The Tourist Library Series: Defining a Collective Japanese Nation for Foreigners in the 1930's

March 6, 2020 - 12:00pm to 7:00pm

Andrea Radziminski, MA Candidate, East Asian Studies
As the idea of empires and colonization grew increasingly unwelcome within the international community, Japanese government officials strove to present Japan as an equal among imperial powers in the years leading up to WWII. To promote this image, the Japanese government increasingly focused on making Japan an attractive site for international tourism. And so, in 1935 the government’s Board of Tourist Industry created Tourist Library Series (1935-1942) to explain and advertise Japan to foreigners. Unlike other tourist literature that focused on presenting Japan as an attractive and interesting tourist destination, Tourist Library Series focused on providing its readers with an adequate understanding of Japan’s unique culture. The series, authored by recognized authorities, ranged in topic from stamps and tea ceremony to architecture and religion, to explain the “essence” and defining principles that made up a “Japanese national culture”. In doing so, the series departs from the general trend in tourist literature to focus on what can be experienced or purchased by foreign visitors to Japan. Rather, the Tourist Library describes a Japan that transcends time and place. The talk will introduce the Tourist Library Series and then illustrate its unusual place within tourism publications from the Board of Tourist Industry.


Location and Address

1219 Cathedral of Learning