Education About Asia

(culture, history, art, marriage, etc...)

NOTE: Archive articles may be downloaded and reproduced for personal or classroom use only.

Editor's Message

Editor’s Message

I hope EAA readers find the special section of this issue, “Asia: Biographies and Personal Stories, Part II,” interesting and informative. Special thanks go to everyone who contributed to the issue. We are especially grateful to the United States-Japan Foundation for their financial support that enabled the inclusion of a Japan biographical special section and to David Janes for his advice regarding the formulation of the Japan-related articles and essays in this issue. The diverse personali...

Columns, Web Gleanings

Asia: Biographies and Personal Stories, Part II

JAPAN Portal Japan/Selected Biographies URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Japan/Selected_biography This page presents fourteen biographies of a variety of people associated with Japan, including some Japanese citizens. Many of them are from the arts and most of them were born in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. Each short biography is linked to a longer and more detailed one in the Wikipedia archives on the site. Japan: Peeps at History URL: http://tinyurl.com/ngrnmuk This...

Honda Sōichirō and the Rise of Japan’s Postwar Motor Vehicle Industry

Later dubbed the “Henry Ford of Japan,” Honda argued that limiting foreign auto imports would only perpetuate the inferiority of Japanese products and assure the nation’s defeat in world markets. For a manufacturing company to achieve success on a global scale, it must be willing to see past its domestic rivals and set its sights on challenging the world’s leading firms. In Japan in the late 1940s, however, few company presidents could foresee a time when their products would outperform...

Story of Hiroshima: Life of an Atomic Bomb Survivor

On August 6, 1945, there was a clear blue sky over Hiroshima. Hirano and his classmates were supposed to be engaged in demolition activity in the center of the city around 9:00 a.m. On August 6, 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. The nuclear bomb exploded over the center of the city, completely devastating it. The area within 1.2 miles of the hypocenter was entirely leveled and burned. According to the city of Hiroshima, approximately 140,000 people had died by the end of ...

Feature Article

From the Nisshin to the Musashi: The Military Career of Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku

On the morning of December 7, 1941, Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) aircraft set out on one of the most famous operations in military history: a surprise air attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawai`i. The attack was devised and fashioned by Admiral Yamamoto, whose entire military career seems to have been leading to this very moment. Yamamoto was a naval officer who appreciated and understood the strategic and technological advantages of naval aviation. This essay will explore Yamamoto...

Feature Article

D. T. Suzuki: A Biographical Summary

It would be difficult to name any world religious or cultural figure of the twentieth century who did more to transform modern civilization than Zen Buddhist scholar Daisetsu Teitaro (D. T.) Suzuki (1870–1966). While we might look to such luminaries as the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, or Mother Teresa and note the profound changes their lives brought to postwar global consciousness, the influence they exercised was of a different species than Suzuki’s. D. T. Suzuki did not just hold ...

Feature Article

Natsume Sōseki and Modern Japanese Literature

Natsume Sōseki (1867–1916) is one of a handful of individuals who both symbolized Japan’s emergence as a modern nation and helped mold an understanding of the modern condition through his life’s work. Literature was Sōseki’s creative vehicle, but his significance in the context of a broader national identity is greater than the sum of his individual works. In short, his stature is akin to that of Mark Twain, a consensus American icon. Born at the end of Japan’s final shogunal epoc...

Feature Article

Dōgen: His Life, Religion, and Poetry

Sect Founder and Universal Philosopher Zen master Dōgen (1200–1253) was the founder of the Sōtō sect, one of the five major denominations of Japanese Buddhism that spread rapidly in medieval Japan and remains an important religious movement in modern society. Dōgen transmitted the teachings he learned during a four-year visit from 1223 to 1227 to China, where he attained enlightenment while training in Zen meditation under the tutelage of mentor Rujing and was also immersed in studying Ch...

Histories of the Self: Women’s Diaries from Japan’s Heian Period (794–1185)

This essay outlines three diaries written by women in Japan a millennium ago. The sidebars provide exercise suggestions that are intended to provide a basis for an instructor to generate essay or classroom discussion topics but could also be used by the individual reader to deepen appreciation. These three texts, The Kagerō Diary (c. 974), Murasaki Shikibu Diary (c. 1008), and The Sarashina Diary (c. 1060), are selected from the largest body of premodern personal histories extant in the world. ...

Feature Article

A Tale of Two Diplomats: Ho Fengshan, Sugihara Chiune, and Jewish Efforts to Flee Nazi Europe

This year marks the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II, a cataclysm that continues to shape Asia and the world. Horrific even within this conflict, the Nazi Holocaust featured the German government’s murder of some six million Europeans defined as racially Jewish. At first glance, it may seem far removed from the bitter struggle between the Republic of China (ROC) and Japan that simultaneously dominated East Asia. Yet there are numerous links at the level of government policies ...

Feature Article

Wu Zhao: Ruler of Tang Dynasty China

An Effective but Controversial Ruler Wu Zhao (624–705), also known as Empress Wu Zetian, was the first and only woman emperor of China. With her exceptional intelligence, extraordinary competence in politics, and inordinate ambition, she ruled as the “Holy and Divine Emperor” of the Second Zhou Dynasty (690–705) for fifteen years. Her remarkable political leadership is recognized and is comparable in some ways to other notable women in later periods of world history, such as Joan of Arc...

Feature Article

Telling Stories About Lives: The Uses of Biography in Teaching Chinese History

In every part of Asia and the rest of the world, we teach about transmitters and transformers of traditions, themes, customs, practices, and powers.1 In the process, we have told stories, and many of them have been stories of individual human lives. Listeners have hung on their words, saying, “What happened next?”—thrilled with bold, clever heroes and heroines, while gnashing their teeth at villains and tyrants. Some of these stories were about gods and goddesses or others who had supernat...

Feature Article

I am a Chinese English Teacher

China is catching the attention of the world for its economic development, and many people are exploring the reasons behind the country’s fast growth. A related area of interest is how China prepares its children in schools. In this essay, I will tell my own story: my early life, my studies in schools, my experience of incidentally becoming a teacher, and my work as an educator. I hope this article can help readers understand Chinese teachers and generate more interest in China and Chinese edu...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Digital Archives: Teaching Indian Colonial History Through Photographs

Digital Photography in the Classroom We often use photographs in a history classroom to illustrate a point rather than as a foundation for our courses. I coteach an interdisciplinary course that integrates visual culture and history into an undergraduate class titled On the Edges of Empire: India and Mexico/American Southwest at Southern Methodist University. I was surprised to stumble upon a unique digital collection at the SMU DeGolyer Special Collections Library, which is known for its archi...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

The Lion’s Roar in Taiwan: Genealogy of a Traditional Dance

The colorfully dynamic spectacle of the Lion Dance is now a seemingly requisite part of celebratory events in Chinese communities around the world. Documentary evidence for the performance of dances featuring lions can be traced back over a thousand years. But since lions have never been a part of China’s natural environment, how did they come to be such iconic inhabitants of the Chinese cultural landscape? In this article, I will focus on changes and developments in the Lion Dance in response...

The League of Extraordinary Bloggers: A Game for Exploring Asian Cultures

A criminal mastermind known as the FOX has been stealing important cultural landmarks and objects all across Asia. Searches for him have proven fruitless since his identity is a mystery. What the FOX doesn’t know is that teen bloggers from four Asian countries have teamed up to bring him to justice. Meet the League of Extraordinary Bloggers, AKA the LXB! You are Agent X, honorary fifth member of the LXB. You will be helping the fab four track down the FOX. Fly to each LXB member’s home co...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

The Appropriated Geisha: Using Their Role to Discuss Japanese History, Cultural Appropriation, and Orientalism

Moving beyond Facebook to the Internet communities of Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr, students would leave older forms of media behind. Or such is their conviction. Of course, previous generations have purported to break ground where their predecessors failed to sow, and sometimes they really do. What is dramatically clear from a perusal of these new forms of social media is what consumes student thought. Certainly some of the topics one finds are of little import, but others are insta...

EAA Interview, Resources

The 2015 Franklin R. Buchanan Prize Winners for “My Cambodia” and “My Cambodian America”

This is our nineteenth consecutive interview with the recipients of the AAS Franklin R. Buchanan Prize. This year’s winners are Rylan Sekiguchi and Risa Morimoto, who developed the free multimedia education package My Cambodia and My Cambodian America, published by the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) online at stanford.io/1sI162V. SPICE serves as a bridge between Stanford University and K–12 schools and community colleges by developing multidisciplinary...

Curriculum Materials Review, Curriculum Review, Resources

“My Cambodia” and “My Cambodian America”

Editor’s Note: A second review of My Cambodia and My Cambodian America by Van Anh Tran is available in the online supplements for this issue. My interest in Asia dates back to when I was a child. My interest in Cambodia started when I began my teaching career in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Attleboro was one of the places where a large group of Cambodian families moved after leaving the refugee camps in Thailand after the Khmer Rouge period. My first Cambodian students in 1999 were born in Thail...

Asia: Experiential Learning, Columns, Resources

Drawing Insights in Việt Nam

Every spring, Marlboro College offers one or two semester-long courses that include a travel abroad experience. A few years ago, I had the opportunity as part of a Freeman grant held by the college to participate, along with students, in a study course focused on Asia.1 The year that I participated, the course was titled Việt Nam: Revolution and Restoration, and it included a three-week trip to north and central Việt Nam. The classwork introduced our group of five faculty and twelve students...