Organized Panel Session
The Meiji Restoration of 1868 is often depicted as an event of revolutionary disjuncture: it was the moment when premodern Japan ended, and modern Japan began. The reality, of course, is far more complex. In recent decades, historians have stressed the continuity of early modern practices during the Tokugawa to Meiji transition. This panel explores the ways in which change in early Meiji Japan was often tempered by continuities with the past, and how those continuities shaped the unique features of Japanese modernity. Michael Abele traces the evolution of village leadership in rural Osaka Prefecture, where local elites maintained their authority across the Meiji divide. Claire E. Cooper examines the importance of commercial medicines and apothecaries, and the eclectic socio-economic system of medicine that endured despite the central government’s efforts to regulate it. Ryan S. Glasnovich investigates how the Meiji regime’s decision to recruit samurai as police officers in Tokyo led to a continued status divide between authorities and the people in urban Japan. Finally, Dilruba Sharmin explores the work of ceramist Makuzo Kōzan (1842–1916), whose pottery art was shaped by a move from his native Kyoto to the treaty port of Yokohama yet was neither slavish toward traditional ceramic forms nor beholden to Western aesthetics. Taken together, these papers show the early Meiji era to be a period of transformation, but not a complete break with the past.