Asian Crossings

Asian Crossings: Travel Writing on China, Japan and Southeast Asia

Steve Clark
Paul Smethurst
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Asian Crossings
    Book Description:

    The fourteen chapters in this book examine various topics and contexts of travel writings on China, Japan and Southeast Asia. From the first Colombian on a trade mission to China, to French women travellers in Asia, and the opening of "Japan Fairs" in the US during the latter half of the nineteenth century, this book offers a kaleidoscopic glimpse of the various cultures in the eyes of their beholders coupled with insightful understanding of the various politics and relationships that are involved. While this book will appeal to expert scholars and students of travel literature and Asian studies, as well as those working on cultural studies, general readers will also find it an interesting and accessible addition to their collections.

    eISBN: 978-988-8052-04-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Steve Clark

    Within an Anglo-American context, the academic study of travel writing coincides fairly precisely with the emergence of postcolonial studies, for which the genre serves as a convenient paradigm of cross-cultural encounter, inevitably inscribed with the dynamics of power relations between centre and periphery.¹ The study of travelogue thus both enlarges the traditional literary canon and challenges any residual ideal of the classic text as aesthetically self-contained and autonomous. However, the applicability of such postcolonial models of reading may immediately be queried in an Eastern Asian context, whose primary geographical focus is China and Japan, expanding to include the somewhat amorphous...

  6. 1 Between Topos and Topography: Japanese Early Modern Travel Literature
    (pp. 15-30)
    Robert F. Wittkamp

    Travel has always played an important part in the development of Japanese literature. In the Man’ yōshū, for example, the first collection of poetry from the eighth century, about 2,000 of the 4,500 texts are connected to travel in the sense that an experience of a physical journey was the occasion for composing the poem. This, of course, can also refer to the grief and sorrow of a person from whom somebody has been taken away by travel (and who is reflecting on its consequences). There is still much work to do in order to get a grip on that...

  7. 2 ‘The First Appearance of This Celebrated Capital’; or, What Mr. Barrow Saw in the Land of the Chinaman
    (pp. 31-46)
    Joe Sample

    Readers familiar with Mary Louise Pratt’s Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation should recognise the parallel in the title of this essay: ‘Mr. Barrow’ is John Barrow (1764–1848), author of Travels into the Interior of Southern Africa, one of the works that was instrumental in helping Pratt formulate her thesis that travel writing helped to create a domestic audience for European imperialism.² While Pratt acknowledges in an earlier essay that Barrow’s Africa journal is not ‘prominent on anybody’s mental bookshelves’ (Pratt 1986b, 140), she fails to mention in any of her writings that the journal Barrow produced following his...

  8. 3 A Reading of Readings: English Travel Books, Audiences, and Modern Chinese History, c. 1832 to the Present
    (pp. 47-70)
    Ting Man Tsao

    Before China was defeated by Britain in the First Opium War and forced to open five ports to British subjects for ‘mercantile pursuits’ in 1842, the Qing government strictly confined the activities of foreign traders within a small designated area called the Factories by the Canton River, forbidding any foreigner from setting foot on Chinese soil beyond it. However, the first British incursion occurred a decade before the conclusion to the war. In 1832, Charles Marjoribanks, president of the Canton factory of the British East India Company (hereafter EIC), sent Hugh Hamilton Lindsay, the EIC’s supercargo and Charles Gutzlaff, a...

  9. 4 Travel and Business: The First Colombian in China
    (pp. 71-86)
    Jacinto Fombona

    A year after arriving in Amoy (Xiàmén [廈門], Fújiàn province) as an agent for a British-Cuban company, Nicolás Tanco Armero proposes an exercise in observation to his readers of Viaje de Nueva Granada a China

    Let us start by observing the Chinaman in himself. Isn’t this the strangest being a European or an American can face? It is true that the Indian of our Pampas; the ferocious Bedouin, or the savage Malay and Bengalese from the other part of Asia, are creatures that cause surprise because they present to man his primitive state. But, could you compare this surprise with...

  10. 5 Erasing Footsteps: On Some Differences between the First and Popular Editions of Isabella Bird’s Unbeaten Tracks in Japan
    (pp. 87-98)
    Shizen Ozawa

    The narrative of Isabella Bird’s Unbeaten Tracks in Japan reaches its climax when she meets the Ainu,² an indigenous people of Hokkaido, the northernmost region of the nation. She rapturously recalls:

    I never saw such a strangely picturesque sight as that group of magnificent savages with the fitful firelight on their faces, and for adjuncts the flare of the torch, the strong lights, the blackness of the recesses of the room and of the roof, at one end of which the stars looked in, and the row of savage women in the background — eastern savagery and western civilisation met in...

  11. 6 Discourses of Difference: The Malaya of Isabella Bird, Emily Innes and Florence Caddy
    (pp. 99-112)
    Eddie Tay

    Isabella Bird’s The Golden Chersonese and the Way Thither (1883), Emily Innes’ The Chersonese with the Gilding Off (1885) and Florence Caddy’s To Siam and Malaya in the Duke of Sutherland’s Yacht ‘Sans Peur’ (1889) are narratives written by three very different women who were in Malaya under varied circumstances. By the time Bird embarked on her five-week visit to Malaya in 1879, she was already the renowned author of The Englishwoman in America (1856) and The Hawaiian Archipelago (1875), while Unbeaten Tracks in Japan was to be published the following year. In contrast, the name ‘Emily Innes’ would most...

  12. 7 China of the Tourists: Women and the Grand Tour of the Middle Kingdom, 1878–1923
    (pp. 113-130)
    Julia Kuehn

    This chapter looks at women travellers in China between the late 1870s and the early 1920s. Beginning with the two earliest, and probably most famous, journeys of Victorian women in the Middle Kingdom — those of Isabella Bird and Constance Cumming — the essay poses the question of whether their journeys served as more prescriptive itineraries for later women travellers and, in fact, established the frameworks of what we could call a Grand Tour of China.

    The chapter focuses on female travellers of both British and American nationality. Given that the period under investigation is characterised by an increased assertion of women’s...

  13. 8 Ruins in the Jungle: Nature and Narrative
    (pp. 131-140)
    Douglas Kerr

    When W. Somerset Maugham, ‘in a far island away down in the South East of the Malay Archipelago’, encountered a great cockatoo which stared at him, his first instinct was to look about for the cage from which it must have escaped.¹ In the jungle, he says, he never quite got over his surprise at seeing at liberty birds and beasts whose natural habitation seemed to him a Zoological Garden. Maugham’s little joke is a rather late instance of a trope that had been a nineteenth-century commonplace, a differentiation between Europe and the Orient that expressed itself in the opposition...

  14. 9 Forbidden Journeys to China and Beyond with the Odd Couple: Ella Maillart and Peter Fleming
    (pp. 141-148)
    Maureen Mulligan

    Forbidden Journey: From Peking to Kashmir by Ella Maillart (1937)¹ and News from Tartary by Peter Fleming (1936) demand to be read in parallel, as they offer a unique opportunity to consider the perspectives of a Swiss woman and an Englishman who undertook a journey together to a part of the world that was off-limits to Westerners. Ella ‘Kini’ Maillart travelled as an accredited journalist for a French newspaper, Le Petit Parisien, and Peter Fleming was at that time special travel correspondent for The Times. Their route, through China, India and Tibet, involved crossing the Gobi Desert, and their aim...

  15. 10 Kawakami Otojiro’s Trip to the West and Taiwan at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 149-162)
    Yukari Yoshihara

    At the turn of the twentieth century, Japan was placed in the contradictory position of being both at the periphery of global Western hegemony and itself at the metropolitan centre of a colonial empire. This essay examines Otojiro Kawakami, one of the founders of Japanese modern theatre, and his travels to the West and to Taiwan under Japanese colonial rule; and it analyses them as cases testifying to the complexities surrounding Japan’s geopolitical role during this period.

    Models which set a European metropolitan centre against Asian colonial peripheries, in their simple forms, cannot be applied to Japanese travel writing. In...

  16. 11 Shaking the Buddhas: Lafcadio Hearn in Japan, 1890–1904
    (pp. 163-178)
    David Taylor

    Out of the East, Lafcadio Hearn’s 1895 collection, has the significant subtitle ‘Reveries and Studies in New Japan’, and yet despite the apparently upbeat emphasis on a contemporary scene, the work’s principal urgency is an admiration of Japan’s past. The volume contains ‘The Red Bridal’, a tale of a romantic double suicide based on fact with a developing agricultural village as its background, and giving a version of Oriental pastoral impinged on by Westernising modernity:

    Strange tall men with red hair and beards — foreigners from the West — came down into the valley with a great multitude of Japanese laborers, and...

  17. 12 ‘Chambres d’Asie, chambres d’ailleurs’: Nicole-Lise Bernheim’s ‘Vertical Travels’ in Asia
    (pp. 179-192)
    Katy Hindson

    Traveller, writer, novelist and journalist, the late Nicole-Lise Bernheim (1942–2003) left a diverse body of work which reveals her passion for travel. This author’s work ranges from journalistic reportages for newspapers such as Le Monde, L’Express and Le Matin, to production work for French radio station France-Culture. However it is two of Bernheim’s récits de voyage which are of interest here, namely Chambres d’ailleurs (1986) and Saisons japonaises (1999). These texts, which evoke her experiences of travel and travel-indwelling in Japan, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Singapore and India, allow an exploration of the way in which the writing...

  18. 13 World Journey of My Heart and Homestay in the World: Travel Programming and Contemporary Japanese Culture
    (pp. 193-208)
    Mark Meli

    People all over the world who appreciate literature are familiar with the travel journals of the Japanese haiku poet Bashō, and maybe with the tradition of earlier wandering waka poets like the Buddhist priests Saigyō and Nōin. This older tradition of literary and religious travel in Japan has been well documented in academic as well as popular discussions of the country, by both Japanese and non-Japanese. Furthermore, as early as the seventeenth century, European visitors such as Engelbert Kaempher noticed the great Japanese fascination with travel. Kaempher, when making the trek from Nagasaki to Edo in order to pay homage...

  19. 14 After the Bubble: Post-Imperial Tokyo
    (pp. 209-228)
    Steve Clark

    Tokyo is too big to be contained, or even rendered intelligible, through conventional techniques of representation. A population of over 14 million, on a narrow definition, rises to 28 million on a fairly conservative estimate within a radius of thirty miles; and if the Kanto and Kansai conurbations down to Hiroshima are regarded as a continuous urban mass on Honshu, its overall size would approach 70 to 80 million.¹ It is tempting to invoke Paolo Soleri’s thesis, in ‘Arcology’, that the city and nature, rather than being opposites, will increasingly be contained within a single integrated structure, or Constantin Doxiadis’s...

  20. Notes
    (pp. 229-264)
  21. References
    (pp. 265-270)
  22. Index
    (pp. 271-276)