The excerpts on this site are taken from books about Japan published in Britain and the United States between 1855 and 1912. The books have been scanned by libraries, research institutions, and individuals and made available by the Internet Archive for anyone to read online.

The excerpts were chosen with the hope that they would be both representative of Westerners’ views at that time and interesting to read today. As a result, both the excerpts and their selection are inevitably slanted, and they reflect the prejudices and personal idiosyncracies of the original writers and of me. Readers who want a broader and perhaps more balanced view are encouraged to explore on their own both the excerpted books themselves and the period’s vast literature in English about Japan. To get them started, each excerpt is followed by a link to its page at the Internet Archive, and a list of the books excerpted and many others about Japan from that period appears in the Sources.

This site would not have been possible without the Internet Archive, to which I give my deepest gratitude. I would also like to thank Okonkwo Noble Azubuike (zubyarchangel on Fiverr) and Den Childs for their careful proofreading.

Tom Gally

E-mail address

September 2019

Version 1.1, April 2020


Each individual excerpt on this site is in the public domain and may be reproduced and modified without restrictions. As a collection of texts, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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