Education About Asia: Online Archives

Japan Past and Present: A five-part series

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In the fourth video of this series, The Meiji Period, Jean Antoine, the writer and director, claims that most Westerners in late nineteenth century Japan largely ignored the important political, social, and economic changes of the time that would make Japan a powerful modern country because they preferred to focus on the exotic aspects of Japan. Antoine seems to have suffered from the same predilection. His depictions of Japanese culture are highly idiosyncratic, and he frequently stresses bizarre and exotic customs and behaviors to explain how Japanese culture has developed. These videos only briefly concentrate on the central issues; he likes to focus on the peripheries of change. Sometimes the results of his approach are creative, insightful and entertaining, but just as often his technique leaves the viewer confused and dissatisfied.