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Nichiran kankei-shi o yomitoku [Revisiting the History of Dutch-Japanese Relations]

Nichiran kankei-shi o yomitoku [Revisiting the History of Dutch-Japanese Relations] is a new, two-volume Japanese publication with a chapter written by Wulan Remmelink. Both volumes offer a new look on the historical relations between Japan and The Netherlands during the Edo period by examining various intermediary actors (volume one) and the exchange of knowledge and objects (volume two).

Prof. F. Matsukata (Historiographical Institute, The University of Tokyo) and Prof. F. Cryns (International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto) (Eds.)
13 August 2015

Included in the second volume is a chapter by Wulan Remmelink – PhD researcher at LUCAS – who discusses the role of botanical illustrations in the transmission of scientific information in Edo Japan (1603-1867). 

In cultural exchanges, sparked by local and foreign encounters, material objects play a pivotal role in the circulation of knowledge and skills. Remmelink first discusses how visual references helped pave the way for 'botany' to develop as a specific scientific field within Japan. Illustrated books from the West (the Dutch) were highly prized for their visual content, and Japanese scholars and draughtsman selectively appropriated various (drawing) techniques and information.

With time, Japanese botanical illustrations reached a desired level of scientific and artistic accuracy, which in turn, served as a means to document Japanese plants for botanists in Europe. Remmelink shows that botanical illustrations provide a two-way, transcultural exchange of botanical information between the East and the West, thereby offering us a new insight in the Dutch-Japanese relations during the Edo period.

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