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This week, we’re covering the founding of Japan’s most unusual city: Nagasaki, unique among major Japanese cities in being founded under the impetus of the Jesuit order. Why did Jesuit missionaries want a port of their own, and who did they find to give it to them? Sources Hesselink, Reinier. The Dream of Christian Nagasaki: World Trade and the Cla…
 
Today, we’re discussing the evolution of a unique form of modern Japanese art: shin hanga, or new woodblocks, which attempted to combine Western painting techniques with woodblock printing. They’re not as well remembered as old ukiyo-e prints, but say something very interesting about the tension between modernity and tradition in 20th century Japan…
 
Sometimes you just have to take advantage of a cheap joke about a silly number to take a look at the history of drug policy in Japan. So today, we’ll be exploring the rich history of illegal drugs, addiction, and government attempts to regulate or combat drug use in Japan. Sources Jennings, John M. “The Opium Empire: Japan and the East Asian Drug T…
 
For our final episode of 2021, we’re looking at the origin of one of Japan’s most famous pieces of literature: the war epic known as the Heike Monogatari, or Tale of Heike. How did a story about a single conflict in Japanese history become one of the best known chronicles in the entirety of Japan’s history, and what did the story tap into to attain…
 
This week, we have a biography of one of the rare women of medieval Japan who was prominent not just because of her relationship to men, but because of her attainments in her own right. It’s the tale of Japan’s first female Zen master, Mugai Nyodai. Sources Ruch, Barbara. “The Other Side of Culture in Medieval Japan.” Cambridge History of Japan Vol…
 
This week: how did the overseas slave trade from Japan continue despite a Portuguese ban? How was the trade finally ended? And what can we learn from this dark history? Sources De Sousa, Lucio. The Portuguese Slave Trade in Early Modern Japan: Merchants, Jesuits, and Japanese, Chinese and Korean Slaves. Nelson, Thomas. “Slavery in Medieval Japan.” …
 
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