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Dec 10, 2021

This week: how did the overseas slave trade from Japan continue despite a Portuguese ban? How was the trade finally ended? And what can we learn from this dark history?

Show notes here.

Dec 3, 2021

This week, we're beginning a two-part history on the pre-modern slave trade in Japan. Slavery existed in Japan before the written record, so what did it look like? How did the slave system operate? And what changed when European merchants came to Japan in the mid-1500s?

Show notes here.

Nov 19, 2021

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.

Nov 12, 2021

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

Nov 5, 2021

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...