Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 15. Nr. August 2004

1.4. The image of the "Other" in the contacts of Europe, Asia, Africa and America
HerausgeberIn | Editor | Éditeur: Agata S. Nalborczyk (Warsaw)

Buch: Das Verbindende der Kulturen | Book: The Unifying Aspects of Cultures | Livre: Les points communs des cultures

Japan's Image in Poland - "The Other" in Intercultural Contacts
(from the End of the Nineteenth to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century)(1)

Ewa Palasz-Rutkowska (Warsaw, Poland)


1. Introduction: "The Other" as a Study Concept

In the last few decades, as a result of increasing international exchanges, migrations, the "reduction" in the size of the world and the resulting very strong intercultural contacts, academics abroad and in Poland have increasingly turned their attention to researching cultural differences, the causes and effects of clashes of cultures(2) and the concepts of "self" and "other." Particular attention has been given to the subject of "selfhood" and "otherness."(3) This is the result of the fact that these categories naturally function on various plains of collective life. They are relevant to many fields of humanities, in particular, sociology, cultural and social anthropology, history and philology. Experts conduct research into various aspects of these categories, from differing perspectives and with different assumptions and methodologies that are appropriate to their fields. It should be added that much of this recent work draws also upon works written at the beginning of the 20th century abroad (Georg Simmel, William G. Sumner, Robert E. Park, Emory S. Bogardus)(4) and in Poland (Jan S. Bystron, Florian Znaniecki, Józef Obrebski).(5)

For sociologists,(6) the dichotomy "self-other" is one of the fundamental problems, and considerations of relations between these two categories lead to the ordering of social reality. In anthropology,(7) the problematique relating to "self" and "other" occurs in the concept of conflicts with collectivities that are different culturally. The dichotomy "self-other" is one of the most important categories of describing and ordering the world.

Recently, as is also the case in other academic disciplines, cultural anthropologists with increasing frequency have taken up the theme of overcoming "otherness." They now strive to look at their own culture with the same sensitivity and distance as at an "alien", "other" culture. For historians,(8) among whom I include myself, the dichotomy "self-other" is important in particular in the context of the history of intercultural contacts and the causes of the formation of our images of others (and similarly, to the formation of the images of ourselves). Over centuries (temporary or permanent) images-stereotypes of other states, nations, and civilizations have formed in social consciousness. These images indicate not only familiarity or lack of familiarity with a given civilization, but also the state of awareness of those who formed them.

It is precisely in this context (the other or self?) that I have been doing research on the relationship of the Poles to the Japanese and the image of Japan in Poland, which is related to my many years' study of the history of Polish-Japanese relations.(9) Though my study on that subject is not yet completed and as a result I cannot draw a definitive conclusion, I would like to present a few of my thoughts on the reasons why certain, and not other, images of Japan were formed in Poland. I will also describe what these images were like. I have chosen to concentrate in this article on the period from the end of the nineteenth (the final two decades of the 19th century) to the beginning of the twentieth century (until the end of the Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905). This is because, after the Russo-Japanese War, which was extremely important for Polish-Japanese contacts, there was a hiatus in Polish interests in Japan, which continued almost until the outbreak of the First World War.

I have based my research on publications, which I have selected as the most representative and indicative of the then dominant current, which was decisive in the formation of the images of Japan. I have analyzed almost every Polish work on Japan from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. I managed to do this because the number of such works is relatively small. These works include academic works, travelers' reminiscences, and literature (including translations). Intentionally, I decided not to discuss coverage of Japan in the press, as this requires a separate detailed study.


2. Factors Shaping the Images of "the Other" - in General

In my opinion, the basic factors that shape the images of the other and of another culture include

1. One's cultural ballast and worldview

2. An earlier form of contacts and historical intercultural experience

3. Motivation that leads one to form an image of the other

Regarding point 1. One's cultural ballast and worldview, which we have only because we come from a certain country, a certain civilization or culture, are the most important indicators of "self-ness" or "otherness" in intercultural contacts. It is worthwhile at this stage to quote Harumi Befu, who contends: "If we are creatures of our culture, as cultural anthropology instructs us, then it follows that scholars of different cultural backgrounds, as much as anyone else, would manifest different interests, different ways of thinking, different outlooks, and different world views, which should cause them to interpret differently what they behold, be it Japan, China or any other country. /.../ When I speak of "cultural influence" /.../, I am using the term in the broadest possible sense, that is, in the classic sense of including all aspects of human creation, processes and results thereof, including history, political structure and ideational system."(10)

We must, however, bear in mind that we become conscious of our worldview only when we engage in an intercultural contact. It is the presence of "the other," an alien, that allows us to understand ourselves, to formulate our self-definition and to determine the limits of our identity. "Otherness" allows us to understand "self-ness." These two categories make it possible to locate an individual and a group within the world, as well as the sense of what and who shapes the image of the other and our relationship to the other.(11) During intercultural contacts, certain characteristics are observed, which constitute the basis of a difference, which in turn make it possible to classify a different collectivity. Permanent, culturally determined perceptions (stereotypes, prejudices) are formed. Perceptions of one's own culture and of its position relative to other cultures, which take place in the course of concrete intercultural contacts, lead to the forming of a sense of superiority or inferiority and to the thinking in categories of "better-worse" or "civilized-savage." In addition, we frequently consider our own as the only correct worldview. As a result, we tend to look down on another culture as evil, wrong, unacceptable. The end result is the rejection of the possibility of understanding another culture and the formation of foundations of ethnocentricity.

Regarding point 2. The form of earlier intercultural contacts, the historical experience that has taken place between representatives of "our" culture and those of an alien one, are important factors that affect our images of an alien culture. We tend to regard a country, nation, with which we have fought a war (e.g., for the Poles Germany) in a different way from one with which we have been always at peace (e.g., Poland and Hungary). It is also important whether the wars that were fought resulted in victories (e.g., Germany-Poland, Japan-Russia); or defeats that led to loss of independence or colonization (Poland-Russia, Korea-Japan). In the former case, we may consider ourselves stronger and better. Finally, it can happen that for reasons of geographical distance, contacts never existed or were infrequent, and lack of information regarding a given culture affected the formation of a feeling of strangeness or proximity (e.g., Poland-Japan). Such experiences also affect the subjective feelings of remoteness or proximity and thus the way we treat members of other cultures as "ours" or "others."

Regarding point 3. In my opinion, another important factor that shapes images of "the other" is the motivation that underlies the shaping of such images. In general, it is possible to recognize two forms of such motivation.

a) The formation of an image that is as close to the reality of an alien culture as possible.

b) The formation of an image that is as close as possible to our imagination of an alien culture, as close to what we want to see and to what we wish our compatriots to perceive.

The first form consists of striving to do thorough and reliable research, to gain and transmit reliable knowledge. In general, this endeavor is represented by academics who study other cultures as part of their profession. But even the most thorough and reliable research cannot be completely objective, as academics are inevitably weighed down by the burden of their own culture, which affects, often unconsciously, their views on the culture they study. The image will only be satisfactorily close to reality under research, if the academic in question looks at his own culture from a distance and frees himself/herself from the attitude (already criticized by Jean-Jacques Rousseau(12)) of judging other cultures from the vantage point of his/her own culture, in other words, if he/she ceases merely to recognize his/her own compatriots under the lofty name of getting to know the world.

The second form of motivation, related to the desire of describing an image that most closely corresponds to our imagination of another culture, has to do with diverse attitudes. First of all, it can also bear upon academic research, but only in cases when their direction has already been predetermined as subservient to the goal of proving a certain thesis or serve as propaganda (which was typical of research during the Cold War). In addition, it may be related to an author's irresistible desire to boast of achievements during his/her contacts with an alien culture (e.g, Golovnin, Beniowski) or of knowledge gained, though it may be superficial and far from thorough (e.g., numerous articles in the press, reminiscences from short trips, etc.). Very frequently, the attitude in this category tends to reaffirm one's own cultural values (the figure of Friday in Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe), define one's own identity (the Black as an antithesis of the White in the ideology of Negritude) or produce ethnocentrism.

For, according to the anthropologist Andrzej Zajaczkowski, "ethnocentrism is one of the main elements in the mechanism of forming is a conviction that we are at the center of the world. It is the universal "we." All of us are members of some "we" group. We, the Kowalskis, we the Poles, we the Chinese, we the Europeans, we the black Africans, or we the Asians. Ethnocentrism is a vivid conviction in each and every society that requires no proof of the superiority of its cultural attributes over the attributes of other cultures....Persistence of ethnocentric convictions is reinforced by lack of knowledge of the significance of elements of an alien culture in its proper and complete context. By being unfamiliar with its significance, and consequently being unfamiliar with the psychological reaction of a stranger to a situation which is unusual for him/her, an ethnocentric expects from a stranger the reaction he himself would show in the same situation."(13)

And finally, and this is extremely important for this paper, "the other" as an alternative for rejected elements in one's own culture or a model worthy of emulation can serve certain purposes which I would describe as moralistic or educational. The less we happen to know about a given alien culture, the easier it becomes to use it as such an alternative. The impossibility of a confrontation results in an author forming a vision which suits him, which is appropriate to his educational purposes. At the same time, this enables him to take a distanced look at his own culture (Montesquieu, Lettres persanes).


3. The Factors Shaping the Images of Japan in Poland at the End of the Nineteenth and the Beginning of the Twentieth Century

The three factors discussed above which in general shape the image of the other also affected the images of Japan in Poland at the turn of the nineteenth century.

Regarding point 1. I think there is no need to discuss the differences resulting from the cultural legacies of the Japanese and Poles. Our spheres of civilization, our worldviews, traditions and customs were so different that by definition we should regard each other as "the other" (an alien).

Regarding point 2. The feeling of "strangeness" must have been affected by the form the earliest contacts between our countries assumed or rather by their almost complete absence. This was the result of a great physical distance in geographic terms (over 10,000 km) and the unfortunate course of Polish and Japanese history. Between the third partition in 1795 and the end of the First World War Poland did not exist as an independent state. Japan, on the other hand, since the seventeenth century was isolated and maintained almost no official contacts with the rest of the world. Knowledge about Japan was of necessity very limited in Poland, though beginning in the sixteenth century some scattered scraps of information relating to Japan were reaching Poland. The first reference to Japan in Polish is in Zywoty Swietych (The Lives of the Saints, 1579) and in Kazania sejmowe (Diet Oratories, 1579) by Piotr Skarga-Paweski (1536-1612). As a Jesuit and a member of the Catholic Church, Skarga took great interest in missionary activities in the Far East. For that reason he related the life of Francisco de Javier (or Xavier, 1506-1552), the Spanish Jesuit who arrived in Japan in 1549 as a member of the first Catholic mission to that country. For the next several decades it was mainly Jesuits who wrote about Japan, but on the whole they wrote religious propaganda in the context of the Jesuit missionary activities. At the end of the sixteenth century the Japanese authorities' attitude toward Christianity turned hostile. As a result there were religious persecutions and executions of Christians. These religious persecutions grew more intense after 1622, a year when the first executions of missionaries took place. The martyrdom of the Jesuit Wojciech Mecinski (1601-1643), the first Pole to reach Japan, who was executed in Nagasaki in 1643, was rather widely reported in Poland.(14)

Only in the eighteenth century did information other than that relating to missionary activities begin to reach Poland, but this was of a general nature and often highly unreliable.(15)

Maurycy August Beniowski (1746-1786) referred to Japan in his Memoirs and Travels of Comte de Beniowsky (1790; Polish edition 1797). Known for his numerous, though not always true adventures, Count Beniowski, a member of the Bar Confederacy (1768) was taken as a prisoner by Russia and was banished to Kamchatka. There in 1771 he organized a successful conspiracy, and together with 95 other war prisoners he captured a Russian ship, the Saint Peter and Paul, on which he set out on a trip to Europe. His memoirs are the first lay account of Japan, but the information is far-fetched and the tone of narration clearly shows a desire to boast of his achievements and successes.

Polish readers derived a greater amount of information from Vasilii Golovnin's O Japonii uwagi (Remarks about Japan; Polish translation, 1823)(16), although the book was pervaded throughout with the subjective emotions of the author. The author (1776-1831) was the captain of the Diana, a Russian ship. He was captured in 1811 by Japanese authorities during an attempt to penetrate waters off the Kuriles and Hokkaido and was exchanged in 1813 for the Japanese merchant Takadaya Kahei (1769-1827), captured by the Russians.

After the end of Japan's policy of isolation in the second half of the nineteenth century, a number of Poles visited Japan and transmitted more information about that distant country. They included scientists, who usually reached Japan via Siberia, where they had been exiled, and travelers. Among the former were the zoologist Benedykt Dybowski (1833-1930), who started studying the Ainu, the ethnologist Bronislaw Pilsudski (1866-1918; the elder brother of Marshal Józef Pilsudski), the ethnographer and writer Waclaw Sieroszewski (1858-1945), Jan Kubary (1846-1896), an explorer of Oceania, and the zoologist Szymon Syrski (1829-1882), professor at Lwow University, who did research on Japanese agriculture, sericulture, and medicine in 1868-70. The latter included Karol Lanckoronski (1848-1933), Pawel Sapieha and Hugo Zapalowicz (1852-1917).

A significant increase in the Polish interest in Japan and a proliferation of publications on the subject of Japan occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century on the eve of and during the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905. Unofficial contacts between Japanese authorities and representatives of the Polish opposition movement mainly from the Polish Socialist Party and the National League, who wanted to take advantage of the war to Poland's benefit. The leaders of these two parties, Józef Pilsudski and Roman Dmowski visited Japan at that time. The Japanese wanted to weaken the Russian Army by organizing a Polish armed rising or sabotage along the tracks of the Trans-Siberian Railway.(17) Though cooperation between Poles and Japanese was less fruitful than both sides had initially hoped, one must stress that the image of Japan, a distant and small country that quickly defeated the Russian giant, was a dominant factor in the formation of visions of Japan for several decades, including the interwar period. As is well known, Poland regained her independence after the First World War, and diplomatic relations between Japan and Poland were formed. As a result, contacts between the two countries increased,(18) and more information about Japan percolated to Poland.

Regarding point 3. It is possible to say that the images of Japan in Poland in the period under discussion were affected by the purposes of the authors-researchers. There was also a group of writers who attempted to produce a picture of Japanese culture that was as close to reality as possible. We must also remember that these were the initial stages of research, which were at that time extremely limited as a result of few contacts and unfamiliarity with the Japanese language. Though there were works on Japan, they had a very limited audience. That is why it was still possible to use Japan for moralistic purposes, as an alternative to the unacceptable aspects of one's own culture, or as a source of positive features and values (often invented), which the authors wanted to instill in the Poles.

What was then the image of Japan in the period I have chosen? Was Japan, because of its distance and infrequent contacts, "other", "alien," that is, inferior, uncivilized, impossible to understand? Or did Japan rather, because of scantiness of information and cultural differences, become a source of values that were worthy of emulation, values that one could consider one's own as part of one's "self."


4. The Image of Japan in Polish Publications at the End of the Nineteenth Century and at the Beginning of the Twentieth

As I have mentioned above, during those years there were more publications on Japan than in previous years. These included works based on direct experiences by the authors and works that to a larger or smaller degree drew upon other works and on information that was unverified and often wrong. Though the first category included serious researchers of Japan, not all of them published works on Japan and often works that were published conveyed an image of Japan that was not always close to reality. This was the result of lack of adequate preparation of those researchers, the fragmentary nature of their studies, and time limitations. Among those who wrote on Japan on the basis of their research and observations, one must first of all mention Bronislaw Pilsudski (1866-1918), the most distinguished researcher of the language and folklore of the Ainu, and the ethnographer and writer Waclaw Sieroszewski (1858-1945). Pilsudski, sentenced to an exile in Siberia, spent over ten years on the Sakhalin and on the Kurile Islands, where he did outstanding research into Ainu culture, which still today is regarded as one of the important studies of its kind.(19) When in 1905 he visited Japan again, he contacted in Tokyo a number of left-wing activists, including Katayama Sen (1859-1933), Yokoyama Gennosuke (1871-1915), and Fukuda Hideko (1865-1927). He befriended Futabatei Shimei (1862-1909), a famous literary figure and translator of Russian (and later Polish) literature. Unfortunately, only one of Pilsudski's many works was published in the period under discussion,(20) and it is only recently that his collected works have started appearing in print.(21) For self-evident reasons, his works could not have been sources of information about Japan at that time. Much more on the subject of Japan wrote Waclaw Sieroszewski, who also, with the help of Pilsudski, did research on Ainu culture in Hokkaido (1903). He described the results of his research in a fictionalized reportage entitled Wsród kosmatych ludzi (Among the Hairy People; 1926). On the way back to Poland Sieroszewski visited also central Japan, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe, and the materials he had collected during his trip he used later mainly in his literary work and numerous lectures on the subject of Japan.(22)

Two Polish travelers who wrote on the basis of their experiences were Karol Count Lanckoronski(23) and Pawel Prince Sapieha, who went to Japan in 1889. The accounts of their travels are important not because of their references to Japanese history, which contain many errors, but because they are full of general information on Japanese culture which is surprisingly accurate by the standards of the day. This suggests not only a theoretical preparation prior to the trip, but also the ability to select and a critical attitude to some works. One should also stress the perspicacity of personal impressions, ability to compare cultures, and a very realistic sober perspective on a foreign culture.

In Sapieha's Podróz na Wschód Azyi 1888-1889 (Travels in the East of Asia; Lwów, 1899) we come, for example, across the following passage:

To write about Japan is no easy task. For many have already written about that country, especially those pathetic French liars, led by M. Loti.(24) Although they got to know and represented Japan from one side: feminine, Lilliputian, smelling of tea, toylike... Japan in fact has many other interesting, great and impressive aspects (p.165).

...about art and handicrafts and in general about products strictly Japanese, which are made by the Japanese for the Japanese, almost nobody has any proper idea, as they base their judgement on various kinds of trash, which is produced by outside speculators. Europe makes the same judgement about Japan... with insignificant exceptions, on the basis of works, larger and smaller in scale, which have been described hurriedly while in a train compartment by so-called travelers,(25) i.e., people who most often and as a matter of fact in good faith make judgments about the essence of things on the basis of superficial appearances (p.174).

Lanckoronski in his Naokolo ziemi, 1888-1889. Wrazenia i poglady (Around the World: Impressions and Views; Kraków, 1893) wrote:

Each of us looks everywhere only for one's self, only for things which are of relevance to one's self, only for that in which he is interested in.... About such figures as Kiyomori or Ieyasu and other Japanese statesmen like them few of us can form the appropriate judgement, firstly because we did not get acquainted with these figures in our youth, and secondly and mainly because their achievements... have had no perceptible, even if indirect, influence on our beliefs, feelings, deeds or thoughts (pp. 245-246).

Both men described what they regarded as the most important traits of Japanese character. For Sapieha, it was "absolute loyalty," "politeness in every case, everywhere and to everyone, peace...disguising one's true emotions and thoughts" (p.200), as well as cleanliness, as manifested in frequent bathing, which Sapieha would have liked to popularize in Poland (p. 221). Lanckoronski, on the other hand, talked of spiritual peace, artistic proclivities (pp. 226-27), but as the most important trait he regarded the sense of honor of the Japanese, "who have remained a knightly nation longer than any other nation" (p. 268).

The group of authors in the period under discussion who wrote about Japan only by drawing on works available in Poland included academics, journalists, politicians and men of letters. As their main source of information they used, among others, various translated works by Europeans and Americans, e.g., Rudyard Kipling's Listy z Japonii (Letters from Japan, 1904), G. Weulersse's Wspólczesna Japonia (Contemporary Japan, 1904), Lafcadio Hearn's Kokoro (1906), and by Japanese writers such as Tamenaga Shunsui's Wierni az do smierci (Faithful to the Death, 1896; in original Iroha bunko), Tokutomi Roka's Namiko (1905, in original Hototogisu), Terakoja albo szkola wiejska (Terakoya or the Village School, 1905; based on Takeda Izumo and others Sugawara denju tenarai kagami), Okakura Kakuzo's Ksiega herbaty (1905; Book of Tea), Przebudzenie sie Japonii (1905; Awakening of Japan), and Nitobe Inazo's Bushido (1904). One should stress that most of these translations as well as Polish works on Japan appeared during the Russo-Japanese War, when Polish interest in Japan increased considerably.

Many of the works written at the time can be regarded as theoretical works, which contained a relatively realistic representation of Japan, at least by the standards of the time, even though they still presented, because of the limited amount of information available, a fragmentary picture that often contained distortions and exaggerations. In this connection one must mention works on Japanese literature such as Dzieje literatury powszechnej (A History of Universal Literature; vol. 2, 1883) and Historia literatury chinskiej i japonskiej (A History of Chinese and Japanese Literature; 1901) by Julian Adolf Swiecicki, Literature japonska (Japanese Literature; 1908) by Remigiusz Kwiatkowski. Works on theater included Szkic o teatrze japonskim (An Essay on Japanese Theater; 1902) by Jan A. Kisielewski. There were also works of a general nature such as Japonia i Japonczycy (Japan and the Japanese; 1904) by A. Okszyc, Japonia. Panstwo i prawo (Japan: The State and Law; 1905) by Stanislaw Posner, Obrazki z Japonii (Images from Japan; 1904) by Juliusz Starkel, Japonia (Japan; 1904) by Wladyslaw Studnicki, and others.

Relatively numerous and perhaps most representative were works on Japanese art (printed, among others, in the journal "Chimera"). This was, of course, related to the fashion of Japonisme in Europe and its influence on the artists of the Mloda Polska (Young Poland) group at the turn of the century. One should mention here the role of Feliks Jasienski "Manggha," (1861-1929), the great admirer, propagator and collector of Japanese art, who in 1920 donated his enormous collection, including several thousand woodblock prints, to the National Museum in Kraków. In 1906 he produced Przewodnik po dziale japonskim Oddzialu Muzeum Narodowego (Guide to the Japanese Section of the Department of the National Museum), which described for the first time to the Polish reader the typical characteristics of Japanese art.

There were also moralistic works, whose authors presented a vision of Japan that they wanted to show and which featured the characteristics of the Japanese that served to support their various arguments.

As a rule the idea was to make the Poles aware of their defects (taking as a model the virtues of the other, i.e., an unknown, or in the presence of the other), and to convince them to emulate foreign characteristics indicated as worthy of emulation. This in turn was supposed to improve the domestic situation in Poland or raise the international position of Poland in the world. These features were chosen or invented without any connection to Japanese reality. This approach was possible only because of the very limited, inaccurate knowledge about Japan in Poland (the works by researchers and travelers referred to above had a very small circulation). Information contained in the images could not be verified because of the lack of experts and the great distance between Japan and Poland.

Kroniki tygodniowe (The Weekly Chronicles), written by Boleslaw Prus (1847-1912), one of the most outstanding Polish writers, at the turn of the century in various newspapers and periodicals, including the popular "Kurier Warszawski" (Warsaw Courier), represent the best example of this kind of image.(26) Prus, like Montesquieu before him, resorted to the imaginary figure of a Japanese who is supposed to have written a report about Poland. This report mainly contained critical observations about Poles, specifically about poor hygiene, mindless and endless carnival feasts, and dislike of work (17 February 1884), lack of enterprise and inability to draw correct conclusions from previous experiences (26 March 1899).

Prus also wrote about Japan itself, choosing facts and characteristics necessary for his own purpose. Thus he mentioned the Japanese ability to modernize with rapidity and the need to possess moral values:

My friend, the Japanese for several thousand years had been a very backward people. They had no locomotives, print or electricity... But twenty or thirty years ago they decided to become civilized and they achieved that goal..... Today they have... everything that a civilized nation requires. Japan has realized... that they also need morality... Morality does not appear to them, unlike to our ultra-liberals, as something superfluous" (8 June 1890).

He thus criticized the characteristics for which he attacked the Poles in his positivistic works. He was hoping that the fact a foreigner had noticed negative Polish characteristics together with the representation of positive Japanese characteristics would shame Poles and make them change their ways. He adopted the same method in a series of articles entitled Japonia i Japonczycy (Japan and the Japanese) published in "Kurier Codzienny" (Daily Courier) between 19 April and 30 June 1904, i.e., during the Russo-Japanese War. Drawing upon the translated works, which I have introduced above, he wrote about Japan and the personal characteristics of the Japanese that enabled Japan to defeat Russia. He thus stressed valor, honor, personal dignity, spirit of sacrifice and obedience, which, in his opinion, were traits worthy of emulation. (23, 26, 30 June 1904). He took up this subject also in his later Kroniki tygodniowe, writing, among other thngs:

The Japanese have not only attracted attention thanks to their victories, but also thanks to their extraordinary merits, which even Russians admire in them. The opinion of a friend may be pleasant, but the respect of an enemy confirms the real values.... Such a nation deserves not only a closer look, but must also serve as a model for study (22 January 1905).

Józef Pilsudski (1867-1935)(27) and Roman Dmowski (1864-1939),(28) who visited Japan during the Russo-Japanese War, also admired Japan even though these two politicians had completely different political opinions and different ideas on how Poland should take advantage of the Russo-Japanese War.(29)

Dmowski referred to Japan in his papers with great enthusiasm. He admired Japanese civilization and culture as well as the civil and human values of the Japanese nation. He always stressed the importance of moral values and the links between the individual and his/her society and history. He wrote as follows:(30)

/.../ Japan's victories are victories of moral power over universally recognised material power. /.../ Millions, hundreds of millions /.../ were spent to strengthen Russian rule in Asia /.../ - and all that is becoming shattered into fragments under the influence of power accumulated in Japanese souls, power which concentrated them in one wish expressed in one cry: DaiNihon banzai! Banzai!

Japan must be great and must live forever - its every son wants it and is ready to sacrifice for it. This wish and this readiness of self-sacrifice - is exactly the main treasure of Japan, the source of its power, the secret of its victories. /.../

Twenty centuries of national existence due to the power of its continuity have united and cemented this nation where collective instincts excel individual ones; the Japanese [are] more part of the society than individual[s], he behaves more with a view to the common good than to individual benefit. /.../

Whereas Japanese collective instincts are so strong that they limit in great measure the free will of man, in other nations with unsteady histories and influences they are so weak, that everything becomes subject to discretion. Therefore we are the nation with the most "free will", which settles into the shape of lawlessness and playfulness if we do not feel we are in captivity.

It is worth mentioning that Pilsudski, after his return from Japan, devoted himself to studying the art of war. He took keen interest in the Russo-Japanese War, as a political issue and also in terms of the morale of the Japanese troops and the ability of Japanese officers. He believed that the strategic and tactical ideas of Japanese commanders foreshadowed the strategy of World War I as well as the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1920. He had a high opinion of the Japanese army and when in 1925 the first Polish military attaché, Waclaw Jedrzejewicz (1893-1993), was leaving for Tokyo, Pilsudski, in his capacity as President of the Chapter of the Order of Virtuti Militari (the highest Polish military decoration), decided to decorate 51 Japanese commanders with this order.(31)


5. Concluding Remarks

As the analysis above shows, in the period under discussion there were still relatively few works that described Japan in an entirely adequate manner. This was a result of infrequent contacts due to the great distance between Poland and Japan and lack of official relations between the two nations as well as limited relations, though these were growing gradually in the interwar period. These were mostly works in which authors represented Japan as a reflection of their imagination, how they wanted to see it and how they wished Polish readers to perceive it. A majority of these were works which I classify as moralistic or educational. Japan served as a source of actual or fictitious values that offered an alternative to unacceptable aspects of Polish culture and were a model worthy of emulation. At the turn of the century Japan served as a model for positivistic purposes. Polish writers extolled, among other things, Japanese morality, hard work, the ability to implement reforms and to draw the right conclusions from one's experience. After the Russo-Japanese War Polish writers began to stress the characteristics which, according to these writers, enabled Japan to achieve its victory over Russia: valor and courage, sense of honor, patriotism, spirit of sacrifice, obedience, personal dignity, i.e., all the features which defined "the spirit of the samurai" or "the soul of Japan." It could be added that similar characteristics were stressed in Poland in the interwar period. (32)

In the 1920s they served to exhort to work for the good and power of the newly resurrected nation; in the 1930s they helped to prevent loss of the earlier gains and to protect the nation from a successive tragedy.

It can be said that at the turn of the nineteenth century Polish publications presented a highly positive, even if not always correct, image of Japan, which showed that, despite Japan's remoteness geographically and culturally and little research (only limited research had been done), Japan was perceived with great sympathy, mainly in the category of "self" or rather of "a nation that can become self," not as "the other," "an alien". Japan became a close-by nation, which served as a source of values worthy of emulation, values which the Poles wanted to recognize as those of their own.

© Ewa Palasz-Rutkowska (Warsaw, Poland)


(1) The article is a revised part of a paper presented at the seminar at the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo, published as "The Other" in Intercultural Contacts. The Image of Japan in Poland at the End of the Nineteenth and the Beginning of the Twentieth Centuries and in the Interwar Period, "Discussion Paper Series" F-95, Tokyo October 2001; for a more detailed Polish version see: "Obcy" w kontaktach miedzykulturowych - obraz Japonii w Polsce na przelomie XIX i XX w., "Japonica" No. 16/2003, pp. 29-51.

(2) Samuel P. Huntington, Zderzenie cywilizacji (The Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of World Order), Warszawa, 1996.

(3) See, for example, Ewa Nowicka, Swojskosc i obcosc jako kategorie analizy (Selfness and Otherness as Analytical Concepts) in Swoi i Obcy (Us and Them), Warszawa, 1990, pp. 5-53.

(4) Ibid, pp. 7-9.

(5) Jan S. Bystron, Megalomania narodowa (National Megalomania), Warszawa, 1935; Florian Znaniecki, Studia nad antagonizmem do obcych (A Study into Hostility to Aliens), in "Kwartalnik Socjologiczny" (Sociology Quarterly), No. 2-4, 1930/31; Nowicka, op. cit., pp. 13-14.

(6) Ewa Nowicka, Obcy u siebie (The Other at Home), Warszawa, 1993; Religia a obcosc (Religion and Otherness), Kraków 1991; Swoi i Obcy (Us and Them), Warszawa 1990.

(7) Edward T. Hall, Ukryty wymiar (Hidden Dimension), Warszawa, 1976; Edward T. Hall, Taniec zycia (The Dance of Life; 1983), Warszawa, 1999; Zbigniew Benedyktowicz, Portrety "obcego" (Potrayals of "The Other"), Kraków, 2000.

(8) Sasiedzi i inni (Neighbors and Others), Warszawa, 1978; Obrazy swiata bialych (The Images of The World of the Whites), ed. Andrzej Zajaczkowski, Warszawa, 1973; Jan Kieniewicz, Spotkania Wschodu (Encountering the East), Warszawa, 2000.

(9) See, for example: Ewa Palasz-Rutkowska, Andrzej T. Romer, Historia stosunków polsko-japonskich, 1904-1945 (A History of Polish-Japanese Relations, 1904-1945), Warszawa, 1996; Ewa Palasz-Rutkowska, Polityka Japonii wobec Polski, 1918-1941 (Japan's Policy Toward Poland, 1918-1941) Warszawa, 1998; Polish-Japanese Co-operation during World War II, in "Japan Forum", vol. 7, No. 2 (1995), pp. 285-317; Major Fukushima Yasumasa and His Influence on the Japanese Perception of Poland at the Turn of the Century, in The Japanese and Europe: Images and Perceptions,ed. Bert Edström, Richmond, 2000, pp. 125-135. Tokute chikai, Porando Nihon ryokokuminkan no kokanjo no gensen (Distant or close? Sources of Mutual Friendship between the Two Nations, Poland and Japan), in: Shopan Porando Nihon ten, Nihon Porando kokko juritsu 80-shunen oyobi kokusai Shopan nen kinen jigyo katarogu (Chopin Poland Japan, catalogue of the exhibition to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the commencement of official relations between Poland and Japan and Frideric Chopin Year), ed. Organizing Committee, Tokyo 1999, pp. 62-65 (in Polish: pp. 65-71).

(10) Befu Harumi, Framework of Analysis, in Othernesses of Japan. Historical and Cultural Influences on Japanese Studies in Ten Countries, ed. Josef Kreiner and Harumi Befu, M_nchen, 1992, p. 15.

(11) E.g, see Nowicka, op. cit., p. 18.

(12) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discours sur l'origine et les foundements de l'inéqalite parmi les hommes, Paris, 1954.

(13) Andrzej Zajaczkowski, Obrazy swiata bialych (The Images of the World of the Whites) in Obrazy ..., op. cit., pp. 280-82.

(14) Vita et mors gloriose suscepta R. P. Alberti Mecinski, Kraków, 1661

(15) See, for example, Wladyslaw £ubienski, 8Cwiat we wszystkich swoich czesciach...okryslony (World Described in All Its Parts), 1740.

(16) In English see: Narrative of My Captivity in Japan, during the years 1811, 1812, 1813; with Observations on the Country and the People by Captain Golovnin, R.N., London, 1818, reprint in: The West's Encounter with Japanese Civilization 1800-1940, ed. Catharina Blomberg, vol. 1 and 2, Richmond, 2000.

(17) See, for egzample: Ewa Palasz-Rutkowska, Polish-Japanese Co-operation during the Russo-Japanese War. The Role of Józef Pilsudski and Roman Dmowski, in "Rocznik Orientalistyczny", vol. LII, No. 1 (1999), pp. 5-14; Inaba Chiharu, Polish-Japanese Military Collaboration during the Russo-Japanese War in "Japan Forum", vol. IV (February 1992), pp. 229-246; Jerzy Lerski, A Polish Chapter of the Russo-Japanese War, in "Transaction of the Asiatic Society of Japan", Third Series, vol. VII (1959), pp. 69-96.

(18) For details see: Ewa Palasz-Rutkowska, Andrzej T. Romer, Historia, op. cit., pp. 60-177.

(19) Alfred Majewicz, Bronislaw Pilsudski - wzorcowa karta wspólpracy i przyjazni polsko-japonskiej (Bronislaw Pilsudski - excellent example of Polish-Japanese cooperation and frienship) in: Szopen Polska Japonia, op. cit., pp. 71-73 (in Japanese: pp. 68-70).

(20) Bronislaw Pilsudski, Materials for the Study of the Ainu Language and Folklore, Kraków, 1912.

(21) The Collected Works of Bronislaw Pilsudski, vol. 1, 2, Berlin-New York, 1998.

(22) See for example: Szkice podróznicze. Wspomnienia (Travellers' Sketches. Reminiscences) in: Dziela (Selected works), vol. 18, Warszawa, 1961; Na wulkanach Japonii (On Volcanos of Japan), Lwów, 1924; Na Daleki Wschód. Kartki z podrózy (To the Far East. Cards from a Trip), Kraków, 1911; Nowele (Short Stories), Warszawa, 1948; Z fali na fale (From One Wave onto Next), Warszawa 1910.

(23) Karol Count Lanckoronski.

(24) The reference here is to Pierre Loti, Madame Chrysanthème, Paris, 1883.

(25) This is an allusion to Rudyard Kipling's works. See: Listy z Japonii (Letters from Japan), Warszawa 1904, a part translated into Polish from From Sea to Sea and Other Sketches, London 1900.

(26) Boleslaw Prus, Kroniki (Chronicles), vol. 8, 12, 16, 18, Warszawa, 1958-1968; See also Sekiguchi Tokimasa, Boleslaw Prus o Japonii i Japonczykach (Boleslaw Prus on Japan and the Japanese) in: Jubileuszowe "zniwo u Prusa" (Jubilee "Harvest in Prus"), Czestochowa, 1998, pp. 319-331.

(27) Józef Pilsudski, the leader of the Polish Socialist Party, was the first Marshal of Poland (1920), Chief of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Military Forces (1919-1920), Minister of War (1926-1935), and Prime Minister (1926-1928, 1930).

(28) Roman Dmowski was a Polish delegate to the 1919 Versailles Conference, Minister of Foreign Affairs (1923) and a preeminent right wing figure in Polish politics until WWII.

(29) For more details see e.g., Ewa Palasz-Rutkowska, "Polish-Japanese Co-operation during the Russo-Japanese War.", op. cit.

(30) Roman Dmowski, Ex Oriente Lux in: "Przeglad Wszechpolski" (All-Poland Survey), No. 9 (1904), Kraków, pp. 652-653, No. 10 (1904), p. 751.

(31) For more details see E. Palasz-Rutkowska, A. T. Romer, Historia ..., op. cit., pp. 103-108; Waclaw Jedrzejewicz, Wspomnienia (Memoirs), Poznan, 1993, pp. 166-168.

(32) For details see: Ewa Palasz Rutkowska, Pragmatyzm czy szczery podziw dla "duszy Japonii" - obraz Japonii w wybranych publikacjach polskich lat 20. i 30. XX wieku (Admiration of the "Spirit of Japan" - Sincerity or Pragmatism? The Image of Japan in Some Polish Publications in the 1920's and 1930's), "Japonica" No. 10/1999, pp. 67-81, and also Ewa Palasz-Rutkowska, "The Other" in Intercultural Contacts...., op.cit., pp. 16-23.

1.4. The image of the "Other" in the contacts of Europe, Asia, Africa and America

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