History of Japan

Choshu vs the Tokugawa, round 2! Only two years after being defeated by the Tokugawa, Choshu is back at war with Japan's leading family. This time, they've got far more cards to play, though. Can Choshu defeat the Tokugawa and put them into a slow death spiral from which they will never recover?  Hint: yes!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_129.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

Not even a dead motherboard can stop me; 1865 is just too important for us to talk about! This week: Civil Wars, gunrunning, and important financial tips (hint: become an arms dealer) as we continue the march to the fall of the Tokugawa!

Direct download: History_of_JApan_128.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

1864 is probably the most important year in the Meiji Restoration that nobody really has heard of; the Tokugawa will come as close to winning their fight for control of Japan as they ever will, and the shishi movement will end up on the ropes. So, how did the Tokugawa stage such an effective comeback, and why did Tokugawa victories end up laying the groundwork for Tokugawa defeats down the line? All that and more, this week!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_127.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we'll move into the tumultuous events of 1863. Challenges foreign and domestic are going to upset the balance of power that has existed since the death of Ii Naosuke, and drive Japan ever closer to civil war.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_126.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:51pm PST

This week, we'll move into the messy early/mid 1860s and look at the doomed attempt to bridge the gap between the Tokugawa and the Imperial Court. We'll also look at the situation in Kyoto, which was growing more violent by the day.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_125.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, the turbulent politics following the death of Ii Naosuke will result in the rise of one of the most famous symbols of the late Tokugawa era: the shishi, or men of spirit. These shishi groups, radicalized by the political trials of recent years, will introduce a degree of violence to Japanese politics not seen in generations, and pave the way for a fundamental change in Japanese politics.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_124.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 1:48pm PST

This week, Ii Naosuke will try to right the ship of state by any means necessary. However, his reassertion of Tokugawa authority will run into serious problems as the violence surrounding politics begins to ramp up.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_123.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 2:00am PST

This week, we explore the beginnings of opposition against the bakufu. The Harris Treaty will prove deeply divisive, and before long two factions of daimyo will develop opposing and supporting it. Locked in a stalemate, the two sides turn to a place that had been isolated from politics for nearly 1000 years: the imperial court and its young emperor Komei in Kyoto.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_122.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're going to stop the forward progress of the narrative and focus on two men who are going to have a large impact on the massive political realignment that's coming down the tubes, though they themselves will not live to see it: Sakuma Shozan and Yoshida Shoin. We'll use them to try to answer the question of just how radical the most radical elements in 1850s Japan really were.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_121.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we'll explore Japanese reactions to Perry and his successor, the new US Consul in Japan Townsend Harris. As the foreign powers begin to muscle their way more and more into Japan, battle lines between two opposing camps with different visions of Japan's future will be drawn. Things haven't come apart yet, but we're now officially on the road to Tokugawa collapse.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_120.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 10:49am PST

So why did President Millard Filmore decide to send an expedition to Japan? Who exactly was Commodore Perry? And why did he have such a thing for giving people model trains?

 

All that and more, this week.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_119.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

In this ecclectic episode, we'll finish up our quick review of the Tokugawa period with a look at three things: the various issues which plagued the samurai class by the 19th century, three of the regions that will play a key role in the fall of the shogunate, and finally the foreign crisis.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_118.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're starting our new longest ever series on the collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate and the birth of modern Japan. This week, we're taking a look at the political situation in the Tokugawa period -- how was the country carved up by Tokugawa Ieyasu? Who ruled what, and what kind of implications did that have in terms of establishing a secure and stable nation?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_117.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

Yoshida Shigeru was the postwar Prime Minister who helped salvage Japan's economy after WWII and set the country on the course to recovery. Today we'll discuss his background, time in office, and his influence on the course of Japan's political history.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_116.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 8:35pm PST

This week, we cover the first Japanese expeditions to Europe. How was it decided that a group of samurai should be dispatched to Rome? Were there really samurai who were also technically knights? How scandalized were the European upper classes by the idea of chopsticks? All that and more, this week!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_115.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 7:09am PST

This week, we cover the rise to global fame of one of Japan's greatest cultural ambassadors: Godzilla. How did a monster designed as a metaphor about the bomb become emblematic of postwar Japan? Find out this week!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_114.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

In the final episode of our series on the atomic bomb, we'll talk a bit about some other theories related to the bomb before closing with some general thoughts about the bomb and what it says about how we approach and write history.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_113.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we look at the Revisionist critiques of the atomic bomb. Why did America use it, and was it really necessary to end the Pacific War?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_112.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:48pm PST

This week, we'll be covering the Orthodox position on the atomic bomb: the defense of the bomb as necessary in the face of Japanese unwillingness to surrender. We'll look at the original impetus for putting forth a systemic defense of the bomb as well as the basic arguments often used to defend its use. 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_111.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week; what exactly happened during the final, fateful weeks of World War II? What sequence of events finally led to Japan's surrender?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_110.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

For our longest (non-Q&A) episode ever, we'll discuss the development of the Manhattan Project as the odd couple of Leslie Groves and Robert Oppenheimer work to complete the greatest feat of scientific engineering in history.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_109.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am PST

In our first of six episodes on the atomic bombs, we start to answer an important question; where did the idea for the bomb come from? Where did people get the idea that a sufficiently large bomb would enable them to win wars from the air?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_108.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

How does a nation ruled by warriors descend into over 100 years of civil war? Find out this week as we discuss the causes of the Onin War and the collapse of the authority of the Ashikaga shoguns.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_107.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

Kato Shizue was one of Japan's earliest feminist icons. This week we'll trace her unusual rise from daughter of wealth and privilege to firebrand politician fighting for the rights of Japanese women and women everywhere.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_106.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we cover Japan's doomed attempt to build an undefeatable battleship in a time when battleships were no longer really the key to naval victory. That's right, it's time for the IJN Yamato!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_105.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week: did the postwar period destroy the soul of Japanese culture? Mishima Yukio certainly thought so. We'll explore his life, his career, and the unusual manner of his untimely death this week!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_104.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:45pm PST

What do you get when you cross radical Confucianism with armed samurai? Japan's first samurai rebellion since the 1630s, and a recipe for one fascinating episode. Cannons, torture, and philosophy: this episode has it all!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_103.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week: your questions! What places are fun to visit Japanese? How do you learn Japanese outside of school? And does the Emperor obey traffic laws when he drives himself? All that and more today!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_102.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we've got our first ever interview with author and Shikoku pilgrimage survivor Paul Barach. You can find his book, Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains, on Amazon.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_101.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

Toyotomi Hideyoshi rose from the lower ranks of society in just a bit over 30 years; how did he rise so far so fast, and why did the regime he built crumble almost immediately after this death? All that and more this week.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_100.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week: what does it take to be part of Japan's most infamous warlord duo? We explore the lives of Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin, their relationship with each other, and the ways in which their rivalry has been romanticized over the course of Japanese history.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_99.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're going to discuss one of the most reprehensible aspects of a war littered with horrible acts; the system of mass sexual slavery of women euphemistically dubbed "comfort women". We'll talk about the origins and nature of the system, and the reason why it has come back to haunt Japanese politics today.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_98.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we turn to Japan's "native outsiders" -- the Ainu, the aboriginal people of Hokkaido. We'll trace their relationship with the Japanese and talk about their position in modern Japan.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_97.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're turn to the modern Sino-Japanese relationship. After 1978, the communist party assumed a different form under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping. How did those changes affect diplomacy between China and Japan? And what on earth happened to lead to the modern fraught relationship between East Asia's two most powerful states?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_96.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week we explore the rise of the man who would come to symbolize, for good or ill, modern China: Mao Zedong. Who was he, how did he come out on top, and what was his relationship with his neighbors to the east?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_95.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week we look at the Second Sino-Japanese War from the opposite angle: not those who fought, but those who collaborated. We'll discuss the titular leader of Manchukuo and the head of the "reformed" Chinese regime with an eye towards shedding some light on who collaborated and why.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_94.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week we introduce the man who led China's war against Japan: Chiang Kai-shek. The reluctant military leader wanted no part of a war against the nation where he had trained, but the trends of the time forced him into a conflict that would eventually destroy not only Japan, but his own regime as well.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_93.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we turn to the life of the father of modern China: Dr. Sun Yat-sen. How did he help turn China from an empire into a modern nation-state, and how did his paths cross with Japanese allies and enemies along the way?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_92.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're going to start our exploration of the Sino-Japanese relationship with a quick recap of the history of China's last imperial dynasty. How did China find itself in such desperate straits by the turn of the twentieth century that they were being surpassed by a chain of islands that had been irrelevant for centuries? Tune in to find out!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_91.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

In the late 17th century, the popular writer Ihara Saikaku produced literature for mass entertainment and consumption. He became immensely popular, and remains widely read even centuries after his heyday. We'll explore his life, career, and legacy as we ask, "just how did a man making entertainment to pay his bills become one of Japan's most celebrated authors?"

Direct download: History_of_Japan_90.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week we'll be going through the basics of daily life for children, women, and men during the Meiji Period. How did the tremendous changes of the Meiji Era change the way people lived and worked? This week, we'll try to sketch an outline of an answer for that question, as we cover themes as varied as compulsory educations and fistfights over the rights of prostitutes! 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_89.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week; a mad emperor on a quest to live forever, and the sorcerer who led an expedition to make it happen and may just have founded Japanese civilization in the process (but probably not). It's the likely untrue but still fun and interesting story of Xu Fu!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_88.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

For our final episode on Shinto and the Japanese state, we'll focus on the postwar controversies of Shinto: what was the role of the emperor going to be? How would Shinto fit in the new political order? And what on earth are we going to do with Yasukuni? The answers to these questions are what give shape to much of the controversy surrounding Shinto in modern Japan.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_87.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week we move into Japan's imperial period; what was the relationship between Shinto and a government which claimed its legitimacy in part from an emperor descended from one of the kami? What was the reality of "State Shinto", and who really led the charge to integrate church and state in Japan? All that and more, this week!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_86.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am PST

Direct download: History_of_Japan_85.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we go back to address a glaring flaw from episode 10: my total lack of discussion of the countryside. Rural life in the Edo Period involved a lot more than simply farming from dawn to sunset, and this week we'll get into exactly what it meant to be a peasant in the golden age of the samurai.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_84.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

1