井の中の蛙

10/13/2009

Japan’s Embassies to the Tang and Ming

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 6:20 pm

The newly relaunched Sino-Japanese Studies open access journal is coming along nicely with a selection of articles and translations, including many translated chapters of Liu Jianhui’s Demon Capital Shanghai: The “Modern” Experience of Japanese Intellectuals.

The editor, Joshua Fogel, and I have decided to add a new Resources page to the SJS website where we will host various reference materials of use to students and scholars of the interaction between China and Japan.

First up for inclusion on our resource page are two handy English language charts published in Fogel’s Articulating the Sinosphere: Sino-Japanese Relations in Space and Time which list Japan’s embassies to the Ming and Tang courts.

1. Chart of the Japanese Embassies to the Tang Court

2. Chart of Japanese Embassies to the Ming Court

While we had to secure permission from Harvard University Press to post these charts in their unedited published form, there is no reason why the content of these charts and the sources referred to in them can’t be used to improve, for example, the relevant wikipedia entry, etc. See also the Chinese entries and much more detailed Japanese wikipedia entries for the missions.

If there are suggestions for other useful reference information or interactive materials to host at the Sino-Japanese Studies website, let us know and those interested in submitting articles to the open access journal may do so here.

10/12/2009

Lines which make me less likely to adopt a world history textbook

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 10:53 am

So, I got a new one in the mail, and I start scanning through, with the usual particular attention to the Japan material, and right there in the “Cultural Identity and Tokugawa Japan” section is this:

Samurai (former warriors turned bureaucrats) and daimyo (the regional lords) favored a masked theater, called Nō, and an elegant ritual for making tea and engaging in contemplation. In their gardens, the lords built teahouses with stages for Nō drama.

I’ve seen teahouses, and I’ve seen Nō stages. Have any of you ever seen the two combined? Have you ever seen the 15th through 17th centuries collapsed so cavalierly? Then they jump to the “new, roughter urban culture, one that was patronized by artisans and especially merchants.”1 The Japanese sources cited in the “Further Readings” list include only Keene’s The Japanese Discovery of Europe and the Collcutt, Jansen, Kumakura A Cultural Atlas of Japan. Though the work is a collaboration of historians from a high-quality history department, the principal authors include nobody with Japan expertise, nor did any of the names of their “consultants” and “reviewers” jump out at me as familiar in the Japan field.

Now, I’m never going to pretend that Japanese history is central to world history, outside of a few moments, but there’s a great deal of excellent scholarship on Japanese history and culture, and a great deal of interest, still. How hard is it to get this stuff right?

  1. both quotations are from page 614. I’m not identifying the text because I’m not trying to target them specifically — the text looks interesting, and I’ll look at it again when the memory fades — but anyone who’s getting review textbooks can figure out what I mean. []

10/7/2009

Japan’s Imperial Universities Today

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 11:03 pm

The last time I looked at Japanese universities in a global ranking, I commented that

most of the universities on this list were the product of the US Occupation education reforms, particularly the insistence on public universities in every prefecture.

In a sense, that was true, but it was a list of the top 500 global institutions, and there were 37 Japanese representatives. The top seven were the former Imperial universities: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Tohoku, Nagoya, Hokkaido, Kyushu. Somehow I didn’t actually make that connection until looking at the Times Higher Education Top 200 global institutions [via], which included more or less the same list:

  • 22. Tokyo
  • 25. Kyoto
  • 43. Osaka
  • 55. Tokyo Institute of Technology (which was just below the Imperials on the old list)
  • 92. Nagoya
  • 97. Tohoku
  • 142. Keio (Keio and Waseda did better in the THE lists than the old ones)
  • 148. Waseda
  • 155. Kyushu
  • 171. Hokkaido
  • 174. Tsukuba

Without a detailed look at methodology, it’s not easy to tell if the differences are substantial, but the strength of the technical schools (TIT, Tsukuba) and the private academies (KO, Waseda) was interesting.

10/1/2009

Mystery Circles on Early Armor

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 12:10 pm

Mongol Invasion Scroll Screen Capture

What is that circular disk which early medieval samurai wear over their swords? Is it a weight, to keep it from flopping around while horseriding?

That’s my best guess at this point. I’ve done a little research on this, but haven’t come up with answers, but my collection’s a bit thin on armor parts.

I’ve seen it in the Heiji Scroll, and a few other pre-Warring States images, but I don’t recall seeing it after about the Onin War.

I get this question every time I show my students the War Scrolls, but I’ve never had a good answer. Help?

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