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Holy Ghosts: The Christian Century in Modern Japanese Fiction (Paperback)
  • Holy Ghosts: The Christian Century in Modern Japanese Fiction (Paperback)
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Holy Ghosts: The Christian Century in Modern Japanese Fiction (Paperback)

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£30.95
Paperback 208 Pages / Published: 30/10/2017
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Christians are a tiny minority in Japan, less than one percent of the total population. Yet Christianity is ubiquitous in Japanese popular culture. From the giant mutant "angels" of the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise to the Jesus-themed cocktails enjoyed by customers in Tokyo's Christon cafe, Japanese popular culture appropriates Christianity in both humorous and unsettling ways. By treating the Western religion as an exotic cultural practice, Japanese demonstrate the reversibility of cultural stereotypes and force us to reconsider common views of global cultural flows and East-West relations.

Of particular interest is the repeated reappearance in modern fiction of the so-called "Christian century" of Japan (1549-1638), the period between the arrival of the Jesuit missionaries and the last Christian revolt before the final ban on the foreign religion. Literary authors as different as Akutagawa Ryu-nosuke, Endo- Shu-saku, Yamada Fu-taro-, and Takemoto Novala, as well as film directors, manga and anime authors, and videogame producers have all expressed their fascination with the lives and works of Catholic missionaries and Japanese converts and produced imaginative reinterpretations of the period. In Holy Ghosts, Rebecca Suter explores the reasons behind the popularity of the Christian century in modern Japanese fiction and reflects on the role of cross-cultural representations in Japan. Since the opening of the ports in the Meiji period, Japan's relationship with Euro-American culture has oscillated between a drive towards Westernization and an antithetical urge to "return to Asia." Exploring the twentieth-century's fascination with the Christian Century enables Suter to reflect on modern Japan's complex combination of Orientalism, self-Orientalism, and Occidentalism.

By looking back at a time when the Japanese interacted with Europeans in ways that were both similar to and different from modern dealings, fictional representations of the Christian century offer an opportunity to reflect critically not only on cross-cultural negotiation but also more broadly on both Japanese and Western social and political formations. The ghosts of the Christian century that haunt modern Japanese fiction thus prompt us to rethink conventional notions of East-West exchanges, mutual representations, and power relations, complicating our understanding of global modernity.

Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
ISBN: 9780824875237
Number of pages: 208
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
In Holy Ghosts, Rebecca Suter has produced a well-researched, fascinating, and often provocative study of modern and contemporary fictional renderings of the Christian Century . . . Holy Ghosts deftly elucidates the Christian dimensions of what Suter calls Japan's "anxiety of influence" vis-a-vis the West; perhaps the logical next step for those building on her accomplishments will be to resurrect some of the Asian ghosts that still remain partially obscured by the binary of Japan and the West that has prevailed in the postwar, Anpo era.-- "Monumenta Nipponica"
Overall, Suter provides a comprehensive picture of Japanese popular culture in which some Kirishitan fi gures are separated from their Christian context and are used for "entertainment" exactly because of their Christian background. Her book offers a further example of Japan's ambivalent attitudes toward Christianity, found for example in today's Japanese weddings, often presided over by "false pastors" in "fake churches," which manifest both respect and disrespect for Christianity in Japan. This is indeed one aspect of constant "cultural negotiation."-- "Journal of Japanese Studies"
The book's strength lies in the fascinating collection of media featuring the Christian figures, and in Suter's analyses of the significance of those figures' evolving gender and cultural ambiguity. . . . the book succeeds in offering an invaluable study of the ways in which the Christian figures of the Tokugawa period are used by modern authors to reflect and also affect the discourse of their times.-- "Asian Studies Review"

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