Gaze to Seashore: Comparative Analysis Between Europe and Japan

Gaze to Seashore: Comparative Analysis Between Europe and Japan

H. Kato

Center for Advanced Tourism Studies, Hokkaido University, Japan

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Media including paintings, wooden prints, pictures, drawings, and postcards were analysed to clarify what kinds of activities for recreation and pleasure took place on the shore in Japan since the pre-modern age, and compared with the counterparts in the European society to find the magnitude and extent of their influence. Major information sources of this study are more than 30 digital archive services provided by museums and libraries both in Japan and in the western society. Publications also played major roles to identify how the shoreline and sea were felt and exploited by the general public in both regions. Coastal cities and port towns in both regions were visited by the author. The study revealed that clear division exists between the two societies since the pre-modern age as to the gaze toward the shores; in Japan the shores have been regarded as holy places and utilized for recreation and pleasure activities as well while in Europe the shores have been regarded as unstable, uncivilised and filthy places, and people believed that monsters lived in the sea. The study also clearly identified that even before the advent of the modern society Japanese people enjoyed an open atmosphere along beach streets which lay within a short distance from the city centre. People enjoyed on the beach street to watch a rising moon and a migration of birds. These results demonstrate that the influence of the European seaside culture on the Japanese counterpart in the early modern stage was limited as far as an aesthetic sense toward the shore was concerned. The study indicates that Japanese people have their own visual sense with unique historical background, and pursue ways for the sustainability of their way of life based on their own.


beach, image, one-sided, open, pier, port, promenade, seaside resort, Takanawa, view


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