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Visual Genesis of Japanese National Identity

Hokusai’s "Hyakunin isshu</I>

Ewa Machotka

Visual Genesis of Japanese National Identity offers an entirely new perspective on the concept of constructing nation-states. The book explores the nature of national identity constructs produced in pre-modern Japan by examining two aspects of its cultural production, the sphere of fine arts and the sphere of literature intertwined with a genre of poetry pictorialization.
The discussion is centered on the artistic practice of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and contextualizes his woodblock print series entitled Hyakunin isshu uba ga etoki in a wider perspective of Japanese historical, political, social, cultural and artistic phenomena emerging prior to the birth of the modern Japanese nation. Hokusai’s work, oscillating between the domain of text and the domain of image, transposes the classical Japanese poetry into late Edo period (1603-1868) popular culture. Machotka argues that in the process of text/image translation Hokusai projected a new image of «Japaneseness», thereby contributing to the development of national identity prior to the emergence of Japan as a modern nation-state.
Contents: Framing the Analysis: The State of the Field – Genealogy of the Hyakunin isshu uba ga etoki Pictorialization – Hokusai and the Hyakunin isshu uba ga etoki Series – Hokusai’s Visual Translation of the Selected Hyakunin isshu Poems – Manipulating the Canon: Focus on the Series Title – Kyōka: The Vehicle of Hokusai’s Nativistic Interests – The Land and its People: Hokusai’s Visual Construction of «Japan» – Evoking Community: Hokusai’s Voice in yonaoshi Discourse – Short Biography of Katsushika Hokusai – The Hyakunin isshu uba ga etoki Images - Comparative Approach.