Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

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Twitter: @JapanPod



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  1. Stefan Koch

    Hello Isaac, I’ve been in Japan for about a week now and have been relying on your podcast to educate me during my three week stay. I’ve listened to about the first 27 episodes. I think a great podcast topic would be Japanese beliefs about death and the afterlife, and about the cemeteries. I have found the cemeteries to be fascinating and I plan to visit as many as possible while I am here. I’d like to know more about burial practices and about the big bell you see in every cemetery and the thin slabs of wood with characters on them, incense, vessels for liquid that I see on many stones, etc. I think the handling of death and burial practices is a very important window into any culture, and based on the podcast titles of the episodes that I haven’t heard yet, I dont’ think you have covered this yet.

    Thank you for a very educational podcast, and please keep up the good work,

    Sincerely, Stefan Koch

  2. Stefan Koch

    Hey Isaac, Here’s a second comment. I’ve been in Japan now for almost 4 weeks and have listened to almost all of your podcasts, except for the last 2 or 3. They have provided a valuable commentary on the things I have been seeing and reading in the newspaper. Just today I was on Ueno hill and saw the statue of Saigo and where the last battle happened in the final defeat of the Tokugawa clan. Also saw the Tokugawa family tombs in Yanaka cemetery.

    While I’ve been here I’ve thought of a couple more topics for podcasts: sumo wrestling for one. I went to a match earlier in the month and it was fascinating. It involves history, religion, sport, etc. I think it would be a great podcast. For that matter, you might want to cover baseball as well. There is a definitely historical angle there.

    Since you did such a great job of the timeline in the early episodes, you might also think if there’s a way to cover regional history and the differences of the histories of the different islands, or of east and west Honshu.

    Anyway, I’m here till Feb. 1st and if there’s anything I can do for you while I am here, it would be small payback for the great pleasure that you have given me through your work.

    Sincerely, Stefan Koch

    • I actually have some ideas about doing regional histories for Choshu and Aizu, but I might be folding them into a larger history of the Meiji Restoration. Sumo would be fun, but I know almost nothing about it — I’ll have to find the time to read up. I’m grateful for the offer, and I’m glad you’re enjoying the show.

  3. Stefan Koch

    Hey Isaac, One last comment: I have now learned enough Japanese history from you and from the last month spent in Japan that I have a humble correction to offer. In Episode 6 you say that the last of the Hojo committed suicide in Toshoji Temple in modern Kanagawa. I’m sure it was just a slip of the tongue, because I know you know that Toshoji Temple is in Kamakura. I only know this because I was in Kamakura and walked right past the former site of this temple. The plaque on site reminded me that you had covered this incident and I went back and listened to Episode 6 again.

    Even though I am leaving Japan tomorrow, I’m going to keep listening to your podcast and keep learning more about this amazing country. Thank you again for enriching my time here with your knowledge and passion for Japan.

    Sincerely, Stefan Koch

    • Whups! I’m not even sure how I ended up saying Kanagawa; obviously the Hojo would build their temples in Kamakura. My mistake!

      • Robert DeYeso

        I have lived in Japan for 9 of the last 10 years, (2006-2011 Zama, Kanagawa; 2014-2016 Gotemba, Shizuoka; and 2016-2018 Yamato, Kanagawa) and I want to tell you that you were correct. Yes the temples were built in Kamakura but that city is a part of Kanagawa prefecture. I started listening to your podcasts 3 weeks ago and am on # 96 right now. I enjoy them while I jog daily.

  4. Jon

    Dear Isaac,

    I would be interested to hear content regarding the Japanese penal system: I’ve heard that it’s more harsh than the American system, but the results are more effective. I’ve got no data to verify these claims though. Very much enjoying the show and I look forward to more!


  5. Dear Isaac,

    First off, I love the show! I first discovered your podcast a couple of years back and ever since I moved to Japan a few months ago, I’ve been rediscovering it. You do a really good job of laying out a preliminary framework for understanding the scale of events from the “beginning” of Japanese history to the present, which as a novice of learning history I greatly appreciated.

    Second, I am a big fan of anime and manga, and have swallowed a large volume of both. I bring this up because I have more than a few times been reminded of scenes, stories, characters and ideas from anime and manga after hearing you mention something on the podcast. Probably the most prominent examples I can think of right now are Gintama and Rurouni Kenshin, both of which borrow, in varying degrees, from the periods of history prior to and during the Meiji Restoration.

    I am not sure if you had any intention of doing episodes on these or any other anime or manga and their portrayals of historical events or figures, but I would be interested to hear your take on something like this. I would do it myself, but I’m afraid I know far more about these pieces of media than the history I would have to reference and I don’t think I would be able to do it justice.

    If you ever do want to do a discussion on anime or manga or any other popular media in the future, feel free to contact me and I would be more than happy to chat, offer my opinion or help out in any way. Thanks for everything you do and I can’t wait to hear more podcasts in the future!

    P.S. I’m a bit handy with code and I’m working on a project that you might find handy for organizing interconnected historical events 😉


  6. Matt

    Dear Isaac,

    I wanted to thank you for this wonderful podcast. While my passion is the Sengoku Jidai (it seems yours is the Meiji period but I could be wrong) I have nonetheless enjoyed every episode (yes, I have listened to them all) and your keen insight relating to a number of topics.

    Needless to say, I would love to hear your take on the Sengoku more closely (especially in relation to some of the big names that get forgotten in the shadow of Nobunaga, Hideyoshi and Tokugawa – for example, Hojo Soun or Maeda Toshiie) but largely just wanted to stop by to thank you for all the time and effort you have put into this podcast.


  7. Carlo

    Good job! I really like the style of your podcast and the way you covered all the basic course of japanese history in the first part and then moved to thematic episodes right after. Greetings from Italy 🙂

    • ijmeyer

      Grazie! I hope those old episodes still hold up. I knew so little about audio editing back then…
      I hope you continue to enjoy the series!

  8. Vicky

    Hi Isaac, I started to listen to your podcast recently in preparation for a trip to Kyoto and really enjoyed your work. I didn’t find it in your list of episodes but have you thought about discussing the relationship of Japan and Taiwan? I grew up in Taiwan but moved to the US during high school. My grandparents’ generation grew up during the Japanese occupation in Taiwan. The Japanese influence is found in the culture, cuisine, aesthetics, language and many more ways. There were also several uprising/rebellions that are worth mentioning. Keep up the good work and I look forward to hearing many more episodes from you!

    • ijmeyer

      I’d definitely like to do something on Japan and Taiwan. I got into it a bit in the Japan-China series, but I do think the Taiwan relationship is unique enough to probably merit something at some point — I just need to think a bit more about what exactly that will be.
      Enjoy Kyoto, and thank you for the kind words.

  9. Hans

    Dear Isaac,
    Love hearing your podcast. Can hear you put a lot of effort into it. Thanks for your service. I have suggestion for a topic. How about doing a session about Japan ‘s relation to Sakhalin and the Northern Territories?

  10. Joshua

    Hi Isaac, I hope you are well!

    I recently finished listening to your podcast from the beginning.

    I really enjoyed the series about Japan’s relationship with Russia and the series on Japan and the USA. I wonder if you are working on a similar series regarding Japan’s relationship with Germany.

    I’m watching Oliver Stone’s history program on Netflix and he says that had Japan and Germany better coordinated during WWII they could have finished off the USSR. Do you agree with this?

    Thanks for reading! I’ll be listening to your show for years to come.

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