Prior to Russo-Japanese war and Teddy Roosevelt's efforts to end it, I don't recall USA being overly involved with Japan.

As such, was that reflective in American literature?

How wide/common was the exploration of Japan's culture in American literature before 1905?

  • I have a growing suspicion that the answer is that this isn't reflected in American literature, because being reflected in American literature implies some baseline cognizance about Japanese culture. I'm still trying to think about how to formulate this into a proper answer, though. It's hard to prove the absence of something.
    – user80
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 22:13
  • Short answer: Yes. Long Answer: Because we're having difficulty finding references to Japanese culture prior to 1905, we are led to assume that it doesn't crop up much. (Could also be that our sources are not thorough enough, but unfortunately, I do not have access to that many sources at the moment.) Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 10:14

1 Answer 1


Probably not very wide, although there are more works than you might think. Some of these works, especially older works, were non-fictional. I will list a few works about Japan that were published in the USA and/or written in the USA or by American authors. Maybe more (non-fictional?) works can be found in A Collector's Guide to Books on Japan in English, Joseph Rogala, 2001.

Japan as It Was and Is (1855)
This was written by Richard Hildreth, who was, according to Wikipedia an American journalist, author and historian. However, it is non-fictional.

Japan in American Fiction, 1880-1905
It looks like there are at least two books in the series "Japan in American Fiction, 1880-1905":

  • Young Americans in Japan or the Adventures of the Jewett family and their friend Oto Nambo
  • A Muramasa blade, a story of feudalism in old Japan

The first novel (you can read it here), was written by Edward Greey (1835-1888). Although he was born in England, he moved in 1868 to New York City. He wrote several Japan themed books, including Young Americans in Japan; or, The Adventures of the Jewett Family and their Friend Oto Nambo. (source, here you can find a longer list of novels)

The second one, A Muramasa blade, a story of feudalism in old Japan (you can read this here), was written by Louis Wertheimber. I can't find much information about this author. The book was published in 1887 by Boston: Ticknor and Company

The American Diary of a Japanese Girl (1901)
According to Wikipedia, this was the first English language novel published in the United States by a Japanese writer, although I do not know whether this counts as American literature.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.