Episode 102 – The Episode Formerly Known as the 100th Episode

This week: your questions! What places are fun to visit Japanese? How do you learn Japanese outside of school? And does the Emperor obey traffic laws when he drives himself? All that and more today!

Listen to the episode here.

Images

Sensoji in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, the first place I ever visited (and got lost in) in Japan.
Sensoji in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, the first place I ever visited (and got lost in) in Japan.
Kinkakuji, an answer to the ancient question "can you ever have too much gold?"
Kinkakuji, an answer to the ancient question “can you ever have too much gold?”
The Naruto whirlpools in Shikoku.
The Naruto whirlpools in Shikoku.
A view of Hakodate city from Mt. Hakodate. I irrationally love this city.
A view of Hakodate city from Mt. Hakodate. I irrationally love this city.
A view from the Kanemori red brick warehouses looking up towards Mt. Hakodate. My school is actually visible here (it's the white building highest up the mountain slope).
A view from the Kanemori red brick warehouses looking up towards Mt. Hakodate. My school is actually visible here (it’s the white building highest up the mountain slope).
Because you didn't believe me about the Honda.
Because you didn’t believe me about the Honda.
Emperor Akihito is respected in Japan, but wields no actual political authority.
Emperor Akihito is respected in Japan, but wields no actual political authority.
Japanese troops training in Manchuria, c. 1938. Japanese army training was harsh in the extreme, designed to toughen up soldiers for the rigors of combat. It also contributed to extremely high levels of psychological stress which may have been a contributing factor to the psychological "snapping" of Japanese occupation troops.
Japanese troops training in Manchuria, c. 1938. Japanese army training was harsh in the extreme, designed to toughen up soldiers for the rigors of combat. It also contributed to extremely high levels of psychological stress which may have been a contributing factor to the psychological “snapping” of Japanese occupation troops.

Episode 101 – Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains

This week, we’ve got our first ever interview with author and Shikoku pilgrimage survivor Paul Barach. You can find his book, Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains, on Amazon. You can find out more about Paul’s work and see his photos from the pilgrimage here.

Listen to the episode here.

Images 

A map showing the locations of the various temples along the route.
A map showing the locations of the various temples along the route.
A walking henro (aruki henro) going along the trail himself.
A walking henro (aruki henro) going along the trail himself.
Signs like this dot the Shikoku pilgrimage route; the Japanese says
Signs like this dot the Shikoku pilgrimage route; the Japanese says “path for henro [pilgrims]”.
Tatsueji temple, home of the egret who will peck out the eyes of the righteous. Bring sunglasses.
Tatsueji temple, home of the egret who will peck out the eyes of the righteous. Bring sunglasses.
The 500 Rakan statues of Enpenji depict the Rakan (Arhats in Sanskrit), the original disciples of the Buddha.
The 500 Rakan statues of Enpenji depict the Rakan (Arhats in Sanskrit), the original disciples of the Buddha.
The lantern hall of Mt. Koya, where the mausoleum of Kukai (the final stop for pilgrims) is located.
The lantern hall of Mt. Koya, where the mausoleum of Kukai (the final stop for pilgrims) is located.
The graveyard where the mausoleum of Kukai is located.
The graveyard where the mausoleum of Kukai is located.

Episode 100 – Taiko

Toyotomi Hideyoshi rose from the lower ranks of society in just a bit over 30 years; how did he rise so far so fast, and why did the regime he built crumble almost immediately after this death? All that and more this week.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Berry, Mary Elizabeth. Hideyoshi.

Sansom, George B. A History of Japan, Vol II: 1337-1615.

Yamamura, Kozo et al. Japan Before Tokugawa.

Images

Hideyoshi sneaking into the Saito clan castle at Mt. Inaba. His work defeating the Saito was what kickstarted Hideyoshi's career.
Hideyoshi sneaking into the Saito clan castle at Mt. Inaba. His work defeating the Saito was what kickstarted Hideyoshi’s career.
The Battle of Yamazaki. By defeating and killing Mitsuhide Akechi, Hideyoshi received a great deal of political clout for "avenging his master", which he was able to parlay into political influence.
The Battle of Yamazaki. By defeating and killing Mitsuhide Akechi, Hideyoshi received a great deal of political clout for “avenging his master”, which he was able to parlay into political influence.
The Battle of Shizugatake saw Hideyoshi defeat his old friend Shibata Katsuie, who killed himself after the battle. From this point on Hideyoshi's control of Japan was uncontested until his death.
The Battle of Shizugatake saw Hideyoshi defeat his old friend Shibata Katsuie, who killed himself after the battle. From this point on Hideyoshi’s control of Japan was uncontested until his death.
Hideyoshi in his prime as kampaku (imperial regent). The title he's best known by, Taiko, is the one given to a retired regent. His family background made him ineligible for the position of Shogun.
Hideyoshi in his prime as kampaku (imperial regent). The title he’s best known by, Taiko, is the one given to a retired regent. His family background made him ineligible for the position of Shogun.
Hideyoshi's invasion of Korea -- pitting him against Ming dynasty armies like the one depicted here -- was a huge disaster, wasting money and lives in a futile and unwinnable campaign that undermined his regime.
Hideyoshi’s invasion of Korea — pitting him against Ming dynasty armies like the one depicted here — was a huge disaster, wasting money and lives in a futile and unwinnable campaign that undermined his regime.

Episode 99 – The Tiger and the Dragon

This week: what does it take to be part of Japan’s most infamous warlord duo? We explore the lives of Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin, their relationship with each other, and the ways in which their rivalry has been romanticized over the course of Japanese history.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Sansom, George B. A History of Japan, Vol II: 1337-1615

“Review: Legends of the Samurai by Hiroaki Sato”, by G. Cameron Hurst, Monumenta Nipponica 52, No 3

Hurst, G. Cameron, The Armed Martial Arts of Japan.

Images

The provinces of the Takeda and Uesugi -- Kai Province (Takeda) in Red, Echigo (Uesugi) in Purple, Shinano (the buffer province over which they fought) in green.
The provinces of the Takeda and Uesugi — Kai Province (Takeda) in Red, Echigo (Uesugi) in Purple, Shinano (the buffer province over which they fought) in green.
Takeda Shingen.
Takeda Shingen.
Uesugi Kenshin.
Uesugi Kenshin.
A reproduction of Takeda Shingen's rather striking armor design.
A reproduction of Takeda Shingen’s rather striking armor design.
An Edo era depiction of the confrontation between Shingen and Kenshin at the fourth battle of Kawanakajima.
An Edo era depiction of the confrontation between Shingen and Kenshin at the fourth battle of Kawanakajima.
A separate Edo period depiction of the Battle of Kawanakajima.
A separate Edo period depiction of the Battle of Kawanakajima.
The mythical duel between Kenshin (right) and Shingen (left).
The mythical duel between Kenshin (right) and Shingen (left).