Волшебный фонарь, кинематограф и их японские имена
This paper examines the perception of Western optics and projection technologies in Japan from the 18th through the 20th centuries, which led to the development of film, television, and other forms of media. Film was brought to Japan at the end of the 19th century and was quickly adapted to local cultural specificities. Despite the influence of traditional Japanese theater, literature, and painting, film in Japan continues to be heavily associated with the cultural and aesthetic influence of the West. Japan’s introduction to film was preceded by its encounters with the telescope, microscope, camera obscura, magic lantern, and other Western technologies. The circulation of these devices contributed to the formation of an associative link between the West, the improvement of vision, and the mechanization of optics, which affected Japan’s perception of cinema. The magic lantern (which became widespread in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries and laid the foundation for the development of the majority of contemporary projection devices) was brought to Japan twice: in the second half of the 18th century (through Nagasaki), and after the Meiji Restoration (1868), when the politics of Westernization were adopted. The magic lantern of the Edo period, known as utsushi-e, was regarded as a mass spectacle, an element of low, urban entertainment culture, while gentō (imported during the Meiji era) was actively employed by the authorities for educational and propaganda purposes. Japanese film has inherited much from both of these media, including their terminology. The Japanese kanji sha (utsusu) used in the word utsushi-e can be found in the term katsudō shashin, used in the 1900s and early 1910s to denote cinema. The term eiga, which replaced katsudō shashin by the late 1910s and early 1920s, was initially used to denote glass slides for the projection of gentō. This paper traces the major milestones in the development of Japanese laterna magica, analyzes its influence on the formation of specific terminology as well as on the social status of film in Japan, and indicates further prospects for studying Japanese media in the context of its interactions with the “culture of seeing” generally associated with the West.