Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Month: March 2014

Episode 46 – The Emperor’s Own, Part 2

Sorry for the unscheduled delay, folks! Episode 46 is now live. Join us this week for a tale of Japan’s rise to military greatness, as Yamagata Aritomo situates the army and navy during the 1880s for their rise to power and prominence. Under his leadership, Japan will defeat China, the unchallenged master of Asia for millennia. However, a new threat is looming on the horizon: the colossal Russian Empire.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Presseisen, Ernst. Before Aggression: Europeans Prepare the Japanese Army.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Jakob Meckel, the ill-tempered Prussian officer sent to train the Imperial Army. His three year tenure would make him one of the most influential figures in the IJA's history.

Jakob Meckel, the ill-tempered Prussian officer sent to train the Imperial Army. His three year tenure would make him one of the most influential figures in the IJA’s history.

Japanese infantry in a Napoleonic-style firing line during the Sino-Japanese War. Meckel's teachings emphasized orthodox, Napoleonic tactics of which the above is a good example.

Japanese infantry in a Napoleonic-style firing line during the Sino-Japanese War. Meckel’s teachings emphasized orthodox, Napoleonic tactics of which the above is a good example.

The Battle of the Yalu River; during this engagement, the Japanese destroyed the Beiyang Fleet, Qing China's most advanced naval force. From this point on Japan ruled the seas in East Asia.

The Battle of the Yalu River; during this engagement, the Japanese destroyed the Beiyang Fleet, Qing China’s most advanced naval force. From this point on Japan ruled the seas in East Asia.

Chinese captives during the First Sino-Japanese War. The troops holding them prisoner are ethnic Koreans serving in the Imperial Army.

Chinese captives during the First Sino-Japanese War. The troops holding them prisoner are ethnic Koreans serving in the Imperial Army.

Chinese leaders, led by Admiral Ding Rucheng, surrendering to Japanese forces after the battle of Weihaiwei.

Chinese leaders, led by Admiral Ding Rucheng, surrendering to Japanese forces after the battle of Weihaiwei.

Episode 45 – The Emperor’s Own, Part 1

his week, we’ll be beginning our first four-part series as we look at the rise to power of the Imperial Japanese Military. We’ll be tracing the military from its origins in the fall of the Tokugawa to the start of war with China in 1937.

This week, we’ll be covering the inception of the Imperial military, its early form, and its early trials abroad and at home as the new Meiji government struggles to solidify its hold over Japan.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. In The Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Pyle, Kenneth. The Making of Modern Japan.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

The Battle of Toba-Fushimi in 1868, which convinced the Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu to give up without further conflict. Shogunate troops are on the left, Choshu on the upper right, Satsuma on the lower right.

The Battle of Toba-Fushimi in 1868, which convinced the Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu to give up without further conflict. Shogunate troops are on the left, Choshu on the upper right, Satsuma on the lower right.

The 16 petal crysanthemum, symbol of both the Emperor himself and the army which, at least nominally, served him.

The 16 petal crysanthemum, symbol of both the Emperor himself and the army which, at least nominally, served him.

The shogunate's army in retreat after the Battle of Toba-Fushimi. Choshu troops are depicted pursuing fleeing shogunate units.  This picture is from 1870.

The shogunate’s army in retreat after the Battle of Toba-Fushimi. Choshu troops are depicted pursuing fleeing shogunate units. This picture is from 1870.

Koedabashi bridge, one of the crossing points leading into Kyoto that saw fighting during the Battle of Toba-Fushimi. The Imperial Forces, against all predictions, managed to hold the line.

Koedabashi bridge, one of the crossing points leading into Kyoto that saw fighting during the Battle of Toba-Fushimi. The Imperial Forces, against all predictions, managed to hold the line.

Several domains in northern Japan joined together to fight the Imperial Army even after  the fall of the Tokugawa. The ones shown here are from Sendai domain.

Several domains in northern Japan joined together to fight the Imperial Army even after the fall of the Tokugawa. The ones shown here are from Sendai domain.

Yamagata Aritomo, the man who would eventually lead the Imperial Army. This picture is from much later in his life (1920).

Yamagata Aritomo, the man who would eventually lead the Imperial Army. This picture is from much later in his life (1920).

Katsu Kaishu, the man who surrendered Edo castle to the Imperial Army to avoid the destruction of Japan's capitol city. He would eventually go on to lead the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Katsu Kaishu, the man who surrendered Edo castle to the Imperial Army to avoid the destruction of Japan’s capitol city. He would eventually go on to lead the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army boarding troop transports in Yokohama during the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877.

Soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army boarding troop transports in Yokohama during the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877.

Japanese soldiers on Taiwan during the 1874 expedition to punish the natives of the island.

Japanese soldiers on Taiwan during the 1874 expedition to punish the natives of the island.

Japanese marines from the IJN Unyo-maru landing on Ganghwa Island and storming the Korean garrison.

Japanese marines from the IJN Unyo-maru landing on Ganghwa Island and storming the Korean garrison.

Advertising Survey

Everyone,
As I mentioned in this week’s episode, I’ve got a survey form my hosting service has requested I forward to my listeners for purposes of determining potential advertisers for the show. It shouldn’t take more than five minutes to fill out, so if you have the time please do so — it would be a tremendous help to me.

Thank you all for your time, and for continuing to listen to the show.

Here is a link to the survey.

Episode 44 – A Review of The Last Samurai

This week, we’ll be going all Tom Cruise for our second media review, and discussing the actual history behind the mishmash of stories used as the background for the 2003 film The Last Samurai.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Ravina, Mark. The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Watanabe Ken as Katsumoto, the leader of an anti-government samurai rebellion. Note the historically inaccurate lack of firearms.

Watanabe Ken as Katsumoto, the leader of an anti-government samurai rebellion. Note the historically inaccurate lack of firearms.

Saigo Takamori in the uniform of a French officer.

Saigo Takamori in the uniform of a French officer.

Some of the major Western characters from the film. On the right is Tom Cruise's character Nathan Algren, based in part off the French officer Jules Brunet. In the center is Simon Graham, based on the real life British diplomat Sir Ernest Satow.

Some of the major Western characters from the film. On the right is Tom Cruise’s character Nathan Algren, based in part off the French officer Jules Brunet. In the center is Simon Graham, based on the real life British diplomat Sir Ernest Satow.

Jules Brunet during his time in Hakodate. This was taken in 1869 as the Ezo Republic was collapsing in the face of the Imperial Army.

Jules Brunet during his time in Hakodate. This was taken in 1869 as the Ezo Republic was collapsing in the face of the Imperial Army.

Sir Ernest Satow: diplomat, scholar, gentleman. Satow was one of the first Westerners to seriously engage with Japanese culture and brokered many of the early deals between Japan and the United Kingdom.

Sir Ernest Satow: diplomat, scholar, gentleman. Satow was one of the first Westerners to seriously engage with Japanese culture and brokered many of the early deals between Japan and the United Kingdom.

Tokugawa troops being drilled by Brunet and his compatriots in the French fashion.

Tokugawa troops being drilled by Brunet and his compatriots in the French fashion.

Bakufu troops being loaded onto transports and shipped to Hokkaido to serve the Ezo Republic.

Bakufu troops being loaded onto transports and shipped to Hokkaido to serve the Ezo Republic.

The French and Japanese military leadership of the Ezo Republic. The French officers were sent to serve the Tokugawa, but came to respect the Japanese to such a degree that they volunteered their services to fight for the final holdouts of the Tokugawa regime. Top row, left to right: Andre Casenueve, Jean Marlin, Fukushima Tokinosuke (one of their students), Arthur Fortrant. Bottom Row: Hosoya Yasutaro (one of the Japanese commanders), Jules Brunet, Matsudaira Taro (Vice President of the Ezo Republic), Tajima Kintaro

The French and Japanese military leadership of the Ezo Republic. The French officers were sent to serve the Tokugawa, but came to respect the Japanese to such a degree that they volunteered their services to fight for the final holdouts of the Tokugawa regime.
Top row, left to right: Andre Casenueve, Jean Marlin, Fukushima Tokinosuke (one of their students), Arthur Fortrant.
Bottom Row: Hosoya Yasutaro (one of the Japanese commanders), Jules Brunet, Matsudaira Taro (Vice President of the Ezo Republic), Tajima Kintaro

 

The Battle of Hakodate, the final combat of the Boshin War. Bakufu troops are charging in at left, facing Imperial troops at right. Soldiers in French uniform are visible at the bottom left on the bakufu side.

The Battle of Hakodate, the final combat of the Boshin War. Bakufu troops are charging in at left, facing Imperial troops at right. Soldiers in French uniform are visible at the bottom left on the bakufu side.

Episode 43 – The Great Traitor

This week, we’ll be doing our second shogunal biography. We’re going to discuss the life and legacy of the man who destroyed the Hojo family, established the Ashikaga bakufu, and who was until very recently reviled as the worst traitor in Japanese history: Ashikaga Takauji.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Sansom, George. A History of Japan, Volume 2: 1334-1615.

Totman, Conrad. A History of Japan.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Ashikaga Takauji in full battle gear.

Ashikaga Takauji in full battle gear.

The statue of Nitta Yoshisada erected by the Meiji government.

The statue of Nitta Yoshisada erected by the Meiji government.

Kusunoki Masahige, Go-Daigo's loyal servant to the end. His valorous death earned him a statue in the Imperial Palace, but Ashikaga Takauji earned nothing but scorn in the Meiji Period.

Kusunoki Masahige, Go-Daigo’s loyal servant to the end. His valorous death earned him a statue in the Imperial Palace, but Ashikaga Takauji earned nothing but scorn in the Meiji Period.

The twin capitols of Nanbokucho Japan: Kyoto (home to the Ashikaga-backed Northern Court) and Yoshino (home to Go-Daigo's Southern Court)

The twin capitols of Nanbokucho Japan: Kyoto (home to the Ashikaga-backed Northern Court) and Yoshino (home to Go-Daigo’s Southern Court)

Kumazawa Hiromichi (center) claimed to be the true emperor of Japan after World War II owing to his line of descent from the Southern Court (the current Imperial line comes from the Northern Court).

Kumazawa Hiromichi (center) claimed to be the true emperor of Japan after World War II owing to his line of descent from the Southern Court (the current Imperial line comes from the Northern Court).

The box art for NHK's 1991 Taiheiki, featuring Ashikaga Takauji on the front cover. The drama portrays Takauji in a more sympathetic light. Courtesy of the Nippon Hosokai.

The box art for NHK’s 1991 Taiheiki, featuring Ashikaga Takauji on the front cover. The drama portrays Takauji in a more sympathetic light. Courtesy of the Nippon Hosokai.

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