Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, by Judith Snodgrass

By Judith Snodgrass

Snodgrass demanding situations the essential view that Asian cultures are objectified and understood strictly via Western principles. in line with a close exam of displays by way of jap Buddhists on the global Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, Snodgrass argues that Buddhists themselves helped reformulate Buddhism right into a glossy global faith.

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Additional info for Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition

Sample text

The Ferris Wheel For contemporary American philosopher Denton J. Snider, the Ferris wheel epitomized the spirit of America in a way that the tower could never have done (fig. 2). Towers, wrote Snider, relate to past ages, and to association with military surveillance. ’’∂≠ The wheel, by contrast, is the cause and symbol of democratic, political unity. The intricate construction of the Ferris wheel ‘‘hints [at] a complex social system, each little part of which fulfils its special duty and thereby works for the great common end .

The Senate was alarmed by reports of Japanese atrocities that appeared in the American press by November 28 and was hesitant about signing. Foreign Minister Mutsu Munemitsu personally intervened, assuring the United States that the reports were exaggerated, pointing to the past exemplary behavior of Japanese troops and suggesting that the victims were not civilians but Chinese soldiers out of uniform. ’’Ω≥ The treaty with America was passed by the Senate in February 1895, but as Mutsu noted in his autobiography, ‘‘the American press severely condemned the violent outrages of the Japanese forces and declared that Japan was in fact a barbaric savage with only a thin veneer of civilization .

The Japanese may have been willing to concede that Perry hastened Japan’s entry into the modern industrial world, but these rooms challenged any American assumption that he had brought ‘‘civilization’’ to barbarians. The intended historical message of the H¯oo¯ den predated the design of the building itself. ’’∏∞ That is, the intention was always to show the high state of Japanese culture at the time of the birth of America, but in the final building the message was expanded to include the additional ideas of the great antiquity of Japanese civilization—the eight-hundred-year span is twice the period of America’s celebration—and its J A PA N FAC E S T H E W E S T 33 Figure 7.

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