Episode 107 – The Lair of the Wolves

How does a nation ruled by warriors descend into over 100 years of civil war? Find out this week as we discuss the causes of the Onin War and the collapse of the authority of the Ashikaga shoguns.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Keene, Donald. Yoshimasa and the Silver Pavilion.

Sansom, George B. A History of Japan, Vol II: 1334-1615.

Varley, H. Paul. The Onin War. 

Images 

The shugo daimyo of the Ashikaga period. The power of the shugo daimyo undermined that of the shogun, pathing the way for the slow collapse of the Ashikaga. Courtesy of samurai archives.com.
The shugo daimyo of the Ashikaga period. The power of the shugo daimyo undermined that of the shogun, pathing the way for the slow collapse of the Ashikaga. Courtesy of samurai archives.com.
Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, shown here, was a savvy enough political operator to forge consensus where he lacked the strength to impose his will by force. His descendants would not be so gifted.
Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, shown here, was a savvy enough political operator to forge consensus where he lacked the strength to impose his will by force. His descendants would not be so gifted.
Ashikaga Yoshinori, the shogun whose assassination presaged the collapse of the bakufu in 1441.
Ashikaga Yoshinori, the shogun whose assassination presaged the collapse of the bakufu in 1441.
Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the shogun whose disinterest in government led to the implosion of the Ashikaga state.
Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the shogun whose disinterest in government led to the implosion of the Ashikaga state.
Ginkakuji, the retirement pavilion built by Ashikaga Yoshimasa in the hills east of Kyoto. Utterly irresponsible and uninterested in working to resolve the crises of his day, Yoshimasa looked on from here as his capitol burned.
Ginkakuji, the retirement pavilion built by Ashikaga Yoshimasa in the hills east of Kyoto. Utterly irresponsible and uninterested in working to resolve the crises of his day, Yoshimasa looked on from here as his capitol burned.
The Onin War, ostensibly a conflict over succession in the house of Ashikaga, was really a result of competition for power and prestige between two families of shugo daimyo. After this point, the fiction of Ashikaga power lost all its defenders.
The Onin War, ostensibly a conflict over succession in the house of Ashikaga, was really a result of competition for power and prestige between two families of shugo daimyo. After this point, the fiction of Ashikaga power lost all its defenders.
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Episode 106 – Facing Two Ways

Kato Shizue was one of Japan’s earliest feminist icons. This week we’ll trace her unusual rise from daughter of wealth and privilege to firebrand politician fighting for the rights of Japanese women and women everywhere.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Hopper, Helen M. A New Woman of Japan: A Political Biography of Kato Shidzue.

Kato, Shidzue. Facing Two Ways: The Story of My Life.

Kato Shizue’s obituary in The Guardian

Images

Kato Shizue as a young woman.
Kato Shizue as a young woman.
Kato Shizue with American birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger during the latter's first tour of Japan.
Kato Shizue with American birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger during the latter’s first tour of Japan.
Kato and Sanger meeting with fellow birth control advocates in Japan, c. 1920s.
Kato and Sanger meeting with fellow birth control advocates in Japan, c. 1920s.
Kato Kanju, Kato Shizue's second husband, was a socialist and pacifist leader.
Kato Kanju, Kato Shizue’s second husband, was a socialist and pacifist leader.
Kato Shizue during her time in the House of Councilors.
Kato Shizue during her time in the House of Councilors.

Episode 105 – A Relic of Another Age

This week, we cover Japan’s doomed attempt to build an undefeatable battleship in a time when battleships were no longer really the key to naval victory. That’s right, it’s time for the IJN Yamato!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Asada, Sadao. From Mahan to Pearl Harbor.

Evans, David C and Mark R. Peattie. Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy 1887-1941.

Yoshida, Mitsuru. Requiem for Battleship Yamato.

Images 

Japan's naval victories in the Russo-Japanese War (the one shown here is the Battle of Port Arthur) represented some of the first examples of modern warships going toe-to-toe.
Japan’s naval victories in the Russo-Japanese War (the one shown here is the Battle of Port Arthur) represented some of the first examples of modern warships going toe-to-toe.
The IJN Mikasa, flagship of the Japanese navy during the Battle of Tsushima. Japanese victory at Tsushima was taken as a vindication of a battleship-centric fleet by traditionalist naval leaders, but by the time of World War II such ideas were totally outmoded.
The IJN Mikasa, flagship of the Japanese navy during the Battle of Tsushima. Japanese victory at Tsushima was taken as a vindication of a battleship-centric fleet by traditionalist naval leaders, but by the time of World War II such ideas were totally outmoded.
The Yamato under construction, Fall 1941.
The Yamato under construction, Fall 1941.
The Yamato during her sea trials, December 1941.
The Yamato during her sea trials, December 1941.
The Yamato was attacked by American fighter-bombers en route to Okinawa and eventually sank after several hits. This American fighter camera shows the Yamato taking on water as she has started to sink.
The Yamato was attacked by American fighter-bombers en route to Okinawa and eventually sank after several hits. This American fighter camera shows the Yamato taking on water as she has started to sink.
The Yamato explodes during her sinking.
The Yamato explodes during her sinking.
The museum at the old Kure Naval Yards in Hiroshima has a scale replica of the Yamato.
The museum at the old Kure Naval Yards in Hiroshima has a scale replica of the Yamato.

Episode 104 – The Patriot

This week: did the postwar period destroy the soul of Japanese culture? Mishima Yukio certainly thought so. We’ll explore his life, his career, and the unusual manner of his untimely death this week!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Inose, Naoki. Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima.

Mishima, Yukio. The Way of the Samurai: Yukio Mishima on Hagakure in Modern Life.

Nathan, John. Japan Unbound.

Nathan, John. Mishima: A Biography.

Images

Mishima as a child. His early life was rather traumatic, torn between an aristocratic grandmother who wanted him to be a literary achiever and a father who was worried that his son would grow up to be weak.
Mishima as a child. His early life was rather traumatic, torn between an aristocratic grandmother who wanted him to be a literary achiever and a father who was worried that his son would grow up to be weak.
Mishima during the prime of his career.
Mishima during the prime of his career.
Barakei, the photobook Mishima did with Hosoe Eiko, really is something.
Barakei, the photobook Mishima did with Hosoe Eiko, really is something.
It's quite something indeed.
It’s quite something indeed.
Mishima Yukio (below) with fellow right-winger and author Ishihara Shintaro, who would go on to be the Mayor of Tokyo.
Mishima Yukio (below) with fellow right-winger and author Ishihara Shintaro, who would go on to be the Mayor of Tokyo.
Mishima during the fateful 9/25/70 "coup attempt". After the SDF refused to support him, Mishima retreated back inside the SDF HQ building in Ichigaya and took his own life.
Mishima during the fateful 9/25/70 “coup attempt”. After the SDF refused to support him, Mishima retreated back inside the SDF HQ building in Ichigaya and took his own life.
Some have suspected that Mishima's short story Patriotism -- which was eventually made into a movie, as shown here -- depicted his intentions from the beginning.
Some have suspected that Mishima’s short story Patriotism — which was eventually made into a movie, as shown here — depicted his intentions from the beginning.

Episode 103 – The Path of the Righteous Man

What do you get when you cross radical Confucianism with armed samurai? Japan’s first samurai rebellion since the 1630s, and a recipe for one fascinating episode. Cannons, torture, and philosophy: this episode has it all!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

De Bary, William Theodore et al. “Oshio Heihachiro” in The Sources of the Japanese Tradition, Volume 2, 1600-2000.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Matsuda, Wataru. Japan and China: Mutual Representations in the Modern Era.

Images

Wang Yangming, a Ming Dynasty scholar whose ideas would form the backbone of Oshio's own.
Wang Yangming, a Ming Dynasty scholar whose ideas would form the backbone of Oshio’s own.
Oshio Heihachiro during his time as a yoriki.
Oshio Heihachiro during his time as a yoriki.
Oshio Heihachiro as depicted by Yoshitoshi.
Oshio Heihachiro as depicted by Yoshitoshi.
The Tenpo famine was devastating, killing thousands at a time the shogunate was ill-prepared to respond. The crisis would eventually precipitate Oshio's rebellion.
The Tenpo famine was devastating, killing thousands at a time the shogunate was ill-prepared to respond. The crisis would eventually precipitate Oshio’s rebellion.
A map of Osaka from the Edo period. Courtesy of the historical archives of the city of Osaka.
A map of Osaka from the Edo period. Courtesy of the historical archives of the city of Osaka.
A colorized photo of the grounds surrounding Osaka castle from the 1870s. Though this photo dates from near 40 years later than the rebellion, I think it's interesting for giving us an idea of what the construction in Osaka would have looked like.
A colorized photo of the grounds surrounding Osaka castle from the 1870s. Though this photo dates from near 40 years later than the rebellion, I think it’s interesting for giving us an idea of what the construction in Osaka would have looked like.