On-line Japanese history resources

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 3:02 am

While looking for a supplement to the anemic textbook offerings on Tokugawa Japan (none of the stuff is out of copyright, probably, which is why it’s not in the document set), I came across this great collection of links to history resources. (via Early Modern Resources) I still haven’t found what I’m looking for (quick document readings for world history students) but it’s a likely source for something especially visual materials.

Update (1/23/06): I didn’t think I’d find much in the David Rumsey Map collection, because it seemed to be heavily European maps, and I was right: a few interesting maps of Japan produced by Europeans, but not much compared to the wealth of material for Western historians. Then, as I was about to give up, I noticed the link to the Japan collection Yes, the UC Berkeley East Asian Library collection of historical Japanese maps (and a few other images) has been digitized and is available under Creative Commons license. There’s a lot of mid-to-late Tokugawa and Meiji era stuff, in particular: right up my alley.

Here’s a good illustration of the image quality and flexibility of the service: the very center of a 1710 map of the world:


Frog In A Well Project wins Best Group History Blog

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 6:59 pm

Cliopatria Award: Best Group Blog 2005

The Cliopatria Awards for best history blogging have been announced and the three Frog in a Well blogs have been selected the Best Group Blog

“After much thought, the judges chose the Frog in a Well project as a whole, rather than singling out any one of its constituent parts: not only do they feature overlapping personnel and a considerable degree of shared identity and purpose, all have been characterized by diverse contributors, strong historical content and consistently high quality writing. Both individually and as a whole, they represent a great achievement and a model to inspire and challenge in the future.”

Thanks, both to the judges and to all the bloggers who have made this such a great project to be part of. Special thanks, of course, to the creator and technical master (and a damn fine blogger) Konrad Lawson.

I’m really looking forward to the next year of Asian history blogging here!


1946 Survey Question about the Character of the Japanese People

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 10:20 am

While looking for some old Gallup polls in Lexis-Nexis, I came across the following poll question from May of 1946. Some readers may find either the results or the answer options interesting:

Which of the following statements comes closest to describing how you feel, on the whole, about the people who live in Japan?

The Japanese people will always want to go to war to make themselves as powerful as possible – 35%

The Japanese people may not like war, but they have shown that they are too easily led into war by powerful leaders – 39

The Japanese people do not like war. If they could have the same chance as people in other countries, they would become good citizens of the world – 19

Don’t know – 7

POPULATION: National adult


Japan’s Elites, Update

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 1:37 am

Last summer, I responded to a request for scholarly opinion on the “leaders” of Japan from 1840-1920. Ms. Kim has now completed compiling responses and doing her own research and reports back her list (roughly in chronological order):

  • Abe Masahiro (1819-1857)
  • Ii Naosuke (1815-1860)
  • Kujo Hisatada (1798-1871)
  • Okubo Toshimichi (1830-1878)
  • Saigo Takamori (1828-1877)
  • Tokugawa Nariaki (1800-1860)
  • Yoshida Shoin (1830-1859)
  • Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835-1901)
  • Ito Hirobumi (1841-1909)
  • Iwakura Tomomi (1825-1883)
  • Kido Takayoshi, also known as Koin (1833-1877)
  • Okuma Shigenobu (1838-1922)
  • Sakamoto Ryoma (1835-1867)
  • Shibusawa Eiichi (1840-1931)
  • Inoue Kaoru (1835-1915)
  • Kuroda Kiyotaka (1840-1900)
  • Matsukata Masayoshi (1835-1924)
  • Yamagata Aritomo (1838-1922)
  • Hara Takashi (1856-1921)
  • Katsura Taro (1847-1913)
  • Matsukata Masayoshi (1835-1924)

There’s a few names on there that aren’t on my list: Kujo Hisatada is a pretty good addition for the early period, where I was pretty stumped; Sakamoto Ryoma was left off my list because I was paying too much attention to the chronological boundaries, I think; Kuroda Kiyotaka doesn’t seem more important to me than Saigo Tsugumichi, or Mori Arinori, who were on my list, and the Meiji Emperor seems like a pretty serious omission.

Let’s face it: if we got through a survey of Japanese history and our students knew who all these people were, we’d be doing OK, I think. Of course, there’s no cultural figures here, etc….


Berry on Early Modern Information

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 12:57 am

I admit that I’m a great admirer of Berry, but this is going to be fun. My own thoughts about Early modern Japan as an intellectual renaissance are going to have to be tested against this scholarship.

The University of California Press is pleased to announce the publication of:

Japan in Print: Information and Nation in the Early Modern Period

Mary Elizabeth Berry is Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of _The Culture of Civil War in Kyoto_ (California, 1994) and _Hideyoshi_ (1982).

“In _Japan in Print_, Mary Elizabeth Berry crisply condenses a remarkable amount of primary research on difficult and little-known materials, and it interprets those materials in a highly original framework.”-Karen E. Wigen, author of _The Making of a Japanese Periphery, 1750-1920_

A quiet revolution in knowledge separated the early modern period in Japan from all previous time. After 1600, self-appointed investigators used the model of the land and cartographic surveys of the newly unified state to observe and order subjects such as agronomy, medicine, gastronomy, commerce, travel, and entertainment. They subsequently circulated their findings through a variety of commercially printed texts: maps, gazetteers, family encyclopedias, urban directories, travel guides, official personnel rosters, and instruction manuals for everything from farming to lovemaking. In this original and gracefully written book, Mary Elizabeth Berry considers the social processes that drove the information explosion of the 1600s. Inviting readers to examine the contours and
meanings of this transformation, Berry provides a fascinating account of the conversion of the public from an object of state surveillance into a subject of self-knowledge.

Full information about the book, including the table of contents, is available online: http://go.ucpress.edu/Berry

The use of maps and visual materials in Culture of Civil War gives us some hints about the direction she’s likely going here. I love my job.


It’s not an institution if it doesn’t have rules….

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 1:47 am

Via World Press Review, an interesting account of undercurrents of opposition to changing the Imperial Household Law to allow female emperors or emperors descended through females. The great-grandson of Emperor Meiji wants to reconstitute several lines of descent that were separated from the Imperial House after WWII, instead of allowing women to occupy the throne.

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