Lafcadio Hearn's descriptions of Japanese society and culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries offer an incredibly prescient view of the country's rapid transformation into a hawkish industrial power. Hearn never lived to see the rise of militarism but he predicted it in his writing about the country which became his adopted home.


These extracts are taken from Kokoro (1897) and Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation (1904). They have been edited and illustrated for modern history students studying the rise of militarism in the 1930s and Japan's role in WWII. The reader has four sections: a description of the foreign concessions in Japan and inter-racial relations; surveys of family, clan, and religious culture in Japanese society and how it changed as a result of the Meiji Restoration; and an eyewitness account of social responses to the Russo-Japanese war. They provide an eyewitness account of those aspects of Japanese society which contributed to Japan's actions in the 1930s and beyond. The sections are divided into clearly named sub-sections which can be used as exam sources and to prompt writing activities. There is a very brief overview of 19th-century Japanese history, and the life of Patrick Lafcadio Hearn/Koizumi Yakumo.

New Japan: Edited extracts from Lafcadio Hearn