History of Japan

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