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Jul 29, 2022

This week, a current events episode on the leadup and immediate aftermath of the assassination of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. Note: this episode is intended to be a continuation of Episode 364 (our last episode on Abe). 

Show notes here.

Jul 22, 2022

This week, we're taking a look at the legacy of one of Japan's most influential poets: Ki no Tsurayuki. His poems may not quite be the popular phenomenon they once were, but his views about how poetry works have always been influential, and shaped how we think about poetry down to this day.

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Jul 15, 2022

This week, we're unpacking a rather odd classic of Japanese literature: the Ise Monogatari, a collection of short tales that are probably about a famously seductive aristocrat, but which were in large part not written by him--and which have oddly political meanings given their often lascivious nature. What are the...

Jul 8, 2022

This week: we tend to think of tea in terms of the tea ceremony and fancy culture, but what about lowbrows like me who like to drink our tea bottled from a vending machine? This week we'll be looking at tea as a commodity, and how it became a staple of Japan's consumer culture.

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Jul 1, 2022

This week: how did a spate of right wing violence in the early years of the 1960s help to fundamentally reshape public discourse around the emperor (and thus around politics and history more generally) up to the present day? And what does all of this have to do with one of the most bizarre short stories that has ever...