Ōrui Noburu’s Cross-Cultural Inquiry into the Histories of the Renaissance as a Critique of Modernity

Noriaki Hoshino*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


This article examines Japanese cultural historian Ōrui Noburu (1884–1975)’s work on the Renaissance, which he conducted during the interwar and wartime periods. Ōrui was a leading scholar in the field of Western history (seiyōshi) in Japan during the mid-20th century and developed his pioneering study of the European Renaissance with reference to prominent Renaissance scholars such as Jacob Burckhardt and Johan Huizinga. Ōrui’s research is mostly known in relation to Western history, but during the war he also probed the existence of a Renaissance within Japan itself. His discussions of both the European and Japanese Renaissance cultures reveal his concern with the question of modernity and the contemporaneous situation in Japan. At a time when modernity was being keenly debated, Ōrui’s Renaissance study addressed the degeneration of Western modernity and clarified the joint cultural significance of the European and Japanese Renaissances, although this attempt intersected with the existing narrative about Japan’s imperial expansion. Overall, this article contributes to research on wartime Japanese and transnational intellectual/cultural history and sheds light on Ōrui’s previously unrecognised but unique form of cross-cultural inquiry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-680
Number of pages18
JournalAsian Studies Review
Issue number4
Early online date1 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Modern Japanese history
  • Overcoming Modernity
  • Renaissance
  • cultural history
  • intellectual history
  • war


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