Education About Asia

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

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

Film Review, Resources

Can’t Go Native?

PRODUCED, DESIGNED, AND EDITED BY DAVID W. PLATH MEDIA PRODUCTION GROUP ASIAN EDUCATIONAL MEDIA SERVICE DVD, 56 MINUTES, 2010 Reviewed by David Huebner Can’t Go Native? is the intriguing and very personalized account of American anthropologist Keith Brown’s long relationship with the Japanese people. As a graduate student in 1961, Brown visited Japan for doctoral research. He fell in love with Japan and her peoples, culture, and customs. Brown’s numerous trips to Japan are chronic...

Focus on Japanese Democracy: Part 1

Political Parties in Democratic Japan

By Alisa Gaunder Whether fairly or not, Japanese political institutions in the postwar period have always been examined with some suspicion by outside observers, especially in the West. Some claim the fact that these institutions were imposed by the US Occupation calls into question their legitimacy or effectiveness. However, those who make such arguments have a limited view of Japan’s history and of how the institutions of democracy have functioned in the postwar period. Japan’s experien...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Edwin O. Reischauer and the American Discovery of Japan

BY GEORGE R. PACKARD NEW YORK: COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2010 368 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0231143547, HARDBACK Reviewed by Robert Fish Is there a social studies teacher who has never been asked, “Why does studying history matter?” Edwin O. Reischauer’s career illustrates the direct impact history and “academic” ideas can have on contemporary life. George R. Packard’s Edwin O. Reischauer and the American Discovery of Japan guides the reader through the relationship between abstract idea...

Feature Article

Democracy in Japan: Foreign Stimuli and Domestic Leadership

By Thomas W. Burkman In 1860, a few years after Commodore Perry forced open the doors of Japan, the Tokugawa Shogunate sent the first Japanese official mission to California. A member of the entourage asked his San Francisco hosts where the descendents of George Washington were living. He was shocked to find that the Americans had no clue. The Japanese could not fathom that the family of the nation’s founder had faded from public view. The Tokugawa Legacy In traditional Japan, the com...

Supplemental Online Article

Why Japan Matters

Essays from Elgin Heinz Outstanding Teacher Award Winners From the Editor: The Elgin Heinz Outstanding Teacher Award is sponsored by the United States- Japan Foundation and named for the late Mr. Heinz, who was a pioneer in Asian studies education. Winners receive this award based on their national leadership in teaching about Japan. The objectives of this online and print special segment are to stimulate readers to reflect upon why the study of Japan is critical for global understanding; to pr...

Essay, Resources

Why Japan Matters

By Alejandro Echevarria Japan matters in the history classroom because its development as a modern country offers rich opportunities for comparison. Japan’s rapid change from a system with some characteristics of feudalism in the Tokugawa period to modernization in the Meiji period is unlike any other shift in world history. The economic, social, and political changes were so rapid that they destabilized the fabric of the nation and put them on the path toward conflict with the Western nation...

Essay, Resources

Why Japan Matters

By Norman T. Masuda First Winner, Language Category, 2002 Japan has been in the news the past few months because of the natural and manmade disasters that have occurred in northeastern Japan. During the writing and broadcasting of the calamities that have struck the Japanese people, the news media pointed out the phenomenon of a population that waited patiently for food, water, and medical attention. Seeing and reading about the Japanese reaction to such devastation, one asks why this rea...

Essay, Resources

Why Japan Matters

By Patricia Burleson There are many reasons that Japan still matters, most of them well founded in economic statistics and geopolitical analyses. For this commentary, I decided to bypass those and focus instead on my personal experiences and those of local high school students. Students quoted here were participants in one of eleven annual study tours I have led in Japan. I think that Japan matters because there are many lessons about life that can best be learned from the Japanese. Students...

Essay, Resources

Japan Matters: Promoting World Peace through Education, Science, and International Partnerships

By Patience Berkman First winner, Humanities Category, 2002 Headlines in 2011 have trumpeted China bypassing Japan as the second-largest economy in the world. Japan’s move to number three was not surprising, nor should it be alarming. What is remarkable is that Japan, with limited resources, smaller than the state of California, maintained a position of economic dominance for so long. After the devastating earthquake and tsunami, Japan, far from being in free-fall, continues to be a committe...

Book Review, Resources

Why Japan Matters

By Masumi Reade Along line of people—hundreds of selfless, patient citizens—quietly waiting to receive water; A big smile on a rescue worker, walking with a just-rescued eighty-one-year old lady on his back; Rescue workers from the Self-Defense Force descending from a helicopter to retrieve a dog that was still alive on a rooftop of a home floating in the ocean, three weeks after the tsunami; The emperor and empress visiting victims in several shelters . . . . . . These are the images ...

Feature Article

Ambassadors of Exchange: The 1860 Japanese Mission to the US

The 1860 expedition of the first Japanese ambassadorial delegation to the US presents instructional opportunities useful in a variety of courses. The 150th anniversary in 2010 of this official establishment of trade relations between the two countries supplemented the already-rich array of primary and secondary resources by adding a proliferation of new documents and websites. While the official purpose of the mission was to ratify the 1858 Treaty of Amity and Commerce, the Japanese entourage be...

Feature Article

Back in Time: Pictures Worth More than 1,000 Words

These photographs of Northeast Asia from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries give people today a window on the economic, environmental, and geopolitical context of the time. This essay introduces some of the early photographs from Japan, Korea, and adjacent lands—scenes that families in the US viewed with the aid of the right-eye, left-eye lenses of the viewstand, or stereograph, so they could enjoy a vivid 3-D experience—to learn about lands that were then unknown to them. ...

Essay, Resources

Elgin Heinz Winners Teaching Ideas

from Patience Berkman The Doctor’s Wife by Ariyoshi Sawako URL: http://tinyurl.com/3arorhd This moving historical novel tells the story of Seishu Hanaoka (1760– 1835), a Japanese physician who specialized in breast cancer and pioneered the use of general anesthetics in surgery. The novel focuses on the courageous wife and domineering mother of this surgeon and personalizes the story. I highly recommend this novel for high school students. from Patricia Burleson Hiroshima Peace Site: O...

Book Review, Resources

Modern Japan: A Historical Survey (Fourth Edition)

BY MIKISO HANE AND LOUIS G. PEREZ BOULDER: WESTVIEW PRESS, 2009 578 PAGES, ISBN 978-0-8133-4409-6, PAPERBACK History teachers at all levels are always looking for solid bits of information that they can use in their lectures in order to shore up the essentially narrative structure of history instruction. If this premise is true, then Mikiso Hane and Louis G. Perez’s Modern Japan: A Historical Survey (Fourth Edition), a treasure trove of figures and facts, will become perhaps the go-to book ...

EAA Interview

American and European Missionaries in East Asia: An Interview with Professor Donald Clark

Donald Clark is the Murchison Professor of History and Co-Director of East Asian Studies at Trinity University. He also serves as Director of Trinity’s International Studies Program. He teaches courses on China, Japan, Korea, and the history of American foreign relations with a research focus on Korea, where he spent much of his life as the son of missionaries. In addition to writing books and journal articles on a variety of East Asian topics, Professor Clark has also published two works that...

Online Supplement

Understanding Contemporary Asia through Food

While once-exotic Asian foods have become a familiar part of American life, the study of Asian food continues to be a sharp lens, giving focus to the broad sweep of history and the complex patterns of contemporary Asian societies. The eating habits and culinary practices (foodways) of Asian societies are both local and global, revealing the historical impact of past events and the everyday tensions of contemporary Asian societies. Humans often use food to distinguish their own group from others....

Essay, Key Issues in Asian Studies, Resources

Three New Volumes: Key Issues in Asian Studies

Editor’s note: Key Issues in Asian Studies (KIAS) is a series of booklets engaging major cultural and historical themes in the Asian experience. KIAS booklets serve as vital educational materials that are both accessible and affordable for classroom use. This series is particularly intended for teachers and undergraduates at two- and four-year colleges as well as high school students and secondary school teachers engaged in teaching Asian studies in a comparative framework. What follows are br...

Book Review Essay, Resources

East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute

BY DAVID C. KANG NEW YORK: COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2010 240 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0231153188, HARDBACK David C. Kang examines East Asia during a time when relations between centers of power were well established but before the Westphalian concepts of “states” and “countries” were established. Kang presents a detailed study of the politics and history of the region that challenges the Eurocentric assumptions so often accepted by teachers and students in the West; how power was exerted an...

Feature Article, Focus on Japanese Democracy: Part 2

Will Japan Change?

Is Japan once again changing? Unlike 1868, when the newly empowered Meiji emperor moved to Tokyo to preside over a series of dramatic changes that became more generally known as the Meiji Restoration, or 1945, when the Allied Occupation allied with relatively progressive Japanese to create a new constitution and institute a set of major reforms, Japan has yet to see a truly dramatic leader or many public protests. Yet a less dramatic series of political, economic, and social developments, combin...

Feature Article, Focus on Japanese Democracy: Part 2

Democracy in Action in Japan’s Foreign and Security Policymaking

One stubborn belief common in other developed democracies is that the Japanese electorate is somehow passive or unengaged. Moreover, the belief that in Japan important political decisions are made by unelected bureaucrats against the wishes of elected politicians or the electorate at large has stuck in the minds of many, propagated by the oft-repeated dictum that Japan is a place where “politicians reign but bureaucrats rule.” (note 1) In the area of foreign and security policy, however, the...