Podcast Episodes 20-1

In the Meiji at 150 Podcast, host Tristan Grunow (UBC) interviews specialists of Japanese history, literature, art, and culture. Topics covered will range from the position of the Meiji Restoration and Meiji Period in each scholar’s research, to how they view the significance of the Restoration in Japanese and global history, and finally to how they teach the Meiji Period in their classrooms. Follow us to hear about the recent research of prominent scholars of Japan along with their pedagogical approaches to one of Japan’s most transformative periods.

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Episode 20 – Dr. Seth Jacobowitz (Yale University)


In this episode, Dr Jacobowitz (Yale) chronicles internal sources for Meiji Period developments in Japanese literary practices and techniques, placing Japan in dialogue with global trends and world history. We discuss literary innovations, Japanese immigration to Brazil, and the interaction of Japanese and Western literati and intellectuals.

Episode 19 – Sherri Kajiwara (Nikkei National Museum)


In this episode, Sherri Kajiwara uncovers the roots of Japanese immigration to Canada and the deracination of the Japanese-Canadian population from British Columbia in 1942. We discuss the lived experiences of Japanese-Canadians in Vancouver pre-1942, their interactions with other immigrant communities, and differences in the practices and legacies of wartime internment in Canada and the United States.

Episode 18 – Dr. Radu Leca (Kyoto Institute, Library and Archives)


In this episode, Dr. Leca charts conceptions of spatiality in the Tokugawa period and maps continuities in understandings of geographic space into the Meiji period. We discuss traces of Edo in the urban space of Tokyo, the use of maps as historical primary sources, and global and interdisciplinary approaches to teaching the Meiji period.

Episode 17 – Dr. Kate McDonald (University of California-Santa Barbara)


In this episode, Dr. McDonald repositions tourism starting in the late-Meiji period as a site for establishing claims to empire in Taiwan, Korea, and Manchuria. We discuss the imperial origins of the domestic tourist industry, the place of Korea in colonial advertising and travel itineraries, and the introspective lessons students can draw from studying Meiji period reforms.


Episode 16 – Dr. W. Puck Brecher (Washington State University)


In this episode, Dr. Brecher challenges narratives of Meiji modernization from the “top-down” by exploring tourist sites popular in early Meiji Japan and tracing changes to understandings of individuality as examples of grassroots developments. We also discuss his more recent work on the internment of foreign nationals in wartime Japan.


Episode 15 – Dr. Marcia Yonemoto (University of Colorado-Boulder)


In this episode, Dr. Yonemoto stresses the continuities between the early modern and Meiji Periods, resituating the Meiji Restoration and the Meiji Charter Oath in particular as products of early modern concerns and conditions. With this in mind, we evaluate the historical usefulness of categories like “modern” and “early modern” in the Japanese context, date the beginning of Japanese “early modernity,” and discuss insights from Meiji-era diarists.


Episode 14 – Dr. David Anderson (University of British Columbia)


In this episode, Dr. Anderson appraises historical memory in Japan and the reactions of visitors to Japanese history museums, particularly of the Shōwa Period. We discuss the interplay of museum visitor and curator in museum exhibitions, social roots of the recent nostalgia for the Showa Period, and the interrelationship of historical narrative, cultural production, and popular memory.


Episode 13 – Dr. Millie Creighton (University of British Columbia)


In this episode, Dr. Creighton revisits the Meiji Period through the lens of tourism, exploring the way the Restoration is repackaged and resold at local tourist sites from Kagoshima to Kochi today. We discuss the popularity of “historical theme parks” such as Meiji Village and Nikko Edo Village, the UNESCO designation of Meiji-era industrial sites, and the recent boom in TV dramatizations of the Meiji and Showa periods.


Episode 12 – Dr. Naoko Kato (University of British Columbia)


In this Episode, Dr. Kato catalogues the impact of the Meiji Period on Sino-Japanese relations through the person of Uchiyama Kanzo and the Uchiyama bookstore in Shanghai. We also discuss the numerous Japan-related resources located at the UBC library and the Meiji at 150 Digital Teaching Resource.


Episode 11 – Dr. Eiji Okawa (University of Victoria)


In this episode, Dr. Okawa documents how the Meiji Restoration impacted the epistemology of history in Japan and Japanese overseas migration in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. We discuss ideas of “Japanese-ness” in premodern Japan and find continuities with conceptualizations of identity, language, and group among Japanese diasporic communities in British Columbia in the face of systemic racism and violence.


Episode 10 – Dr. Gideon Fujiwara (University of Lethbridge)


In this episode, Dr. Fujiwara positions the Meiji Restoration in the comparative context of a global “Age of Revolution.” We discuss the “revolutionary” aspects of the Restoration, including popular involvement, political upheaval, and cultural change during the Meiji Period, touching on the political significance of the Utakai Hajime poetry-reading ceremony and global approaches to the Restoration in the classroom. (Transcript here).


Episode 9 – Dr. Sharalyn Orbaugh (University of British Columbia)


In this episode, Dr. Orbaugh sheds light on the story of Nogi Shizuko and her gruesome suicide alongside husband Nogi Maresuke on the day of the Meiji Emperor’s funeral in 1912. Noting the relative silence on Shizuko’s role in the story, we discuss the absence of Shizuko as a figure in anti-war or women’s movements in the prewar period, her reappearance in the postwar, and the position of women more broadly in Japanese wartime ideology.


Episode 8 – Dr. David Howell (Harvard University)


In this episode, Dr. Howell situates the Meiji Restoration as one moment in Japan’s longer nineteenth century of social, cultural, and political transformations. We consider the “spirit of 1868” that informed many of the early Meiji state’s reforms, along with their impacts on people in different areas of Japan, including the Ainu population of Hokkaido. (Transcript here).


Episode 7 — Dr. Ignacio Adriasola (University of British Columbia)


In this episode, Dr. Adriasola paints a picture of how “modern Japanese art” was first defined during the Meiji Period. We discuss the relationship between artists and the Meiji state, the popularity of Japonisme in Western Europe, and the impacts of Japanese art and artists on Western artists and artistic practices.


Episode 6 — Dr. Christina Yi (University of British Columbia)


In this episode, Dr. Yi reads the Meiji Period from the perspective of literary studies and discusses the impacts of the Meiji Restoration on writers in Japan, especially Korean and Korean-Japanese writers composing literature in Japanese. We discuss issues of language and identity in the prewar Japanese empire, definition of the “modern” Japanese literary canon in the Meiji Period, and increasing recognition of Korean-Japanese writers in Japanese literature.


Episode 5 — Dr. Peter Nosco (University of British Columbia)


In this episode, Dr. Nosco dispels several misconceptions about individuality in Japan prior to the Meiji Restoration. We then contrast the protest movements of the 1860s in Japan to those of the 1960s, with Dr. Nosco sharing several fascinating anecdotes of personal experiences of the 1960s student protests in the US and Japan.


Episode 4 — Dr. Julian Dierkes (University of British Columbia)


In this episode, Dr. Dierkes analyzes how the Meiji Restoration is presented in history textbooks in Japan. We compare the historiography of the Restoration in Japanese and Western scholarship, as well as discuss recent issues surrounding textbooks in both Japan and the United States.


Episode 3 — Dr. Kenneth J. Ruoff (Portland State University)


In this episode, Dr. Ruoff explains the impact of the Meiji Restoration in global history and the role of the emperor system in Japanese modernization. We discuss the longevity of the emperor system in relation to its flexibility, as well as its centrality in both the prewar and postwar Japanese political and cultural environments.


Episode 2 — Dr. Christopher Craig (Tohoku University)


In this episode, Dr. Craig offers a glimpse of the Meiji Restoration as it was viewed from peripheral regions, in this case rural Miyagi prefecture. We discuss power dynamics between the central and prefectural governments during the early Meiji Period, and how central government policies were shaped and reshaped at local levels.


Episode 1 — Dr. Thomas Conlan (Princeton University)


In this episode, Dr. Conlan gives us a view of the Meiji Restoration from the perspective of late-medieval Japan. We discuss how viewing the Restoration in the longue durée reveals transformations and developments, especially in military technology, that are obscured when the story is started in 1868 (Transcript here).


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The Meiji at 150 Podcast is hosted, produced, and edited by Tristan Grunow, with editorial assistance from Joshua Linkous. All music is arranged and performed by Tristan Grunow. Transcripts by Kelly Chan. Website constructed and maintained by Tristan Grunow.