History of Japan (History)

This week: the story of two men whose fascinating life trajectories led them into an interrogation room in Japan's Edo period, and the fascinating document that resulted from their time together.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_415__mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about the story of a man whose story we don't really know: the imperial prince Shotoku, who despite being a near-unknown historically is one of the most legendary figures in Japanese history. How is that possible, and what does that say about his unique role and symbolism?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_314_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're looking at the legacy of Chikamatsu Monzaemon, the most famous playwright in Japanese history. During his career, which spanned the zenith of Japan's Edo period, he produced some 130 plays and was enormously influential in terms of his approach to drama. How did he do it, and what is his legacy for Japan today?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_413_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're looking at how the criminal justice system in Japan was remade to serve the interests of the imperial state--a process which laid the groundwork for much of how the justice system operates today.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_412_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're taking a quick detour into Isaac trolling fans of Michel Foucault-er, the Edo period criminal justice system. How did this system operate, and what considerations are responsible for its approach to justice?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_411_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week: Isaac spends 30 minutes unpacking the 400+ page ramblings of a cranky retiree who died about 200 years ago, but whose polemics against his own society have a remarkable amount to teach us about one of the most important moments in Japanese history.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_410_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

In just three years, Ozawa Ichiro managed to guide the DPJ from defeat to one of the most smashing victories in Japan's political history. How did he do it? And why, despite the fact that he was the one who set the stage for this victory, did he never end up serving as the prime minister in the aftermath?
Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_408_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, the DPJ's good fortune--in the form of the hilariously politically inept Prime Minister Mori Yoshihiro--turns to disaster, as he is replaced by the charismatic Koizumi Junichiro. Facing a revived LDP, the DPJ will turn to one of the most singular (and divisive) figures in modern Japanese politics: Ozawa Ichiro.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_407_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're beginning a four-part retrospective on the rise and fall of Japan's most successful postwar opposition party: The Democratic Party of Japan, or DPJ. This week: how did two veterans of the tumultuous politics of the early 1990s come together to found this scrappy little party, and what forces led to the DPJ becoming the largest of Japan's opposition parties?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_406_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about one of the last attempts to save the Tokugawa shogunate: the Tenpo Reforms of the 1840s, and their chief architect, the hard-partying Mizuno Tadakuni. What did he see as the most pressing problems Japan faced? How did he try to solve them? And how did this final attempt to salvage Tokugawa rule fail so badly?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_405_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 6:00am PST

This week, we're taking a closer look at the unequal treaty system of the 1800s by exploring one of its crappier (!) consequences: a diplomatic incident over cholera quarantines and extraterritorial laws surrounding a small German freighter called the Hesperia.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_404__mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're discussing Japan's reckoning with its wartime past through the lens of the nation's self-appointed conscience: the historian Ienaga Saburo, who spent 30 years locked in legal battles with the government over what could and could not be included in history textbooks.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_403_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're covering the bizarre history of a hijacking attempt from 1970. What led nine young men to seize control of JAL Flight 351, and why in the hell did they think that, of all places to take the plane, North Korea was the one to pick?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_402_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 6:00am PST

This week, we're tackling the history of kamishibai, a form of street theater that was once big business but has since faded into obscurity. Where did it come from, and why--after it was killed off by TV and movies--is it worth remembering today?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_401_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 6:00am PST

Thank you all to every single one of you who has ever listened to this podcast.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_400_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week: how did three soldiers who managed to do something rather unexceptional--dying in Japan's battles in China--manage to become the centerpiece of a state-run cult of heroism?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Untitled_Session_3_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 6:00am PST

This week, we're talking about a pair of anchors in a Chinese museum and the tortured path they took to get there. What do the anchors have to do with a "correct" (from the view of the Chinese Communist Party) understanding of history--and how does Japan fit into that story?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_398_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're traveling the breadth of Japanese history to answer a seemingly simple question: why is it that so very many of us have heard of haiku? What is so special about this style of poetry, and how did it come to have such global appeal?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_397_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're covering the transformation of the collapsed LTCB into the revived Shinsei ("New Life") Bank, and the motley cast of American investors and Japanese executives who made this once unthinkable financial future a reality. What led to decades of fiscal tradition being scrapped, and what have the impacts of this choice been?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_396_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week: a combination of political scandals, tabloid journalism, institutional inertia, and of course the goddamn Swiss lead to the long, slow, death of LTCB.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_395_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're returning to the era of the bubble economy and its aftermath with an up close look at the failure of one of Japan's most prominent banks: the Long Term Credit Bank of Japan, or LTCB. First: how did LTCB dig itself so deeply into an economic hole?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_394_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're wrapping up our month on piracy by looking at how the image of "Japanese pirates" became so prevalent in Korea and China, and what we actually know about all the pirating that was going on during this time.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_393_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about how Hideyoshi finally tamed Japan's pirates, and why that makes them so hard to understand from a historical perspective.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_392_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're focusing on the height of piracy during the civil wars in Japan, and in particular the powerful Murakami pirate families. How did these families make their money? What did their raids look like? And what was their relationship to the warlords on land?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_391_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, in the first of a four part series on piracy in Japan, we're covering the background of piracy before the Sengoku civil wars. How did Japan's pirates interact with the complexities of Japan's classical and medieval world?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_390_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week we're going deep into the bizarre theories of Japanese Israelism: the conspiracy theory that modern Japanese people are descended in whole or part from the same ancestors as Jews. I'll take you through the basics of these theories, with plenty of barely hidden scorn for their idiocy to light our shared way.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_389_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

For our final episode in the series, we're taking a look at the demise of public rail in Japan and the privatization of JNR. What led one of Japan's biggest companies down the track (ha!) of being broken up, and where does that leave Japan's rail network today?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_387_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about the rebirth of Japan's rail network in the form of Japan National Railways. Some things will stay the same (it's all the same guys in charge), some will change (a free press keeps reporting on the mistakes those guys make), and all of this will culminate in one of the most ambitious engineering projects in Japanese history: the Tokaido Shinkansen.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_386_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about the role of rail in imperial Japan, with a particular focus on the infamous South Manchuria Railway Company. How does a rail line become key to Japan's imperial ambitions in China?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_385_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're starting off a look at the history of rail in Japan by exploring how this revolutionary technology was introduced to the country. And once it was, how would a government obsessed with strategic infrastructure like rail manage the complexities of funding and constructing something so jaw-droppingly expensive?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_384_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 12:45pm PST

Today, we're taking a look at a fascinating literary text from 1000 years ago, the Kagero Nikki (most commonly translated as "The Gossamer Diary"). This is the life story of a woman whose name is not known to us, and her tumultuous, borderline abusive relationship with her husband -- and a tale of how, ultimately, she is able to find peace.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_383_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're going to stay in the Sengoku but take a step away from all this samurai action to ask: what's everybody else up to? From farmers in the countryside enjoying the fruits of a more commercialized economy (while fearing being raided by marauding armies) to merchant towns asserting their authority against warlords, it's a fascinating look into a neglected piece of the era's history.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_382_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we cover the rest of the lives of Sugen'in, Joko'in, and Yodo-dono (and some other really fascinating incidental lives, like Hideyoshi's wife Kodai'in), and ask: what can we learn from these often overlooked narratives?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_381_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're starting off a month of Sengoku-themed content with a look at one of the remoter areas of Japan: Tosa province on Shikoku, now known as Kouchi Prefecture. Specifically, we'll be diving into the history of the one-time lords of the area, the Chosokabe family, who rose from minor status to lords of all of Shikoku in two generations, and were then annihilated in the very next.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_379.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about the birth of the idol industry in Japan. What are idols, how are they made famous, and what does all of this say about the nature of consumer culture in modern Japan?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_378_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're taking a look at one of the greatest scandals in the history of Japanese baseball, when the black mist of yakuza-driven sports gambling wracked Japan's national pastime.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_377_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're exploring the history of Japan's most famous drink: sake, or Japanese rice wine (though it turns out, 'sake' in Japanese doesn't necessarily refer to what we think of, nor is it actually a 'rice wine' in the technical sense). We're covering everything from tax laws to how to make your own sake using nothing but your own spit, so buckle up! It's gonna be a fun one.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_376_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about Hokkaido in the early 20th century, and in particular the stark problems created by the island's rapid colonization: its badly unequal economy and the question of what role the Ainu were now to play in their own homeland.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_374__mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're looking at the early decades of Japan's colonization of Hokkaido, and the means by which the island was radically remade within the span of a single lifetime.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_373_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week: how did the threat of Western imperialism change the relationship between mainland Japan and Hokkaido, and help set the stage for Japan's eventual colonization of the island?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_372_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're covering the life and career of a poet often overlooked despite her fame in her own lifetime: the shopkeeper's daughter-turned-nun-turned-haiku master, Kaga no Chiyo.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_370_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about one of the most famous stories in Japanese history: the bamboo princess Naotake no Kaguyahime and her absolute wrecking ball-esque demolition of Japan's stupidest and most eligible bachelors before she returns back to her home on the moon.

Who says classical literature isn't fun?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_368_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about one of Japan's territorial disputes: the bitter debate over ownership of the Senaku Islands/Diaoyu Islands/Pinnacle Rocks. Where do these competing claims over a bunch of uninhabited islands in the middle of nowhere come from? And what has their impact been on Sino-Japanese relations?

Direct download: Episode_367_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we cover Sorge's career in Tokyo, and explore just how he was able to convince so many people that he was exactly what he was not -- a loyal Nazi here to report on Japan for the benefit of Hitler's regime. Plus, some thoughts on Sorge's significance in the history of the Second World War.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_366_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we begin our exploration of the life and career of Richard Sorge, one of the most famous spies in Japanese (and arguably world) history. We're beginning this week with the story of his recruitment and his first trip to Asia -- a two year posting in Shanghai.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_365_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week: how did Abe Shinzo get back into the PM's office, why did he not fall flat on his face once again once he did, and what are some of the distinguishing features of his policies? We're covering everything from LDP internal elections to macroeconomic policy to social conservatism, so buckle up -- this is gonna be a fun one.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_363_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we chronicle Abe Shinzo's meteoric rise up the ranks of the LDP and the Koizumi cabinet, culminating in his first tenure as Prime Minister -- followed by his equally meteoric ascent back down the ranks, as his first attempt at governance will blow up in his face.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_362_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're starting our retrospective on the career of Japan's former Prime Minister, Abe Shinzo. We begin with a look at his family history and his career through one of the most tumultuous eras of Japan's modern politics -- the 1990s.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_361.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we wrap up our look at Soka Gakkai with the history of its split from Nichiren Shoshu. Plus, we take some time to look at the various controversies surrounding the group and what they say about Soka Gakkai's position in Japanese society.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_360_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about some of the major projects of Ikeda's time as leader of Soka Gakkai, including both the foundation of Soka Gakkai's political party and the construction of the Sho Hondo, a grand new hall for Nichiren teachings.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_359_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we continue our look at the history of Soka Gakkai during the tenure of Toda Josei. We'll also turn to the rise of the most influential figure in the movement today (and arguably its most influential leader ever): the third president of Soka Gakkai, Ikeda Daisaku.

Direct download: Episode_358_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're starting a multi-episode series on one of Japan's most famous organizations: the study society-turned-religion-turned-political-party known as the Value Creation Society, or Soka Gakkai.

Show notes here.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_357_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week: how do historians learn about the lives of everyday people? Let's take a look at how it's done by thinking about a group of people often overlooked in histories of the Edo period even though they made up half the population: women.

Show notes here.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_356_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about one of Japan's most famous collections of supernatural tales, the fantastic Ugetsu Monogatari (Tales of Moonlight and Rain) from 1776.

Show notes here.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_355_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about popular literature, with a specific focus on one of Japan's most famous pieces of detective fiction -- the Hanshichi Torimonocho.

Show notes here.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_354_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we wrap up our history of Christianity in Japan with a look at the Occupation and Postwar Eras -- and with some final thoughts on what it means to be a part of a faith viewed as "outside" the mainstream of the nation. 

Show notes here.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_353_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we'll cover the striving of Japanese Christians to be accepted as genuine patriots by the government during the pre-war era. This striving will lead to closer and closer ties between the state and religion; it will also invite danger once we get into the war years. 

Show notes here.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_352_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're going to talk about the heyday of Japanese Christianity during the Imperial era: the 1870s and 1880s, when the church, finally free of government restriction, began to grow. But behind that growth lurked a dangerous reality about the religion's relationship with the state. 

Show notes here.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_351_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about Christianity during the Bakumatsu Period -- the era that saw the forced opening of Japan and the collapse of samurai government. How did debates around Christianity figure in to this turbulent time in Japanese history?

Show notes here.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_350_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we cover the short yet fascinating history of Islam in Japan. What factors led to a connection between the Islamic world and Japan? Who led the efforts to build bridges between the two? And why is the history of this relationship so generally unknown?

Show notes here.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_348_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we wrap up the series with a look at black history during the Occupation and Postwar eras, with some final thoughts on the series as a whole.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_347_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we turn our attention to the black experience during the war in the Pacific, and to the fascinating story of the Pacific Movement of the Eastern World. 

Show notes here

Direct download: Episode_346_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about political and cultural exchange between black communities and Japan in the 20s and 30s, as well as how one prominent black leader found himself bamboozled by Japan's pro-empire propaganda in the 1930s.

Show notes here

Direct download: History_of_Japan_345_mixdown.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we look at Japan's relationship with blackness and black communities in the wake of the Meiji Restoration, and at the beginnings of a movement among black people to make Japan into a champion of non-white peoples.

Note: this episode includes some language that may be considered dated or offensive (though no use of slurs). 

Show notes here

Direct download: Episode_344.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're beginning an overview of black history in Japan with a focus on the Sengoku and Edo eras, and especially the fascinating tale of Yasuke. What sources do we have for this moment of cultural contact?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_343.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, how did the 1964 Paralympics end up in Japan? Who made it happen? And why does 1964 represent an important moment in the history of disability sports in Japan? 

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_342.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're focusing on the story of Ono no Komachi, a mysterious poet from the 800s whose poems were used to construct a fictional persona entirely separate from who she actually was. How did this happen? Why does it matter? And what can we learn from telling the history of a made up character? 

Show notes here.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_341.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're covering the career of one of modern Japan's spymasters: Akashi Motojiro, who attempted to build an intelligence network in Russia during the Russo-Japanese War. Why was he given this task? Did he succeed? And what lessons does his career offer in terms of the wider arc of modern Japanese history? 

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_340.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

Mawwiage is whut bwings us togethah, today! Today we're talking about the history of marriage as an institution in Japan. How has it changed and evolved? What customs and practices have governed it? And what do those practices look like today?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_339.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 6:00am PST

This week, Japan finally gets the Olympics; but what does that really mean for Japan? What does hosting really accomplish for Japan's image, and how do the games themselves unfold? 

Show notes here.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_337.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're starting a series on the history of the Olympic movement in Japan. How did Japan get involved in the Olympics? What factors drove Japanese participation? And what ever happened to Japan's first attempt to host the Olympic games -- the 1940 Olympics that never were. 

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_336.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're taking an in-depth look at the life and legacy of Ozu Yasujiro, one of Japan's most famous directors -- despite the fact that it's really only in the last decade and a half of his life that he had the freedom to make the films he wanted to make!

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_335.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking over Japan's response to one of the greatest public health crises of the 20th century: the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-19. What strategies did the government put in place to try and counter the flu, how was it treated, and what was it like for the doctors on the front lines fighting to save their patients?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_334.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we tackle one of our more unique subjects. It's time to talk about an institution so secretive that most of its records were almost certainly destroyed to keep them away from prying eyes. No, it's not some secret ninja clan: it's the harem, or Oku, of the Tokugawa shoguns. 

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_333.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we tackle the life of one of Japan's most interesting women, who rose from obscure origins to become a major power player in the early Tokugawa period: Saito Fuku, better known as Lady Kasuga. 

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_332.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week we wrap this series up with a look at the changes in the feminist movement during the US Occupation of Japan, and with a look at the postwar careers of Ichikawa Fusae and Hiratsuka Raicho. 

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_331.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we continue our exploration of the life of Hiratsuka Raicho, and add a new character to our cast: Ichikawa Fusae. How did these two women navigate the tricky waters of 1920s and 1930s Japanese politics, and what obstacles did they encounter along the way? 

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_330.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we start off our first ever twinned biography with a look at the early career of one of Japan's pioneering feminists: Hiratsuka Raicho. 

Direct download: Episode_329.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about my absolute favorite poet in the history of forever: Kobayashi Issa. I promise he's great, and I don't just love him for the poop jokes. 

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_328.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we take a look at one of postwar Japan's most famous political scandals, and how the efforts of one company to revive its fortunes ended up roping in everyone from shadowy underworld figures to the Prime Minister of Japan himself. 

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_326.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, tensions within Japanese society explode as a simple stock purchase turns into a knock-down, drag out fight over corruption in the Japanese state. 

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_325.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we tackle a political scandal from 1930s Japan to dig deeper into the question: just why did Japan's system of parliamentary government and liberal democracy, which seemed to be flourishing in the 1920s, fall apart so quickly in the 1930s?

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_324.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're discussing the autobiography of a troublemaking, low-ranking samurai whose life didn't reshape Japan, but whose tale can tell us a lot about how our image of the samurai class matched up with reality.

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_323.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, take a deep dive with me into the life of one of the regents of the Heian Era, Fujiwara no Tadahira, as we try and figure out just what it looked like to try and rule over Heian Japan on a day to day level. 

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_321.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

As the 1950s become the 1960s, the truth of Chisso's failure to address its problems comes out thanks to a new round of poisoning on the other side of Japan. The people of Minamata seek justice for themselves. 

Show notes here.

Direct download: Episode_320.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're beginning a deep dive into the history of one of the most famous cases of environmental poisoning in Japanese history: Minamata disease. How did a chemical factory end up poisoning the people of a small town in rural Japan for years before anyone found out? And why, once it became clear that they were being poisoned, did it take so long for anything to come of it?

Show notes here.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_319.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're talking about one of the greatest cheesy samurai film franchises of all time. Just how did a series of films about one man and his baby mowing down legions of opponents become a pop culture legend? The story of how Lone Wolf and Cub became one of the greatest samurai film franchises ever is our final episode of 2019.

Show notes here.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_318.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we explore the career of the first woman to make a big splash in modern Japanese literature: Higuchi Ichiyo. We'll talk about her story, her writing, her legacy, and her tragically short career -- and I'll spend a lot of time talking about how much I hate Mori Ogai!

Show notes here.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_317.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

Since Japan just got itself a new emperor, this is a good time to go back and look at an incident from the enthronement of the last emperor -- and at a time where one local politician's comment at a council meeting ignited a national firestorm which ended with him being shot.

Show notes here: http://isaacmeyer.net/2019/11/episode-314-resp…-imperial-throne/

Direct download: History_of_Japan_314.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're going to zoom in on the kind of life that doesn't usually make the big picture history of Japan. It's time to look at the story of a single medical student during the final years of the Tokugawa era and explore everything from his education to his drinking habit, and to ask ourselves just what we can learn from such a focused examination of the past.

Show notes here.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_313.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 5:00am PST

This week, we look at the violent incidents that eventually undermined the Freedom and People's Rights Movement, and the legacies of the movement for Japan today.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_312.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

How do you talk about a movement without clear leaders? By breaking down its different levels. Plus, a look at how things came to a head between the Freedom and People's Rights Movement and the government.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_311.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're starting a look at the Jiyu Minken Undo -- the Freedom and People's Rights Movement -- by talking a bit about its ideological origins as well as some of the movement's early leaders.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_310.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week: the battle against the construction of a new international airport in Chiba prefecture. Who fought against the airport, why, and how did it all go so very wrong?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_309.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:30am PST

This week, the crew of the Breskens is freed at last. Plus some final thoughts on Tokugawa diplomacy.

Direct download: History_of_Japan_308.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

The Breskens crew arrive in Edo, with the question of how they are to be treated looming over them. At the same time, another group of very different Europeans arrive there as well. This week, we'll talk about the interwoven fates of both groups, and what they tell us about the concerns of the shogunate and Tokugawa Iemitsu. 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_307.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we're taking a look at the foreign policy of Edo Japan by starting a deep dive into a complex case study: the tale of the 10 prisoners of Nanbu domain!

Direct download: History_of_Japan_306.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we'll cover the end of USCAR and the legacies of 27 years of foreign rule over Okinawa Prefecture. 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_305.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we start off some coverage of the period of American rule over the Ryukyus, and the entwined histories of USCAR - the US Civil Administration for the Ryukyu Islands -- and the GRI, the Government of the Ryukyu Islands. How did this arrangement work? What were the issues between them? And why did so many Okinawans come to despise American rule? 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_304.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

Finally, a long overdue look at one of the most romanticized and exocitized parts of traditional Japanese culture. What are geisha? Where do they come from? Aren't they basically fancy prostitutes? And haven't I learned everything I need to know about them from reading Memoirs of a Geisha?

 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_303.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST