After being forced open by gunboat diplomacy in 1853, substantial aid from many Americans assisted Japan in rapidly catching up with the West. At the turn of the century, many Western ideas, fashions and styles were enthusiastically adopted. But, racial discrimination and perceived lack of respect increasingly tempered the relationship with the West.
Additionally, traditional Japanese and American world views seemed quite different. Americans tended to see things in black and white, good and evil; Japanese had a more nuanced, often subtly ambiguous outlook on life.