History of Japan

This week: war in the Ashikaga age. Plus; the reign of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu is generally considered the zenith of Ashikaga prestige, but why was his power built on such shaky foundations? Once the Ashikaga had seized control of Japan, how did they go about actually governing it?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_274.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week we start a multipart series on the Muromachi period and the reign of the Ashikaga family. How did they come to power? Why is their government generally described as so weak? And how, despite that weak government, did they win a 60 year war for control of Japan?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_273.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week we cover the life and career of the legendary judge Oka Tadasuke, who rose from minor samurai to the rank of daimyo and a major position in the bakufu -- only to become a legendary figure. Who is he? How did he rise so high? And what can he tell us about the role of judges and bureaucrats in Japanese society more generally?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_272.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we cover the fascinating tale of Sei Shonagon and the Makura no Soushi, or Pillow Book. Why is a collection of anecdotes considered to be one of Japan's greatest literary classics? What mkes the Pillow Book so famous? And why does Isaac love it so very much?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_271.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we cover the life and work of one of Japan's most famous authors: the 11th century courtier Murasaki Shikibu. Why do we know so little about who she was? What inspired her to write Genji? Why do I dislike her work so viscerally? And how did it become so famous?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_270.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we cover the little-known "Chichibu Incident," an uprising against the Meiji government in 1884 that saw several thousand people take up arms against the state. Where did it come from? How did the rebellion fare? And what is its connection to the broader trends of Japanese history?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_269.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

Today, we cover one of the most unusual stories of WWII: the policy of saving and protecting Jews pursued by some among Japan's military leadership. How did anti-semitic ideas about a global conspiracy convince some in Japan that the Jews could be their allies? How many were saved? And what does it all mean? 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_268.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we cover poet and political activist Yosano Akiko in her drift from icon of the political left to polemicist for the ultranationalist right. What kind of life trajectory drives a person that way? Why did she follow that path? And why did she write so many poems about breasts?

Direct download: Episode_267.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 7:00am PST

This week, we take a look at the bizarre history of a single text -- Senkyou Ibun, or Strange Tidings from Another World -- and the two people responsible for creating it: the famous scholar Hirata Atsutane, and a boy named Torakichi who claimed to have lived in Japan's spirit world. 

Direct download: History_of_Japan_266.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST

This week, we cover the life of real estate mogul and international gambling sensation Kashiwagi Akio. Who was he? How did he become an internationally famous gambler? Why was he mysteriously murdered? And how the hell does none other than Donald Trump fit into this?

Direct download: History_of_Japan_265.mp3
Category:History -- posted at: 4:00am PST