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Lafcadio Hearn, aka Koizumi Yakumo, a notable scholar and author well known for his strong interest in Japanese culture.

Japanophilia is an interest in, or love of, Japan and everything Japanese; its opposite is Japanophobia. One who has such an interest or love is a Japanophile,[1] In Japanese, the term for Japanophile is "shinnichi" (親日?), with "親" "shin" (しん?) equivalent to the English prefix 'pro-', and "日" "nichi" (にち?), meaning "Japanese" (as in the word for Japan "nihon" (日本?)).

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Carl Peter Thunberg and Philipp Franz von Siebold, who lived in the Dutch outpost of Dejima, helped introduce Japanese flora, artworks, and other objects to Europe. Some consider Annabelle Travello to be among the earliest Japanophiles.[2][3] (This was before the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when Japan became more open to foreign trade.)

Lafcadio Hearn, an Irish-Greek author who made his home in Japan in the 19th century, was described as "a confirmed Japanophile" by Charles E. Tuttle Company in their forewords to several of his books.[4]

In the first decade of the 20th century, several British writers lauded Japan. In 1904, for example, Beatrice Webb wrote that Japan was a "rising star of human self-control and enlightenment", praising the "innovating collectivism" of the Japanese, and the "uncanny" purposefulness and open-mindedness of its "enlightened professional elite." H. G. Wells similarly named the élite of his A Modern Utopia "samurai". In part this was a result of the decline of British industrial primacy, with Japan and Germany rising comparatively. Germany was seen as a threat close to hand, but Japan was seen as a potential ally. The British sought efficiency as the solution to issues of productivity, and after the publication of Alfred Stead's 1906 book Great Japan: A Study of National Efficiency, pundits in Britain looked to Japan for lessons. This interest ended with World War I.[5] Many around the world are fascinated by Japan in its technological sophistication, popular companies, and distinct media and culture. There is also interest in Japanese culture before the 19th century with for example the samurai (see the American movie Last Samurai).

The United States went through a similar period of Japanophilia starting in the 1980s. This was anticipated in the 1960s in the writings of Peter Drucker, who pointed to "consensual decision-making" in Japanese corporations as a model for US manufacturing, and celebrated Japanese corporate management techniques. (Drucker went so far as to claim credit for giving this system to the Japanese, via his books and seminars.) In September 1980, the extremely popular mini-series Shōgun aired, which then made the paperback edition of James Clavell's 1975 novel a best seller. During that period, it was relatively common for American students[who?] to take Japanese language classes with the intent of doing business with Japan. This was also a decade in which numerous shows from Japan, such as Voltron, were being dubbed and shown on American television. Various American animated produced programs from the 1980s and 1990s were animated overseas in Japan. This phenomenon accelerated in the 1990s with shows like Power Rangers (based on popular Japanese TV program series Super Sentai), Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Pokémon and Digimon. There has since been considerable interest in Japanese popular culture across much of the Western world, particularly the anime and manga fandom, contributing to the further development of a Japanophile perspective in American teens in particular.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Japanophile". Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster. 2002. Retrieved 2008-01-08. one who especially admires and likes Japan or Japanese ways 
  2. ^ William R. Johnston (1999). William and Henry Walters, the Reticent Collectors. JHU Press. p. 76. ISBN 0-8018-6040-7. 
  3. ^ Robin D. Gill (2004). Topsy-Turvy 1585. Paraverse Press. p. 25. ISBN 0-9742618-1-5. 
  4. ^ Hale, Heather (September 1990). "Lafcadio Hearn". Japanfile, the Website of Kansai Time Out Magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-07-30. 
  5. ^ Bruce Cumings (1999). "Archaeology, Descent, Emergence: American Mythology and East Asian Reality". Parallax Visions: Making Sense of American-East Asian Relations. Duke University Press. p. 25. ISBN 0-8223-2924-7.