CHAPTER III

SOCIAL CONTEXT IN THE MEIJI ERA


The Reopening of Japan

In the middle of the nineteenth century, the Western nations were actively expanding their markets and spheres of interest in the Far East. (1) Meanwhile, Japan, which had remained in self-imposed isolation for over two centuries, was ruled steadily, on the surface at least, by the Tokugawa government. However, towards the end of the Edo era (1603-1868) there was increasing discontent amongst the people. The opposing political group which supported another power, the Emperor craved for the modernisation of the country, and with it the lifting of the policy of seclusion.(2) Consequently, it can be said that Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States appeared in Edo, modern Tokyo, at the right time in 1853 requesting the country to be opened up.(3) This incident nonetheless had an enormous impact on the Japanese and is remembered as Kurofune Raiho (the Black Ships Visit) as four black American ships advanced towards the land with the roaring sound of cannons. During the ten-day stay of the ships, the Japanese in Edo were thrown into panic and were frightened by this unknown civilisation which obviously possessed far more advanced military power and wealth than they.(4) The Tokugawa government, which initially tried to reject Perryís forceful proposal, acquiesced to sign a commercial treaty the following year. Similar treaties were concluded with Britain, Russia, Holland, France, and later with Brazil, Italy, Spain, and Germany.(5)
The power of the Tokugawa government had been significantly lessened after these events and it became a matter of course that the Emperor would be restored to power. This was finally realised in 1868 (the Meiji Restoration) and the Samurai class vanished from Japan. Being aware of Chinese diplomatic and territorial defeats, the fear of Western invasion precipitated Japan towards modernisation as a Western style society and a world military power. With regard to the changes which took place at the beginning of the Meiji era, Sir Rutherford Alcock6 noted in his article Reform in Japan
in 1872:
The Japanese are the only nation in the history of the world that has ever taken five centuries at a stride, and devoured in a decade all the space dividing feudalism and despotism from constitutional government and the other developments, commercial and municipal, of modern life.

Two years later, he amended his comment in ìJapan as It was and Isî as; ìIt has been remarked that no other nation has ëever before taken five centuries at a boundí, but with equal truth ten centuries might have been the term.
The Japanese government realised the importance of education in order to make any such progress in an aggressive transformation plan.(7) They chose to borrow the expertise of foreign countries and hired nearly 8,000 foreigners (8) called oyatoi (employees) from more than twenty-five nations in diverse areas to assist them to absorb modern technologies, ideologies, and culture.(9) As a result of these efforts, Japan had achieved the astonishing accomplishment of transforming itself from a country dependent on agriculture to one dependent on heavy industry.


During the Meiji period, foreign trade was increasing rapidly: in 1868, total imports were 15,553,473 versus exports of 10,693,072; by 1912, they had grown respectively, to 526,981,842 (33 times) and 618,992,277 (57 times).(10) The major export items were silk, tea, copper and ceramics and the main import item was cotton. For about fifteen years after the signing of foreign trade treaties, Britain took the lead and engaged in 70 to 80 per cent of export and import trades with Japan. This trend, however, changed over time, with the United States and France moving up to the top of the list as for exports destinations, whereas Britain maintained its foremost position as an importer.(11) Yet, the foreign trade of Japan with Britain in 1909 amounted to approximately 24,000,000 sterling, or 29 per cent of British foreign trade.(12) These data testify that Japan was actively participating in the world economy.
Until 1899, such trades were undertaken at the open ports designated by the Japanese government: Yokohama, Kobe, Nagasaki, Niigata, and Hakodate. During this time, foreigners were allowed to reside only in the settlements at these ports as well as in Tokyo and Osaka. Among these cities, Yokohama, formerly a small fishing village, played the most important role in terms of foreign trade and thus in the importation of Western culture. The number of foreign residents in Yokohama increased rapidly to over 3,000 by the end of the 1870s and to approximately 5,000 by the end of the century.(13) This means that Yokohama held more than the half of the entire foreign population in Japan at the time and became the New Dejima of the Meiji era. Numerous products aimed at export were sent to Yokohama from various production centres in Japan, and these were called Hamamono (Yokohama products).

In the course of such dramatic modernisation, various institutions of Western origin were introduced into Japan. For example, the first railroad from Tokyo to Yokohama was opened in 1872, much European and American literature was translated, and a new coeducational schooling system started. In addition, there was a rapid transformation in peopleís life styles, chiefly in the urban societies: men cut their long hair which had traditionally been worn in a topknot; meat-eating habits started; Western clothing for men and women became more common. The peopleís desire to pursue the latest fad was often carried to extremes and their obsession with for all things Western reached a culmination in the 1880s, when the elaborate social dance hall, Rokumeikan, designed to entertain foreign officials and the Japanese upper-class was built in Tokyo.(14) Such superficial Westernisation provoked a conservative reaction urging the need to return to native Japanese values and traditions.(15) It can be said that Japanese modernisation had become more established after this period.
The above is an overview of the rapid transformation of Meiji Japan. At this point, I should explain what was taking place in the traditional crafts market in Japan. The Meiji Restoration left a significant impact on all Japanese craftsmen: Samurai were relieved of official duty, swordsmiths and armour makers were redundant; lacquerers cherished by feudal lords lost their patrons; the Emperorís declaration of Shinto as the sole national religion placed Buddhist sculptors in severe difficulty. The people, having been blinded by the fanatical and exciting Westernisation, dismissed these artefacts; in other words, traditions respected for more than a thousand years in Japan were rejected by the Japanese themselves.
In order to preserve such traditional art and also to enhance export trades, the Meiji government strongly encouraged the export of Japanese arts and crafts. It realised the importance of world exhibitions as the ideal showcase in which to promote Japanese products to the world, hence, made a great effort to explain the benefits of such participation to the people. This was done by starting regular domestic exhibitions and rewarding craftsmen for their skills, offering financial support to craftsmen, and preparing the desirable craft designs for exhibitions. In particular, the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibitions (1876) is known for the enormous investment made by the government: it even paid the travel expenses for all Japanese exhibitors who wished to attend with their objects. (16) Moreover, the first trading company, the Kiritsu Kosho Kaisha, was established in 1874 with a strong support from the government. (17) As a result, Japanese participation in world exhibitions rapidly increased, and, in fact, in the first twenty years of the Meiji era, Japan participated in nineteen exhibitions abroad.(18)
Numerous craft designs, collectively called Onchi Zuroku (Onchi Illustrations), were prepared by the government and lent to participants in the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition (1876), the First Domestic Industrial Exposition in Tokyo (1877), the Exposition Universelle in Paris (1878), and the Second Domestic Industrial Exposition in Tokyo (1881).(19) These designs, of various categories, consisted of those prepared by governmental officers, who were appointed to examine Western artistic trends and incorporate them into Japanese export craft designs, and those made by private craftsmen and modified by such officers.(20) This governmental sector referred to numerous books as design sources, and, in fact, it was recently revealed that motifs of many Onchi designs were, partly or entirely, taken from then existing designs illustrated in other books issued in Japan and China.(21)
In addition, besides oyatoi, some Western artists were invited to Japan by the Meiji government. Upon the decision to establish modern museums in Japan, the government sent officers to the West to research, and also invited the British designer, Christopher Dresser (22) to Japan in 1876. During his stay, he was asked to visit factories and workshops to give some advice on European taste to promote future trade with England. During his 98-day stay, the energetic Dresser met 75 makers of ceramics, metalwork, bamboo and basket works, lacquer furniture, textiles, embroideries, enamels, cloisonnÈ enamel, toys, and paper.(23) Japanese craft industry greatly benefited from him, and Dresser himself gained an insight into Japanese art and integrated elements into his own style.
These episodes symbolise the state of the crafts industry in the early Meiji era very well: all the steps towards world exhibitions and export were prepared by the government, just like parents teaching their children how to speak. This situation gradually changed during the 1880s. The official sector appointed to examine Western fashion was dissolved and the preparation of Onchi illustrations ceased in 1885. Meiji craft exports, initiated by the government, increased significantly during the 1880s, and thus, the government gradually withdrew its involvement. The fact that the Third Domestic Industrial Exhibition held in 1890 in Tokyo declared that it would accept only those crafts of an original design, testifies to the clear change in the governmentís attitude.(24) After this initial stage, the export of Japanese crafts was developed considerably by private entrepreneurs.


Western Style Furniture Produced in Japan for Domestic Use

The atmosphere of workshops manufacturing Western style furniture in the early Meiji is well illustrated in the wood block print made in 1880 (Fig. 13), where men dressed in kimonos with a traditional topknot hold conventional Japanese carpentry tools to produce balloon back chairs and writing desks. An interesting fact is that most craftsmen who engaged in this new business were not traditional furniture makers: they were those who had lost jobs during the dramatic social changes.
One reason why traditional furniture producers did not deal with Western style furniture lies in the fundamental difference between Japanese and Western furniture. Whilst the former is basically shaped in straight contours to be fitted into module system architecture, the latter is more three-dimensional and often rounded in shape, and thus different manufacturing techniques were required. Another reason is that there was still enough demand for traditional Japanese furniture at that time, therefore they did not have to change their business.(25)
Although the Japanese were quick to adapt to the majority of Western manners, ordinary peopleís homes during the Meiji era remained more or less the same as these of the Edo era. Among the upper-middle class, it became a status symbol to add Western rooms to their houses to receive guests, but, even so, few of them dared to reside in the Western wings instead of their Japanese wings.(26) It is recorded, for example, that an average household of around 1900 consisted of only a few items of traditional furniture, typically a large chest of drawers (tansu), a smaller chest and a mirror stand (Fig. 14).(27) The Japanese maintained a floor-sitting culture which did not utilise a bed, a chair, or any tall furniture. It was in the next era, Taisho (1912-26), that the Western furniture started to penetrate into Japanese houses, although very slowly, and the adoption of chairs and beds on a large scale did not take place until well after the Second World War.(28)
This phenomenon is quite peculiar to Japanese culture as most societies around the world evolved to a chair-using life style as they were modernised. The reason for this is not the concern of this paper, however it is important to recognise that this fact demonstrates the eccentric position of Western furniture in Japan, which found no place in ordinary peopleís homes. The main difference, besides the above mentioned dissimilarity in their contours, between Western and Japanese traditional furniture is their height. When one sits down on a floor, there is no need for raised furniture and everything is designed to be easily reachable from floor level. Consequently, no legs and stands are attached to cabinets, and those of tables are very short.
The production of Western style furniture became active from the end of the 1880s. When the first piece was made is not certain, but it is generally believed to have been at the end of the Edo era, i.e. circa 1850. The Europeans and Americans who resided in the settlements after the opening of the country needed the furniture to equip their houses. Although furniture was brought from their own countries, due to high shipping costs, some of them started to order furniture from the Japanese, with specific details.(29) For instance, Henry Heusken (30) ordered from a carpenter in Edo, Magotao Matsumoto,(31) a chair after his sketch in around 1860. Neither the actual chair nor the sketch survive, nevertheless, a descendant of Matsumotoís circle claimed that it was of the decorative Rococo style.(32) In addition, it is also recorded that H. J. Gorman (33 )ordered wooden furniture from Hakoyasu, (34) and upholstered chairs from Baguyasu (35) in 1860.
Baguyasu is regarded as a founder of the Yokohama furniture industry, which played a leading role during the Meiji era. Because Yokohama housed the largest foreign population in Japan, its furniture business targeted Western residences and travellers, as well as the Japanese companies dealing with such foreigners. The advanced position of Yokohama is testified by the fact that all the furniture in the Tsukiji Hotel, the first Western style hotel, built in 1868, was produced in Yokohama.(36) The second important centre for Western furniture was Shiba in Tokyo, where the greatest patron, the Meiji government, was located, and their products tended to be more luxurious than those of Yokohama. The industry in Shiba grew rapidly in accordance with the rise of wealth in the capital city, and towards the end of the Meiji era, a number of craftsmen and retailers in Yokohama moved to Shiba.
The Western furniture produced in Japan for domestic use divides into two qualities, higher and utilitarian. The former was found in the houses of Western residents and rich Japanese, palaces, and hotels in Western styles, while the latter was used in public offices, schools, and some shops.
From the late 1870s a number of governmental buildings and private mansions in Western style were erected by oyatoi architects and Japanese followers. Amongst them, an English architect, Josiah Conder, completed seventy-five buildings and is remembered as the father of Western architecture in Japan.(37) He was not an exceptionally innovative architect by Western standards, but he was flexible and eclectic. As a result, varied styles of architecture were introduced to Meiji Japan including Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo. This reflected a series of historic revivals then prevalent in Europe, as well as the diverse nationalities of oyatoi. The Japanese, unfortunately, having not acquired enough knowledge about Western architectural and interior styles, ended up with a rather confusing output. Furniture for these buildings was usually designed by architects and ordered from Western furniture manufacturers in Japan.(38) Around 1900, Art Nouveau was introduced to Japan and some houses and furniture were produced under this influence. In Japan, the simpler Belgian Art Nouveau style represented by Victor Horta (39) and Henri Van de Velde (40) was preferred to the sinuous French Art Nouveau design.
In addition to these styles adopted from the West, another new kind of interior emerged in Japan. As already mentioned, in the 1880s there was increasing reaction against the penetration of things Western. The fear of losing tradition, particularly profound amongst the ruling classes, resulted in the creation of a new style: it was a neutral blend of Western and Japanese design. The Meiji Palace, built in 1889, is a typical example of those buildings which curiously combined both Japanese and Western features.(41) The exterior was made completely in the traditional style, but the interior followed a Western manner, although the furniture was embellished with Japanese decoration such as lacquer and Japanese brocades (Fig. 15). Even though this was nothing but a creation out of compromise, this style became very popular and a prototype for governmental buildings, and, in fact, this hybridisation is closely related to that of export furniture examined in the following chapter in detail.

Moving on to the other category of Western furniture produced in Japan, utilitarian furniture, the production of this variety started upon the governmentís decree of 1871 to introduce chairs into municipal offices. Two years later, the same action was taken for schools, although such furniture was very simple and humble. In addition, places such as barber shops and photographic studios utilised chairs from the early years. The use in the former was particularly popular at the time, partly due to the official order to cut the topknot off, and approximately 3,000 barber shops existed in Tokyo in 1871 (Fig. 16).(42)
Lastly, the market for second-hand furniture in the Meiji era must not be ignored. The foreigners who resided in Japan commonly sold their furniture at auction upon their departure. The frequency of such sales increased towards the 1880s, and from the 1890s onwards they were held almost every day in Yokohama, as evidenced by the advertisements by the leading auctioneer, JNO. W. Hall, in The Japan Gazette (Fig. 17).(43) Their sales, which included all kinds of household goods from furniture and curtains to cutlery were actively participated in not only by second-hand shops but also by those trading in brand new Western style furniture and other merchants. Designs of such furniture varied greatly: Rococo, Neo-classical, Jacobean, Chippendale styles, and so on. This contributed enormously to the diffusion of knowledge about the construction and design of Western furniture among Japanese producers. In fact, some of the second-hand furniture sellers began to make Western furniture by themselves. Soon, it became possible for foreigners to arrive in Japan without any household goods carried from their countries because they could buy almost everything necessary in Japan. (44) It is known that the auctions were held in English, which reminds us just how cosmopolitan Yokohama was at that time.(45)


Western Style Furniture Exported from Japan

The character of Meiji export furniture is distinct from that of the Namban and Komo periods. First, as examined in the previous sections, Japanese society swiftly modernised in the Meiji era, and the markets for the craft underwent a major transformation from a local to a major export market. Consequently, furniture was created from diverse materials and techniques, which makes a good contrast with the Namban and Komo furniture that depended exclusively on lacquer. Second, as a result of the large inflow of information from the West and the emergence of entrepreneurs in Japan, furniture in various styles was exported. Such production was initiated by Westerners in the settlements, as it had been in the previous period by the Portuguese and Dutch, however, this time, the Japanese attitude was not passive and they made a huge effort to operate profitable businesses.
On the other hand, both Meiji and Namban/Komo furniture displayed the same idea inherent in export products. In order to appeal to foreign markets, objects must have an exotic appearance redolent of their origin. Therefore, almost without exception, export furniture modelled after Western shapes was adorned with Japanese materials and motifs, or at least those which foreigners thought of as being Japanese.(46) This adaptation of Eastern and Western ideas displays a similar concept to the hybrid designs employed by the Meiji government as a national style. It may be described as a product of a country which was searching for its identity in the midst of the confusion caused by headlong modernisation.
There were three distribution channels for the export of Meiji furniture. First was the above-mentioned world exhibitions. Starting with the Vienna exhibition in 1873, the Japanese government participated in one in Philadelphia in 1876, Paris in 1878 and 1889, Chicago in 1893, Paris again in 1900, St. Louis in 1904, and the Japan-British Exhibition in London in 1910, to list only a few.(47) It is recorded that furniture in a Western shape was already sent to the exhibition in Vienna in 1873.(48) Particularly after the Philadelphia exhibition, hybrid furniture became very common.(49 )
The second distribution channel was through foreign visitors who bought furniture at curio shops in Japan. A trip to Japan was an attractive adventure for Westerners at the time. This is well demonstrated by the words which Alexander Knox (1818-1891), a leader writer for The Times, used to describe Japan, such as ìThis singular people, The Forbidden Land, and ìa sealed book.(50) Typically, strangers in Japan spent their first morning in curio shops. (51) The information on what to be done in Japan was fully laid out by guide books such as the annual editions of John Murray’s Handbook for Travellers in Japan.(52) For example, Murray’s handbook of 1913 listed two Foreign Stores for Japanese Works of Art in Yokohama Arthur & Bond (53) and Kuhn & Komor,(54) and several Japanese curio shops such as Samurai Shokai (5 and Endo Art Furniture(56) Most curio shops were solely retailers, but some of them were actively engaged as manufacturer. For example, Arthur & Bond had their own factory, and Samurai Shokai offered financial support to a number of craftsmen to enable them to produce their own high quality products.(57) In addition, Yamanaka & Co., based in Osaka, the most prominent Japanese and Chinese antique dealer of the time, produced high quality furniture at their factory.
The third distribution channel was retailers located in the West. Numerous shops specialising in Japanese art were set up by the Japanese as well as by Westerners since the 1870s. In England, the most influential was Liberty & Co., established by Arthur Lasenby Liberty in 1875. Yamanaka also opened a branch in 1900.(58) In America, New York and Boston became the centres of Japanese art.(59)
The Kiritsu Kosho Kaisha founded a New York branch as early as 1877 and actively sold Japanese crafts.(60) After its disappearance in 1891, Yamanaka became the leading dealer in the United States, operating branches in New York,(61) Boston,(62) Chicago, Atlantic City, Newport, and Bar Harbor.(63) In Boston, another pioneer Japanese businessman, Matsuki Bunkyo, opened his store in 1893 and became an important dealer.(64)
The export of furniture significantly increased in the 1880s. However, it was also a time when the quality of Japanese export crafts in general declined noticeably and faced difficulties in meeting the demand from abroad. The Japanese government and some wholesalers sensed the risk and strove to improve the situation. From the middle of 1880s, craft exports increased again.
So far, in sections 1 to 3 of this chapter, I have talked about what was happening in Meiji Japan, how enthusiastically people pursued things Western and adopted foreign technologies and ideas, and how furniture was exported. I now move on to the examination of the reverse and look at what was taking place in Western arts and crafts, and how Westerners adopted Japanese style in their lives.


Japonisme(65) and the Aesthetic Movement (66)

Although Japanese export artefacts started the fashion for a Japanese style during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Europe, it was little more than a fad for exotic things. Japanese styles were applied purely for decorative effect. Japonisme, which appeared in the second half of the nineteenth century, is generally differentiated from such earlier Japanese influence in its deeper understanding of the concepts underlying Japanese art. Western pictorial artists had started to use the concept of Japanese art to free themselves from Western classical tradition. Japanese wood block prints, ukiyo-e, were newly introduced to the West in the nineteenth century, and had a sensational impact on Western art. Asymmetrical arrangement, blank backgrounds, flat and linear depiction disregarding mathematical perspective - none of these featured in the traditional canon of which had ruled in the West for centuries. These elements were merged with Western practices and new styles emerged.
Limited information about Japanese art was available to the West before Japanís reopening in 1854. For example, Philippe Franz von Siebold issued one of the first thorough studies of Japan, Archiv zur Bescheibung von Japan in 1831, which was also published in France in 1838.(67) Additionally, he brought copies of Hokusai Manga (68) back to Holland in 1830 and exhibited them at his museum in Leiden opened to the public in 1837. Some scholars suggest the link between these ukiyo-e and French Japonisme.(69) It is, however, commonly acknowledged that Japonisme emerged after 1854 when more information on Japanese art became available. A number of books were written by ambassadors who returning from service in Japan. For instance, Laurence Oliphant published his two-volume Narrative of the Earl of Elginís Mission to China and Japan in 1859, consisting of some Japanese wood block prints. These books were an immediate success and editions in the US and France followed in 1860. In 1863, Sir Rutherford Alcock published his famous The Capital of the Tycoon, which included numerous prints of superb quality chosen by the author who was a serious collector of Japanese art.(70)
Turning to the availability of Japanese decorative arts in Europe (excluding Holland), a British ship carrying a full load of Japanese crafts returned to London in 1854. These were exhibited at the Old Watercolour Society Gallery in Pall Mall East and became the first opportunity for the British to encounter Japanese crafts. Although this early event did not make any immediately noticeable impact on British art, it was featured by the London Illustrated News on 4 February 1854 with great acclaim (Fig. 18). There were lacquered desks with mother-of-pearl and metal inlays, cabinets, boxes, bronze works, porcelains, textiles, prints, amongst other works.(71) Judging from the designs illustrated in the newspaper and the date of the exhibition, the furniture was apparently Nagasaki lacquer. The design of the table with bat-shaped legs in the middle was illustrated in the book called Aogai Maki-e Hinagata Hikae (Lacquered Design Manuals, Nagasaki Aogai) published in Nagasaki in 1856 (Fig. 19). The Science and Art Department, British government body, made large purchases from these exhibits upon the recommendation of prominent critics.(72)
The International Exhibition in London, 1862, was the first major introduction of Japanese art to the West. Rutherford Alcock, who returned from diplomatic service in Japan, displayed his comprehensive Japanese collection including over 600 paintings, prints, textiles, paper samples, porcelain, lacquers, bronze works at the Japanese Court. The whole exhibition was not as huge a commercial success as the Great Exhibition of 1851, but Japanese crafts deeply impressed some intellectuals and artists. One of these was the young Arthur Lasenby Liberty, who urged his employer, Farmer and Rogers, to buy in the unsold exhibits of Japanese crafts. His passion for Japanese art lasted for a long time and Liberty & Co., established in 1875, became the foremost stockist of Japanese crafts in Britain. Japan participated officially in a world exhibition for the first time in 1867, at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. (73) Their exhibits included several thousand items, such as weapons, books, paintings, prints, musical instruments, lacquers, ceramics, metal works, papers, and textiles.(74) This extensive display made a deep impression on Parisian artists, and the mania for things Japanese spread rapidly.
The influence of Japanese art was also strongly felt in the United States, although it was not so intense until the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. This fair achieved tremendous success with a total of 11.65 million visitors,(75) and the Japanese section, displaying an enormous quantity of decorative arts, drew a huge crowd. The Illustrated Catalogue of the Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1876 stated:
Anything from Japan has always been looked upon with interest, because curiosities are interesting. The Japanese collection in the Main Building received a great deal of attention, and, although there was much to smile at as grotesque and ìoutlandishî, there was very much to delight the eye in the delicate and intricate workmanship . . .(76).

For the first ten years or so after the reopening of Japan, the passion for Japanese art was confined to individual artists and collectors. In the 1870s, when more information and materials became available, the vogue took off in earnest and numerous Japanese style interiors were created. This trend was carried to extremes in the 1880s, particularly in England, and thousands of ordinary homes were filled with Japanese style decorative objects such as fans, umbrellas, and porcelain.(77) British zeal for Japanese fashion was chiefly concentrated in the decorative arts, promoted by the active involvement of major industrial manufacturers, as opposed to other countries where fine arts were the main focus.(78)
The vogue for Japanese style called for the creation of furniture with Japanese looks, and some started to invent a new kind of furniture based on their interpretation of a Japanese aesthetic. Such furniture divides into two categories: one characterised by straight lines and another by flowing curves.(79) The former was represented by Edward William Godwin,(80) Christopher Dresser, Thomas Jeckyll,(81) and Charles Rennie Mackintosh,(82) who referred to traditional Japanese furniture and interiors as their design sources. It is known, for example, that Godwin owned two volumes of Hokusai Manga as early as 1862, from which he learned the techniques of Japanese furniture construction, and in 1867 he designed an extremely innovative cabinet (Fig. 20).(83) Christopher Dresser visited Japan in 1876 and made a first hand study of Japanese interiors, and Mackintosh was strongly influenced by Godwin. The Peacock Room made for Frederick Leyland by James Abbott McNeil Whistler (84) and Jeckyll in 1876 was one of the best known examples (Fig. 21). Furniture with sinuous contours was more commonly found in France and derived from the flowing lines of ukiyo-e. The leading French Art Nouveau designer, Emile GallÈ,(85) typifies this style (Fig. 22).
In addition to such furniture created by prominent designers, numerous items in Japanese style were produced in Europe and sold at Japanese warehouses and department stores. In London, besides Liberty & Co., Whiteley opened an oriental department in 1874, later followed by Debenham & Freebody and Swan & Edgar, Maples, and others.(86 )
The fashion for Japan remained popular in the West even after the 1880s, and Japan was a frequent topic amongst artists and intellectuals. For instance, a British leading artistic magazine of the day, The Studio,(87) featured miscellaneous aspects of Japanese art and culture continually throughout the 1890s and 1900s. Particularly, the edition of July 1899,(88) dedicated eight pages to the Japanese-inspired house of Mortimer Menpes,(89) an Australian painter, with ten photographs. He was apprenticed to Whistler and visited Japan in 1887 to study Japanese art. On his second visit in 1896, he ordered all the interior fittings for his mansion at 25 Cadogan Garden in Chelsea (90) from nearly 100 Japanese craftsmen woodcarvers, metalworkers, painters and lacquerers who worked from precise drawings supplied by Menpes. The carved friezes, ceiling panels, furniture, doors and windows produced under his one-year supervision were packed in 200 cases and shipped to London. It took him another two years to fit these materials into his house. (Fig. 23) The interior, displaying an excellent marriage of East and West, was highly esteemed and described as ìone of the most remarkable houses in the world and a gorgeous Eastern Palace in Commonplace Chelsea.(91) The rectilinear design of the interior was punctuated with numerous carved wooden panels which resembled those of Japanese temples. Most of the furniture was inspired by traditional Japanese designs, but, strangely, some items such as small tables and chairs of Chinese origin were mixed in, which was criticised by The Studio in the above-mentioned article.
To summarise this chapter, it can be said that the real dialogue between Japan and the West finally started in the Meiji era. This is the reason why Japonisme and the Aesthetic Movement in the West were curiously echoed by the craze for Westernisation in Japan. In the course of these cultural interchanges, much hybrid furniture was produced based on different interpretations of each designer in the West and Japan. Some Westerners seriously searched for the key to the Japanese aesthetic, while others sought only superficial exoticism. Mirroring these activities in the West, hybridisation took place in the area of furniture production in the Meiji era, based on Japanese ideas of how Western furniture should be adapted to Japanese society, and which style Westerners would think of as being Japanese and attractive. This resulted in various kinds of output. In the West, minimalist designs typified by Godwin, elaborate marquetry furniture by GallÈ, and inexpensive Anglo-Japanese furniture sold at numerous retailers was produced. In Japan, diversified Western furniture with Japanese decoration was created for the home and export markets. Particularly that made for the export market was unique in many ways, as will be examined in detail in the next chapter.

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Contents
Chapter I - Introduction
Chapter II - Pre-Meiji Export Furniture
Chapter III - Social Context in the Meiji Era
Chapter IV - Meiji Export Furniture
Chapter V - Conclusions
Appendix - Footnotes
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