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In His Father’s Footsteps? Ahmed Münir İbrahim’s 1910 Journey from Harbin to Tokyo as a Member of the First Ottoman Student Delegation to Japan



In the historiography of Japan’s Interaction with the Turkish and the Muslim World, Ahmed Münir İbrahim (1887-1941) has been overshadowed by his father, Abdürreşid İbrahim (1857-1944). Abdürreşid, a Russian Tatar scholar and journalist, spent five months in Japan in the first half of 1909. After his journey, he published a two-volume travelogue entitled Alem-i İslam ve Japonya’da İntişar-ı İslamiyet in Istanbul in 1910. This travelogue has remained one of the most important sources for the history of early Turkish-Japanese relations and has predominantly been regarded as an expression of pan-Islamist and pan-Asianist thinking. Similar to his father, Münir too traveled to Japan in December 1910 as a member of the first Ottoman student delegation. Münir and his two companions, Hasan Fehmi and Mehmed Tevfik, were sent to Japan at the request of the pan-Asianist society Ajia Gikai to take up their studies in Tokyo. After his arrival in Japan, Münir published a brief, serialized travelogue in the Kazan newspaper Beyanülhak, which relates the students’ journey from Harbin to Tokyo, alongside other articles on Harbin and Japan. While Münir’s articles in the Ottoman journal Sebilürreşad and the Japanese journal Daitō have recently been scrutinized by historians, his travelogue in Beyanülhak has to date remained completely obscure. This article will, first, provide a concise discussion of the Ottoman student delegation to Japan and, second, examine key aspects of Münir’s travelogue, which may provide historians with important insights into the more mundane aspects of Turkish-Japanese exchanges behind the idealizing visions of pan-Islamism and pan-Asianism.