Japanophilia is an interest in, or love of, Japan and all things Japanese. (Its opposite is Japanophobia.) One who has such an interest or love is a Japanophile. Various cultures and peoples have gone through various periods of Japanophilia, for various reasons, throughout history. However, to be accused as a Japanophile is regarded as highly offensive in East Asia. This was mainly because of the inhumane Japanese war crimes committed on the colonies during the early 20th Century and the Second World War.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Carl Peter Thunberg and Philipp Franz von Siebold, who stayed in the Dutch outpost of Dejima, helped introduce Japanese flora, artworks, and other objects to Europe. Some consider them to be among the earliest Japanophiles. (This was before the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when Japan became more open to foreign trade.)
Lafcadio Hearn, an Irish-Greek author who made his home in Japan in the 19th century, was described to be “a confirmed Japanophile” by Charles E. Tuttle Company in their foreword to most of his books.
In the first decade of the 20th century, British writers were lauding Japan. In 1904, for example, Beatrice Webb wrote that Japan was a “rising star of human self-control and enlightenment”, praising the “innovating collectivism” of the Japanese, and the “uncanny” purposefulness and open-mindedness of its “enlightened professional elite”. H. G. Wells similarly named the élite of his A Modern Utopia “samurai”. In part this was a result of British industrial decline, with Japan and Germany rising at the same time. Germany was seen as a threat close to hand, but Japan was seen as an ally. The British sought efficiency as the solution, and after the publication of Alfred Stead‘s 1906 book Great Japan: A Study of National Efficiency, pundits in Britain looked to Japan for lessons. This interest ended with World War I.
The United States went through a similar period of Japanophilia in the 1980s, anticipated in the 1960s by the writing of Peter Drucker, who pointed to the “consensual decision-making” in Japanese corporations and celebrated Japanese corporate management techniques (even claiming credit for giving this system to the Japanese via his books and seminars). During that period, American students took Japanese language classes with the hope of doing business with Japan.