History of Japan podcast

History of Japan

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Today, we're discussing the evolution of a unique form of modern Japanese art: shin hanga, or new woodblocks, which attempted to combine Western painting techniques with woodblock printing. They're not as well remembered as old ukiyo-e prints, but say something very interesting about the tension between modernity and tradition in 20th century Japan! Show notes here.

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History of Japan Podcast Episodes

Episode 421 - In the Eye of the Beholder

Today, we're discussing the evolution of a unique form of modern Japanese art: shin hanga, or new woodblocks, which attempted to combine Western painting techniques with woodblock printing. They're not as well remembered as old ukiyo-e prints, but say something very interesting about the tension between modernity and tradition in 20th century Japan! Show notes here.

Episode 420 - A History of Drugs in Japan

Sometimes you just have to take advantage of a cheap joke about a silly number to take a look at the history of drug policy in Japan. So today, we'll be exploring the rich history of illegal drugs, addiction, and government attempts to regulate or combat drug use in Japan. Show notes here.  

Episode 419 - A Tale as Old as Time

For our final episode of 2021, we're looking at the origin of one of Japan's most famous pieces of literature: the war epic known as the Heike Monogatari, or Tale of Heike. How did a story about a single conflict in Japanese history become one of the best known chronicles in the entirety of Japan's history, and what did the story tap into to attain that status? Show notes here.

Episode 418 - The Bucket and the Moon

This week, we have a biography of one of the rare women of medieval Japan who was prominent not just because of her relationship to men, but because of her attainments in her own right. It's the tale of Japan's first female Zen master, Mugai Nyodai. Show notes here.

Episode 417 - The Forgotten Past, Part 2

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.

Episode 416 - The Forgotten Past, Part 1

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.

Episode 415 - Whispers in the Dark

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.

Episode 414 - The Prince

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.

Episode 413 - Between Real and Unreal

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.

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