Browse Exhibits (34 total)

Visualizing Tokugawa Japan

This is the exhibit produced by students from SW43: Japan's Samurai Revolution.

There are two sections, produced by students from each discussion section.



Hannah Sample Exhibit


This is a sample exhibit for SW43 Second Omeka Assignment.

The second assignment is the first stage of your final project. You should use this assignment to tell us about the important people, places, objects, images, texts or ideas that you will be writing about for your final project.

Your exhibits should have a minimum of 2 pages. Each page should have an image and accompanying text, like the page you made for the first group exhibit. The text accompanying each image does not have to be as long as for the first assignment, but I would like each student to write between 800-1000 words overall.

Dominique Luongo Sugar (and Sweets) in Japan

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For my project, I would like to analyze the commodification of sugar as a crop and its increasing popularity in products such as desserts, candies, and pre-prepared foods. I will be looking at how sugar production resulted from changing agricultural and economic practice, using Satsuma domain as a case study of how monies generated from cash crops financed modernization. I also look at the role that international interaction played in the growth of the industry, including the influence of westerners (especially the Portuguese and the Dutch) and Japanese imperialism in Taiwan. Finally, I will consider the role that advertising and ‘health’ concerns played in the promotion and subsequent popularity of sugar in Japan. My primary sources will largely be images, which I will contextualize with secondary sources and information from lectures and course readings. 

The Iwakura Mission: Japan's Quest for Modernity


Inspired by various topics touched on during lecture, my project focuses on the Iwakura Mission, looking at not only at the Japanese and their objectives but also at how they were perceived as they traveled the Western World, most notably the United States. My research centers heavily on the American perspective, gleaned from newspaper articles of the time, along with images showing the contrast between the appearances the Japanese wanted to portray versus the West's view of "true Japanese culture" both during the Iwakura Mission and after until 1890. The ultimate goal of this project is to determine, through analysis of both the Japanese and American perspectives of each other, how the Iwakura Mission was either successful or unsuccessful in its objectives - to balance the unequal treaties Japan was forced to sign in the late 1850s-early 1860s and to establish Japan as an equal with the West in the wake of the Meiji Restoration. 


Campbell Davidson, Augusta M. Present Day Japan. New York: Scribner, 1908.

Chamberlain, Basil Hall. Things Japanese: being notes on various subjects connected with Japan, for the use of travellers and others. Third Edition. Tokyo: Shūeisha, 1898.

Gordon, Andrew. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013

Kunitake, Kume. Japan Rising: The Iwakura Embassy to the USA and Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

“Japan; Iwakura; De Long; San Francisco; Washington; European; Mikudo; Embassy.” New York Tribune, January 16, 1872.

“The Japanese Embassy Appearance of the Embassy Six Young Ladies Sent to America to Finish Their Education.” San Francisco Bulletin, January 16, 1872.


The Japanese Sword: Forging the Soul of the Samurai

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I will be researching the role of the Japanese sword and swordsmith from the Edo period through the Meiji era, focusing especially on the effects of political, societal, and other factors on the making and perceptions of swords. In the first page, I discuss how the two and a half centuries of peace under the Tokugawa shogunate led to a stagnation of innovation. In the second, I analyze the text of Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s katanagari edict in order to illuminate the purpose and effects of the Haitōrei edict of 1876. Finally, in the third page, I examine the decline of swordsmithing and the evolving image of the sword and those who forged it in light of modernization, increasing Western influence, and imperialistic military campaigns.

Music in Meiji Japan


I will be researching and presenting the musical changes during the Meiji Restoration in Japan. During this period, the Japanese were looking to Westernize their culture. An important, but often overlooked, part of this Westernization was the importation of a Western tonal system. This new system not only brought new scales, but also a novel set of harmonies, rhythms, melodies, harmonic progressions and performance practices. This new genre of music was not only widely listened to, but also taught in Japanese schools.

I will analyze the effect of this Westernization of music on the Western movement in Japan. Even though this new music is very popular, the music carried over from the Tokugawa Era is still more popular.

I will also analyze the change in participation in music during this change. Prior to this Westernization, music was largely ritualistic. But the importation of Western tonality also brought Western performance practice, which included music as a learning process. Children began to learn tunes that were essentially just for fun. I will be analyzing how this change in meaning of music relates to the general historical trend.

Japonisme in late nineteenth-century French novels


The series of actions that forced the opening of Western trade with Japan in the 1850s and 1860s century created a mania that would occupy much of the Western imagination until the end of century: japonisme, the study, appropriation, and imitation of Japanese culture and styles. As trade began, the influx of Japanese art objects, radically different from those in the West, propelled japonisme to its peak during the second half of this century. The importation of these physical symbols of Japan—fans, ceramics, and woodblock prints—shook traditional Western aestheticism and fueled this rabid fascination with this “pays féerique.” [1][2] This obsession was particularly unrestrained in Paris and in France generally, to which japonisme owes its name. [3] Stories and artifacts from Japan and the Far East consumed the attention of Parisian artists and bourgeoises, while the visions of Japan contained in paintings, plays, and popular novels simultaneously pandered to and commented on japonisme. Using illuminating passages from three late nineteenth-century French novels, I will attempt to reconstruct the atmosphere that surrounded French japonisme, examine what it was that made it at once sensationalistic, disturbing, and sublime, and suggest what it can tell us about how Japan was seen from the outside during its rapid ascent to global preeminence.


1 “Fairy-like land/country.” De Goncourt, Edmond and Jules de Goncourt. Manette Salomon. Paris: G. Charpentier, 1877. Print. p 172. As it appears, there exists no academic English translation of Manette Salomon. This is unfortunate, because the novel is rich in uncompromising portraits and descriptions of nineteenth-century Parisian society.

2 “In an entry dated January 1862 [the De Goncourt brothers] express their views concerning the conflict between the two principles of beauty and truth... which dominated French art throughout the second half of the nineteenth century. They came to be associated... with backing the Japanese side in the conflict between Japanese and Greek art, representing beauty and truth respectively.” Lambourne, Lionel. Japonisme: Cultural Crossings between Japan and the West. London: Phaidon, 2005. Print. p 32.

3 The art critic Philippe Burty is thought to be among the first to use this term. Hartman, Elwood. “Japonisme and Nineteenth-Century French Literature.” Comparative Literature Studies, Vol. 18, No. 2, East-West Issue (Jun., 1981). Penn State UP. pp. 142. Article Stable URL:

Japan and Ryukyu: Shifting Views from Edo to Meiji

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From about 1608 onwards, the Ryukyu Kingdom had been made into a vassal state of Satsuma, while maintaining its previous strong ties with China. Throughout the Edo Period, the Ryukyuans were thought of as foreigners, one of the few who traded with the Japanese even during the so called sakoku period of isolation. Yet, this perception of the Ryukyuans began to shift in the Meiji Period, leading to state policies that spurred cultural assimilation, and the eventual subsumation of the Ryukyu Islands into the Kagoshima and Okinawa provinces. This project attempts to answer why these drastically opposing perceptions were propelled in their respective era, and how they reflect the transition between Edo Period Japan and Meiji Period Japan.

American Japan and Japanese Korea


            Transitioning from the long-lived Tokugawa Shogunate to the renewed Meiji Japan, the nation of Japan experienced a great deal of changes throughout the 1800s and was shaped into a totally different nation going into the twentieth century. One of the major factors that altered various aspects of Japanese society and people was the impact that the West had on Japan. Especially, the U.S greatly influenced Japan with its foreign policies, notably exemplified by Perry’s Opening of Japan.

            In fact, in my final project, I will write about various similarities and differences that exist between Perry’s Opening of Japan with Kanagawa Treaty of 1854 and Japan’s Opening of Korea with Ganghwa Treaty of 1876. A number of primary and secondary sources, including ones written by Korean and Japanese authors, will be studied to demonstrate the parallel between these events, and their effect on respective communities. Primary sources in the form of paintings will be examined to learn about differing perspectives among the contemporary people of the time period. 

Meiji Financial Reform: Gateway to Empire


I will be researching Japanese financial innovations in the Meiji Era and analyzing how they contributed to colonial development. I will also compare the impact of the Bank of Japan to that of the Bank of England following the Glorious Revolution in 1688. Finally I will look at how the architecture of the Bank of Japan reflected a growing desire to Westernize and compete on a global playing field.

During the Meiji period, Japan looked to modernize its economy through the formation of a national bank as well as through more active monetary policies. My first page will focus on Finance Minister Matsukata Masayoshi and his efforts to deflate the national currency through a return to a silver-backed currency. My second page will provide an in depth look at the Bank of Japan, analyze its foundation and unique architectural style, and begin to draw conclusions about its impact.