Japonisme is commonly understood as the strong interest in Japanese culture as well as that culture’s influence on modern art that developed mainly in Paris. The Society for the Study of Japonisme began its life at a meeting held in Tokyo in 1979 and launched in 1980 as an academic association specializing in this field. Initially called the “Society for the Study of Japonaiserie,” it changed its name to the current one in 1998.
In recent years, Japonisme has become an established academic discipline worldwide, and the scholarship has advanced not only in art history, but also with regard to literature, music, performing arts, horticulture, film, expositions, collection studies, and various other forms of culture. It is increasingly clear how the fascination for Japan that occurred in Western metropolises permeated to Eurasia and the Americas. It has become apparent that the people who shaped the taste for Japan in the West were not only Western male artists, but also women, art dealers, Japanese themselves, and others of diverse genders, professions, and nationalities. In particular, research is underway on how Japan has responded to the consumption and reception of its own culture in the West. Japonisme is an image that emerged as a result of contact and negotiation between “Japan” as perceived by the West and “Japan” projected by Japan itself with an eye to the West.
The Japonisme studies have evolved as an interdisciplinary field with a high degree of transnationality. The 260 members of our Society cover a wide range of research fields, including not only art history, but also literature, music, architecture, philosophy, diplomatic history, industrial history, Japanese history, international Japanese studies (Japanology), and museum studies. Each of them brings expertise on the areas and periods of their specialization. These characteristics make the Japonisme studies not a synthesis of methodologies, but rather a field in which diverse specialists from Japan and abroad share and tackle the same problems in concert. Aiming to build such a scholarly community, the Society publishes a bilingual journal (in Japanese and English) with the support of the Ishibashi Foundation, and holds an annual international symposium (also bilingual, in Japanese and English), in collaboration with the Ebara Hatakeyama Memorial Cultural Foundation.
Today, the term “Japonisme” has gained currency in a wide variety of aspects in our everyday life including clothing, food, and house, as well as in popular culture. Thinking Japonisme reveals Japan’s ubiquity in global contemporary culture. We strive to make our Society an active association that can spark interesting dialogues in multiple fields, without forgetting to look at cultural exchange from a broad perspective and to share the pleasure of research with as many people as possible.
The Board of Directors
The Society for the Study of Japonisme