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!

  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!

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