[KS] Kanghwa Treaty diplomatic protocol

Richard Miller rcmiller at wisc.edu
Wed Nov 14 15:32:29 EST 2007

Hi Christine (and everyone else),

Your colleague might look through Konishi Shirou's multi-volume work 
"Nishiki-e bakumatsu Meiji no rekishi" (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1977), if 
they're not familiar with it already. Since nishiki-e were meant to be a 
news medium, there are many images of Japan's various foreign 
adventures. Word of caution: they are often more revealing of Japanese 
attitudes toward foreigners than anything else, and are not particularly 
accurate accounts in many cases. For example, a number of famous 
nishiki-e regarding the first Sino-Japanese war are actually depictions 
of a popular series of plays performed by Kawakami Otojiro and his 
troupe. I have on occasion seen these prints described as if they 
depicted actual events, when what they depict is fictionalized stage 
versions, and rather nationalistic ones at that. Very interesting 
material for self-and-other studies of Meiji Japan, but I would hesitate 
to connect them to physical reality.

Richard Miller
Center for East Asian Studies

Christine Kim wrote:
> Dear All,
> On behalf of a colleague, I am posting a question pertaining to 
> diplomatic protocol surrounding the 1876 Treaty of Kanghwa and the 
> social history of chairs in East Asia:
>> I am trying to find out what setting and furniture were used when 
>> Japanese and Korean officials met to sign the Kanghwa Treaty.  I have 
>> been looking curiously at the Japanese woodblock print depicting the 
>> scene that is reproduced in wikipedia.  Unfortunately, this 
>> reproduction is clipped, so I cannot read the full title or date of 
>> the print.  Of course, it is quite possible that the artist invented 
>> the scene without having been present or seen a photograph.  In any 
>> event, my interest is primarily in whether both parties sat on 
>> chairs, and if so, whether this was a break with past protocol.  
>> Tokugawa officials made quite a fuss trying to insist that Westerners 
>> should sit on the floor with them when the negotiated treaties in 
>> 1853-4.  If the Meiji leaders met their Choson counterparts on 
>> chairs, were they following a Chinese precedent of some kind that had 
>> been applied in earlier Japanese-Korean encounters, or was this done 
>> at the insistence of the westernized Japanese?  Was there any dispute 
>> between the two sides about how they were to sit?  I would appreciate 
>> any information people may have.
>> Jordan Sand
> The woodblock print in question:
> http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%94%BB%E5%83%8F:GanghwaTreaty.jpg
> My own hasty perusal of writings on the Kanghwa Treaty has failed to 
> turn up anything relating to protocol, and I have not yet consulted 
> any studies on Choson t'ongsinsa. Might someone illuminate us all?
> Christine Kim
> Georgetown University

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