AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 263

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Session 263: Travelogues II

Japanese Travel Diaries: Cultural and Literary Aspects
Priscilla Mary Anne Blinco, Stanford University, USA

This paper examines Japanese travel diaries which represent one of the innovative ways the Japanese expressed themselves through literature. Travel diaries, recounting Japanese pilgrimages, were resplendent with fascinating aspects of Japanese literature and culture. Diaries have been kept by almost all people in every country of the world. Some diaries contain very little importance to others, such as one’s daily engagements and brief personal notes, but other diaries contain significant contributions to literature and culture. Diaries have been written in Japan for over 1,000 years and hold the same importance as literary novels and essays. Japanese used diaries as an innovative way to express their dreams, lives, and goals. During the Muromachi period (1336-1575), the men who wrote in diaries were either members of the Buddhist priesthood, who wrote about their travels, or government officials. During the Heian (794-1191) and Kamakura (1192-1335) periods, the diaries written by men reflected their own personalities with a definite relationship and reference to things of beauty and the fragility of time. Japanese travel diaries began to appear during the middle ages (Chusei ca. 1185-1600), and became useful and necessary when the separation of government took place between the imperial court and the Shogunate. Japanese travel diaries are usually short and they are mostly poetic in nature and refer to journeys that are one way rather than tales of round-trip journeys. These travel diaries are not only consistent with classical Japanese poetry, but depend on religious traditions such as pilgrimage and hermit life. This merger of religion and poetry gives the Japanese travel diary a literary classification.

Why did Heian monk pilgrims to China keep journals: Considering Ennin, Jojin, and Chonen's journals as a genre.
Jesse Palmer, Lawrence University, USA

The journals written by Japanese monk pilgrims to the continent, such as Ennin, Chonen, and Jojin, are most often read as sources of information about late Tang and Song China. Instead, I argue that they can be much more productively understood as voices in the debate about the Japanese cultural relationship to the continent. In particular, understanding these journals as a unique genre that respond to each other and to the evolving cultural, political, and religious context of the Heian court answers many intractable questions within the journals themselves and sheds much light on the perennial and significant question about the Japanese cultural relationship to the continent. In this paper, I examine several moments in each journal where these issues emerge in high relief and where the differences between each journal and their attendant historical context are sharply displayed. This comparison shows the increasing cultural and religious independence of the Heian court over the course of the Heian period, although the continent continued to be an important source of cultural capital that could potentially disrupt the established and increasingly crowded political field.

Navigating in the Archipelagic Network: Thomas Forrest’s _Voyage to New Guinea, and the Moluccas_ (1779)
Panida Lorlertratna, University of California, Riverside, USA

This paper discusses _A Voyage to New Guinea, and the Moluccas_ (1779), travel accounts of Thomas Forrest (c.1729-c.1802) in the East Indies during the years 1774-1776. It treats the English sea captain’s work as “island writing,” foregrounding an insular environment which is neither solitary nor singular, but exists only in relation to other geographical entities, e.g., seas, continents and other islands. In addition, the insular condition has been vested with a wide range of ideologically diverse and historically inflected meanings. While the island may be viewed as a metaphor for retreat and encapsulation, one needs to be reminded that sea captains do not journey to single islands, but sail among archipelagos. These groups of islands and the inhabitants do not remain cut off from one another. They form commercial, cultural and social networks in which seamen navigate their paths. Meanwhile, this human network finds its counterpart in the textuality of Forrest’s work as the writer relates his own traveling experiences through various modes, e.g., narrative, descriptive and expository, while inserting excerpts of works by other writers as well as “translations” of primary sources provided by local inhabitants of the East Indies. In other words, the travel accounts do not consist only of the author’s very own words, but also several utterances which are taken out of their original contexts, and brought to intersect with one another. Consequently, _A Voyage to New Guinea, and the Moluccas_ can be considered an island writing that underlines the geographical, human and textual networks.

The Romance with the Frontier: Chinese Travel Writings on the Frontiers During the Nanjing Decade
Zhihong Chen, Guilford College, USA

This paper examines travel and travel writing mostly by Han Chinese intellectuals and officials concerning the frontier regions during the Nanjing decade (1927-1937). While the importance of travel and travel writing in the workings of colonial power has been acknowledged within various historical contexts, the connection between travel and travel writing and modern nation-building is yet to be fully appreciated. During the Nanjing decade, many Chinese, from top political leaders to local state agents, from journalists, scholars to university students, traveled to and wrote about the frontiers in the hope of alleviating what they percieved to be a severe "frontier crisis". Through a close reading of some key travel accounts, this paper explores multiple ways of representing frontier landscapes and peoples. It demonstrates that the Chinese attention to the frontiers in popular publications was like a romance, sweet and intense, but unreal and evanescent. Despite claims of “authenticity” and “truthfulness” in representing the frontiers, their understandings of the frontiers were mostly superficial and limited. Their enthusiasm for the frontiers was generally one-sided and hegemonic.