The Japanese Influence in America

The Japanese Influence in America

The Japanese Influence in America

The Japanese Influence in America


To many, as to me, Mr. Lancaster's account of Japanese influences on the West will give great pleasure and profit. Complaints of the effects of Westtern culture on the Far East have been myriad and most of them justified. The more welcome then to have a book devoted to the reverse of the pisture-the effest of Japanese art and culture on the Western scene.

Few of us have had any idea of the extent of the Japanese influence, especially in gardens and architecture, and here is a clear and comprehensive account presented with clarity and charm.

The world has always changed; young people have always wanted new and "modern" things and have rebelled against old customs and too often against their wiser parents. This is true, but in this twentieth century the pace has been accelerated and the results sometimes make one a little dizzy. I hear of a new train soon to be used-- a train which will whiz one from Tokyo to Kyoto in three hours, a trip which today in a fast train takes seven. I myself do not want to be rushed through the beautiful countryside at any such speed.

The late Dr. Denman Ross of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a power in the affairs of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and of the Fogg Museum, traveled extensively and was one of the early travelers to the Far East, often to Japan in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. In 1923 he listened to a student's account of a first trip to Europe, where the American way of life was already very much in evidence with American jazz records drowning out the strains of the beautiful Blue Danube, with Bavarian girls except at hotel performances "fur den Fremden" minus their golden braids and clad in American cottons. After hearing him out, Dr. Ross exclaimed sadly, "To think I have seen the entire world destroyed in my lifetime!"

He did not mean the destruction of wars. He meant the ravages of what is often called progress. There is no way of halting the march of progress, but many of us wish that countries would retain their own characteristics.

There are consoling thoughts. The Japanese have gobbled up and digested other civilizations before this and turned back enough to retain much of their old culture.

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