Japan’s Book Donation to the University of Louvain

Japanese Cultural Identity and Modernity in the 1920s

Edited by Jan Schmidt, Willy Vande Walle, and Eline Mennens

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Companion to the exhibition “Japan’s Book Donation to the University of Louvain”, KU Leuven University Library,  28 October 2022 - 15 January 2023

With more than 3,000 titles in almost 14,000 volumes, the 1920s Japanese book donation to the University of Leuven/Louvain constitutes an invaluable time capsule of Japan’s pre-modern culture in all its diversity and richness. A century on, the time is right to take a new look at its contents, as well as its history and the political, social and cultural context surrounding the donation. To commemorate its centenary, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) and the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) have joined forces to set up a special exhibition under the title “Japan’s Book Donation to the University of Louvain. Japanese Cultural Identity and Modernity in the 1920s” (October 2022–January 2023), at the University Library of KU Leuven.

The present book has been compiled for the occasion of the exhibition, to serve as a durable guide to the magnificent book donation and its historical background, and as a reference for further research in the future. In five essays by historians of politics, media, culture, and arts of Japan, it offers a richly illustrated overview of the history of the donation and its wider historical context, providing illuminating insights into the vibrant 1920s in Japan, its politics, society, and popular culture. The reader is further invited to explore a sample of 65 remarkable and rare items from the donation, which were carefully selected for inclusion in the exhibition and are provided here with a detailed description. Moreover, the reader is introduced to 41 representative items, including visually captivating commercial and political posters related to Japan’s modernity in the 1920s, which represent mass culture, progress, and tensions, and highlight both imperial ambitions and a willingness to contribute to international cooperation.


KU Leuven and UCLouvain’s Co-operation Strengthened by Japan — Luc Sels & Vincent Blondel 

Message by the Ambassador of Japan to Belgium — Shimokawa Makita 

Introduction — Jan Schmidt, Willy Vande Walle, Eline Mennens 

The First World War as the Precondition to the Japanese Donation to the University of Louvain — Jan Schmidt 

An Empire of the Mid-Tier: The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the New Mass Public-Focused Diplomacy of the Early Twentieth Century — Lieven Sommen 

The Japanese Book Donation to the University of Louvain — Willy Vande Walle 

Selected Books from the 1920s Japanese Donation — Willy Vande Walle 

Japanese Art in Belgium in the 1920s: Hidden Treasures and Public Celebrations — Freya Terryn 

Japan’s Sonic Modernity: Popular Music and Culture in the 1920s — Aurel Baele 

Selected Objects from 1920s Japan: Modernity in Popular Culture, Media, Society and Politics as Background to the Donation — Jan Schmidt 

Notes 
About the Editors and Authors 
Bibliography 
Acknowledgements 
Classification List of Selected Books 
List of Selected Objects 
List of Background Explanations 
Alphabetical List of Selected Books 
Alphabetical List of Selected Objects 
Colophon 

Format: Edited volume - free ebook - PDF

296 pages

Full colour

ISBN: 9789461663283

Publication: October 28, 2022

Languages: English

Eline Mennens, holder of an MA in Japanese Studies (modern history of Japan), was research assistant in the Japanese Studies Research Group at KU Leuven, specially assigned to the preparation of the exhibition.
Jan Schmidt is historian of modern and contemporary Japan at KU Leuven, focusing on political and media history, and Head of the Japanese Studies Research Group.
Willy Vande Walle is professor emeritus of Japanese Studies at KU Leuven.