The Journal of Japanese Studies
Like many Japanese intellectuals, Akutagawa Ryūnosuke had a deep interest in European traditions, including Christianity. Scholars have often looked at Akutagawa’s representations of religion to shed light on the author’s personal beliefs: in this article I focus on the writer’s portrayal of the Kirishitan of the seventeenth century as a metaphor for the ideological and cultural transformations of modern Japan. Through a close reading of three short stories, I investigate the interplay of perceptions and representations of national past and foreign culture in Taisho Japan and the role that Akutagawa’s “rediscovery” of early Kirishitan culture played within this context.
Volume 39, Number
1 (Winter 2013)