Episode 527 – The Beginning of the End

This week on the Revised Introduction to Japanese History: crises about during the late Edo period. A crisis of samurai identity! Questions around vengeance, honor, and duty! And of course, the most confounding subject of them all: macroeconomics. But hey, I’m sure we can figure this all out as long as no pesky Americans show up to ruin things, right?


Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan

Bitō, Masahide, “The Akō Incident of 1701-1703.” Translated by Henry D. Smith II. Monumenta Nipponica, 58:2 (Summer 2003), pp. 149-70.

Barshay, Andrew, Willem Boot, Albert Craig, Brett de Bary, Peter Duus, J. S. A. Elisonas, Grant Goodman, et al. “THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR II.” In Sources of Japanese Tradition: Volume 2, 1600 to 2000, edited by Wm. Theodore de Bary, Carol Gluck, and Arthur E. Tiedemann

Walthall, Anne. “Peace Dividend: Agrarian Developments in Tokugawa Japan.” In Japan Emerging: Premodern History to 1850, Ed. Karl Friday.


A bust of Yamaga Soko, the Bushido/Confucian philosopher.
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.
The grave of Yamamoto Tsunetomo in modern Saga City.
A print depicting Asano’s attack on Kira, triggering the whole cycle of revenge around which the 47 ronin tale revolves.
The graves of the 47 Ronin at Sengakuji.
A print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi showing the final assault of the 47 ronin on Kira’s mansion.
The 47 Ronin storm the home of Lord Kira, by Katsushika Hokusai.
Woodblock print of the Dojima Rice exchange, as depicted by Yoshimitsu Sasaki.
The Ako domain kurayashiki, as depicted via diagram in the Osaka Museum of History.