Departmental Bulletin Paper 中華文化の領分と日本文化の領分 : ヨーロッパの観点から
Boundaries between Chinese and Japanese Cultures as Reflected in European Perceptions


10pp.537 - 548 , 2017-03-31 , 関西大学大学院東アジア文化研究科
文部科学省グローバルCOEプログラム 関西大学文化交渉学教育研究拠点
Throughout history it seems that definitions of Japanese cultural identity were invariably shaped by a pre-existing self-definition of China and Asia (especially India and Central Asia), and after the Meiji Restoration by a pre-existing self-definition of "the West." Due to the distance of perception Europeans have tended to view the Far East (Tōyō) as one single lump. When they conceptualize the Far East, they officially include China, Japan and Korea, in that order, but often they actually mean China. When in the second half of the 19th century Japan seemed to be the more successful member of that threesome in transforming itself into a modern nation, the Western way of conceptualizing Japan within the wider Far Eastern culture changed accordingly, and put more emphasis on the originality of Japanese culture than on what it has in common with the others. This changing perception was also carried over in the orientation of the academic study of Tōyō in Europe. On the other hand, when we shift our vantage point to Japan, it is safe to say that until the nineteenth century Japan on account of its geographical isolation has had difficulty in constructing the "other." There were not enough "others" in its immediate vicinity, and therefore they had to be forcefully created and emphasized. In the early periods it was China and India. Especially the Buddhist worldview greatly helped in imagining the other. This lack of an imminent other led the Japanese to stress the derivative character of their culture. By doing so, they intensified the faint presence of the other and stressed, for internal consumption, the notion that Japan was part of a wider 'civilization.' Consequently, just as the uniquely Japanese culture is a construction, the image of indebtedness to continental civilization was also carefully and meticulously crafted and cultivated. This latter construction largely worked and works through the mechanism of translation, which is not simply a replicating or duplicating process. The translated object is divorced from its original and is transferred into a context that is different from its original one. Its meaning in the new context is often uncertain, vague, indeterminate or ambiguous. The "difference" between the original and the target context is usually played out on the level of connotation, sometimes even on that of denotation. The connotation implies a difference of value: a higher or lower value or prestige clings to the translated culture. Usually Chinese ranks higher, while Japanese ranks lower, although in some cases it is the reverse. In either case the distinction between Wa 和 and Kan 漢 is conceived in terms of hierarchy or circumscribed areas of applicability.

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