Episode 119 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 3

So why did President Millard Filmore decide to send an expedition to Japan? Who exactly was Commodore Perry? And why did he have such a thing for giving people model trains?

All that and more, this week.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Same as last week.

You can find Millard Filmore’s letter to “The Emperor of Japan” here.

Images

President Millard Filmore attempted to shore up his own popularity as well as unify the country with a major foreign policy achievement by forcing Japan open. Unfortunately, success came too late to save his political career.
President Millard Filmore attempted to shore up his own popularity as well as unify the country with a major foreign policy achievement by forcing Japan open. Unfortunately, success came too late to save his political career.
Commodore Matthew C. Perry, a hero of the Mexican-American War, was chosen to lead an expedition to Japan. Originally hesitant, Perry first requested command of the Mediterranean Squadron before ultimately acquiescing and taking the job.
Commodore Matthew C. Perry, a hero of the Mexican-American War, was chosen to lead an expedition to Japan. Originally hesitant, Perry first requested command of the Mediterranean Squadron before ultimately acquiescing and taking the job.
The USS Susquehanna, Perry's flagship.
The USS Susquehanna, Perry’s flagship.
This colored lithograph depicts Perry's forces landing in Kanagawa for the treaty negotiations in 1854. Perry insisted on heavy levels of military pomp and circumstance in order to overawe the Japanese.
This colored lithograph depicts Perry’s forces landing in Kanagawa for the treaty negotiations in 1854. Perry insisted on heavy levels of military pomp and circumstance in order to overawe the Japanese.
A woodblock print describing the United States and depicting Perry (center) along with his chief of staff Henry Adams (left). I can't figure out who is on the right, unfortunately.
A woodblock print describing the United States and depicting Perry (center) along with his chief of staff Henry Adams (left). I can’t figure out who is on the right, unfortunately.
This bakumatsu (late Tokugawa) period print depicts Commodore Perry as a tengu, a sort of winged monster.
This bakumatsu (late Tokugawa) period print depicts Commodore Perry as a tengu, a sort of winged monster.
A Japanese print depicting Perry (right) with his young son, who also joined him on the expedition.
A Japanese print depicting Perry (right) with his young son, who also joined him on the expedition.
Abe Masahiro, leader of the roju (council of elders) was forced to deal with the crisis brought on by Perry at the same time as a major succession crisis was rocking Edo.
Abe Masahiro, leader of the roju (council of elders) was forced to deal with the crisis brought on by Perry at the same time as a major succession crisis was rocking Edo.
The Japanese text of the Treaty of Kanagawa, held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.
The Japanese text of the Treaty of Kanagawa, held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.
The English text of the Treaty of Kanagawa, held by the National Archives of the United States.
The English text of the Treaty of Kanagawa, held by the National Archives of the United States.

Episode 118 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 2

In this eclectic episode, we’ll finish up our quick review of the Tokugawa period with a look at three things: the various issues which plagued the samurai class by the 19th century, three of the regions that will play a key role in the fall of the shogunate, and finally the foreign crisis.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Jansen, Marius. Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration.

Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration.

Images

Not strictly relevant, but this diagram does help clarify the feudal structure of the Tokugawa period if you're confused by all these terms that I keep throwing around.
Not strictly relevant, but this diagram does help clarify the feudal structure of the Tokugawa period if you’re confused by all these terms that I keep throwing around.
A map showing the locations of Satsuma, Choshu, and Tosa. Tosa is red, Choshu green, Satsuma purple.
A map showing the locations of Satsuma, Choshu, and Tosa. Tosa is red, Choshu green, Satsuma purple.
Matsumae Castle in Hokkaido. The Matsumae family was given responsibility for "managing" the Ainu, and thus were among the first to encounter the Russians.
Matsumae Castle in Hokkaido. The Matsumae family was given responsibility for “managing” the Ainu, and thus were among the first to encounter the Russians.
The HMS Phaeton, which entered Nagasaki in 1808 under a false flag in order to attack the Dutch outpost there (Holland being an ally of the French at that point).
The HMS Phaeton, which entered Nagasaki in 1808 under a false flag in order to attack the Dutch outpost there (Holland being an ally of the French at that point).
This image depicts the USS Columbus, sent in 1847 to make another attempt at opening Japan. The Columbus was rebuffed, and without an order to use force to barge into Japan its commander was forced to retreat.
This image depicts the USS Columbus, sent in 1847 to make another attempt at opening Japan. The Columbus was rebuffed, and without an order to use force to barge into Japan its commander was forced to retreat.
The USS Morrison was sent on a mission to try and open friendly relations with Japan. Instead, it was fired on under the terms of the 1825 fire on sight order and retreated away from Japan.
The USS Morrison was sent on a mission to try and open friendly relations with Japan. Instead, it was fired on under the terms of the 1825 fire on sight order and retreated away from Japan.

Episode 117 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 1

This week, we’re starting our new longest ever series on the collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate and the birth of modern Japan. This week, we’re taking a look at the political situation in the Tokugawa period — how was the country carved up by Tokugawa Ieyasu? Who ruled what, and what kind of implications did that have in terms of establishing a secure and stable nation?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Beasley, William. The Meiji Restoration.

Craig, Albert. Choshu and the Meiji Restoration.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Jansen, Marius. Toward Restoration.

Images

During the Edo Period, Nagasaki remained the only point of contact between the Japanese and the West. A Dutch mission there was confined to the island of Deshima, with the exception of semi-regular expeditions to Edo to pay homage to the shogun. Here we see a Dutch ship entering Nagasaki bay; Deshima is the outcropping in the lower half of the image.
During the Edo Period, Nagasaki remained the only point of contact between the Japanese and the West. A Dutch mission there was confined to the island of Deshima, with the exception of semi-regular expeditions to Edo to pay homage to the shogun. Here we see a Dutch ship entering Nagasaki bay; Deshima is the outcropping in the lower half of the image.
This map will help you get a feel for the locations of the major domains. However, it's very simplified; in reality, Japan was home to 260 odd daimyo.
This map will help you get a feel for the locations of the major domains. However, it’s very simplified; in reality, Japan was home to 260 odd daimyo.
A daimyo in the midst of sankin kotai. The regular trips to Edo were designed to drain the finances of the major lords and thus weaken their ability to resist the Tokugawa.
A daimyo in the midst of sankin kotai. The regular trips to Edo were designed to drain the finances of the major lords and thus weaken their ability to resist the Tokugawa.
A View of Mt Fuji from Nihonbashi, from Hokusai's 36 Views of Mt. Fuji. Nihonbashi remains at the heart of modern Tokyo. Edo saw explosive growth over the course of Tokugawa rule, going from an unknown fishing village to the largest city on earth in 150 years.
A View of Mt Fuji from Nihonbashi, from Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mt. Fuji. Nihonbashi remains at the heart of modern Tokyo. Edo saw explosive growth over the course of Tokugawa rule, going from an unknown fishing village to the largest city on earth in 150 years.
A view of the Sumida river in the Edo Period. During the Edo Period, Kyoto lost all political power and was ruled directly by the Tokugawa. However, compared to the chaos of the Ashikaga and the Sengoku period, I doubt many people complained.
A view of the Sumida river in the Edo Period. During the Edo Period, Kyoto lost all political power and was ruled directly by the Tokugawa. However, compared to the chaos of the Ashikaga and the Sengoku period, I doubt many people complained.
Osaka was the major commercial hub in the Edo Period. The national center of merchant shipping, it also housed the Junin Ryogae, or Ten Exchange Houses, the only officially sanctioned moneychangers in the nation.
Osaka was the major commercial hub in the Edo Period. The national center of merchant shipping, it also housed the Junin Ryogae, or Ten Exchange Houses, the only officially sanctioned moneychangers in the nation.

Episode 116 – One Man Yoshida

Yoshida Shigeru was the postwar Prime Minister who helped salvage Japan’s economy after WWII and set the country on the course to recovery. Today we’ll discuss his background, time in office, and his influence on the course of Japan’s political history.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Dower, John. Empire and Aftermath.

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising.

Yoshida, Shigeru. Yoshida Shigeru: The Last Meiji Man.

Images

Yoshida Shigeru in elementary school. Note the kimono; up until high school, Yoshida attended fairly traditional traditional academies steeped in Confucian learning.
Yoshida Shigeru in elementary school. Note the kimono; up until high school, Yoshida attended fairly traditional traditional academies steeped in Confucian learning.
Yoshida as Prime Minister.
Yoshida as Prime Minister.
Yoshida signing the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty on September 8, 1951. The same day, Yoshida signed the Treaty of San Francisco formally ending the Occupation and WWII.
Yoshida signing the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty on September 8, 1951. The same day, Yoshida signed the Treaty of San Francisco formally ending the Occupation and WWII.
Yoshida with John Foster Dulles (left).
Yoshida with John Foster Dulles (left).