- 比較文学 (ISSN:04408039)
- vol.35, pp.117-128, 1993-03-31 (Released:2017-06-17)
In 1879 in St. Petersburg, Nâser al-Din Shāh of Persia, on his way home from Europe, received the Japanese Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Russia, Enomoto Takeaki, in audience and expressed his intention of entering into diplomatic and commercial relations with Japan. Upon his return to Japan, Enomoto suggested the dispatch of a mission, and a small delegation headed by Yoshida Masaharu of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs accompanied by Noriyoshi Furukawa of the General Staff Office, Yokoyama Magoichiro and Tuchida Masajiro of Okura and Co., and four other merchants was sent to Iran in 1880. This delegation was entrusted with only commercial research on the Persian trade. Travel books published by both Yoshida and Furukawa record their hard journey through Iran, introduce the Iranian culture, history, and religion (which was virtually unknown to the Japanese at that time), as well as give valuable information on the domestic situation in Qajar Persia. In this paper I shall compare the experience of the Iwakura delegation, who visited Europe and the United States, to that of Yoshida, who visited Iran which was, like Meiji Japan, still in the process of modernization. Unlike the Iwakura delegation, Yoshida’s mission did not bring back any practical information for the modernization of Japan. However, in Iran, Yoshida had a chance to actually witness serious problems which resulted from the superficial imitation of western culture, and he realized the dangers that his own country could face, of losing its own identity in the process of modernization. Historically, Asia has long been a menace to Australia, a white nation isolated in the Asiatic quarter of the world. Porter could be said to have expressed this typical feeling, whereas Herbert seeks rather for the means to unite his home with Asia, in the search for a new Australian identity.