History of Japan

For our last podcast of 2013, I thought it'd be fun to do something light-hearted; so let's talk about traditions surrounding Christmas and New Years in Japan. We'll cover how these holidays came to be celebrated in Japan and talk a bit about the forms they take today.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_35.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week we'll finish up our two-parter on Japanese-Okinawan relations with a look at Okinawa during the Imperial Period. We'll be focusing heavily on the bloody Battle of Okinawa, and then wrap things up by looking at the relationship between the islands and the Japanese mainland today.

This week's episode is rather more graphic and violent than usual -- I could not in good conscience whitewash the battle, but I do feel I should warn those of you who might be offended by such things to pass on this one.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_34.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we'll begin a two-part series on the relationship between Japan and what is now her southernmost province: Okinawa. We'll cover the founding of the Kingdom of the Ryukyus, its relationship with Japan, and finally its incorporation into the burgeoning Japanese Empire. 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_33.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're going to discuss the topic of swordsmanship and kendo in modern Japan. We'll talk about where modern traditions of swordsmanship came from, and why kendo retains such a popular grip on modern Japan.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_32.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:20am PST

This week, we're going to take a look at the man credited with one of the greatest epochal changes in Japanese history: the shift from imperial to samurai government in the late 12th century. It's time for the life and legacy of Minamoto no Yoritomo!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_31.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:44am PST

This week we'll be tackling our first media review and discussing by far the most influential piece of historical fiction ever written about Japan: Shogun, by James Clavell.

Listen to the episode here, and be sure to give me feedback on this one so I can improve the style for future review episodes!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_30.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week we have the second and final part of our series on Saigo Takamori, covering his rebellion against the government, his death, and his legacy. Tune in for one of the most famous stories in Japanese history!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_29.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:53am PST

This week, we'll begin another two-parter dealing with the life and death of Saigo Takamori, one of the great leaders of the Meiji Restoration. This week, we'll discuss his rise to public prominence and subsequent fall from grace. Next week, we'll turn to the rebellion that would end his life and his legacy in modern Japan.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_28.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:17pm PST

This week, we're discussing Onmyodo, the mystical study of divination based off of the theories of yin and yang (in-yo or on-myo in Japanese). We'll be covering the entire history of the practice, including its most famous practitioner: Abe no Seimei. We'll also be discussing the modern fate of Onmyodo and its practitioners the onmyoji.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_27.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:18am PST

This week, we're going to talk about the evolution of manga. We'll discuss the roots of the comic form in Japan, both Eastern and Western, and its rapid explosion in popularity after World War II.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_26.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:08pm PST

This week we will be discussing the great political wheeler and dealer of modern Japanese politics: Tanaka Kakuei. We will trace the rise of this man of the people, the heights of his power, and his eventual fall from grace, as well as discussing his political legacy.  Also, there will be bizarre assassination plots involving yakuza and revenge-minded porno actors. Should be a good time.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_25.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

We'll be wrapping up our discussion of the Ikko Ikki this week, as the unstoppable force of the militant wing of Jodo Shinshu meets the immovable objects of Tokugawa Ieyasu and Oda Nobunaga. What follows is a tale of treachery, war, and revenge worthy of an HBO miniseries.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_24.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

For our first two-part episode, we're going to discuss the Ikko Ikki, a militant insurrection of believers in the faith of Jodo Shinshu, or True Pure Land Buddhism. We'll discuss the rise of the movement to political and military prominence during the Sengoku Era in this week's episode; next week, we'll discuss its decline and fall.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_23.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

For our first listener-submitted topic, we're tackling Bushido: the warrior code of the samurai class. We'll discuss the evolution of the bushido ideology, the role it played during the ages of warfare in Japan as well as during the Tokugawa, and its modern legacy in a post-samurai world.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_22.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

For our final outline episode, we'll be tackling the origins and effects of the real-estate bubble which devastated the Japanese economy in 1991, and which so brutally halted the story of Japanese growth. In particular, we'll be focusing on the ways in which the various problems outlined last week were brought to the fore by the economic chaos of the 1990s.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_21.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we'll be talking about the height of postwar Japan during the 1970s and 1980s. On the surface, it's a time of great accomplishment when the dream of catching up to the West had finally been realizing. Looking deeper, however, we find the roots of many of the problems which would bubble to the surface during the economic troubles of the 1990s.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_20.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:04pm PST

This week, we're going to discuss the postwar strategy that enabled Japan to revive itself after World War II. In 1952, most observers believed Japan would become a mid-rank regional power on the same order as Sweden; by 1970 it was clear that would not be the case. We're going to discuss how Japan was able to rebound from defeat so quickly, and what forces propelled the massive growth of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_19.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 10:01am PST

This week's episode is an overview of the Allied Occupation of Japan. In just seven years (1945-1952), the Allies undertook a massive effort to overhaul Japan's politics, economy, and society. We'll discuss the ways in which they tried to do so, and briefly attempt to evaluate their success. This was a really interesting episode to write and record -- I learned a lot myself!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_18.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:07am PST

This week we're going to be taking another break from the forward march of history to discuss the life of a man named Sugihara Chiune. Sugihara worked as a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prior to World War II, and in 1940 he gave up his career in order to save thousands of Jewish refugees from the Nazis. We'l discuss who Sugihara was, what he did, why he did it, and why I think he's worth remembering.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_17.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:14am PST

We've arrived, finally, at the Pacific War -- this week, we'll be charting the course Japan took to war, briefly summarizing the cours of said war, and then discussing how the war ended. 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_16.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we'll be discussing domestic developments in Japan, and the path by which a reasonably (if not totally) liberal democracy in the 1910s and 1920s morphed into a military dictatorship in the 1930s. We'll talk about the various means by which the military grew its influence, and how it was able to use violence to cow the civilian government.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_15.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

Our podcast this week will turn to the subject of Japanese foreign policy from the end of the Sino-Japanese War in 1895 to the middle of the war against Nationalist China in 1940. We will cover the Russo-Japanese War, the steady split of the military away from the rest of the government, and the radicalization of Japanese policy towards China, culminating in the decision to launch a foolish and counterproductive war in 1937.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, it's time for a story of triumph and tragedy, racism and acceptance, international relations, and most importantly: baseball!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_13.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

This week, we're going to cover the early Meiji Period (1868-1900 or so). We'll be covering a wide range of topics, ranging from international relations to politics to social developments. This is one of the most interesting and tumultuous periods in Japanese history, and I hope you find it as engaging as I do!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_12.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:30am PST

This week, we'll be talking about the period called the Bakumatsu, or the end of the Bakufu. We'll be tracing a complex, but very interesting narrative describing how the Tokugawa went from masters of all they surveyed to defeat and destruction in a mere 15 years.

Man, that sounds really gloomy. I promise there are fun bits too!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_11.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, I'll be talking about the life of the average city-dweller in the Edo Period. This is a very wide-ranging episode, covering everything from the schools in which young samurai were trained to the kabuki-based prostitution which those same young samurai were absolutely forbidden to patronize (not that it stopped them).

I have to say, of all the episodes I've finished up to this point, I've enjoyed writing this one the most. I hope you guys like it too!

Direct download: Episode_10_-_A_Day_in_the_Life_of_Edo_Japan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:57am PST

This week we will be covering the social and political structure of Edo Japan. There's a lot of interesting material to go through, ranging from the social system (hint: it's good to be a samurai [but not as good as you might think]) to the foreign relations of the bakufu (which mainly involved making Dutch people do hilarious things for their amusement).

Enjoy!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_9.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:31am PST

This week, we will be discussing the reunification of Sengoku Japan under the three Sengoku Unifiers -- Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu.

We will be discussing the trajectory of their careers and the nature of their characters. Since (spoilers) they were pretty bad people, it should make for some pretty good listening!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_8.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:21pm PST

This week, we're going to cover the fall of the Ashikaga and the early Sengoku period (rougly 1400-1550 AD). I'll also be briefly discussing the arrival of Westerners and the rise of the militant Ikko Ikki movement. Enjoy!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_7.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am PST

This week we will cover the structure of the Kamakura bakufu, the Hojo triumph over the Mongols, the fall of the Hojo, and their replacement by the Ashikaga family. We'll also cover some cultural developments in the fields of Buddhism and Noh theater.

Intrigue! Backstabbing! Performance Art!  All the makings of an exciting show!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_6.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am PST

This week, we will be covering the fall of the Heian system, the massive Genpei War between the Minamoto and Taira families, and the rise of the first shogunal government (called a bakufu) under the auspices of the brutal Minamoto no Yoritomo. 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_5.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am PST

This week's episode will discuss the Heian Period (794-1185), one of the golden ages of Japanese history. We'll talk about the politics and culture of the period, covering the structure of government, literary styles, and why it is that I think the Tale of Genji is kind of creepy.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am PST

Today we will be discussing the Asuka and Nara periods, and the formation of a centralized, Chinese-style government based in a permanent capitol city. 

There's intrigue, backstabbing, and stories about poop; should be fun!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:48am PST

In this second episode, we discuss the earliest periods of Japanese history (the Jomon, Yayoi and Tumulus/Kofun periods), covering the years from prehistory to 538 AD.  It's a long haul to cover!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am PST

Welcome to our introductory episode!  Today we will be covering the basic ideas behind this podcast, including:

  • Who I am
  • What I'm planning to do here
  • Why you should care about history
  • Why Japanese history is important
  • What I need from you, my lovely and charming audience

I'll be updating with new episodes every weekend (preferably Saturday, sometimes Sunday), so check back next week for more.  Thanks for listening!

Direct download: HoJ_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:11pm PST

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