Modern Japan in Anglophone Historical Fiction

ASPAC 2013 Jonathan Dresner Pittsburg State University “But writers of fiction do not stumble onto locales or times: they choose them and they use them to serve their narrative and aesthetic ends.” — Jonathan Dresner “…flaws typical of the genre: a carefully set but very selective milieu; characters cobbled together from cultural and psychosocial fragments; […]

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Turnbull Book on Ako

Stephen Turnbull, one of the most prolific and controversial writers on Japanese military history, has written a book on the 47 Samurai incident. The Samurai Archives review is quite positive, though Turnbull’s involvement as historical consultant on the upcoming Keanu Reeves version does raise concerns. It’s nice to see Turnbull stepping up his game a […]

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Aizawa Yasushi on America

In the Prefatory Remarks to Aizawa Yasushi‘s 1825 New Theses (新論) we find an interesting little gloss on the relationship of the “Divine Realm” of Japan and the Western world: The earth lies amid the heavenly firmament, is round in shape, and has no edges. All things exist as nature dictates. Thus, our Divine Realm […]

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A Welcome Find

One of the very interesting things I discovered doing my dissertation was the relatively meager state of scholarship on Meiji era financial institutions, particularly on the ways in which Japanese used (and avoided) new systems of savings, transfers/remittances, loans, etc. I ended up being quite impressed by the financial sophistication of supposedly unsophisticated peasant migrant […]

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Who’s On Top?

This came across the H-Japan wires, and I was intrigued by both the project itself and the immense time-wasting potential of listmaking, so I wrote to Ms. Kim and got some clarifications, and now I’m ready to putter furiously…. From: “Linda J. Kim” [l_jkim at yahoo dot com] Dear Japanese History Professors, As some of […]

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Restoration or Renovation?

I’ve always found it interesting how certain events in Japanese history have become indelibly associated with a canonical English translation that often has little to do with the actual Japanese name. 島原の乱, for example, is almost always translated as “Shimabara Rebellion,” even though “乱” is translated in other contexts into all sorts of other words, […]

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Sondheim’s Perry?

I had no idea: Stephen Sondheim (yes, I’m one of his many fans) wrote a musical about the arrival of Commodore Perry called Pacific Overtures. There’s a new version of it being staged in New York: anyone know if there’s a soundtrack, or video version of it (current or former versions) available? I’m almost afraid […]

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