Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Author: ijmeyer (Page 1 of 18)

Episode 221 – The Monster with 21 Faces

This week, we cover a crime wave that shocked 1980s Japan, and proved that postwar society was perhaps not quite all it was cracked up to be. Also, there’s a lot of poisoned candy.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Ivy, Marilyn. “Tracking the Mystery Man with the 21 Faces.” Critical Inquiry 23, No 1 (Autumn, 1996)

Some original NYT coverage of the case.

An article by the Japan Times on the occasion of the final expiration of the statutes of limitations as they relate to the case.

Ezaki Katsuhisa, the kidnapped CEO.

The man with the baseball cap who was caught on camera putting poisoned candy on store shelves.

An artist’s sketch of the Fox Eyed Man.

Wanted posters like this one decorated the country in 1984.

Miyazaki Manabu today. In 1985 he was the chief suspect for the Monster with 21 Faces, though an airtight alibi exonerated him. Now, he’s a social critic, and he’s had a crazy life — being arrested for a string of candy-related extortions is actually one of the less intense things that has happened to him.

The logo of the Laughing Man from Ghost in the Shell. Their villainous activities were based on those of the Monster with 21 Faces.

Episode 220 – The All Seeing Eye

This week, we investigate the great Zen master Dogen, who was something of an eccentric in his own time but remains one of the greatest Buddhist thinkers in Japanese history.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Heine, Stephen. Did Dogen Go to China?

Heine, Stephen. Dogen and Soto Zen

Images

Dogen Views the Moon, a roughly contemporary painting. It is usually dated to around 1250.

Rujing, the Zen master of Tiantong Mountain who would initiate Dogen into the esoteric Caodong lineage. Some doubt the veracity of his encounter with Dogen, or even Rujing’s own existence — though this latter position is rather extreme and unusual within the scholarly community.

An 1811 edition of the Shobogenzo, Dogen’s most famous work on, well, everything.

Eiheiji, the Soto monastery founded by Dogen. It remains one of the chief Soto temples in Japan.

Episode 219 – The Red Dawn, Part 3

Turns out, getting involved in a land war in Asia really is one of the classic blunders.

This week, how did it all pan out?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Dunscomb, Paul E.  Japan’s Siberian Intervention, 1918-1922

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1854-1945

Debo, Richard K. Survival and Consolidation: The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia, 1918-1921.

An interesting article on

A Japanese propaganda postcard showing Japanese troops in Siberia. Postcards like this were part of an army effort to build support for the intervention by portraying it as humanitarian.

A photo of the leadership of the Bolshevik forces that took Nikolaevsk. Yakob Triapytsin is in the center, reclining and wearing a white shirt.

Nikolaevsk in the wake of its recapture by the Japanese in May, 1920.

A memorial to the victims of Nikolaevsk in Otaru, Hokkaido.

The territory of the Far Eastern Republic.

The final cabinet of the Far Eastern Republic. A frankenstate maintained solely by the Japanese presence in the region, the FER did not outlive the withdrawal of Japan.

Mikhail Dietrikhs, the crazed monarchist anti-semite Czech who was the force behind the final White bastion in Russia.

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Images

 

Episode 218 – The Red Dawn, Part 2

How did Japan fit into the broader framework of the Allied intervention? What were the Japanese trying to accomplish in Siberia? And who was even in charge of this damned thing? All that and more, this week.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Dunscomb, Paul E.  Japan’s Siberian Intervention, 1918-1922

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1854-1945

Guins, George C. “The Siberian Intevention, 1918-1919.” The Russian Review 28 No 4 (Oct, 1969).

Images

American troops in Vladivostok. America represented the largest contingent of foreign troops in Siberia other than Japan.

Kolchak reviewing the troops in Omsk in early 1919. He would launch a counterattack against the Bolsheviks later that year which would collapse, beginning the disintegration of his regime.

Anti-Bolshevik forces from Kolchak’s army. The White Russians were a rather motley group, brought together by little more than a shared distaste for Lenin’s ideas.

Japanese marines in a parade of Allied forces in Vladivostok.

The location of Lake Baikal. The lake represented the westernmost extent of Japanese influence during the intervention.

An ethnically Mongol soldier arrayed to fight the Bolsheviks. Grigory Semenov was able to use his heritage as a Buryat Mongol to convince other Mongols to join his cause.

The Alexander Kolchak monument in Irkutsk, where he was executed by the Bolsheviks in January, 1920. Today, Kolchak’s image is somewhat rehabilitated after years of being maligned by the Soviet government. In 1919, the collapse of his government caused the other Allies to begin considering withdrawal.

 

Episode 217 – The Red Dawn, Part 1

100 Years ago, Japan intervened in Russia to create a buffer state against the new Soviet Union. So how did that work out? We’ll start answering that question this week.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Dunscomb, Paul E.  Japan’s Siberian Intervention, 1918-1922

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1854-1945

Guins, George C. “The Siberian Intevention, 1918-1919.” The Russian Review 28 No 4 (Oct, 1969).

Images

Lenin addressing Soviet soldiers at the start of the October Revolution.

Prime Minister Terauchi, who led the charge for intervention.

General Staff Chief Uehara Yusaku, a hard-nosed realist and advocate of trying to create a buffer state in the Russian Far East.

Grigory Semenov, the cossack commander allied to Japan.

Alexander Kolchak, whose British-backed White Russian government was nominally allied with Japan against the Bolsheviks.

The Russian Far East is highlighted in red. Siberia proper is just to the west. Lake Baikal is the long, thin body of water to the north of Mongolia.

 

Episode 216 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 7

This week: what did it all mean?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Conlan, Thomas. In Little Need of Divine Intervention.

Rossabi, Morris. Kublai Khan: His Life and Times.

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281.

Adams, Ryon. Outfought and Outthought: Reassessing the Mongol Invasions of Japan.

Images

Temur Khan, successor of Kubilai. His hair is done in Mongolian fashion for this portrait, but Temur was a Confucianizer just like his grandfather.

A printing plate (left) and example of paper currency (right) from the Yuan dynasty. Paper money was an attempt to fund the dynasty’s wars, but overprinting led to destructive levels of inflation.

The Hongwu Emperor, the founder of the Ming Dynasty who would displace the Mongols only a few generations after Kublai’s death.

One of these days I’ll watch the taiga about Hojo Tokimune.

Younger folks might know Tokimune as the face of Japan in Civilization VI. Incidentally, the “triforce” actually was the Hojo family mon, or crest — it was the symbol of the Hojo family.

Episode 215 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 6

The 1281 invasion is at the gates (or the seawall, I suppose). How will round 2 play out?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Conlan, Thomas. In Little Need of Divine Intervention.

Rossabi, Morris. Kublai Khan: His Life and Times.

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281.

Adams, Ryon. Outfought and Outthought: Reassessing the Mongol Invasions of Japan.

Images

Japanese forces arrayed along the new defensive walls of Hakata. The walls proved invaluable to holding the city and preventing a large scale Mongol landing.

Samurai and Mongol vessels engage in Hakata bay.

Japanese raiding vessels (right) raid a Yuan dynasty warship. These naval raids were incredibly effective, leading to the decision to lash Yuan ships together for safety — and making the ships vulnerable in turn to typhoon winds.

An Edo period print of the 2nd typhoon.

Wrecks of Mongol vessels from the 1281 invasion, like this one discovered in 2011, are shedding new light on our understanding of both the invasion itself, and of medieval Chinese shipbuilding techniques.

General Tran, who led the war effort against the Mongols in Vietnam, remains a cultural hero to the Vietnamese people. His skillful generalship also prevented Kubilai from amassing a new force for a third invasion.

Episode 214 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 5

This week, we prepare for round two. How are the Japanese getting ready for another invasion, and how does that new invasion begin?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Conlan, Thomas. In Little Need of Divine Intervention.

Rossabi, Morris. Kublai Khan: His Life and Times.

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281.

Adams, Ryon. Outfought and Outthought: Reassessing the Mongol Invasions of Japan.

Images

A detail shot of a Mongol ship from Takezaki Suenaga’s scrolls (called the Moko Shurai Ekotoba, or Illustrated Account of the Mongol Invasions). Though initially composed as proof of Takezaki’s valor in battle, they also provide a handy source of information about Mongol weapons and ships.

Another shot from the Moko Shurai Ekotoba, showing Takezaki single-handedly fighting a group of Mongols. As a record of his achievements, we can’t really trust this text to be entirely honest about his fighting skills — this depiction of how many Mongols he could defeat at once should be taken with a few grains (if not an outright fistful) of salt.

Remnants of the defensive walls of Hakata, still visible today.

Another shot of the Hakata walls, giving you a better sense of what their height at the time would have been.

Episode 213 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 4

This week, we cover exciting topics like meteorology and internal Mongol family politics! But wait, there’s also a bit of Zen theology dashed in to spice things up!

It’s an eclectic week on the podcast for sure!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Conlan, Thomas. In Little Need of Divine Intervention

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281

Adams, Ryon F. “Outfought and Outthought: Reassessing the Mongol Invasions of Japan.”

Images

An ink painting by Yosai Kikuchi from the late Edo Period depicting the 1274 typhoon. The exact nature of the storm remains unclear, but the story has retained popularity throughout Japan’s history.

Discovered Mongol shipwrecks like this one (from the 1281 campaign) help us investigate the truth (or lack thereof) behind the stories of the “divine wind.”

This isn’t really super relevant to this week, but I found this example of a Yuan dynasty hand cannon too cool not to include.

A park in Jingmen, Guangdong commemorating the final Yuan dynasty victory over the old Song dynasty in 1279. The final destruction of the Song absorbed a great deal of Kublai’s attention between the invasions.

The divisions of the Mongol Empire at the time of the war between Kublai and Kaidu. Green is Kublai’s territory, Grey is Kaidu’s, and purple is that of the Ilkhan Abaqa.

Episode 212 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 3

This week I promise we’ll actually get to the 1274 invasion. But first, how were the samurai who defended Japan organized, and what weapons did they use?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281.

Conlan, Thomas D. In Little Need of Divine Intervention: Takezaki Suenaga’s Scrolls of the Mongol Invasions of Japan. 

May, Timothy. The Mongol Conquests in World History.

Images

Modern practitioners of kyudo, or the martial art of archery, use a weapon very different in composition from Kamakura era samurai. Yet the basic structure remains the same, particularly the size of the weapon and unusual placement of the grip.

A Kamakura armor set; this particular one was for the heir of a major shugo family, and is thus more ornate than normal.

This detail from a scroll depicting the Mongol invasions gives you a good sense of the relative equipment of both sides.

This map labels both Tsushima and Iki islands, the first two targets of the 1274 invasion. Hakata bay is just to the left of the name Fukuoka.

A depiction of the 1274 combat. Note the exploding bomb in the center.

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