My name is Isaac Meyer, and I’m a former PhD student at the University of Washington, specializing in modern Japan (with sub-specializations in modern China, modern Europe, and international relations). Today, I work as a teacher at an independent school in the Seattle area.
I also have a tendency to go off on random historical tangents. One day, I decided to combine these two traits in podcast form, and thus was born the History of Japan Podcast!
In 2018, I decided start the Criminal Records Podcast with my wife, Demetria Spinrad. This podcast gives me the chance to talk about world history–and the weird, wonderful world of historical crime and punishment.
37 thoughts on “Listen to the show”
Suggested Topic: much has been made of the Japanese attitude toward P.O.W.s during WWII. While proportinally few Japanese surrendered to the allies, there were quite a few, particuarily toward the end when even isolated soldiers realized the war was lost. What was the reaction to those who went home? Were they shunned or did a reaslization set in that their decision not to sacrifice their lives in a lost cause foster a new understanding?
I’m preparing some stuff related to this topic, though I’m probably going to push it back a bit just because the whole leadup to war thing was kind of a downer and I worry about doing too many depressing topics in a row. Thanks for the idea!
Suggested Topic, covering the sengoku war in more detail. How the Mythology around the various daimyo grew, why the war shifted from west of Kyoto during the oni to the area between Nagoya and Edo later on, and some various other topics (how the yamada and hosokawa became so influential in a war that was supposed to be between two ashikaga, why did the takeda control land in 1467 where the mori would later control, more talk about the various clans [date, mori, hojo, imagawa, shimazu]
Actually this week’s coming episode is on the Onin War, so it will answer at least some of your questions. The others, though, I might need to find a specialist friend to help me with! Good ideas!
On iTunes/iPhone podcast app the first episode that shows up is ep 8. What happened to eps 1-7?
I’m trying to figure that out. The way it works right now, the podcast is hosted by one site (libsyn) put through feedburner (in case I ever want to switch hosting services without having to resubmit the podcast and making you all resubscribe over) and then that feed from feedburner goes to iTunes.
All the episodes are showing up in libsyn, but not in feedburner. I’m not really sure how they got lost.
You can find them linked to on this website, and I’ll send some emails around to try to figure out what the hell is going on, buth unfortunately that’s all I have.
I can find ways to stream them from this site but any way to download them from this site?
here is their libsyn page (RSS feed is also only displaying the 100 most recent results). to download, right click the mp3 link, and click “save as” (or whatever the equivalent command is on mac). I hope that has been of help!
Hello. Question: how can I pick episodes to listen to around a certain theme or time period? For example I’d like to hear all episodes that are chronologically from the second half of the 20th century — is there an episode map or index or anything?
I deeply enjoy this podcast. I’ve been living and working in Japan for (looks at wristwatch) 3 months now.
Unfortunately, not that I know of. The closest thing would probably be to use the tags to try to find relevant episodes; so, searching for all episodes tagged “LDP”, “postwar”, etc.
I love this podcast! It’s been so helpful in understanding aspects of Japanese history I hadn’t been familiar with, and you present the information well.
I was wondering, when you were using Audible for your ads, you used to recommend a book with each ad. Do you have a list of those books somewhere? I’m trying to build my Japan/Japanese history library.
Hello and thanks for 150 plus episodes I have listened so far.
I am a history enthusiast born in Latvia, living in Japan.
I would like to suggest a topic for future episodes:
Kawashima Yoshiko. Japanese-Manchu spy princess with sinister ambiance. A real product of her age.
I’m not saying you read my mind, but….
Hello and thank you.
I would like to suggest a couple of topics.
1. Sumo and the rise of the non Japanese.
2. Tokyo Olympics(either one, though I guess the first one must be the heavily drawn on one)
Ooh I’d love to do something on sumo! Thanks!
Hi Isaac, thanks so much for creating this podcast! I have enjoyed it immensely.
Is there any reason why the site archive has a gap from August 2014 to November 2015? I see that the podcasts themselves still exist on libsyn, but the corresponding web pages are missing. I hope they aren’t permanently missing, as I find and found them useful. It appears to skip from Episode 66 to Episode 124.
Thanks again for producing an excellent podcast.
I love the podcast, found it really useful to back up what I’ve learned during my undergraduate course.
I was just thinking it might be interesting to hear a podcast about Goto Shinpei or the administration of the empire on a broader basis.
Yeah I’ve been considering something specifically on Taiwanese relations with Japan that would feature Goto pretty heavily. Still not quite sure what format I’d want it to take.
Since 1992, I am aware of the financial crisis in Japan. For years, Western media have shown contempt for the inability of Japan to get out of stagnation.
During all these years, I have tried to find an explanation for this growth crisis in the economy of Japan, since at least 1992 and up to know. In a French podcast
they reveal that this long period of stagnation in Japan is the consequence of huge tariffs imposed by usa on Japanese import, up to 100%. Can you tell us the Japanese standpoint about this financial crisis and its duration.
Thank you very much for your show which I listen to regularly from Switzerland.
Do you know if there are any romanticized accounts (ala romance of the three kingdoms) of the fall of heian and the ensuing conflict between the taira and minamoto?
Yes! I highly recommend Heike Monogatari as a readable and very fun text, and it’s very highly romanticized (I personally am highly skeptical that Taira no Kiyomori was consumed in literal hellfire at the time of his death, but I suppose I can’t prove he wasn’t). There are also some good NHK Taiga drama adaptations of it, and the Helen Craig McCullough translation is, I recall, fairly good.
Is History of Japan on Google Play?
I can’t find your History of Japan podcast on Google Play. I tried searching your name and the podcast name but nothing came up.
Not yet; I’m working on it, but for some reason google keeps grabbing an old email address I can’t access from the feed and insisting I verify ownership of the feed using that, despite the fact that I’ve changed the settings.
Suggested Topic: Taisho Period!
I love that idea!
Wound up getting into the podcast a few months ago after getting caught up on some other ones and I love it! Great thing to binge through to while away the doldrums at work. A couple of topics that I think might wind up surprisingly interesting.
1.) The history of All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling and perhaps more broadly, joshi puroresu in general.
2.) The history of idols. Alternately, the tragic life of Yukiko Okada.
Anyway, keep up the great work. I’m glad to see this series on the Bubble Era since it’s a time period that’s always fascinated me but finding good reading on it seems never really turns much up that I’d want.
Thank you for the kind word and the awesome ideas. Okada in particular would be a really fascinating topic, I think, in terms of talking about the commodification of women in a lot of these entertainment groups.
Have you ever thought of doing an episode on Kijirō Nambu?
I hadn’t considered it, but it could be interesting!
I can’t find The History of Japan on Spotify which is my sole avenue for listening to podcasts. I can find your Criminal History podcast on there. Is the one about Japan not on Spotify or could it be a regional thing (I live in the Netherlands)?
I submitted it a few months ago; thought it had been approved but apparently not. Should be fixed within an hour or so!
I absolutely love this podcast, I’ve been listening to it for a year and a half now. Japanese history is my hobby and this show has added so much to my love for the topic. I’m writing this comment because the nature of the way the podcast has evolved limits what you can do with the episodes because they are not in chronological order. So I would like suggest a timeline view of your episodes. Right now I’m using a specific period of Japanese history in my job 1467-1543. Between the start of the Onin war and the introduction of firearms. Because the episodes are not chronological it will be hard to relisted to only those in the this period. So while I love the idea of listen to every episode again, it’s not very time conscious…
I think a timeline we focus the value of your contribution to Japanese history even more.
Thank you! I actually used to have a timeline, but it got deleted when the site hosting it went under and I have been too demoralized to try again, because that damn thing was HOURS of work. Maybe I can crowdsource it to my students at some point…
Hey Isaac, I’m a big fan of your podcast and I’m already ~50 episodes in. I really want to study Japan in college this fall and potentially major or minor in Japanese. Your podcast has been a great way to look into part of Japan’s history and culture. So, I first want to thank you for your dedication and effort, I greatly appreciate it as it has been a great resource for me.
Second, I just wanted to suggest a topic that may seem kind of minor (and you may have gone over it before but I just have not gotten to the episode yet). I was wondering if you could go over Japanese symbolism. One example I can think of is a red string which is used to represent fate or destiny in different anime (ex Kimi no Na Wa). I was interested in learning more about the origins of this symbol and others found within Japanese media and history. If you have already covered this, I apologize, but I am really interested in this! Thank you again for all that you do!
20gsomething episodes in and I love this podcast (Admittedly, that’s a realisation from some 15ish episodes ago) and it is currently my favourite thing to listen to (except while driving – stupid loud car is loud). It’s a great way to get some historical/cultural background on Japan (which makes quite a few pieces of media easier to understand) while working on stuff like household chores or baking (or procrastinating packing my backs for summer university…). Plus as a B.A. history student more historical knowledge is never superfluous (even if Greek/Macedonian Antiquity is quite a way from medieval and early modern Japan)
On the topic of media (specifically historic fiction) I have a topic suggestion: Rurouni Kenshin (manga/movies… and I think there’s an anime too?)
Anyways, greetings and much thanks from Germany!
Is there an episode of Karate? I practice and have looked into it but it seems fraught with story more fiction than fact.
I listened to quite some of your episodes and there is one specific, yet fundamental topic I was not able to find:
Is there a round-up of when and how the cultural exchange between China and Japan happened and which specific ideas got imported to Japan? Furthermore I’d be interested in how these ideas were lived and developed over the time within Japan and China respectively.
Maybe someone can point me towards some episodes which cover these topics! Otherwise this could be an idea for a future episode!