Pan no Kai (active 1908–1912) By Szostak, John
Pan no Kai, or Pan Society, was a group of writers, poets, artists, and actors active in Tokyo from 1908 to around 1912. It was founded by Kinoshita Mokutarô (1885–1945), a medical doctor who, by avocation, was also active as a poet, playwright, and publisher of several periodicals, including Subaru. Kinoshita was an admirer of European culture, and named the Pan Society after the German cultural periodical Pan established in 1894 by Julius Meier-Graefe (1867–1935). Kinoshita held Pan Society gatherings at European-style restaurants situated near the Ryôkoku Bridge overlooking the Sumida River, which is considered Tokyo’s version of Paris’ river Seine. Meetings were informal affairs given over to discussing strategies for the reform and revitalization of Japanese art, literature, and theater, and to socializing over European food, wine, coffee, and music. In addition to Kinoshita, founding members included writers Nagata Hideo (1885–1949), Tanizaki Junichirô (1886–1965), and Nagai Kafû (1879–1959), oil painters Ishii Hakutei (1882–1958), Yamamoto Kanae (1882–1946), and sculptor and poet Takamura Kôtarô (1883–1956). At the group’s height of influence it included over forty members. Although the Pan Society sponsored no exhibitions and espoused no particular movement or style, it played an important role by fomenting wider interest in and knowledge of Western-style artistic modernism at a crucial time in Japan’s art and literary history.