The History of Sino-Japanese Relations as seen in Japan’s Most Popular Travel Guide

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 11:33 pm Print

The Globe-trotter Travel Guidebook, which is the official English name for 地球の歩き方 (Lit: The way to wander the world) is the most popular Japanese travel guide series. All around the world you can spot Japanese tourists from dozens of meters away by their bright neon yellow Chikyû no Arukikata travel books.

Among those who travel abroad, I think it is reasonable to suggest that travel guidebooks are one of the most important sources of historical information about the world that we are likely to read after the completion of our formal education along with popular fiction and media such as movies and TV. Given that fact, I think that historians might do well to consider the importance of travel guidebooks (and I mean those of our own time, since the travel guides of past ages have gotten the ample and well deserved attention of scholars).

How does Japan’s most popular guidebook series, 地球の歩き方, describe China’s modern history in the 2006-2007 edition of its China volume (D01)? China is Japan’s largest and most important neighbor, but one with which it shares a deeply troubled 20th century history. This has been a major theme in most of my postings both here at Frog in a Well and on my own blog at Muninn.net. One would expect, then, that there would be certain important 20th century events which would need a minimum degree of coverage and be dealt with some degree of care by the authors.

Below I will briefly consider how the 2006-7 edition covers some of these events in : 1) Descriptions of some of the Beijing locations 2) Nanjing locations 3) Some miscellaneous other locations and most importantly 4) in its survey essay on Chinese history located at the back of the book. Read on…


Ancient Chinese sex advice

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 1:12 pm Print

One scholar who has had a lot of influence on my teaching on Early China is Mark Edward Lewis. I sometimes assign Sanctioned Violence in Early China, and if I had the courage I would assign Writing and Authority. The thing I like about his work is that not only does he know literally everything about everything, his work centers around figuring out what the categories of early Chinese thought were. It is a commonplace that the Han dynasty distinctions between the 100 schools of philosophy are to some extent false divisions forced on a much more complex history. Lewis takes this further and tries to uncover what the categories of thought were in Han and pre-Han China. Part of this, particularly in Writing and Authority, is the importance of patterns. There are patterns that govern the changes in the universe, human affairs and the body, and understanding and adjusting and adjusting to these patterns is what knowledge is all about. (Lewis explains all this a lot better than I do.)



No need for Clever Speech

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 3:49 pm Print
No Need

It is recorded in the Han chronicles that when Emperor Wen visited his pleasure park he went to the area called Tiger Garden. There he questioned the official in charge of the park about the various animals. The official did not respond. The caretaker beside him, however, answered in great detail. Emperor Wen instructed Zhang Shizhi [an attendent] that the caretaker was to be given administration of the gardens because of his ability. But Zhang reminded him of Zhou Bo and Zhang Xiangru, who were virtuous with words to those above them in rank. Zhang advised that if Wen accepted the clever speech of the caretaker as a virtue and raised him in rank, the world must then bow to [the vagaries of] the winds. People will compete in clever speech and truth will become unimportant. The emperor agreed and the clever caretaker was not promoted. Gerhart “Tokugawa Authority ”Monumenta Nipponica 52.1 Story from Shi ji 102



Military history MIA? WIA? KIA?

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 12:22 pm Print

There has been a good deal of discussion on Cliopatria and elsewhere on the topic of military history. This discussion was sparked off by a piece in the National Review, in which John Miller argued that academic military history is dying because of opposition from tenured radicals. To the extent that military history still exists “Social history has started to infiltrate military history, Trojan Horse–style” and instead of getting “Blitzkrieg, the Bismarck, and the Bulge” students hear about French hairdressers. It is a very ignorant piece. Here is the webpage of Steve Zdatny, the poser who Miller attacks for claiming to teach military history. Zdatny seems to be an interesting guy whose research seems to touch on a lot of issues having to do with war and resistance in France. I bet Zdatny, unlike Miller, also knows the difference between a teaching field and a research field.



Getting the Chinese to work hard

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 10:05 pm Print

NYT has an article on American firms’ opposition to new Chinese labor laws. China has been pushing unionization of foreign firms, forcing even Wal-mart to accept unions. In particular the All Chinese Federation of Trade Unions has been trying to organize migrant workers. The basic complaint of the foreign firms is that it will be hard to get workers to work hard enough if you are forced to coddle them. The laws themselves are apparently not all that big a change, but the impression seems to be that these laws may actually be enforced. “If you really abide by the Chinese labor laws,” said Anita Chan, an expert on labor issues in this country and a visiting fellow at the Australian National University, “migrant-worker wages would go up by 50 percent or more.”
Labor groups have always been fairly critical of the ACFTU, for the obvious reason that they are not going to be mistaken for the IWW any time soon. I suspect that these laws will not represent a change in the nature of Chinese unions and that these will continue to be “enterprise” unions. Probably one reason for this push for unionization is simply a desire to have more state control over things. On the other hand, state unions would not have to do much to make the situation of Chinese workers considerably better, as this interview shows

Li Qiang: How is the method to count piecework? Do you know your pay rate?
Worker: The pay rate is different for different products.
Li Qiang: Can you give me an example for the pay rate?
Worker: Such as changing color dolls…
Li Qiang: What is the brand of it?
Worker: Disney.
Li Qiang: What is the piecework rate for it?
Worker: It used to be 11.20 Yuan for 100 pieces, or 0.112 Yuan each.
Li Qiang: How many people are needed to work it out?
Worker: Eight people.
Li Qiang: That is eight people work on the doll, getting 11.20 for 100 pieces.
Worker: But the rate is lowered to 7.80 Yuan.
Li Qiang: Why?
Worker: Because some workers would get over 1000 Yuan monthly if calculated by 11.20. The factory administration lowered the pay rate to reduce cost.

So this is not really hourly work, nor is it peicework. Workers get 1000 Yuan a month period. This is exactly the type of thing unions are supposed to fight for. Not just the right to bargin for a particular wage, but the right to have a wage at all. There are all sorts of things reported in the press, late payment of wages, strange living charges etc., that add up to not just a bad deal for labor but no deal at all. Making even the most marginal effort to improve the position of workers would be popular, make the government look good, and not really cost anything. I have doubts much will happen, and no illusions that gains will happen everywhere in China, but there is at least a possibility that things will improve. If nothing else, there are limits to the number of poor workers even in China, and eventually firms are going to have to bargin with their workers. Even the most limited set of legal rights would help.


Asking Stupid Questions… so you don’t have to

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 2:51 pm Print

My father, in his brief teaching career, used to say to his students “If you have a question, you have to ask it. Odds are good that other people have the same question, and they’ll be grateful to you for asking.” He also said that “There are no stupid questions. Only stupid answers.” So, I appeal to the wisdom of the collective….

In a recent article, Tom Englehardt wrote

When a dynasty fell in ancient China, it was believed that part of the explanation for its demise lay in the increasing gap between words and reality. The emperor of whatever new dynasty had taken power would then perform a ceremony called “the rectification of names” to bring language and what it was meant to describe back into sync. We Americans need to lose the emperor part of the equation, but adopt such a ceremony. Never have our realities and our words for them been quite so out of whack.

The rectification of names is an old established Confucian principle, to be sure, and I can believe that it plays a role in the Chinese historiography (though I admit I haven’t spent a lot of time reading traditional Chinese histories of the ends of dynasties, so I can’t be sure), but I really wonder about the ceremonial aspect of this. Did the Imperial institution actually reify the principle into ritual?

It also came to my attention recently that the famous Chinese Communist quip on the effects (or success) of the French Revolution — “It’s too soon to tell” — is variously attributed to both Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai (a.k.a. Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai) (Ho Chi Minh gets mentioned sometimes, too). The Zhou stories seem to have a bit more detail to them (though he wasn’t alive on the Revolution’s bicentennial, the sesquicentennial’s a possibility), but both attributions range from the pre-’49 era to the 1970s, have various interlocutors (mostly “a journalist,” though Kissinger comes up a lot, too) and I can’t find any specific citations. Does anyone have a specific citation which might pin this down?

Update: In the absence of answers, I’ve now thrown the question to the H-Asia folks. We’ll see if they come up with something interesting.

Catching Up… lots of catching up.

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 2:51 am Print

Mea maxima culpa. Due to a regrettable lack of focus on bloggerly things, I’ve let my carnival friends down. First, I never congratulated Roy Berman on a wonderful September AHC. If you haven’t read it yet, you should: he did a great job of rounding up and presenting the material, and it could well inspire you to …. submit to the upcoming carnival: That’s right, the next AHC is just days away (two days, to be exact), so get your nominations for your best work over the last month to Nathanael Robinson, Quickly!

While you’re considering what of your recent blogging is good you might also consider taking a look at the September Carnival of Bad History, and if you think any of your blogging is worthy, send it in to that one, which is also coming up shortly. If you’ve got history blogging which is more Early Modern (actually, they still need a host for October, which I can tell you, is really fun), or just plain ol’ Historical (Jeremy Boggs is hosting this weekend’s edition of the grand HC, and I have very high expectations), you’ve got plenty of outlets.

Finally, a rare political plug: American Historical Association Members needed for free speech resolution

In Other News: It could be Menzies, or it could be garden variety nationalism, but Zheng He’s getting more popular in China.

And, A brief history, including new DNA analyses, about Taiwan’s indigenous populations


Double Ten

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 9:07 pm Print

Coming soon is Double Ten, the anniversary of the Oct. 10, 1911 Wuhan revolt that led to the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the foundation of the Republic of China.

Journalism is supposedly the first draft of history, but in this case the first draft was surprisingly good.

Chinese Troops Revolt


Desert to Rebels at Wu Chang After

Two Conspirators Are Beheaded

HANKOW, China, Oct. 10.- Troops at Wu-Chang have gone over to the rebels and cut off communication with that place, following the arrest of twenty-eight revolutionaries at Wu-Chang, capital of the Province of Hu-Peh, and the beheadings of four of the number in front of the Viceroy’s Yamen to-day. The arrests and executions followed the discovery of a revolutionary plot in the Russian concession here. A bomb was exploded, whereupon a search revealed a factory for the manufacture of explosives and a plan for an attack on Wu-Chang.
Much firing can be heard this afternoon in the direction of Wu-Chang. Several large fires are seen.
The authorities had feared that the soldiers were disaffected. Chinese gunboats are patrolling the harbor. A message from Chung-King says that the leaders of the movement, in protest against the Government’s plan of building railways with foreign capital, are protecting the missions in the district where the rebels are operating.
New York Times, Oct. 11, 1911


Electrons, the ultimate export

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 1:48 pm Print

Preview of a documentary on gold-mining in China


I hope my son never sees this post, which suggests that you really can make a living playing video games. I suspect I will end up showing it to my students as an example of the new Chinese economy.

The comments also show a nice divide between those who think the movie is about the exploitation of Chinese labor and those who think its about those awful Chinese ruining games

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