Episode 343 – Blackness in Japan, Part 1

This week, we’re beginning an overview of black history in Japan with a focus on the Sengoku and Edo eras, and especially the fascinating tale of Yasuke. What sources do we have for this moment of cultural contact?


Kato, Tsunehiko. “The History of Black Studies in Japan: Origin and Development.” Journal of Black Studies 44, No 8 (November, 2013).

Philips, John Edward. “African Studies in Japan.” African Studies Review 40, No 3 (December, 1997)

Tsujiuchi, Makoto. “Historical Context of Black Studies in Japan.” Hitotsubashi Journal of Social Studies 30, No 2 (December, 1998).

Ayusawa, Shintaro. “Geography and Japanese Knowledge of World Geography.” Monumenta Nipponica 19, No 3/4 (1964).

If you’re feeling brave, here’s a modern Japanese updated translation of the Shincho Koki covering the relevant time period for the story of Yasuke.


The Sumo Yurakuzu Byobu.
The Shincho Koki; among other things, this is one of the sources recording the meeting between Nobunaga and Yasuke.
Detail of a painting of “Nanban” (Southern barbarians) from the Sengoku period, including an African servant (or possibly a slave).
Another depiction of nanban including black people.



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