Presenting a revised edition with a new preface of this important work, previously available only in hardback. It has long been assumed that Japan's closed country policy meant that Japan was isolated from the influence of the outside, and in particular the Western, world. However, this study of 18th century Japan, using sources wholly unstudied since their writing, reveals the profound influence that the introduction of Western technology and scientific instruments including glass, lenses and mirrors had on Japanese notions of sight, and how this change in perception was reflected most clearly in popular culture. Screech goes to the core of later eighteenth century thought through popular objects and the propositions which many considered groundbreaking on the book's first publication in 1996 have yet to be substantially challenged.
Timon Screech was trained at Oxford, Harvard and Gakushuin and is currently Reader in the History of Japanese Art at SOAS, University of London, and Senior Associate at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures. He is the author of over half a dozen books in Japanese and English on the culture of the Edo period, including Sex and the Floating World (1999) and The Shogun's Painted Culture (2000).