Education About Asia

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

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Book Review, Resources

Korean Spirituality

BY DON BAKER UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI`I PRESS, 2008 151 PAGES ISBN: 978-0-8248-3257-5, PAPERBACK Reviewed by Mary E. Connor Korean Spirituality by Don Baker, a professor at the University of British Columbia, is an accessible and engaging guidebook to the distinctive religious and philosophical belief systems on the Korean peninsula. Its value is manifold. Because Korea has one of the most vibrant and diverse religious cultures of any nation in the world, lucid exposure to its beliefs and practi...

Book Review

Dharma

BY ALF HILTEBEITEL HONOLULU: UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI’I PRESS, 2010 208 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0824834869, PAPERBACK Reviewed by Catherine Benton Part of the University of Hawai`i series “Dimensions of Asian Spirituality,” Alf Hiltebeitel’s Dharma presents an enlightening discussion of dharma, a fundamental component of Hindu and Buddhist thinking. One of the goals of the “Dimensions of Asian Spirituality” series is to make available “short but comprehensive works [by distinguished schol...

Feature Article

Spheres of Transaction in Thai Buddhism

If the diversity of religious experience and expression share anything, it is that they are both transactional: one offers something in order to receive something. Actions of sacrifice, prayer, devotional study, and even service are ultimately seeking a balance of some kind between self and other. But, while transaction in itself is universal, the manner in which transactions are carried out is particular, in that it is necessarily determined by a cultural context. Each one shapes the other: whe...

Online Supplement

Helping Students Overcome Fear of “Foreignness” in Teaching Asian Religions

The study of Asian religions in high school and college survey courses offers both confusion and the possibility of better international understanding. The purpose of this teaching resources essay is to identify potential pit falls to avoid. Although the focus here is on Chinese religions, the likely problem areas and possible instructional solutions are applicable to other belief systems. A first common problem for students is their concern about the complexity and foreignness of vocabulary....

Book Review Essay, Online Supplement, Resources

Teaching the Daode Jing

GARY D. DEANGELIS AND WARREN G. FRISINA, EDITORS OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, NEW YORK, 2008 206 PAGES, 978-0-19-533270-4, PAPERBACK Why the Daode Jing is a special text comes out clearly in Teaching the Daode Jing. In general, this volume will be more useful to college/university nonspecialists than high school teachers. Some essays, however, will be more helpful than others for teachers such as those by Judith Berling, Geoffrey Foy, and John Thompson, which offer more “nuts and bolts” class...

Curriculum Materials Review, Resources

Western Civilization with Chinese Comparisons, 3rd edition

JOHN G. BLAIR AND JERUSHA HULL MCCORMACK SHANGHAI: FUDAN UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2010 635 PAGES WITH CD-ROM Since ancient times, the peoples of what are now known as China and the West have gazed at one another across vast distances of cultureand geography with intense interest, occasional enmity, and no small amount of exoticism. Han dynasty scholars wrote with wonder of the land of Daqin (Roman Syria), where seemingly every Chinese custom was turned upside down. The rulers of Daqin minted silver ...

Book Review Essay, Online Supplement

Neo-Confucian Self-Cultivation

  BY BARRY C. KEENAN HONOLULU: UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI'I PRESS, 2011 132 PAGES, ISBN:978-0824835484, PAPERBACK It is not a question of whether Professor Keenan’s new book is accessible for high school juniors and seniors—it is— in general. It is also not a question about whether the book is a good backgrounder for high school teachers who are interested in integrating Neo-Confucian related content into history and/or literature classes— again, it is. The real question is whether stu...

Book Review, Resources

Religion and the Making of Modern East Asia

BY THOMAS DAVID DUBOIS CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITYPRESS, 2011 272 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1107008090, HARDBACK Undoubtedly, the vast majority of surviving art produced in both the Western world and Asia in the past millennia has been religious in subject. From an art historical perspective, the significant role religions play in shaping the creative visual expression of cultures is obvious. Historians more often tend to view history from political, economic, military, and, in recent years, social perspec...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

The Wheelwright and the Butcher: Master Zhuang’s Recipe for Mindful Living

Some years ago, I was taking a stroll through a museum in the town of Tainan, the old capital of the island of Taiwan. In one room, I came across a large cart wheel carved out of solid wood (see photo). It was about five feet in diameter and consisted of three separate pieces joined together. Most people probably would not have been overly excited to see such a mundane artifact, but I was immediately struck by this wheel because it answered a question that had long rattled at the back of my mind...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

“Confucius in East Asia”: An Interview with “Key Issues” author, Jeffrey L. Richey

Confucius in East Asia introduces fundamental patterns of East Asian history, spirituality, society, and politics through the lens of Confucianism’s development and impact in the region. For millennia, no East Asian regime has governed independently of Confucian influence; and even when Confucius and his tradition have been criticized or condemned, as has often been the case during the past century or so, they have been conspicuously present in East Asian affairs. It is impossible to understan...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

What Is Teachable about Japanese Tea Practice?

The Japanese art known as the “way of tea” (chadō or chanoyu—often translated into English as the slightly misleading “tea ceremony”) is the highly stylized and artistically nuanced preparation of matcha (powdered green tea), often in a tearoom or freestanding structure specifically designed for that purpose. (note 1) While the consumption of tea in Japan began as a largely aristocratic activity during the twelfth century, by the sixteenth century, tea drinking had matured into a high...

Online Supplement

Audio and Performance Samples to accompany the feature article “A Tour of Music Cultures in South Asia: Classical and Devotional Music”

Listed below are the audio and performance examples of the music discussed in “A Tour of Music Cultures in South Asia” from the Spring 2013 (vol. 18, no. 1) issue of Education About Asia....

Feature Article

A Tour of Music Cultures in South Asia: Classical and Devotional Music

An audience of about 3,000 descends on the open-air Nazrul Manch Theater in South Kolkata (Calcutta) every winter at the Dover Lane Music Festival to hear the senior legends and the emerging stars of North Indian classical (or Hindustani) music. The crowd, made up of the urbane intellectuals of Kolkata and a good number of foreigners, is lively. Audience members move in and out of the hall for tea and snacks between performances, but every seat is filled for the senior artists who perform betwee...

Feature Article

An Environmental Ethic in Chinese Landscape Painting

Landscape painting in Western art did not develop into an important category of painting until the seventeenth century. In contrast, landscape painting in China was already a prized art form by the ninth century. (note 1) In fact, when Chinese art was systematically introduced to the West during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the prominence afforded nature—as opposed to humans— in Chinese art startled Western audiences. One reviewer of a pioneering exhibition of Chinese art at the B...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The I Ching: A Biography

The I Ching A Biography BY RICHARD J. SMITH PRINCETON: PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2012 278 PAGES, ISBN 978-0691145099, HARDCOVER Author’s note: Smith uses the Wade-Giles spelling of “I Ching” in the title of his book, but uses the Pinyin “Yijing” in the text of the book. He includes a note about why he does this, and I will follow his choice in this review. Richard J. Smith’s The I Ching: A Biography is a concise and well-written guide to the historical development and cultu...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Between the Floating Mist: Poems of Ryokan, and Lotus Moon: The Poetry of Rengetsu

Between the Floating Mist Poems of Ryōkan TRANSLATED BY DENNIS MALONEY AND HIDEO SHIRO BUFFALO, NY: WHITE PINE PRESS, 2009 96 PAGES, ISBN 978-1935210054, PAPERBACK Lotus Moon The Poetry of Rengetsu TRANSLATED BY JOHN STEVENS BUFFALO, NY: WHITEPINEPRESS, 2005 130 PAGES, ISBN 978-1893996366, PAPERBACK In addition to its importance as a major world religion, Buddhism has produced one of the longest-running, most multifaceted, and brilliantly textured literary culture...

Book Review, Resources

Sources of Vietnamese Tradition

For more than half a century students and academicians have greatly profited from the Columbia series on Sources of various Asian traditions. These include edited volumes on Japan, India, China, and Korea as well as newer editions and abridged volumes. Sources of Vietnamese Tradition, is a welcome addition to the series. In this volume, the editors masterfully created a book that is indispensable for any serious student or teacher of Việt Nam. The book includes more than 200 texts that span th...

Film Review Essay, Resources

The Films of Hayao Miyazaki: Shinto, Nature, and the Environment

The films of Hayao Miyazaki are some of the most popular in Japan and the rest of the world. Perhaps his most famous work, Spirited Away, is the highest-grossing domestic film in Japanese history. (note 1) It also won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003. Over the past two decades, the Walt Disney Company has reissued English-language versions of Miyazaki’s films with the voice talents of such famous actors as Patrick Stewart, Claire Danes, and Billy Bob Thornton. Often, these f...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Theravada Buddhism: The View of the Elders

Asanga Tilakaratne’s Theravada Buddhism: The View of the Elders offers an overview of “southern Buddhism” that is both traditional and innovative, yet also problematic. Educators will find a valuable resource in its chapters that analyze central doctrines and practices. These offer apt and refreshing perspectives on Buddhism as a lived tradition for the monks and householders adhering to the dominant lineage of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia today. This book offers a correcti...

Feature Article, Focus on Korea: Korean Democratization

Early Visions of Reform and Modernity: Sirhak and Religious Movements in Choson Korea

South Korea in the twenty-first century is a very different place than it was two centuries ago. In the nineteenth century, it was an absolute monarchy. Today, South Korea is a vibrant democracy with a president and parliament selected through hotly contested elections. Two centuries ago, the Korean economy was overwhelmingly agrarian, and Korea engaged in very little foreign trade. Today, South Korea is an industrial and commercial powerhouse producing automobiles and smartphones that are in gr...