My name is Isaac Meyer, and I’m a PhD student at the University of Washington, specializing in (surprise!) modern Japan (with sub-specializations in modern China, modern Europe, and international relations). I also have a tendency to go off on random historical tangents. One day, I decided to combine these two traits in podcast form, and thus was born the History of Japan Podcast!

Comments, questions, and hatemail can be directed to: ijmeyer@uw.edu. Thanks for listening!


29 thoughts on “About

  1. Commerce in 1800s?

    I am watching episodes of Ryomaden on Hulu. I recommended them to my student of Japanese studying for the JET program. I have been blown away, learning that the events that took place during the bakumatsu,directly contributed to my present life as the daughter and granddaughter of Sogo-shosha officials from Kobe, now enjoying life in Encintas, California. I did not know that Kobe was a fishing village, that grew into a port. (My father’s family came Miki, Hyogo a rural valley in the Rokko mountains behind Kobe. )

    In Ryomaden, I became more intrigued with Yataro Iwasaki, the founder of Mitsubishi.
    Until, episode 15, he is dressed in rags carrying bird cages. He gets married to a young woman who literary rescues him from a cess poll, because she was told by a psychic that her future husband will be covered in shit when she meets him. My two big teenage crushes were Ryoma and John Keats but, at midlife, this Iwasaki san is far more interesting. Hulu only has 20 episodes of Ryomaden, so I am curious to know more about Iwasaki’s rags to riches story. I would be so happy if you would podcast his life in the future.

    Also due my current interest in FOREX trading, I learned about the Dojima Rice Exchange and the invention of candlestick charts. Apparently my great-grandfather, a Miki sho-ya
    bankrupted himself, and my grandfather had turn to higher education in Kobe, and got employed by Suzuki-shoten.

    Thanks for your podcasts

    Hisa(ko) Izumi

    1. I’m actually going to be doing two more “day in the life” episodes now that I know a bit more about the Edo period than I used to, and one of them is going to be on life in Osaka specifically. Not sure when they’re going to get released (I have four other long series in the works as well) but they’re coming! Keep an eye out!

  2. Hello Isaac, I just listened to your interesting podcast on Yoshiko Yamaguchi.
    First, kudos for getting so much about her life correctly, although as you mention, only knowing about her for several weeks.
    If I may suggest, please see the below biographical link on her life; it has many pictures and items of interest to anyone wishing to know more about the actual world in which she lived.


  3. Doing well. I’ve only been listening for a month or so now (I’m up to episonde 50) and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. It’s been great to see you develop as a podcast host.

    As for me, I’ve been living in Japan for most of the past seventeen years. I’ve spent most of that in Kansai, but my first long term time here was in Kagoshima for three years and Nagoya for a year and change.

    I too studied Japanese history but didn’t follow my studies into grad school, choosing the path of ESL teaching here.

    Good luck in the future and I look forward to catching up and progressing into future episodes.

  4. Elaine Yuan

    Hi Issac, I just want to thank you for making this podcast. It’s very fun it listen to. I’m learning a lot. 🙂

  5. Matt

    Hi Isaac,
    I’m really loving your podcasts! I’m new to the podcasts and only on episode 35 (34 was pretty depressing, but I find a lot of history is).
    You’re doing an amazing job, please don’t stop!
    I have a suggestion, you should create a youtube account upload these and add static pictures during the audio. They will cut you cheques based on the number of views.

    Best Regards,

  6. Ellen

    Just discovered your podcast – it is terrific! As the mom of an East Asian studies major and a son who spent a year on a fellowship in Korea, I have a lot of catching up to do.

  7. Michael Woznicki

    Isaac, this podcast is wonderful!! A true joy to listen to, thank you so much for your dedicated efforts – you make the world even richer.

  8. Mike

    Hello Isaac!!!!

    I’m a physician-scientist training in Kyoto University. I listen to your podcast whenever I’m doing some tedious cell biology experiments. I love history a lot and your work has made my life in Kyoto even richer. I’ve been here for 2 years and every shrine, temple, castle or even unassuming alleyways now have context to me.

    I visit the US every 6 months, so I am hoping to bump into you so I can personally thank you!

  9. Iona

    Hi Isaac,

    I’m a student from SOAS and I just wanted to say that your podcasts have been extremely helpful to me and have helped me to understand everything I haven’t been able to in my lectures! Haha.

    Thank you!!

    1. Honestly, I am not sure. I have a friend who is doing some doctoral work on pre-modern Japan, and I’ve been trying to find a time when we could get together and do a Heian day in the life episode. It’s tricky, though, because she’s in a different state.

  10. Susan

    Hi Isaac:

    My husband and I are going to Japan soon on business and then staying on for a couple of weeks to sightsee. I was feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to learn a respectable amount about Japan before our trip, and then I discovered your wonderful podcasts. They are an ideal introduction to the history and culture of Japan. I’m only on Episode 9, and already the names and places in the guidebooks are beginning to make much more sense. You are going to be an incredible professor — You are a natural teacher!

    Thank you for all your hard work!

  11. Frank Gulla

    I have worked my way through you 175 episodes and I have enjoyed most and understand the others. Congratulations on the wedding. An 8 year engagement means on of you is a saint; I will leave it to you to determine this. Always remember: “Happy Wife, Happy Life.” I am sure that is either an ancient Chinese or Japanese saying.

    Happy honeymoon, New Year, etc. See you in the new year.

  12. Alexander Johnson

    I would like if every 4 episodes or so during long multipart series, you inserted a one of topic, rather than a streak of one ofs then a long multi-part on one topic. I may be in the minority though. thank you for the awesome podcast!

  13. Alexander Johnson

    Episode Idea or just reply with suggestions if you can!

    When going to Japan, there are all the main landmarks and shrines and such, but what cites do you think are historically significant to see in Japan if one were to visit there with an interest in the historical aspect? What are your must visit cites for a hypothetical “History of Japan” tour?

    1. I’ve definitely thought about this before; honestly, I’m just not sure where to start. Maybe something on the history of Mitsui because it’s so damn long…Mitsubishi is also an interesting one because of how linked it was to the government early in its history.

  14. Anna Noah

    I am interested in any environmental movements, or lack thereof, in Japan. I have heard of reforestation efforts during the Meiji era and after WW II. Your 200th episode touched on whaling and dolphin hunts, two pretty environmentally unfriendly activities. What has been/is the Japanese perspective on environmental preservation? Are environmental movements only characteristic of the west, and, if so, why? An episode or series on this would be very interesting to me.

    1. Your timing is impeccable! Next week’s episode is actually going to be about forest management in premodern Japan, and I’m hoping to do at least one other on postwar environmentalism. I’ve been getting big into the work of Conrad Totman lately, which is what inspired the topic; his work is a good place to start if you want to do some reading on your own too!

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