Episode 206 – Across the Sea, Part 2

This week, we take a closer look at early communities of Nikkeijin — people of Japanese descent — in the United States and Hawaii.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Asakawa, Gil. Being Japanese-American.

Spicard, Paul. Japanese Americans: The Formation and Transformation of an Ethnic Group

Odo, Franklin. No Sword to Bury.

Images

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San Francisco’s Japantown in the 1930s.
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Frenzied and racist attacks on Japanese labor led to the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907. Papers like the Seattle Star were instrumental in drumming up pressure for both the 1907 agreement and the 1924 immigration act.
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The bill itself may not have specified the Japanese, but at the time nobody was under any illusions as to who the 1924 Immigration Act targeted.
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Japanese workers on a sugarcane plantation, c. 1915. Courtesy of the University of Hawaii.
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A Honganji (Jodo Shinshu) temple in Oahu. Note the Japanese-inspired detailing on the roof; that kind of thing was far less common on the continent.
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Shashin hanayome (picture bridges) arriving on Angel Island in Los Angeles, 1910. Courtesy of Densho.org.

Episode 205 – Across the Sea, Part 5

This week, we begin a new series on the history of the Japanese diaspora!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Masterson, Daniel et al. The Japanese in Latin America.

The excellent resources of the Japanese American National Museum.

Dresner, Jonathan. Japanese Diasporas: Unsung Pasts, Conflicting Presents, and Uncertain Futures.

Images

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The grave of Otokichi in Singapore; he was never allowed to return to Japan after being blown away in a storm.
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Nakahama Manjiro, the castaway who became a samurai — and one of very few to leave Japan during the Edo Period.
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Seattle’s Japantown c.1909, in what is now the International District.
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Seattle Japanese-American fishermen participating in a public parade.
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Japanese immigrants arriving in Victoria, British Columbia.
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Japanese laborers on a pineapple plantation in Hawaii, c.1900.

Episode 203 – The Old Man and the Sea

This week: one of Japan’s most famous Buddhist masters, Kukai, takes center stage!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Winfield, Pamela. Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese Buddhism

Bowring, Richard. The Religious Teachings of Japan, 500-1600.

Totman, Conrad. A History of Japan.

Images

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A painting of Kukai from the medieval period.
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The Mandala of the Two Realms, used as a visual pattern for Mt. Koya and central to Kukai’s Shingon Buddhism.
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A letter from Kukai to Saicho.
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The main hall of the Mt. Koya complex.
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Monks bringing food and clothes to Kukai’s body.

Episode 201 – The Green Archipelago

This week: Japan’s a pretty verdant place, but how did it stay that way when so many other places were ravaged by human development?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Totman, Conrad. The Green Archipelago.

Totman, Conrad. A History of Japan.

Basically everything Conrad Totman ever did.

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Adding to the strain on Japan’s environment was the need to rebuild major monuments after a set time — particularly Shinto shrines, since Shinto’s fierce taboos surrounding decay require sites to be continuously restored. Ise Shrine, shown here, is rebuilt every 20 years on alternating sites, and has been since the 600s.
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The Todaiji Buddha, which required 160,000 cubic feet of charcoal to produce.
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Stands of Japanese cypress, or hinoki, were among the most valuable timber sources in Japan — and the most heavily harvested.
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Zojoji, one of two burial temples of the Tokugawa shoguns in Edo.
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Nikko Toshogu, a shrine to the deified spirit of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Ieyasu’s building boom was the largest one in Japanese history before the Meiji Era.

 

Episode 199 – Fist of Legend, Part 6

In which we bring things to a close by considering the fall of the Butokukai, the spread of budo beyond Japan, the role of martial arts in the African-American community, the question of Olympic sport status, and the challenge of the UFC. It’s gonna be a busy week.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

This excellent article on martial arts and black power.

NYT piece on kendo and the olympic sport question.

Images

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As part of an attempt to shed its militaristic image, some kendo practitioners adopted the European-style fencing jacket as a practice outfit after the US Occupation.
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Steve Sanders (Muhammed) on right, with Jim Kelly of Enter the Dragon fame on the left. The Black Karate Federation logo is visible behind them.
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Sanders on the cover of a Karate Illustrated magazine. From the excellent article provided by Kung Fu Tea.
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Judo at the 2012 London Olympics. The precise role of competition in budo remains fiercely debated, and there are some among other budo communities who point to a perceived decline in the aesthetic qualities of judo as a warning about the dangers of a focus on competition.

Episode 198 – Fist of Legend, Part 5

This week: can a martial art be a philosophy of life? Can it rise to the level of a religion?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Stalker, Nancy K. Prophet Motive: Deguchi Onisaburo, Omotokyo, and the Rise of New Religions. 

So, Doshin. This is Shorinji Kempo. (note: there’s basically nothing academic on Shorinji Kempo out there, which makes many of the claims in this book and others difficult to verify).

Ueshiba, Kisshomaru. Aikido. 

Images

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Ueshiba Morihei in his middle age, around the time he went to Tokyo.
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Takeda Sokaku, Ueshiba’s first teacher.
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Takeda demonstrating Daito-ryu at the Asahi Shimbun offices in 1936.
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Ueshiba later in life.
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So Doshin as a younger man.
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So Doshin instructs one of his most famous pupils, the martial arts film star Sonny Chiba.

Episode 195 – Fist of Legend, Part 2

This week: who wants to swing a sword when you can just shoot a gun?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

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

Gainty, Denis. Martial Arts and the Body Politic in Meiji Japan.

Stevens, John. The Way of Judo. 

Images