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March 16 , 2009

Under Foreign Eyes


This book is about the perception of Japan in the sixty films set there by gaijin (foreigners) —outsiders who almost always do not speak or read Japanese. My area of attention is directed to films depicting post World War II Japan and the Japanese, and, in many cases, films showing how foreigners in the same time frame respond to Japan. Why have a substantial number of films been set there by strangers? As a body of work, what do they tell us about contemporary Japan and about cinema? These films certainly provide a new cultural history of the West’s reaction to Japan, but, even more, they are constructions that demonstrate how the West gazes at Japan. As such, more information can often be derived about the onlookers as on those looked-upon.
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