Mar 24th 2015

Japan in the Age of Great Voyage: History of Cultural Exchange Between Europe and Japan (Historia) (gacco)

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Course Summary: The course will look at how Europe viewed Japan in the 16th and 17th centuries and explore how Japan was influenced by the culture brought by the Europeans who came to Japan. (All lectures are in Japanese with English subtitles.)

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the two countries of Portugal and Spain set out for exploring the ocean, thus the name of the Age of Great Voyage. From the Japanese perspective, it is an age worth paying attention to, because the Japanese history during The Age of Warring States was “linked” to the European history of Renaissance humanism culture.

The course will first look at how Europe viewed Japan and positioned it geographically. We will then explore how Japan was influenced by the culture brought by the Europeans who came to Japan.

Back then, a new culture characterized by Renaissance and humanism was emerging in Europe.Japan in The Age of Warring States “linked” with the European culture at the time, producing a type of exchange that is rarely seen in world history.

This cultural exchange was, however, put to an end by the command of the Edo Shogunate. Like fireworks, the exchange flourished but was short-lived. And yet, it provides us with numerous clues as to who the Japanese are, and where Japan stands in relation to the rest of the world.

During the first three weeks, we will trace the historical developments of the cultural exchange in those days. The fourth week will focus on the Early Christian Mission Press, or "Kirishitan-ban" in Japanese.

The Jesuit Mission to Japan brought a printing machine from Europe, and produced in Japan more than 40 titles of "Kirishitan-ban" by metal type printing in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, among which are the first examples of red and black printing, as well as music.

The early versions of the Japanese Kana and Kanji metallic movable types were created in Europe, and brought to Japan together with the Latin types. Printing by metallic movable types on Japanese papers should have involved quite an innovation. The Jesuit Mission to Japan went on to design much more sophisticated Kana/Kanji cursive style movable types, which were then used extensively in the "Kirishitan-ban" press.

In this course, we are going to examine the very first printed example of "Kirishitan-ban", "Prayers" , as well as the most complicated example of the Jesuit Mission Press in Japan, "Manuale ad sacramenta ministranda", which has music and printing in color (red and black), both in the Sophia collection.

English guide here.