Episode 54 – The Great Change

This week, we’ll be talking about Japan’s first great political reform: the Taika, or Great Change. We’ll discuss its causes, effects, its parallels with the Meiji Restoration some 1200 years later, and its legacy — which reaches a lot farther than you might think.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising.

Sansom, George. A History of Japan to 1334.

Totman, Conrad. A History of Japan.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

The rough extent of Yamato during the Taika reforms.
The rough extent of Yamato during the Taika reforms.
The massive extent of the Tang Dynasty, the rising threat on the continent confronting Japan. Some of the territory held by the Song would not be reclaimed by a Chinese dynasty until the Qing dynasty, some 1000 years later.
The massive extent of the Tang Dynasty, the rising threat on the continent confronting Japan. Some of the territory held by the Song would not be reclaimed by a Chinese dynasty until the Qing dynasty, some 1000 years later.
The Kingdoms of Korea. This image shows the disposition of the kingdoms in the 300s (hence the inclusion of the fourth kingdom, Gaya, which was destroyed by the time of our episode) but it should give you some idea of what things looked like on the peninsula.
The Kingdoms of Korea. This image shows the disposition of the kingdoms in the 300s (hence the inclusion of the fourth kingdom, Gaya, which was destroyed by the time of our episode) but it should give you some idea of what things looked like on the peninsula.
The assassination of Soga no Iruka; Nakatomi no Kamatari is the one threatening the figure on the ground (Iruka) with a sword.
The assassination of Soga no Iruka; Nakatomi no Kamatari is the one threatening the figure on the ground (Iruka) with a sword.
Naka no Oe, or Emperor Tenji, one of the leaders of the Taika Reforms. The text above him is a poem of his included in the poetic compilation known as the Hyakunin Isshu.
Naka no Oe, or Emperor Tenji, one of the leaders of the Taika Reforms. The text above him is a poem of his included in the poetic compilation known as the Hyakunin Isshu.
Nakatomi no Kamatari (Fujiwara no Kamatari) with his two sons. The Fujiwara would eventually become one of the most powerful and influential families in Japanese history.
Nakatomi no Kamatari (Fujiwara no Kamatari) with his two sons. The Fujiwara would eventually become one of the most powerful and influential families in Japanese history.
Konoe Fumimaro. Can anyone see a family resemblance?
Konoe Fumimaro. Can anyone see a family resemblance?
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3 thoughts on “Episode 54 – The Great Change

  1. Hi! I just found your podcast and have been listening to a bunch of your shows on Pre-Modern Japan. I really liked the ones on Yoritomo, Takauji, a day in the life of an Edoite, Himiko, and this one. Great stuff all around.

    If you’re interested, I write a blog about Japan that has quickly “devolved” into an exploration of Edo-Tōkyō by way of etymology of Tōkyō place names. I’d be honored if you’d check it out. As it’s WordPress, it’s fully searchable, so if nothing you like turns up on the first page, well, you know what to do.

    http://markystar.wordpress.com

    I’m going to add a link to your site from my page (hopefully later this afternoon) so my readers know about your podcast!

    Anyways, keep up the good work.

    PS. I’m on the Ginza Line listening to your Q&A episode and “Kimi ga yo” came on super loud and before I had a chance to turn down the volume I got some weird looks. lol.

    1. Thanks for the kind words! I love your blog; I’ll be sharing it on Facebook with my fan page, and once I can actually record another episode in person (which unfortunately won’t be until August) I’ll drop a mention of it into the show.

      I’m glad you liked those episodes; I’ve got a few ideas percolating for some similar ones (I am definitely planning a Day in the Life of Meiji Japan one) which I hope you’ll like as well. And I’m glad you had a chance to demonstrate your Japanese patriotism so openly; keep it up and one day they might put you in your very own speaker truck!

      1. The last thing I need is one of those trucks. Those clowns woke me up this morning – and I was hung over no less!

        Glad to hear you’ll share. I’ll add a link to my page. Actually, I’ve mentioned you a bit on Twitter and wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve gotten a few subscribers from there.

        Oh, while I’m heaping praise, the baseball episode was also awesome!

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