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Among the voices opposed to the Russo–Japanese war of 1904–5 was that of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, who published an essay titled Bethink Yourselves, arguing against hostilities. The essay was translated and published in Japanese, but gained little traction among the intelligentsia in Japan. There was, however, one strong voice that supported Tolstoy’s ideas: that of the religious studies scholar Anesaki Masaharu. Anesaki’s response to Tolstoy’s essay was at once a commentary about the spiritual state of Japan at the turn of the century and also a veiled criticism of the Japanese government.


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Fessler, S. (2018). Anesaki Masaharu’s Reception of Leo Tolstoy and His Failed Attempt at Finding the Faith. The Journal of Transcultural Studies. No. 1-2, 72-94. doi:

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