Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Tag: Meiji (Page 1 of 2)

Episode 248 – Family Matters

This week we take on the history of the von Siebold family — father Philip Franz, son Alexander, and daughter Kusumoto Ine. How does the story of this unusual family fit in to the story of 19th century Japan?

Sources

Nakamura, Ellen. “Working the Siebold Network: Kusumoto Ine and Western Learning in Nineteenth-Century Japan.” Japanese Studies 28, No. 2

Ravina, Mark. To Stand with the Nations of the World.

Walthall, Anne. The Female as Subject: Women and Writing in Early Modern Japan.

Nakamura, Ellen. “Ogino Ginko’s Vision: “The Past and Future of Women Doctors in Japan” U.S.-Japan Women’s Journal, no. 34 (2008)

Images

Philip Franz von Siebold during his time in Nagasaki. The painting was done by Kawahara Keiga, a Japanese painter who was friends with von Siebold.

A landscape by Kawahara Keiga showing Dutchmen observing Nagasaki’s harbor. The woman and child shown here are Taki and Ine.

Philip Franz and Alexander von Siebold around the time of Philip’s second trip to Japan in 1859.

Mise Shuzo and Kusumoto Takako.

Kusumoto Ine posing at the height of her career. She became a very well respected practitioner of Western medicine.

Alexander von Siebold did well out of his work in Japan, netting a minor Barony in Austria-Hungary as well as a steady and respectable job.

Kusumoto Ine and her daughter Takako late in Ine’s life.

The Siebold Memorial in Nagasaki, c. early 20th c. Siebold is still remembered fondly in Japan (especially in Nagasaki) as an early booster of Japan around the world.

Episode 192 – No Country for Young Women, Part 1

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Empress Shoken in Western-style court dress. She was charged with seeing off the five girls and giving them their mission.

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The girls on arriving in the West. From left to right: Ryo, Sutematsu, Shige, Ume, and Tei.

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Adeline and Charles Lanman.

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From left to right: Ume, Sutematsu, and Shige.

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Shige as a young girl living in New Haven.

This week: the beginning of a two parter on Japan’s first ever female exchange students.

Listen to the episode here.

You can check out Astra Nullius here.

Sources

Nimura, Janice. Daughters of the Samurai.

Furuki, Yoshiko. The White Plum, a Biography of Tsuda Ume.

Tsuda, Umeko and Yoshiko Furuki. The Attic Letters: Ume Tsuda’s Correspondence to her American Mother.

Some excellent biographical sketches of Ume, Shige and Sutematsu are available here.

Images

 

 

Episode 136 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 19

This week, Saigo Takamori is going to sidetrack the whole government by pulling the idea of invading Korea off the shelf, sparking a political crisis. Once the dust from this debate has settled, the political landscape will have changed once again, and the battle lines for a final showdown over the fate of Japan will be drawn.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Lu, David. Japan: A Documentary History, Vol II.

Ravina, Mark. The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori.

Harootunian, Harry, et al., eds. The Sources of the Japanese Tradition.

Images

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During the Tokugawa era, Japan and Korea maintained very cordial relations, and visiting Korean ambassadors enjoyed celebrity status. This print by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (courtesy of Ukiyo-e.org) depicts visiting Korean ambassdors being greeted by the shogun.

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The debates over the Korean invasion created a massive rift within the government and resulted in the resignation of Saigo Takamori and his supporters. Here, the events of the final imperial conference where the invasion was decided against are depicted. Notice how Westernized the government already is by this point; all the major figures except the emperor are depicted in Western clothing.

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After being forced out of the government, Itagaki Taisuke would spend the rest of his life agitating for representative government. In 1882, he was nearly assassinated by a supporter of the government, an event dramatized in this print.

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Conscription physicals like the one shown here proved ccontroversial at first for a population not used to this kind of invasive treatment. By the early 20th century, when this photo was taken, they were commonplace and considered something of a right of passage.

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After the slow abolition of the samurai class, the military was one of the few career paths open to ex-samurai. Much of the army and navy leadership was dominated by samurai and their descendants. Here a group of samurai officers are depicted in 1877; notice that the former symbols of samurai status have all been replaced by Western affectations.

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The national police force was another common vocation for ex-samurai. This group of members of the Tokyo Metropolitan PD, shown in 1888,

 

Episode 135 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 18

This week, we cover the major issues of the new government. Who’s in charge? What do they want to do? And what could possibly go wrong if we just take half the leadership off for a two year trip?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Nish, Ian, ed. The Iwakura Mission in America and Europe: A New Assessment.

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising.

Umegaki, Michiko. After the Restoration.

Images

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Okubo Toshimichi of Satsuma was a childhood friend of Saigo Takamori who would help lead the charge for the abolition of feudalism. His kickin’ sideburns didn’t appear until later in life, but I think they nicely encapsulate his self-image as a conscious Westernizer who wanted to remake Japan in the Western image.

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Guido Verbeck, the Dutch-American engineer-cum-missionary who dreamed up the Iwakura Mission.

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I have been hunting for an excuse to use this photo, and now seems like as good a time as any. This picture was taken in 1868; Verbeck, with his daughter, is in the center, surrounded by the leading restorationist samurai. All manner of famous restoration leaders are in here: Ito, Yamagata, Sakamoto Ryoma, even Katsu Kaishu. It’s great!

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Iwakura Tomomi, center, during the mission. Standing at center right is Ito Hirobumi. Sitting at the far right is Okubo Toshimichi.

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Wherever the Iwakura Mission went it was greeted with lavish parties like this one, depicted in a contemporary American magazine. The affairs served to boost Japan’s overseas profile.

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The Iwakura Mission actually included a number of women, charged with learning about the West. Several chose to stay and study abroad in the West; Tsuda Umeko (shown here as the youngest, sitting on another girl’s lap) will eventually attend Bryn Mawr College before returning to Japan to found her own university. You better believe she’s getting an episode.

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The path of the Iwakura Mission. Courtesy of Iwakuramission.gr.jp

Episode 134 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 17

 

This week, we take a look at the new balance of power now that the Tokugawa are gone. Who’s calling the shots? What do they want? And most importantly of all, now that the war is over, will we all be resolving our differences with calm discussion like a bunch of grownups?

Spoilers: no.

 

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Lu, David. Japan: A Documentary History, Vol. II.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration.

Images

Episode 133 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 16

This week: the “short-lived” part of “the short-lived Ezo Republic” comes to fruition, and what is now Meiji Japan begins dealing with a new issue. Now that the Tokugawa are finally gone, what comes next?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration.

Images

 

Stonewall-Kotetsu

The CSN Stonewall Jackson/IJN Kotetsu-maru. Commissioned by the Confederacy and built by the French, this warship was never delivered to its original purchasers. Instead, the US government sold it to the Tokugawa, but refused to deliver it after the Boshin War broke out. Instead, they ended up transferring it to the new Imperial Navy, which deployed it against the Ezo Republic.

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One of the ships of the Ezo Republic navy shown here having run aground after the failed attempt to seize the Kotetsu-maru.

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The Battle of Hakodate.

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Another view of the battle, this one from a European sketch. The Imperial fleet is shown here blockading Hakodate.

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Hijikata Toshizo died on June 20, 1869; he was the last major Shinsengumi leader left fighting. Seven days later the Ezo Republic surrendered.

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The Emperor’s procession to Edo, 1868. After his arrival, the city would be renamed Tokyo, a name reminiscent of the imperial capitols of China. Image courtesy of Bucknell University.

Episode 45 – The Emperor’s Own, Part 1

his week, we’ll be beginning our first four-part series as we look at the rise to power of the Imperial Japanese Military. We’ll be tracing the military from its origins in the fall of the Tokugawa to the start of war with China in 1937.

This week, we’ll be covering the inception of the Imperial military, its early form, and its early trials abroad and at home as the new Meiji government struggles to solidify its hold over Japan.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. In The Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Pyle, Kenneth. The Making of Modern Japan.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

The Battle of Toba-Fushimi in 1868, which convinced the Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu to give up without further conflict. Shogunate troops are on the left, Choshu on the upper right, Satsuma on the lower right.

The Battle of Toba-Fushimi in 1868, which convinced the Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu to give up without further conflict. Shogunate troops are on the left, Choshu on the upper right, Satsuma on the lower right.

The 16 petal crysanthemum, symbol of both the Emperor himself and the army which, at least nominally, served him.

The 16 petal crysanthemum, symbol of both the Emperor himself and the army which, at least nominally, served him.

The shogunate's army in retreat after the Battle of Toba-Fushimi. Choshu troops are depicted pursuing fleeing shogunate units.  This picture is from 1870.

The shogunate’s army in retreat after the Battle of Toba-Fushimi. Choshu troops are depicted pursuing fleeing shogunate units. This picture is from 1870.

Koedabashi bridge, one of the crossing points leading into Kyoto that saw fighting during the Battle of Toba-Fushimi. The Imperial Forces, against all predictions, managed to hold the line.

Koedabashi bridge, one of the crossing points leading into Kyoto that saw fighting during the Battle of Toba-Fushimi. The Imperial Forces, against all predictions, managed to hold the line.

Several domains in northern Japan joined together to fight the Imperial Army even after  the fall of the Tokugawa. The ones shown here are from Sendai domain.

Several domains in northern Japan joined together to fight the Imperial Army even after the fall of the Tokugawa. The ones shown here are from Sendai domain.

Yamagata Aritomo, the man who would eventually lead the Imperial Army. This picture is from much later in his life (1920).

Yamagata Aritomo, the man who would eventually lead the Imperial Army. This picture is from much later in his life (1920).

Katsu Kaishu, the man who surrendered Edo castle to the Imperial Army to avoid the destruction of Japan's capitol city. He would eventually go on to lead the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Katsu Kaishu, the man who surrendered Edo castle to the Imperial Army to avoid the destruction of Japan’s capitol city. He would eventually go on to lead the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army boarding troop transports in Yokohama during the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877.

Soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army boarding troop transports in Yokohama during the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877.

Japanese soldiers on Taiwan during the 1874 expedition to punish the natives of the island.

Japanese soldiers on Taiwan during the 1874 expedition to punish the natives of the island.

Japanese marines from the IJN Unyo-maru landing on Ganghwa Island and storming the Korean garrison.

Japanese marines from the IJN Unyo-maru landing on Ganghwa Island and storming the Korean garrison.

Episode 44 – A Review of The Last Samurai

This week, we’ll be going all Tom Cruise for our second media review, and discussing the actual history behind the mishmash of stories used as the background for the 2003 film The Last Samurai.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Ravina, Mark. The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Watanabe Ken as Katsumoto, the leader of an anti-government samurai rebellion. Note the historically inaccurate lack of firearms.

Watanabe Ken as Katsumoto, the leader of an anti-government samurai rebellion. Note the historically inaccurate lack of firearms.

Saigo Takamori in the uniform of a French officer.

Saigo Takamori in the uniform of a French officer.

Some of the major Western characters from the film. On the right is Tom Cruise's character Nathan Algren, based in part off the French officer Jules Brunet. In the center is Simon Graham, based on the real life British diplomat Sir Ernest Satow.

Some of the major Western characters from the film. On the right is Tom Cruise’s character Nathan Algren, based in part off the French officer Jules Brunet. In the center is Simon Graham, based on the real life British diplomat Sir Ernest Satow.

Jules Brunet during his time in Hakodate. This was taken in 1869 as the Ezo Republic was collapsing in the face of the Imperial Army.

Jules Brunet during his time in Hakodate. This was taken in 1869 as the Ezo Republic was collapsing in the face of the Imperial Army.

Sir Ernest Satow: diplomat, scholar, gentleman. Satow was one of the first Westerners to seriously engage with Japanese culture and brokered many of the early deals between Japan and the United Kingdom.

Sir Ernest Satow: diplomat, scholar, gentleman. Satow was one of the first Westerners to seriously engage with Japanese culture and brokered many of the early deals between Japan and the United Kingdom.

Tokugawa troops being drilled by Brunet and his compatriots in the French fashion.

Tokugawa troops being drilled by Brunet and his compatriots in the French fashion.

Bakufu troops being loaded onto transports and shipped to Hokkaido to serve the Ezo Republic.

Bakufu troops being loaded onto transports and shipped to Hokkaido to serve the Ezo Republic.

The French and Japanese military leadership of the Ezo Republic. The French officers were sent to serve the Tokugawa, but came to respect the Japanese to such a degree that they volunteered their services to fight for the final holdouts of the Tokugawa regime. Top row, left to right: Andre Casenueve, Jean Marlin, Fukushima Tokinosuke (one of their students), Arthur Fortrant. Bottom Row: Hosoya Yasutaro (one of the Japanese commanders), Jules Brunet, Matsudaira Taro (Vice President of the Ezo Republic), Tajima Kintaro

The French and Japanese military leadership of the Ezo Republic. The French officers were sent to serve the Tokugawa, but came to respect the Japanese to such a degree that they volunteered their services to fight for the final holdouts of the Tokugawa regime.
Top row, left to right: Andre Casenueve, Jean Marlin, Fukushima Tokinosuke (one of their students), Arthur Fortrant.
Bottom Row: Hosoya Yasutaro (one of the Japanese commanders), Jules Brunet, Matsudaira Taro (Vice President of the Ezo Republic), Tajima Kintaro

 

The Battle of Hakodate, the final combat of the Boshin War. Bakufu troops are charging in at left, facing Imperial troops at right. Soldiers in French uniform are visible at the bottom left on the bakufu side.

The Battle of Hakodate, the final combat of the Boshin War. Bakufu troops are charging in at left, facing Imperial troops at right. Soldiers in French uniform are visible at the bottom left on the bakufu side.

Episode 26 – The History of Manga

This week, we’re going to talk about the evolution of manga. We’ll discuss the roots of the comic form in Japan, both Eastern and Western, and its rapid explosion in popularity after World War II.
Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Allen, Kate and John Ingulsrud. “Manga Literacy: Popular Culture and the Reading Habits of Japanese College Students.” Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 46, no 8 (May 2003, pp. 674-683.

Kinsella, Sharon. Adult Manga: Culture and Power in Contemporary Japanese Society. Honolulu; University of Hawai’i Press, 2000.

Schodt, Frederik L. Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics. Tokyo: Kodansha, 2013.

Toku, Masami. “Shojo Manga! Girls’ Comics! A Mirror of Girls’ Dreams.” Mechademia 2, Networks of Desire (2007), pp. 18-32.

Images

The Shigisan Engi. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The Shigisan Engi. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.

A scene from the Choju Jinbutsu Giga depicting animals wrestling. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.

A scene from the Choju Jinbutsu Giga depicting animals wrestling. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.

An Edo Period kibyoshi. Courtesy of the National Diet Library of Japan.

An Edo Period kibyoshi. Courtesy of the National Diet Library of Japan.

A Meiji Period political cartoon showing a great deal of Western influence. The cartoon is making fun of a power struggle in the Meiji government between Okuma Shigenobu (the bear) and Okubo Toshimichi (the octopus). Courtesy of Waseda University.

A Meiji Period political cartoon showing a great deal of Western influence. The cartoon is making fun of a power struggle in the Meiji government between Okuma Shigenobu (the bear) and Okubo Toshimichi (the octopus). Courtesy of Waseda University.

The Japanese cover of Vol 8 of Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy) by Tezuka Osamu. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The Japanese cover of Vol 8 of Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy) by Tezuka Osamu. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The birth of a legend; issue one of Mazinger Z, the first ever giant robot manga. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The birth of a legend; issue one of Mazinger Z, the first ever giant robot manga. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The main characters of Ikeda Riyoko's Berusaya no Bara (The Rose of Versailles). On the left is Marie Antoinette, on the right is the protagonist Oscar. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The main characters of Ikeda Riyoko’s Berusaya no Bara (The Rose of Versailles). On the left is Marie Antoinette, on the right is the protagonist Oscar. Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation.

A cover of the English translation of Kozure Okami (Lone Wolf and Cub), featuring the protagonist Ogami Itto. Courtesy of Dark Horse Publishing.

A cover of the English translation of Kozure Okami (Lone Wolf and Cub), featuring the protagonist Ogami Itto. Courtesy of Dark Horse Publishing.

Episode 22 – The Way of the Warrior

For our first listener-submitted topic, we’re tackling Bushido: the warrior code of the samurai class. We’ll discuss the evolution of the bushido ideology, the role it played during the ages of warfare in Japan as well as during the Tokugawa, and its modern legacy in a post-samurai world.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Ikegami, Eiko. The Taming of the Samurai.

Jansen, Marius. A History of Japan.

Sansom, George. A History of Japan, Vol III: 1615-1867.

The Last Testament of Torii Mototada

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Kusunoki Masahige, the famous warrior who was loyal to his Emperor to the last. This statue is in the open part of the Tokyo Imperial Palace, as Masahige became something of a popular touchstone for Imperial loyalty after the Meiji Restoration.

Kusunoki Masahige, the famous warrior who was loyal to his Emperor to the last. This statue is in the open part of the Tokyo Imperial Palace, as Masahige became something of a popular touchstone for Imperial loyalty after the Meiji Restoration.

Torii Mototada, whose sacrifice (according to some) enabled Tokugawa Ieyasu to win the Battle of Sekigahara, and thus control of Japan.

Torii Mototada, whose sacrifice (according to some) enabled Tokugawa Ieyasu to win the Battle of Sekigahara, and thus control of Japan.

A bust of Yamaga Soko, the Bushido/Confucian philosopher.

A bust of Yamaga Soko, the Bushido/Confucian philosopher.

The 47 Ronin storm the home of Lord Kira, by Katsushika Hokusai.

The 47 Ronin storm the home of Lord Kira, by Katsushika Hokusai.

The graves of the 47 Ronin at Sengakuji in Tokyo.

The graves of the 47 Ronin at Sengakuji in Tokyo.

The Senjinkun, a military manual for Japanese soldiers in World War II. The text was heavily influenced by bushido ideology.

The Senjinkun, a military manual for Japanese soldiers in World War II. The text was heavily influenced by bushido ideology.

American translator William Scott Wilson led an international group of Hagakure enthusiasts to produce a manga version of the text (sample above). It's a pretty telling example of the hold Hagakure (and bushido more generally) still has on Japanese culture.

American translator William Scott Wilson led an international group of Hagakure enthusiasts to produce a manga version of the text (sample above). It’s a pretty telling example of the hold Hagakure (and bushido more generally) still has on Japanese culture.

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