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.



Joshua Felizardo