donderdag 31 maart 2016

Japanese identity and Dutch-Japanese relations

On Tuesday 29 March the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam celebrated the presentation of a book The narrow bridge: 250 years Dutch-Japanese Relation. It was about the isolation period of Japan, roughly 1630-1860 when only the Dutch factory on the tiny island of Desima had contact with japanese people through trade and diplomatic contacts.
There were nice speeches by the two authors, Jan de Hond and Menno Fitski. They had anecdotal talks, beginning with photographs or paintings, material culture and concluded to the style of relations between the two countries. Pottery, ceramics made in Japan for the Dutch market and Japanese furniture adjusted to the Dutch market. A dancer made a performance with the title MERGE, where his shadow merged with existing figures.
 The left figure is the dancer, right a horse, but in fact it was earlier the heart of a human being. Changes in merging again and again.
An exceptional talk was given by Prof. Kazuhiko Togo, first an ambassador, later a scholar of international Japanese cultural links. He divided the history of japan into Chinese dominated culture (until 1600), from 1850 on as dominated by American influence, after 1930 by Nationalism. 1600-1850 was the shugunate: typical Japanese? Should it be a model also for the newer period? This concentration on a somewhat isolated and secluded Japanese identity?
I will need to read again Huntington in an international mood but also in a critical way.

Not much new Japanese things in the museum, only a special exhibition: the 13 kimono painted by Breitner in the 1870s. Perhaps he understood what a kimono is: more an impressive painting than just a cloth!

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