Libmonster ID: JP-1234
Author(s) of the publication: M. P. GERASIMOVA



Candidate of Philological Sciences

Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Keywords: museum, exhibition, collection, art, artistry, social space

Due to the peculiarities of the national worldview and historical development, the museum institution in Japan has a relatively short history (the first museums in Japan appeared only in the second half of the XIX century. in the course of Western-style reforms), unlike the history of museums in Western European countries.

The Japanese have a museum and an exhibition for everything, " wrote the Russian writer and journalist B. Pilnyak in 1926, sharing his impressions of Japan.1 He was surprised to note that in any city, in any village of Japan, exhibitions are organized on various occasions and there are their own museums, often themed, sometimes quite small. This observation is true to this day, but at that time the "fashion for museums" in Japan was a new phenomenon, indicating the progressive changes that were taking place in the life of Japanese society.

Like so many other things in a country that has been deprived of communication with the world for two and a half centuries, this fashion was the result of an acquaintance with Western European culture that began only in the middle of the XIX century. Prior to this time, the Tokugawa military-feudal government had been pursuing a policy of self - isolation from the outside world since 1641-sakoku. Its citizens, under pain of the death penalty, were not allowed to have any relations with foreigners, the so-called Dutch sciences - rangaku, which meant the achievements of Europeans in the field of natural sciences and humanities, were forbidden. After the Meiji Restoration of 1867, as a result of the overthrow of the military-feudal government, Japan established contacts with Western countries, became a constitutional monarchy, embarked on the path of capitalist development, and began to diligently assimilate the experience of Western countries in solving social problems.

It is hard to believe, but the Japanese learned about the existence of the museum institution only in the late 50s of the XIX century, when a group of Japanese returned to Japan from America, who received permission to travel to America after the conclusion of the Japanese-American treaty of friendship and trade on July 29, 1858. The British Museum in London (1753) and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (1765), the Vatican Art Collection (1769) and the Royal Collection of Vienna (1770), the Royal Collection of Dresden (1770) and the National Museum of Fine Arts (1770) were not only well-known, but also became an integral part of public life in Europe. the Science Museum of Madrid (1771), and the first large public museum, the Louvre (1793).


The absence of museums in Japan until the mid-19th century, like many other facts and phenomena of social life, is explained by the peculiarities of the national worldview. In particular, the Japanese, who tend to perceive the world as a universal interconnectedness of things, did not have the desire to deprive an object, no matter how exclusive, of the place it originally occupied, and make it an exhibit, thus depriving it of its inherent context, which would violate the natural order that exists in the harmonious Universe. As a result, all objects "functioned" in accordance with what they were intended for, and collecting as an activity was not known to the Japanese, and it was usually this activity that led to the creation of museums in the West.

In Japan, museums began to be created, as already mentioned, in the new time 2, which is calculated from the moment when the country was opened to communicate with the outside world and carry out reforms along the Western model. However, the emergence of museums in Japan was not only the result of legislative acts of the Meiji government. The strongest impulse was the need that clearly manifested itself in society not only to acquire new knowledge, which could be obtained in educational museums, but also in a new social space in which qualitatively new relationships between people would arise.

The concept of "social space" as "the tendency to emphasize substance, that is, real groups, in an attempt to define them by number, members, boundaries, etc., to the detriment of relations, as well as with the intellectualist illusion that leads to the fact that the theoretical class constructed by scientists is considered as a real class, a real group of people"3, was introduced by the French sociologist and philosopher Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002). For Japan, building a new society and times-

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following the path already taken by other capitalist countries in the conditions of a well-established hierarchical system and regulated relations between representatives of different classes, the latter was not only important, but also necessary.

It is difficult to say how clearly this was realized in the early years of the reforms, but in the 1870s the need for a new type of relationship became apparent.

For the first time, Japanese people felt that they could freely communicate with each other regardless of their status and social origin, united by a common interest, during the first large exhibition in the history of Japan, which was held in October-November 1871 in Kyoto, a city that not only for more than ten centuries was the capital of Japan, but also for many years this day is considered a particularly revered place, associated with the birth of national traditions. Nevertheless, Kyoto, being included in the general rhythm of state reconstruction, became the site of the largest innovations on the Western model in all areas. Even traditional industries have been modernized. Against the background of the celebration of the "pro-Western" orientation, one of the first commercial companies established in Kyoto, the Kyoto Exhibition Company (Ketpo Hakuran Kaisha), organized an exhibition in the premises of the Western Monastery of the Main Nishi Honganji Vow, where only Japanese antiquities were presented, most of which had high artistic value.

The significance of the exhibition as an event that marked the beginning of the renewal of many forms of social life in Japan was so great that today the venue has become a tourist attraction, as evidenced by the memorial stele installed there and the printed materials that are in demand by visitors to these places, telling how it happened.

The success exceeded all expectations. Soon there were exhibitions that showed objects of traditional material culture, in other words, various artifacts, or" things " of bussan (lit. "made things"), as they were called in Japan, began to be held regularly, timed to coincide with certain events (from 1871 to 1928, 56 exhibitions were organized). Attendance was consistently high.

It should be emphasized that the exhibition in Kyoto was held just at a time when the rapid process of Westernization began to cause a sense of protest in Japan. This was especially true in Kyoto. The danger of destroying monuments related to the historical past was quite real. The question of how the city should develop, which the Japanese called "the homeland of their soul", was very acute. Under these conditions, it turned out that exhibitions were of great social importance: they gathered a lot of people, interest in things became an occasion for communication and discussion of all the problems that concern everyone. In this regard, Japanese historians say that "Kyoto was entering a new life as a democratic city"4. There was what Pierre Bourdieu later defined as a social space, in other words, "a real group of people" united not by a system of established relationships, but by an "intellectualist illusion", i.e., common interests.5

One of the main reasons for the success of such exhibitions was not just curiosity or nostalgia, but also the characteristic Japanese attitude to "things". In the perception of the Japanese, things, and even more so objects of antiquity, are always a phenomenon not only of the physical, but also of the spiritual world; they connect the present with the past, removing restrictions from time and space.6 In addition, a thing is a link between Nature and man, not just a useful or beautiful object, but also an object with an innermost essence inherited from Nature, revealed by the master who made it.

It is important to emphasize that the production of anything was not intended to create something with artistic value, but due to the peculiarities of the national worldview was considered as a moral duty, as an action pleasing to the Japanese gods - Komi, who created a beautiful world in which people were lucky enough to live.

The desire to reveal the innermost essence of an object, which it is endowed with by Nature, accompanied any process aimed at" making"," making", etc., and thus the work became a creative act, and the manufactured object was unique in its kind, unique as Nature itself. This determined its artistic value, which the master did not even know about, fulfilling his moral duty. Of course, this does not mean that all artifacts created by the Japanese by hand are equally good, but in general, to borrow the expression of the Russian artist Varvara Bubnova (1886 - 1983), who worked in Japan for more than 30 years, they are always "imbued with the spirit of art". "For the Japanese, there is no big or small art, for him kakemono (a vertical painting scroll, made of paper or silk, pasted on a base edged with patterned edging, along the upper and lower edges of which wooden rollers are fixed. - approx. author) is not only a picture with deep content, but also a beautifully crafted and decorated thing, and a clay cup is not only a useful object, but also a product of labor, in which the spirit of art was invested " 7.

And despite this, or rather - for this very reason, the concept of "art" was unfamiliar to the Japanese, and the word geijutsu, which today is a translation of the word Art into Japanese, appeared in Japanese only in the middle of the XIX century, as a tracing paper from European languages. Until that time, the word gigei was widely used, understood as technical art, technical skill, and artfulness.8 Gigei did not imply any definitions, and often what the Japanese characterized as gigei could be regarded equally by the Western European tradition as a fine art and a craft.

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This once again confirms the fact that in Japan there was no division into art and craft, "artistic" and "non-artistic", because, as already mentioned, due to the peculiarities of motivation, the manufacturing process was an act close to creative, which is why Japanese handmade products were distinguished by their unique originality and were regarded by the first Europeans, those who have been to Japan as works of art. They bought them in large quantities, often for a song, and today these Japanese household items are the pride of many museums in the West.

It should be noted that by the 1870s, Japan, which was backward in scientific and technical terms, had already taken part in several international exhibitions, where their bussan artifacts, various things made by Japanese craftsmen mainly by hand, were presented. The records of the organizers and visitors of the exhibitions that have been preserved since then are a testament to how highly they were valued in Europe. In particular, the British Consul Sir Rutherford Alcock (1809 - 1897) in 1862, selecting from his collection of Japanese exhibits for the Great International Exhibition in London, wrote:: "In all crafts, the Japanese undoubtedly surpassed everyone. I do not hesitate to declare that their porcelain, their bronzes, their silks, their lacquerware, their metalwork, and their fine arts are not only in competition with the best European models in design and execution, but represent products that we can only imitate."9

The interest that Japanese bussan artefacts aroused among foreigners, although it did not contribute to the assimilation of the concept of "artistry" by the Japanese, caused a reassessment of their own material and cultural values, which also included handicrafts. There was a look at this product as an item of income. On a national scale, it was the production of handicrafts that formed the basis of the national economic project developed for the development of international trade. At the same time, dealers in antiques and products made by famous craftsmen appeared. Some of them began to share the government's view of bussan as an item of income. However, there were also those who objected to the commercialization of what was traditionally a daily moral duty, i.e., a creative attitude to productive work as one of the ways to harmonize the relationship between man and Nature.

All the "pros" and "cons" about the attitude towards artifacts that were still not considered by the general public as works of art (the very concept has not yet taken root in the minds of the Japanese), with all the sharpness arose during the preparation and holding of exhibitions that were organized almost annually in Kyoto after 1871. Interest in them did not weaken not only among the Japanese, but also among foreigners, which was especially important for their organizers.

At first, master manufacturers and antique dealers took part in the selection of exhibits, guided by traditional criteria of philosophical and poetic sense, but after a while they were excluded from the management of the Kyoto Exhibition Company. The reason was the discrepancy between their views and the policy of the government, which considered the development of industrial production as a priority, which should have been promoted by the exhibitions it supported - the so-called Naikoku kange hakurankai (lit. All Japan Industrial Exhibitions). Art, as understood by the people who implemented this policy and now organized exhibitions, was inseparable from commerce. It has happened that "dissenting" dealers in antiques and artistic artefacts have opened their own exhibition halls.10

Thus, the social space in which people united by a common interest could communicate was tested for strength. It is not a mistake to say that if in Western European countries the forerunners of museums were private collections, in Japan they were exhibitions. They had an educational function, and they laid the foundations for democratic relations between people.


As for the other component of museum and exhibition activities, namely, the education of artistic taste, understanding of the essence of art and its significance in the life of society, it is not an exaggeration to say that at the time when art museums were "becoming fashionable", in Japan their role, unlike in the West, was negligible. Works of national art were still not perceived by the broad masses of Japan as such, since the traditional motivation for their creation, as already mentioned, was completely different. As exhibits, they told about the era, social environment, testified to the degree of skill of the creator, evoking not so much a sense of aesthetic pleasure as cognitive interest, and this was the main thing - the feeling of aesthetic pleasure was traditionally not valuable in itself.

Acquaintance with Western European art brought a new nuance to the worldview of the Japanese. Not used to distinguishing himself from the surrounding world, called Nature, the Japanese, who sought to reach the state of muga (lit. "not-I"), in order to move away from the "I" proper, merge with the object, and only then, having comprehended its essence, express it, was surprised to find that the artifacts were not only the " I "but also the" I " itself. they can, but must also convey the" vision of the world " of their creator, that the expression of one's own perception is welcome, and the personal one deserves attention and respect. These values of Western civilization could only be understood through its art.

Since the 1920s, educated and patriotic people in Japan have been concerned about the extent to which the consciousness of their compatriots has changed.-

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are they still able to live in bourgeois democracy or are they still trapped in feudal traditions? One of them was Yoshitaro Wakimura, a member of the "new cosmopolitan elite" and later a professor of economics at the University of Tokyo. Working at the university did not prevent him from successfully combining teaching economics with art history, collecting works of art and educational activities, and periodically performing official functions in the civil service. The role he played in the economic and cultural development of Japan in the post-war period is enormous. 11 In 1951, he was awarded the title of Honored Cultural Worker of Japan.

Yoshitaro Wakimura was concerned about how much the public consciousness of the Japanese people corresponded to the spirit of the times and the changes that were taking place in the life of society, and whether it was possible to say that the Japanese had a sense of personal independence. He believed that in solving this serious problem, the awakening of interest in art can most help, since the free formation of one's own taste and preferences makes it possible to feel like an individual. He also considered art to be the best means of educating Japanese people in the spirit of democracy.

In addition, Wakimura believed that art museums can participate in the regulation of socio-political culture, helping to establish relationships between participants in the political process, helping to reach agreement between different social circles and combining their efforts to achieve certain socially significant goals.

Wakimura's beliefs and aspirations were focused on the issues that time dictated. In the 1910s, when democratic tendencies intensified in Japanese society and the political and philosophical ideas of the West were actively assimilated, Japan, one might say, was undergoing an accelerated course of development, so in its ideological and ideological world at that time there were simultaneously directions that consistently replaced each other in Europe.

The intellectual elites of Japan "tried on" the literary and artistic fashion of the West in various directions, and the educated part of society, having fully assimilated the "Western" understanding of art, paid much attention to considering its meaning and role in society.

At university, Wakimura became interested in Marx's economic teachings. At the same time, he was greatly influenced by the works of the English writer, poet and artist John Ruskin (1819-1900), who paid equal attention to the transformation of society as a whole and the theory of art.

Ruskin's recognition of art as a means of revealing the individual in each person, coupled with left-wing economic ideas, and his conviction that an aesthetic sense and understanding of beauty are indispensable conditions for creating an environment in which an individual experiences positive feelings and a community of people builds a just society, aroused particular interest and sympathy for the Japanese professor economy 12.

After the end of the war, noting the strengthening of the middle class in Japan, Wakimura, convinced that it would be accompanied by an interest in art, launched active activities aimed at creating a space in which representatives of different social groups could freely communicate, united by a common interest. The" ideal platform " for this, in his opinion, were museums.

Yoshitaro Wakimura did everything in his power to ensure that museums in Japan became a place where Japanese people, regardless of social background, material wealth and ideological beliefs, freely communicated directly with each other, and believed that in this way it would be possible to develop political culture in the most progressive direction.

The question of how right Yoshitaro Wakimura was might be the subject of a special study, but one thing is certain-the Japanese have a taste for museums. Today, there are a great many of them in Japan-state, prefectural, municipal, private, Japanese, eastern and Western art. Their number is constantly growing, and it is significant that Western art museums are also appearing in remote areas, in small towns.

1 Korni yaponskogo solntsa [Roots of the Japanese Sun], Moscow, 2004 (in Russian)

2 For more information, see: Gerasimova M. P. Iz istorii uchrezhdeniya muzeev v Yaponii // Vostok / Oriens. 2014, N 5). (Gerasimova M. P. 2014. lz istorii uchrezhdeniya muzeev v Yaponii // Vostok / Oriens. N 5) (in Russian)

Bourdieu P. 3 Sotsiologiya sotsial'nogo prostranstva [Sociology of Social Space]. Moscow, SPb, 2007.

Tobishima Ikado. 4 Siryo. Kyoto-no rekishi. Dento to kakushin (Materials on the history of Kyoto. Traditions and innovations). Vol. 1. Kyoto. 1991, p. 625 (in Russian).

Bourdieu P. 5 Decree. soch., p. 14.

6 For more information, see: Gerasimova M. P. Obrazy veshcheiy v proizvedeniyakh Kavabata Iasunari // Thing in Japanese culture, Moscow, 2003. (Gerasimova M. R. 2003. Obrazy veshcheiy v proizvedeniyakh Kavabata Iasunari / / Veshch v yaponskoiy kulture. M) (in Russian)

7 Cit. by: Bubnova V. O yaponskom iskusstve [About Japanese art]. 1997. N 16, p. 36. (Bubnova V. 1997. O yaponskom iskusstve // Znakomtes, Yaponiya) (in Russian)

Camo Dosin. 8 Bijutsu to kaiso kinsei-no kaisosei to bijutsu no keisei. (Art and social strata - social classes in modern times and the formation of "art" in Japan). Tokyo, 1996 (in Japanese).

9 Cit. by: Kikuchi Yuko. Japanese Modernisation and Mingei Theory // Cultural Nationalism and Oriental Orientalism. London, 2004, p. 89.

Yamamoto Masako. 10 Meiji Kyoto-ni okeru kansei "bijutsu" gainen-no jyuyo: Kyoto-no hakurankai to bijutsu sho bijutsukan-o megutte (How they reacted in Kyoto during the Meiji period to the meaning put by the authorities in the concept of "art": Kyoto Exhibition, art dealers, art museums) / / Core ethics. Issue 5. Kyoto, Ritsumeikan University, 2009. p. 394 (in Japanese).

11 Подробнее см.: Hein L.E. Reasonable Men, Powerful Words: Political Culture and Expertise in 20th Century Japan. University of California Press. Washington-Los Angeles-London, 2004.

12 Подробнее см.: Hein L.E. Modern Art Patronage and Democratic Citizenship in Japan // The Journal of Asian Studies. Vol. 69. N 3. Cambridge University, 2010.


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