In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Kokka (1889)
  • Okakura Kakuzō and Timothy Unverzagt Goddard (bio)

Art is the flowering of a nation. Its form amalgamates and crystallizes those ideas that the people revere, admire, and cherish, and to which they aspire. Accordingly, by looking at the spirit and dignity of an artwork, one can judge the level of a culture; by the depth of its poetic resonance and taste, one can discern the refinement of a people. The arts of Japan have excelled since ancient times: the exquisite appearance of Buddhist statues, the high refinement of landscapes, the appeal of picture scrolls showing the lives of holy men, the poetic charm of flower and animal paintings—all of them cast a shadow behind art's lens. They illuminate era after era in the temples of Nara and Heian, making manifest the exquisiteness of ancient times. Extending down to the early modern era, they are like a hundred floral brocades in a forest of ink. Delicate plum blossoms and sumptuous peonies, together emanating their splendor, impart their fragrance and brilliance to one thousand years of history. Art is truly the legacy of successive reigns, virtuous sages, and great benevolence, as we evoke the spirit of our ancestors and gather together their flowering petals. We are charged with the truly urgent responsibility of preserving and developing these characteristics, which bequeath their brave radiance to posterity and to all four corners of the world. Now is a rare and glorious time, the enlightened reign of Meiji. In this era, we search for models everywhere, drawing on ancient and modern times, and seek knowledge broadly, from the East and West. We shall extol the exemplary achievements of the Meiji Restoration and encourage a demeanor of refinement and elegance. And we will forge a path for industry and the economy. It is my hope that this publication of Kokka will serve to express opinions concerning the promotion, preservation, supervision, and instruction of the arts; propose objectives for the preservation and development of painting, sculpture, architecture, and the various branches of the art industry;1 and display the flowering essence of this nation and its people. [End Page 176]

In this world, just as in Buddhist practice, it is no easy matter to overcome the hindrances that lie before one's eyes, cross to the other shore, defeat the demons of the realm of desire, and gaze upon all phenomena in their suchness. When one cultivates a lotus with great care and is besieged by wind and rain, only a country bumpkin notices the whiff of its autumnal fragrance at a rustic bamboo fence. On the other hand, when one plants a willow without particular care, it grows to fill the heavens with cotton-like seeds, and in casting myriad threads, it attracts and moves human emotions. Is not the way of the arts similarly difficult? In my opinion, the enterprises that its future organization demands ought not be limited to one. We may well ask whether current methods of the administration of the arts sufficiently fulfill the responsibilities of effective management and ensure adherence to established practices and regulations. At present, the Imperial Household Ministry is responsible for the investigation of national treasures, the Ministry of Home Affairs oversees the preservation of shrines and temples, education in the arts falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce manages art exhibitions.2 With various functions divided among ministries in this manner, we cannot yet ask for a governmental agency to assume responsibility for art in its entirety. Not only are we unable to follow the lead of countries such as France and Italy in establishing a ministry devoted exclusively to the arts, but it is also impossible to formulate a comprehensive strategy for the arts in the absence of an administrative entity that oversees these various projects. At the very least, if in the struggle between Japan and foreign countries we wish to meet on equal footing, then we must harness the artistic power of the entire nation and admonish the leadership, or else we will be unable to make the vanguard and the reserves obey their respective commands. We may well ask, has...