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Thomas Ekholm

  • Subject: Japanese history and Culture
  • Title: Doctoral student

Thesis project

”Then Japan would no longer be Japan”

The working title of my thesis is based on a quote by Hjalmar Stolpe from the late 1800s. According to Stolpe, the Japanese tea ceremony represented not only the Japanese tea culture but also the Japanese national character and its tradition. In essence, he argued that if the tea ceremony would cease to exist in Japan, then the country would cease to be the country we know as Japan.

My study focuses on how we in Sweden and Europe have received and perceived the Japanese tea culture from late 19th century to the beginning of World War II. In Sweden we had a perception of Japan that was described in other European languages only several decades later. For example, the first book in Swedish that gave a detailed description of the tea ceremony was written in 1911 by Ida Trotzig. It took a full 20 years for the next similar book to be written, this time in German by Anna Berliner. Europe’s first genuine teahouse opened in Stockholm in the 1930s following joint Swedish and Japanese efforts.

The Western view of the tea ceremony is based on the tendencies created in the early 20th century. The thesis also addresses linguistic perspectives, such as why the terms ‘tea ceremony’ and ‘tea cult’ are used in the West. The choice of terms used in describing the activity reflects authors’ perceptions of its essence, thus creating a group of stereotypical aspect that are not entirely complimentary to each other. Further, in addition to these stereotypes that exists even today, there are also similarities between that era’s exotic view of Japan and today’s global interest in the country , .

Background/teaching


Man of many trades

In addition to my efforts to complete my doctoral thesis, I work at the print shop at Campusservice Lorensberg, where I print doctoral theses and other material and also do some design work. Besides some teaching assignments in Gothenburg, I have taught Japanese history at Lund University for a long time.

Contact Information

Thomas Ekholm

Box 200, 405 30 Göteborg

Visiting Address:
Lundgrensgatan 7

Page Manager: Annika Andersson|Last update: 10/8/2015
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