Aizu Yaichi (1881-1956), the renowned poet and calligrapher, was also a pioneer of modern Japanese aesthetics and art science.
Author: Michael F. Marra
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
This collection of essays constitutes the first history of modern Japanese aesthetics in any language. It introduces readers through lucid and readable translations to works on the philosophy of art written by major Japanese thinkers from the late nineteenth century to the present. Selected from a variety of sources (monographs, journals, catalogues), the essays cover topics related to the study of beauty in art and nature. The translations are organized into four parts. The first, "The Introduction of Aesthetics," traces the formation of notions of "beauty," "culture," and "art" in Japan. It includes discussion of the creation of the museum in Japan and the frenetic efforts of Nishi Amane, Okakura Tenshin, Ernest Fenollosa, and Mori Ogai to introduce German, British, and French aesthetic thought to the Japanese. This is followed by three sections that examine the transformation of the aesthetic field into an academic discipline that flourished at three major Japanese universities. "Aesthetics at Waseda University" begins with an essay on the spiritualism and idealism of Onishi Hajime and continues with essays on the impact of German Lebensphilosophie ("philosophy of life") on Shimamura Hogetsu and Takayama Chogyu, and work by the major Waseda aesthetician of the twentieth century, Aizu Yaichi. Thinkers of the Tokyo School adopted a "scientific" method in the study of art theory. Part 3, "Aesthetics at the University of Tokyo," focuses on the ideas of Otsuka Yasuji (holder of the world’s first Chair of Aesthetics), Onishi Yoshinori, Watsuji Tetsuro, Abe Jiro, Takeuchi Toshio, and Imamichi Tomonobu. The section concludes with a look at the contemporary philosopher Sakabe Megumi. The last section, "Aesthetics at the University of Kyoto," includes essays on Nakagawa Shigeki and Fukada Yasukazu, pioneers in the field of aesthetics, and on the philosophy of art of the "Kyoto School," which was deeply inspired by the thought of Nishida Kitaro. Finally the work of Kuki Shuzo, an influential teacher of Western philosophy at the University of Kyoto, is examined. A History of Modern Japanese Aesthetics is a companion volume to Modern Japanese Aesthetics: A Reader (UH Press, 1999).