The Meiji Legacy: Gardens and Parks of Japan and Britain, 1850-1914
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AbstractMeiji era (1868-1912) politics cast a legacy which extended beyond the Far Eastern nation. This thesis explores the relationship between Japan and Britain during this period, in relation to the cultural exchange of ideas around garden and park design. In contrast to previous studies which have emphasised Japanese style as consumed in Britain, it compares both Japanese and British appropriations of their respective native garden styles underlining the considerable interdependent factors in their developments that have been previously under-emphasised. Furthermore, it includes analysis of public Japanese gardens which have been under-represented in previous work that has tended to focus excessively on aristocratic gardens. The thesis research has utilised published works, archive collections and the large amount of digital material now available in order to systematically identify and examine park and garden sites in both nations which had foreign garden elements infused within them. By analysing such sources, the gardens, people and motivating factors in their creation are revealed. This study argues that there was a significant process of cultural exchange between Japan and Europe during the closed era or sakoku. The Asiatic Society of Japan and Japan Society of London were crucial in the transmission of elements of Japanese-style gardening to Britain as analysis of their members, their activities and publications demonstrates. In addition, the Edo/Meiji era gardening knowledge of self-styled experts in Japan known as niwashi strongly informed influential works on the subject such as Josiah Conder’s Landscape Gardening in Japan (1893), which in turn shaped how these gardens were understood in Britain. Another key finding was that King Edward VII played an important part in encouraging the adoption of Japanese gardening ideas amongst the British aristocracy and forging a strong relationship with Japanese royalty. This was cemented by the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902 with political motivation also crucial in shaping the design of gardens at the Japan-British Exhibition 1910. This thesis argues that in all British-Japanese style gardens, authenticity was ultimately unachievable despite a variety of steps taken by their creators such as employing Japanese gardeners. Furthermore, the study concludes that the extent of European elements in Japanese parks and gardens has been exaggerated in previous analyses. This thesis demonstrates how Meiji politics affected garden styles inside and outside of Japan stemming from sustained interaction with foreign nations, modernisation and a reaction against European imperialism. A rich study of the Meiji legacy to garden design, this thesis suggests that Japanese imperialism was successful in counteracting European advances and changing initial European perceptions of Japan as Oriental. This has significantly added ground-breaking new knowledge to the subject. This interdisciplinary research draws from a range of ideas and methods from fields including history, geography, horticulture, politics, cultural and Japanese studies providing a rich and interwoven examination of the factors involved in the formation of the relationship between Japan and Britain from its beginnings in the sixteenth century.
PublisherUniversity of Derby
TypeThesis or dissertation
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