Tourist guidebooks are powerful instruments of public diplomacy: as supposedly ‘impersonal’ descriptions, intended for ‘average’ readers, they can be used to subtly promote careful national narratives, and to draw the attention of foreign publics to a country’s soft power. This article analyses, in this light, the English-language tourist guidebooks of Japan published by the Society called Kihinkai (Welcome Society, 1893–1912), the earliest Japanese organization for the promotion of inbound tourism. It relates them to the popular handbooks of Japan published by the British House of Murray, which were adopted as their model. Murray’s handbooks ‘created’ Japan as an international tourist destination for a majority of English-speaking travellers, responding to common travel tropes and expectations about the country. The Kihinkai’s guidebooks engaged with them in the form of ‘autoethnographic’ texts, adopting their style and language, as a way to partake in their established reputation of authoritativeness. At the same time, they carefully reframed their narrative of Japan, in a way that was coherent with the Kihinkai’s general ‘diplomatic’ strategy – born of the background of its founders and supporters, and of the coming together of private and public sector interests.

Negotiating the nation: public diplomacy and the publication of English-language tourist guidebooks of Japan in the Meiji period (1868-1912)

Sonia Favi
2022-01-01

Abstract

Tourist guidebooks are powerful instruments of public diplomacy: as supposedly ‘impersonal’ descriptions, intended for ‘average’ readers, they can be used to subtly promote careful national narratives, and to draw the attention of foreign publics to a country’s soft power. This article analyses, in this light, the English-language tourist guidebooks of Japan published by the Society called Kihinkai (Welcome Society, 1893–1912), the earliest Japanese organization for the promotion of inbound tourism. It relates them to the popular handbooks of Japan published by the British House of Murray, which were adopted as their model. Murray’s handbooks ‘created’ Japan as an international tourist destination for a majority of English-speaking travellers, responding to common travel tropes and expectations about the country. The Kihinkai’s guidebooks engaged with them in the form of ‘autoethnographic’ texts, adopting their style and language, as a way to partake in their established reputation of authoritativeness. At the same time, they carefully reframed their narrative of Japan, in a way that was coherent with the Kihinkai’s general ‘diplomatic’ strategy – born of the background of its founders and supporters, and of the coming together of private and public sector interests.
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https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/10.1080/09555803.2022.2033301
travel, tourism, tourist guidebooks, public diplomacy, soft power, Kihinkai, John Murray, colonial picturesque, Meiji Japan
Sonia Favi
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1840162
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