First Impressions of Japan in Europe: Image and Reality

An attentive audience heard this talk on the earliest representations of Japan and its people and culture by Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and English travellers in their respective accounts and observations. With reference to the collection of ‘Japanalia’ and ‘Orientalia’ in Marsh’s Library, and elsewhere, this lecture showed how they influenced the subsequent European (and later American) perspectives and attitudes towards this island nation in the far-distant East.

Declan M. Downey, LL.M. (Leiden), Ph.D. (Cantab.), RAH, lectures in European and Asian diplomatic history at University College Dublin. He co-directs the BCL in Law with History Degree Programme. His research interests include the history of diplomacy and international law, Japanese-European relations and Irish émigrés in Habsburg Europe. His extensive publications and leading role in major international research projects have been recognized with international honours and awards including the Knight’s Cross of the Austrian Order of Merit (2003) and Knight-Commander of the Spanish Royal Order of Isabel la Católica (2008). On 4 December 2009, he became the first Irish citizen to be elected to membership of the Spanish Royal Academy of History. In 2010, he received the Japanese Ambassadorial Commendation in recognition of his promotion of the study of Japanese history and culture at University College Dublin. In April 2012, he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle. He advises Irish and European institutions and organizations on East Asian and particularly Japanese affairs.