Okakura did not pursue pan-Asianism as an anti-colonial political ideology beyond the brief Indian moment of 1902, and there is some reason to believe that Okakura distanced himself from the book in later years, as reflected in his refusal to sign off on a Japanese translation of Ideals.
Embedding Okakura within more fine-grained analyses of turn-of-the-century developments in Japanese artistic culture can yield dividends well beyond the monographic. As Victoria Weston demonstrates in her contribution to the present issue, Okakura's aspirations for the work of the Japan Art Institute painters come into higher relief when the critique sessions in which he engaged with painter-colleagues and published in the journal Nihon bijutsu (Japanese Art) are read closely. There it becomes apparent that the commonly employed term mōrōtai, now a standard way of designating the "hazy paintings" of the early years of the Japan Art Institute, is far less revealing than the term risōga or "ideal painting" for understanding the artistic agendas of this ambitious circle of Nihonga artists and critics. By the same token, Alice Tseng's contribution on the ever-evolving discursive profile of the term kenchiku (architecture) and its cognates parallels the fast-paced metabolism of the Meiji art world in which Okakura was formed and served as a key arbiter. Chelsea Foxwell's essay on antiquarian culture in mid Meiji, meanwhile, provides a crucial context for what she terms "Okakura's Hegelianism," in which his study of antiquities and views on contemporary artistic production were conceptualized within a continuum whose seamlessness has been obscured over time.
The present issue on Okakura also introduces a substantial body of Okakura's Japanese writings on art in English translation for the first time.20 It includes English translations of three pieces of writing that Okakura published in Japanese in the late nineteenth century, when he actively shaped Meiji art policies through his double appointment as the headmaster of Japan's newly established national academy of fine arts and the director of the fine arts section of the national museum. Okakura was an [End Page 8] influential public voice during his time and wrote on a wide range of subjects from art education to art policies, art history, and contemporary art. While our selection does not cover all of these areas or the breadth of Okakura's ever-evolving thoughts on art, each of the three texts translated here marks an important moment in Okakura's career and provides a sense of his multifaceted interests.
The first piece, "Reading 'Calligraphy Is Not Art'" (1882), is well known as instigating one of the first public debates on art, one that animated Meiji journalism. It also marked Okakura's journalistic debut at the age of 19 as a young civil servant in the Ministry of Education. It was written in critical response to an argument presented by the oil painter Koyama Shōtarō (1857-1916), who questioned the "fine art" (bijutsu) status of calligraphy according to Western-inflected artistic criteria. In seeking to refute Koyama's case and provoke a public debate, which ultimately never occurred as Koyama did not respond, Okakura drew not only on the rich cultural heritage of East Asia but also on modern European aesthetic criteria, especially the definition of the aesthetic as disinterested and non-useful. This approach echoes the one employed by Okakura's mentor Fenollosa, who had delivered his seminal lecture "The True Meaning of the Fine Arts" (Bijutsu shinsetsu) to the Ryūchikai (Dragon Pond Society) just a few months earlier.
It is also notable that Koyama stood at the unfavorable end of this debate from the beginning. By his own admission, Koyama's refutation of the fine art status of calligraphy represented a minority position in the early 1880s, especially if the idea of "fine art" were to be equated with a sense of high cultural achievement of a given civilization. The privileged position accorded to calligraphy as exemplar of high culture was never abandoned during Meiji, as witnessed by the popularity of the literati tradition even among the newcomer elite. It further disadvantaged Koyama's position that the value of Western-style painting for Meiji culture was temporarily being questioned around this time; the year 1882 witnessed the closing of Japan's first national art school, the College of Engineering Art School (Kōbu Bijutsu Gakkō) that exclusively taught Western media, as well as the rejection of oil painting for the First Domestic Competitive Painting Exhibition (Naikoku Kaiga Kyōshinkai). Okakura seemed aware that general public sentiment was against Koyama's position, and was careful not to appear as a member of an "old" conventional bandwagon looking to crush Koyama's "new," Westernizing position. Thus he begins by declaring that "it is of course not my wish to assume the responsibility of speaking in defense of commonly held fallacies." Okakura's critique of Koyama's argument focuses on the fact that his analysis is not "enlightened" enough to take account of more universal and a priori criteria for aesthetic judgment. Okakura claims that a good part of Koyama's argument can be reduced to the simple observation that calligraphy is neither painting nor sculpture. This, Okakura argues, does not constitute a worthy aesthetic critique.
The second translated text included here is the inaugural address to the art magazine Kokka (Flowers of the Nation) that Okakura launched in October 1889 with the journalist [End Page 9] Takahashi Kenzō. The journal title alone suggests the role Okakura envisioned art to play in national life. This address was not attributed to a specific individual, but all surrounding circumstances as well as the writing itself point to Okakura's authorship. Kokka began as a deluxe magazine that specialized in art and was the first of its kind in Japan. It remains in publication to this day as a leading academic journal of East Asian art history. The publication of Kokka added yet another dimension to Okakura's already commanding web of influence in the Meiji art world, this time by initiating a public forum to promote a more scholarly understanding of Japanese art. In this inaugural issue, Okakura himself contributed an essay on the Edo-period painter Maruyama Ōkyo. By 1889, having ousted his opponents in the Ministry of Education such as Koyama, Okakura had risen to a position of bureaucratic prominence as the person in charge of the newly established Tokyo School of Fine Arts. In this year he was furthermore appointed the director of the fine arts section of the museum in Ueno, which was renamed the Imperial Museum. Throughout the Kokka inaugural address, the sense of national pride that Okakura exhorts the public to embrace resonates with a heightened awareness that Meiji Japan had finally become a mature state following the promulgation of the Imperial Constitution earlier in the same year.
In "Concerning the Institutions of Art Education" (1897), the third text translated here, Okakura develops his proposition of a grand vision for national art policy, in this case the improvement of art education at the level of secondary and higher institutions of learning. These opinions are the result of a more experienced and learned Okakura, someone who had now served as a top art official for several years. His active involvement with the Japanese exhibit at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair as well as the planning for the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition also inflect his concern for the competitiveness of Japanese manufacture in overseas markets. Although Okakura is often seen as Tokyo-centric and primarily interested in the fine art category of painting, this text reflects his sustained concern for the preservation and promotion of traditional craftsmanship and other region-specific manufacturing industries throughout Japan. What strikes the reader, above all, is the wide gap that continues to exist between Okakura's ambitious vision of national art administration, already detected in his Kokka address, and the actual state of national art policies at the end of the nineteenth century. Okakura proposes that the government open another national fine arts academy in Kyoto, for example, along with several technical art schools throughout the nation, each specializing in region-specific craft media such as textiles or ceramics. He also proposes to build about a dozen local museums that display regional craft heritage in order to promote local manufacturing industry. Such far-reaching ideas, however, may have compromised Okakura's standing in the Meiji bureaucracy. It is not difficult to imagine how such excessive demands on state resources may not have endeared him to government officials. Indeed, such views may have contributed to Okakura's forced resignation from both the art school and the museum a year later in 1898, an ouster often explained as directly triggered by a personal [End Page 10] scandal but more broadly contextualized in terms of the ascendency of Western-style painting led by the Paris-trained oil painter Kuroda Seiki.
Is there an aggregate image of Okakura and Meiji artistic culture that results from these scholarly essays and translated texts? Two preliminary responses are all that we dare offer at this point. The first is the idea of a site-specific Okakura. Even though his range of activities spanned the globe and was predicated upon vital relationships with numerous overseas collaborators, Okakura's discursive acts have been, for the most part, imprecisely mapped onto the rapidly evolving cartography of global power relations and emerging nation-states of the modern era. Embedding Okakura in each of his discrete micro-contexts goes beyond mere biographical excavation in its exploration of the ways his thought is tied to international networks of individuals, the exploratory agendas of new types of art institutions, and the unpredictable dynamics of contact zones. While such formulations may appear to contradict the self-contained points of inquiry implied by "site-specificity," in fact the widely scattered coordinates of Okakura's most significant achievements each represent a momentary convergence of peoples, experiences, historical trends, and local circumstances specific to that place and time, whether it be his inaugural art history lectures at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts in 1890, his residency in Calcutta in early 1902, or his final three lectures on East Asian art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1911.
In a related vein, site-specificity also sends a warning that ideas do not travel or transfer from one site to another seamlessly or with transparency. It reminds us that any movement across time and space, by definition, involves rewriting and interpretation. Thus, the site-specific significance of Okakura writing "Asia is one" in Calcutta for a book to be published out of London is not the same as rendering it in Japanese as "Ajia wa hitotsunari" in 1939. Contemplating the distance between "Asia is one" and "Ajia wa hitotsunari" is enough to remind us of the complexity that accompanies acts of cultural translation. And yet, reassessing Okakura as a transnational intellectual requires us to take up such interpretative challenges.
The second tentative image of Okakura that might be yielded in toto from the inquiries of the present issue is that of an incomplete Okakura. In the final analysis, it may be next to impossible to assign an overarching unity, ideological, philosophical, or otherwise, to a body of writings and lectures that were responding so powerfully to their immediate circumstances. Their author was one of a select group of Japanese intellectuals from his era who could travel widely and engage robustly with the English-language sphere. Thus it is unsurprising that the trajectory of his thinking develops unpredictably as he moves through the disparate environments of his student days at Tokyo University, the newly established Ministry of Education, the meetings of the Kangakai (Painting Appreciation Society) in Tokyo during the 1880s, the directorships (and subsequent resignations therefrom) of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and the Fine Art section of the [End Page 11] Imperial Museum, his establishment of the Japan Art Institute, his travels in China and India, and his five stays in Boston between 1904—when he took up his work with the Museum of Fine Arts—and his death in 1913. Although there were signs, as Kinoshita Nagahiro discusses, that Okakura was attempting to synthesize his views on the history of Japanese art in his final years, he died before he could realize any systematic exposition thereof.
In positing Okakura's thought as incomplete, however, we are by no means implying that there is no value to its systematic and holistic study, that it does not offer a powerful set of ideas and perspectives on the nature and history of Japanese art. Nor do we wish to attribute that incompletion to the often-projected personality of Okakura as a charismatic yet contradictory mind. Rather, it is simply that these ideas and perspectives are too geoculturally diverse and contextually ever-changing to be subject to totalizing rubrics and false unities. What they offer instead are a series of erudite and densely conditioned points of contact with the fast-paced metabolism of the Meiji and globalizing art world from around 1880 to 1910. Okakura's heterogeneous set of achievements, legacies that do not add up to a cohesive, unified whole, are ultimately symptomatic of modernity itself as an asynchronous pulse that is unevenly distributed and experienced from one site, language, and culture to another. In championing this disposition, we hope to inch closer to a meaningful recovery of a historically ensconced and yet dynamically dispersed, real-time Okakura, before his mythologization, before Tenshin.
Noriko Murai is assistant professor of modern Japanese art history in the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Sophia University in Tokyo. She co-authored Journeys East: Isabella Stewart Gardner and Asia (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2009), and her co-edited anthology Inventing Asia: American Perceptions around 1900 is forthcoming in 2013. Her publications include a contribution to Shikaku hyōshō to ongaku (Visual Representation and Music), vol. 4 of Jendā sōsho (Series on Gender) (Akashi, 2010) and "Contemporary Ikebana and the Potential of Art History at the Boundary of Art," Journal of History of Modern Art 26 (2009). She is currently working on a book project on Okakura Kakuzō.
Yukio Lippit is professor of history of art and architecture at Harvard University, where he has taught since 2003. Recent publications include Colorful Realm: Japanese Bird-and-Flower Paintings by Ito Jakuchū (1716-1800) (The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 2012), Kenzo Tange: Architecture for the World (Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, 2012), and Painting of the Realm: The Kano House of Painters in Seventeenth-Century Japan (University of Washington Press, 2012).
1. 1862 is often given as the year of Okakura's birth, but this is not accurate. The record shows that he was born on the twenty-sixth day of the twelfth month of the second year of the Bunkyū reign. This date in the old lunar calendar corresponds to February 14, 1863 in the Gregorian calendar that the government adopted at the end of the fifth year of the Meiji period. This detail yet again points to the transitional nature of the time into which Okakura was born. See Kinoshita Nagahiro,Okakura Tenshin: mono ni kanzureba tsui ni ware nashi (Okakura Tenshin: In Meditating on the Object, Finally There is No I) (Kyoto: Minerva Shobō, 2005), 8-12.
2. Only a handful of hexagonal structures have survived in Japan. There is a hexagonal hall in Tokyo, at Sensōjiin Asakusa, of which Okakura might have been aware. This relative rarity of hexagonal structures is in contrast to the octagonal hall, an architectural form associated with the Chinese imperium, which can be found in Japan as early as the Yumedono Hall at Hōryūji (early eighth century).Many famous octagonal halls survive in Japan from later eras. Kumada Yumiko has proposed that Okakura's hexagonal hall was intended to serve at once as a Buddhist hall, a Chinese viewing pavilion, and a tearoom. See Kumada, "Rokkakudō no keifu to Tenshin" (The Genealogy of the Six-Sided Hall and Tenshin), in Okakura Tenshin to Izura (Okakura Tenshin and Izura), eds. Morita Yoshiyuki and Koizumi Shin'ya (Tokyo: Chūō Kōron, 1998), 150-77.
3. For critical overviews of Okakura's reception, see Kinoshita Nagahiro, "'Okakura Tenshin' shinwa to 'Ajia wa hitotsu' ron no keisei" (The Formation of the 'Okakura Tenshin' Myth and the 'Asia is one' Theory), in Tōyō ishiki: musō to genjitsu no aida 1887-1952 (Oriental Consciousness between Reverie and Reality 1887-1953), ed. Inaga Shigemi (Kyoto: Minerva Shobō, 2012), 23-45; and Satō Dōshin, "Tenshin kenkyū no genjō to igi" (The Present Status and Significance of Tenshin Scholarship), in Watariumu Bijutsukan no Okakura Tenshin Kenkyūkai (Society for Research on Okakura Tenshin at the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art), ed. Watariumu Bijutsukan, (Tokyo: Yūbun Shoin, 2005), 42-67.
4. The Japan Art Institute published Okakura's collected writings (Tenshin zenshū [The Complete Works of Tenshin]) and a select translation [End Page 12] of his English writings (Tenshin sensei ōbun chosho shōyaku [Select Translations of Teacher Tenshin's English Writings]) in 1922, but these volumes were prepared as private editions, not for sale.
5. It is noteworthy that, while effectively all publications in Japan that appeared around this time and have appeared since have modified the author's name to "Okakura Tenshin," these Iwanami paperback editions, translated by Muraoka Hiroshi, have retained "Okakura Kakuzō" as the author's name.
6. For scholarship in English on the Japan Romantic School, see Kevin Michael Doak, Dreams of Difference: The Japan Romantic School and the Crisis of Modernity (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1994).
7. Yasuda Yojūrō, "Okakura Tenshin (Asia is One 'Ajia wa hitotsuda')," in Nihon goroku (Collection of Japanese Aphorisms, 1942), reprinted in Yasuda Yojūrō zenshū (Collected Writings of Yasuda Yojūrō), vol. 17 (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1987), 176.
89. The ultranationalist poet and critic Asano Akira provided the commentary.
10. Okakura's grandson Koshirō discovered this manuscript in 1938. The first Japanese translation of this text was published later the same year under the title Rebuilding of the Ideals (Risō no saiken), edited by Okakura Kazuo and Koshirō.
11. Okakura Kakuzō, "The Awakening of the East," in Okakura Kakuzō, Collected English Writings (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1984), 1: 136, 159.
12. For example, the literary critic Kawakami Tetsutarō (1902-80), who served as the moderator for the famous 1942 symposium on overcoming modernity, portrayed Okakura as one of the emblematic modern Japanese "outsiders" in Nihon no autosaidā (Outsiders in Japan) (Tokyo: Chūō Kōronsha, 1959), 143-77.
13. On the Japan Romantic School's interests in Okakura, see Kyunghee Lee, "Yasuda Yojūrō no Okakura Tenshin ron: mittsu no kakyō no sō" (Yasuda Yojūrō's Review of Okakura Tenshin: The Phase of Three Bridges), Hikaku bungaku (Comparative Literature), no. 49 (2006): 52-66; idem, "Kamei Katsuichirō no Okakura Tenshin ron: 'saisei' to shite no 'kaigi'" (Kamei Katsuichirō's Review of Okakura Tenshin: "Skepticism" as "Revival"), Chōiki bunka kagaku kiyō (Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies), no. 13 (2008): 91-105; idem, "Asano Akira no Okakura Tenshin ron: 'Nihon roman-ha no shūhen-sha' ni yoru hihyō" (Asano Akira's Review of Okakura Tenshin: The Critique by a "Peripheral Member of the Japan Romantic School"), Hikaku bungaku kenkyū (Studies in Comparative Literature), no. 92 (November, 2008): 82-103.
14. For a recent assessment of Okakura in this context, see the discussion and inclusion of Okakura, in Pan-Asianism: A Documentary History, Volume 1: 1850-1920 , ed. Sven Saaler and Christopher W. A. Szpilman (Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Plymouth UK: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2011), 93-111.
15. On Takeuchi Yoshimi, see Richard F. Calichman, Takeuchi Yoshimi: Displacing the West (Ithaca, NY: CornellUniversity East Asia Program, 2004).
16. See F. G. Notehelfer, "On Idealism and Realism in the Thought of Okakura Tenshin," Journal of Japanese Studies 17, no. 2 (1990): 309-55; Stefan Tanaka, "Imaging History: Inscribing Belief in the Nation," The Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 53, no. 1 (Feb. 1994): 24-44.
17. Satō Dōshin, "Tenshin kenkyū no genjō to igi," 44. Satō also attributes the increase in Okakura-related events and publications in the 1960s and the 1970s to the sequence of commemorative occasions related to Okakura and the Japan Art Institute that took place during this period, such as the centennial of Okakura's birth in 1962.
18. It is significant that it was Nivedita, not Okakura, who declared Asia to be "One," with a capitalized "O," at the end of her introduction to The Ideals of the East with the following statement: "Asia, the Great Mother, is for ever One." Nivedita, introduction to Kakuzō Okakura, The Ideals of the East with Special Reference to the Art of Japan (London: John Murray, 1905), xxii. At the end of the handwritten manuscript that Okakura penned while in India (generally known today as The Awakening of the East), Nivedita again wrote, "Asia is One." This is crossed out and Okakura instead wrote, "We are one"; see Okakura Tenshin, Okakura Tenshin zenshū, vol.1 (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1980), 482. These instances suggest that Okakura's interest in soliciting political unity among Asians was inspired largely by Nivedita and her Bengali associates, but their relationship soured while Okakura was in India and he did not appear to be committed to this cause beyond his Indian sojourn and especially after his failed attempt to organize a parliament of Asian religions to take [End Page 13] place in Japan in 1903. See Noriko Murai, "Authoring the East: Okakura Kakuzō and the Representations of East Asian Art in the Early Twentieth Century" (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 2003), 72-73, 91-92.
19. On this issue, see Karatani Kōjin, "Japan as Art Museum: OkakuraTenshin and Fenollosa," in A History of Modern Japanese Aesthetics , ed. Michael Marra (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2001), 43-53; Michele Marra, "Hegelian Reversal: Okakura Kakuzō," in Modern Japanese Aesthetics : A Reader (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999), 65-71.
20. As far as we know, the only other English translation of Okakura's Japanese writings is "A Lecture to the Painting Appreciation Society [Kangakai]" (1879), included in Michele Marra, Modern Japanese Aesthetics , 71-78. [End Page 14]