Tom Cruise, Bob Dylan, Commodore Perry. This
year marks the 150th anniversary of Commodore Matthew Perry’s fabled
“opening” of Japan. If you said, “Commodore who?” you wouldn’t be alone.
By Christopher Benfey. [New York Times: Opinion]


In “The Book of Tea,” published in 1906, Kakuzo Okakura observed that
the average Westerner was accustomed “to regard Japan as barbarous
while she indulged in the gentle arts of peace: he calls her civilized
since she began to commit wholesale slaughter on Manchurian
battlefields.”


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