Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Month: December 2016

Episode 175 – The Great Commoner

This week, it’s time for Japan’s first party politician: Hara Takashi. Was he a populist hero or a wannabe elite? And in the end, does that even really matter?

 Listen to the episode here.
Najita, Tetsuo. Hara Kei in the Politics of Compromise.
Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.
Dickinson, Frederick. World War I and the Triumph of a New Japan. 

Hara during his time as an attache to the Japanese embassy in Paris.


The current HQ of the Mainichi Shimbun in Osaka. Hara’s old paper is still going strong.


The 1918 Rice Riots helped propel Hara Takashi to the center of Japanese politics.


Hara as a party politician. I think this photo does a good job of capturing his style, which is very clearly an elite one. That doesn’t look like a populist to me.


Hara Takashi in his formal palace jacket as Prime Minister.

Episode 174 – All The World’s A Stage

This week, we explore the history of one of Japan’s most popular art forms: kabuki theater. Major themes include prostitution, Tokugawa era morality laws, stagecraft, prostitution, and the superiority of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine over The Next Generation.


Listen to the episode here.


Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Leiter, Samuel L. A Kabuki Reader: History and Performance.



One of the biggest differences between Noh and Kabuki is the lack of masks in the latter. Noh plays like this one keep the actor’s face obscured and move at a far slower pace; emotion is conveyed by delicate movements rather than over the top performance.


A statue of Izumo no Okuni next to the Kamo River in Kyoto. Okuni’s first performances took place in a dry part of the Kamo riverbed.


The makeup in kabuki is exaggerated both for the effect of its imagery and in some cases to obscure the gender of the actor.


A traditional kabuki theater with the hanamichi running towards the stage.


The various actors of the Ichikawa Danjuro lineage.


Nakamura Kenzaburo as Imagawa Yoshimoto. Kabuki actors have been fairly successful in transitioning to roles on TV dramas; in general, kabuki has been more successful than noh in keeping up a modern following.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén