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Dec 9, 2022

This week: a long-requested dive into the ronin police force known as the Shinsengumi. Who were the members of this group, and how, despite their rather marginal role in the history of the 1860s, have they become one of the most famous organizations in Japanese history? 

Show notes


Dec 2, 2022

This week is all about a biography of a fascinating figure of the Meiji Restoration: Oguri Tadamasa. But it's also about much more: about how the present shapes our view of the past, and about how, as a result, the ways we talk about someone long dead can shift and change as well.

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Nov 18, 2022

This week, we wrap up our imperial biographies with a look at the Meiji Emperor's relationship to three important aspects of his reign: the constitution, the wars fought in his name, and his heir. Plus, we talk Meiji's death, and his legacy.

Note: no episode next week for American Thanksgiving; show notes


Nov 11, 2022

This week: the life of the Meiji Emperor in the turbulent 1870s and 1880s. We'll cover everything from the birth of his first surviving child to his drinking habits to his role in various political crises to the complicated process of shaping what a "modern" emperor's role even was.

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Nov 4, 2022

This week: the boy emperor Meiji takes responsibility for Japan's future. But what did that mean in practice? What does an emperor, especially a boy emperor, actually do?

Show notes here.