Yes, I watched it.

As Jamie Noguchi said, I see these movies so you don’t have to: my review of 47 Ronin is up at HNN. As expected, it’s a blazing failure, with few details of either the original incident or famous dramatizations left intact. A subtitled video of the 1748 Bunraku play would have been better, artistically and […]

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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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Ninjas at Night, Dragons at Dawn: Magic Tree House does Japanese History

Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series is intended to educate and entertain by taking its protagonists to different times and places, real and mythical. These Scholastic books are mainstays of schools, libraries, and primary curricula, and some of the books have companion “Research Guide” publications for kids who want to know more about the […]

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The Lead Poisoning Thesis

Some research is startling, and some research confirms what we already guessed or assumed, but there’s some research which falls between these categories: research which reveals things that should have been obvious, if we’d been thinking about it clearly, or asked the right questions earlier. Siniawer’s argument about the consistency of violence in Imperial Japanese […]

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Judge Ooka’s Sidekick: A Samurai Never Fears Death and The Sword that Cut the Burning Grass by Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler

Wandering through the children’s section of our local public library with my son, I encountered a new-to-me children’s mystery series based in Tokugawa Japan. The books are by Dorothy and Thomas Hobbler, and are piggybacking on the Judge Ooka character. Unlike certain other Japan-based anglophone fictions, these feature a cast of entirely Japanese characters, though […]

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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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Ueda Akinari translation

PMJS has published William Clarke and Wendy Cobcroft’s annotated translation of Ueda Akinari’s Tandai Shoshinroku, available as a free PDF and also as a book-on-demand from Lulu (and eventually Amazon). I leave the commentary on the value of scholarly networks, non-profit online publishing, and the finally-growing body Early Modern translations as an exercise for our […]

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The Bow

Via my old friend Scott Eric Kaufman I learned that President Obama’s visit to Japan was drawing criticism from the American right (I also learned that President Eisenhower bowed in public to a number of heads of state) due to Obama’s bowed greeting to Emperor Akihito. Most of the commentary (this is an excellent roundup) […]

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