This week, we’re taking a look at the foreign policy of Edo Japan by starting a deep dive into a complex case study: the tale of the 10 prisoners of Nanbu domain!
Hesselink, Reiner. Prisoners from Nambu: Reality and Make-Believe in 17th-Century Japanese Diplomacy.
Matsukata, Fuyuko. The Dutch and English East India Companies: Diplomacy, Trade, adn Violence in Early Modern Asia.
Anthony van Diemen, the man behind the voyage of the Castricom and Breskens to Japan.
Abel Tasman’s voyage of 1642-43 is in red. His voyage was planned by van Diemen at the same time as the Breskens/Castricom one.
A map of northern Honshu showing Morioka/Nanbu domain in mustard yellow. The red is Hachinohe domain; at the time of our story, it would have been a part of Nanbu, as it was broken off into a separate domain later during a succession dispute.
Nanbu Shigenao, 28th family head of the Nanbu and lord of Morioka domain.
A partial view of Yamada bay.
A map of the voyage of the Castricom, assembled about half a century after the fact. This map shows something that I got wrong; I had speculated that the island the Castricom discovered was Sakhalin, but this makes it clear that the island was Kunashir (which Vries named Staten Island, though that name didn’t take surprisingly). For reference, the Japanese mainland appears on the bottom of this map.
An Italian map later put together from notes taken from the Castricom. Voyages like these were essential to European mapmakers expanding their understanding of the world’s geography. Note that Tartary is still on this map (more or less on the Russian Pacific Coast.)
This week, we start off some coverage of the period of American rule over the Ryukyus, and the entwined histories of USCAR – the US Civil Administration for the Ryukyu Islands — and the GRI, the Government of the Ryukyu Islands. How did this arrangement work? What were the issues between them? And why did so many Okinawans come to despise American rule?
The CIA Reading Room has a bunch of declassified documents on USCAR and the Ryukyus. Here’s one of them.
Aldous, Christopher. “Achieving Reversion: Protest and Authority in Okinawa, 1952-70.” Modern Asian Studies 37, no. 2 (2003)
Inoue, Masamichi. Okinawa and the US Military: Identity Making in the Age of Globalization
Kerr, George. Okinawa: The History of an Island People
US military stockades on Okinawa after the battle. The need to house a large number of troops for a potential invasion of Japan led to the earliest American base infrastructure; those bases, in turn, were so valuable the Americans decided to keep the area under their control.
The USCAR HQ building in Naha, 1950.
Okinawa island. Land in red is in use today by the US military for bases. This is less than the amount of land used by USCAR; there has been substantial base consolidation since.
Yaejima street in Koza, a town outside the major American base at Kadena, c. 1955.
A meeting of a pro-reversion association in 1954.
The front cover of the special passports needed for Okinawans to travel to Japan under USCAR rule.
Finally, a long overdue look at one of the most romanticized and exocitized parts of traditional Japanese culture. What are geisha? Where do they come from? Aren’t they basically fancy prostitutes? And haven’t I learned everything I need to know about them from reading Memoirs of a Geisha?
Dahlby, Liza Crihfield. Geisha
Iwasaki, Mineko. Geisha: A Life
Masuda, Sayo. Autobiography of a Geisha.
Yamamura, Kozo, ed. The Cambridge History of Japan, Vol. 3: Medieval Japan.
An Edo period print of the shirabyoshi Shizuka.
A maiko named Fumino.
Geisha entertaining clients, c. mid-Taisho period.
Miehina, a maiko of Miyagawacho.
The geisha Kimiha from the Miyagawacho hanamachi, dressed in traditional style.
The maiko Katsumi and Mameteru practicing a traditionald ance.
This week, we cover an obscure bit of samurai history: the Keian Incident, a planned coup against the Tokugawa Shoguns that was foiled by a lucky bit of happenstance. What can we learn from something that, in a certain sense, didn’t actually happen?
Totman, Conrad. Early Modern Japan
Nishiyama, Matsunosuke. Edo Culture: Daily Life and Diversions in Urban Japan, 1600-1868
Paramore, Kiri. Ideology and Christianity in Japan
Shirane, Haruo and Tomi Suzuki. The Cambridge History of Japanese Literature
Walthall, Anne. Peasant Uprisings in Japan
A marker on the site where Yui Shosetsu’s head was put on display.
Another Keian Taiheiki print. Marubashi is at left, played by Ichikawa Sadanji the first. Shosetsu is in the middle, played by Nakamura Shikan the fourth. These two actors allow us to date this performance to either the late Edo or early Meiji Periods.
A print from Keian Taiheiki. Marubashi Chuya is at left; Yui Shosetsu is in the center.
This week, we round out our look at the celebrated women of Heian Japan with two very different careers: that of the celebrated poet Akazome Emon and the recluse known either as Takasue’s daughter or Lady Sarashina. Plus some final thoughts on women in the Heian era.
Morris, Ivan. As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams
Watanabe, Takeshi. “Akazome Emon: Her Poetic Voice and Persona.” Yale Waka Workshop 2013 conference paper
Sato, Hiroaki. Japanese Women Poets: An Anthology.
A karuta card for Akazome Emon.
Lady Sarashina would have come to the capital in a procession like this one. For a young woman, leaving the provinces would have been a big step in life.
Two pages of a transcription of the Sarashina Diary. Note the hiragana text; remember that hiragana was once known as “women’s hand.”