High Teas, High Collars and High Rise Buildings in a ‘High-Context’ Culture: The Semiotics of Japan’s Project of Modernity

  • Nicolas Adam Cambridge London Metropolitan University

Abstract

This article addresses a paradigm shift in Japanese society during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – focusing on the encounters with Western culinary, sartorial and architectural practice experienced by a ‘high-context’ culture (Hall, 1976). The main discussion documents the differentiated reception of these changes – valorised by reformers for whom engaging with the outside world was key to their project of modernity, but treated with suspicion by members of the proletariat who feared for the purity of traditional Japanese values. The manner in which the resulting tensions were mediated through the print media and imagery of domestic visual culture is interrogated using a prism of semiotic analysis and the findings located within a contemporary context to suggest that Roland Barthes’ analytical approach to the country as an ‘empire of signs’ (Barthes, 1982) retains its original traction.

Published
2017-04-12
How to Cite
Cambridge, N. (2017). High Teas, High Collars and High Rise Buildings in a ‘High-Context’ Culture: The Semiotics of Japan’s Project of Modernity. Romanian Journal Of Communication And Public Relations, 18(3), 11-22. doi:10.21018/rjcpr.2016.3.212
Section
Articles

Keywords

Meiji Japan; semiotics; fashion; food; architecture