American contempt for China

As it is the beginning of the semester, I went to dig up the famous quotes from Emerson and Adams on what is wrong with China. If you find yourself needing these, well, here they are.  From Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Journal & Miscellaneous Notebooks, an entry from 1824: The closer contemplation we condescend to bestow, […]

Continue reading →

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 […]

Continue reading →

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; […]

Continue reading →

Senkaku Islands: New Sources, New Clarity?

NYT reporter Nick Kristof brought in a guest blogger, Han-Yi Shaw of Taiwan, to examine some new mid-Meiji documentation about Japan’s relationship with the contested Senkaku/Daiyou islands. The core of Shaw’s findings is the Meiji government acknowledged Chinese ownership of the islands back in 1885. After several abortive attempts to survey the islands, the Japanese […]

Continue reading →

Atomic Bomb Symposium at Federation of American Scientists

There’s almost no new historical content here, aside from some biographical ruminations. Stanley Kutler’s, reprinted at HNN, is the most historically interesting, highlighting the “all or nothing” fallacy in many debates about the use of the bombs versus other tactical options. Milton Leitenberg’s rejoinder (right after Kutler in the alphabet, by chance) recaps the “saved […]

Continue reading →

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 […]

Continue reading →

Old Myths, New Myths: Problems of Informed Punditry

The Asia/Pacific Journal, aka Japan Focus, has a fascinating interview with Heinrich Reinfried, Senior Lecturer in East Asian Studies at the University St. Gallen, Switzerland, conducted by a Swiss weekly. “Sushi and Samurai: Western Stereotypes and the (Mis)Understanding of Post-Tsunami Japan” begins and ends with a credible historical and thematic deconstruction of some of the […]

Continue reading →