Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


Art History

Committee Chair

Rhonda Reymond

Committee Member

Kristina Olson

Committee Member

Janet Snyder


In this thesis, I argue that the Japanese government has utilized art and artistic expression to influence the perception that Western countries had of its nation and culture. This phenomenon is examined through a case study of Japanese participation at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, and the exhibits that they presented. These exhibits are examined utilizing both reception and post-colonial theory, and then applying these theories to primary source material from the 1904 World’s Fair. These materials include guidebooks and photographs from both the United States and Japanese authors, to showcase differences between how the East and West interpreted these exhibits. Two specific examples that illustrate this point are the Japanese relationship with the indigenous population the Ainu and the presentation of Geisha as an embodiment of Japanese culture. Through this analysis, I draw a relationship between the Japanese government’s self-represented identity and this identity’s reception by Western authors. This research concludes that the Japanese government influenced the perception of Western countries through their participation at the 1904 World’s Fair, and carefully cultivated an image of their culture that was beneficial to their international goals. This thesis helps to shed light on Japan’s interactions with the Western world after their return to the world’s stage, and the importance of using art to influence international perceptions of their national identity.