Education About Asia

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

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

Feature Article

Japan, the U.S. and the Asian-Pacific War

Few historians today would quibble with the idea that the war against Nazi Germany was necessary. Japan, Hitler’s only major ally, has fared far better with many historians in the West—much better than in Imperial Japan’s former Asian colonies. Because the war ended with the atomic bomb, many in the West today look at the Pacific War in terms similar to what was called “moral equivalence” in the Cold War. That view shows disregard for the nightmarish world that existed during total war...

Feature Article

The U.S. as a Pacific Nation

America’s Pacific Presence On his inaugural visit to Asia as president in November 2009, Barack Obama declared himself “America’s first Pacific president” and the US a “Pacific nation.”(note 1) President Obama’s self-characterization, based no doubt on his unusual biography of having been born in Hawai`i and partly raised in Indonesia, is novel. Identifying the US as a Pacific nation, however, is a longstanding tradition, increasingly common today and one that resonates for many r...

Book Review, Resources

Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

BY BLAINE HARDEN NEW YORK: VIKING, 2012 224 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0670023325, HARDBACK This is a book that should be read by anyone interested in North Korea and in human rights issues. It joins Kang Chol-Hwan and Pierre Rigoulot’s The Aquariums of Pyongyang and Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy as among the most engaging and insightful accounts of life in that secretive country. Escape From Camp 14 is the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, the only known inmate in North Korea’s “total control” p...

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...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Waxen Wings: The Acta Koreana Anthology of Short Fiction from Korea

BRUCE FULTON, EDITOR ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA, KORYO PRESS, 2011 250 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1597432030, PAPERBACK As a teacher of world literature to high school seniors, I have experimented with many works in translation, attempting to introduce unfamiliar cultures through story. When the references are too vague or the background too intimidating, students close the book before they give the literature (and sometimes the culture) a chance. That is why Waxen Wings is a welcome work. While Korean reader...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway

Elliot Carlson’s Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway is a literary masterpiece. This is a long overdue biography of an individual who helped shape the events of the Pacific War following Japan’s raid on Pearl Harbor. It is not a light read, as each of the 456 pages is packed with first-rate research and brilliant analysis. Carlson’s online audio and video descriptions of his book are helpful for teachers and the general reader. But for thi...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching Korean Politics through Cinema

Korean studies in the US have experienced a tremendous growth over the last decade in undergraduate institutions, as well as in some high schools. The numerical surge of Korean heritage students interested in learning their cultural background, the rising popularity of pop culture originating from South Korea, the frequency of North Korea appearing in the media headlines, and the aggressive expansion of funding by the Korean government may have all contributed to the enlarged visibility of Korea...

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, Web Gleanings

Website Resources: Asian Visual and Performing Arts, Part II

VISUAL ARTS ASIA, GENERAL Art of Asia Home Page URL: http://www.mfa.org/collections/asia The Museum of Fine Arts Boston has a noteworthy collection of Asian art. Their site has hundreds of images from the collection. The focus is Chinese and Japanese works of art, including paintings and prints. The images are easily accessible through the links at the bottom of the home page. Asia Contemporary Art Show URL: http://www.asiacontemporaryart.com/gallery/ Over fifty art galleries have...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Engaging Inner-City Students in East Asian Studies: Martial Arts, Warriors, and Gender

For the past two years, I have taught high school students from urban schools in Chicago that were targeted by the University of Illinois at Chicago as a part of the Transforming Roadblocks into Opportunities (TRiO)Academic Support Program. Students who come from low-income families, families with no college graduates, or who are individuals with learning disabilities can participate in the program and may bring their brothers and sisters. My students are African-American and Hispanic, and the h...

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...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Calligraphy as a Resource in the East Asian Studies Curriculum

Brush calligraphy, a fundamentally intercultural and interdisciplinary art form, can be extremely useful as a teaching tool in K-12 and undergraduate education about East Asia. The complexity of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean writing systems presents language instructors with formidable tasks in developing student literacy skills. For many students, however, the writing system is the major factor of their appeal. Though brush calligraphy in its sophisticated forms requires considerable traini...

Feature Article

The Trickster in Japanese Art

A story: Once upon a time, a priest at a temple called Morinji was about to hang a tea kettle over the fire when it suddenly sprouted a head, tail, and feet. The priest called in his novices to see the sight, and everyone stood aghast as the furry tea kettle scampered about the room. The monks attempted to catch it, but the kettle flew about the room, just out of reach. Finally, someone managed to snatch the little kettle and thrust it into a box. The kettle had turned into tanuki, or rather, a ...

Feature Article

Bringing Students into the World: Asia in the World Literature Classroom

The term Weltliteratur (world literature) was first coined by German author Johann Wilhelm von Goethe in the late 1820s. Writing during a period of great political upheaval in Europe, he hopefully noted: There has been talk for some time of a general world literature, and indeed not without justice. For the nations, after they had been thrown into confusion by the most terrible wars [ie, the Napoleonic Wars], could not return to their independent life again without noticing that they had uncon...

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...

Website Resources

Website Resources: Tips for Searching Asia

We have all heard the expression “Google it.” Indeed, when most of us are looking for information on the Internet, that is precisely what we do: We enter search terms in Google and hope for the best. However, there are tips and tools that can help you become a more skilled Internet searcher, and this article includes examples that give you tools to understand options, focus your search, and improve your results. Google is the most popular search engine, and its features will be the focus her...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Values Lesson Plan: How Currency Reveals Cultural Values

King Sejong is the most well-known and celebrated ruler in Korean history. Even though he lived more than 500 years ago, the Korean people continue to honor him for his relentless efforts to improve the lives of the common people. He governed with compassion and wisdom and led Korea into a golden age of cultural and scientific progress. In his youth, Sejong became known as “the reading prince” and began his lifelong quest to learn everything he could about the world around him. At the age...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Using Korean Bojagi in the Classroom

Bojagi: An Introduction Bojagi (sometime written pojagi) is a traditional Korean folk art consisting of patchwork cloths made from scrap fabrics such as cotton, silk, ramie, and hemp. These practical cloths of varying sizes were present in Korea as early as the fourteenth century and were used to cover and contain items such as gifts, beds, tables, and foods. The art has historically been passed down through generations of unnamed female artists and were used by Korean people from all classes, ...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

My Favorite Asia-Related Digital Media: Japanese Anime and Korean Music

There are many aspects of Asian-related media that I have grown to love, but my top two favorites are Japanese anime and the South Korean record label SM Entertainment Company (SMENT). For the majority of my childhood, I knew nothing about Asian countries or their unique digital media. During my first year of high school, I learned more about these countries and began to explore their different cultures. My world geography teacher helped create my interest in East Asia. He required our class to ...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

My Favorite Asia-Related Digital Media: Japanese and Korean Pop Music

While watching Japanese anime and playing video games, I fell in love with Asian media, especially its music. Genres like Japanese Rock (JRock), Visual Kei, Korean Pop (KPop), and Korean Hip-hop (KHip-hop) became the major focus of my personal playlist. After discovering these styles of music, I became fond of two particular companies: Pony Canyon Studios in Japan and YG Entertainment in South Korea. These two important Asian media companies have been dishing out quality entertainment and music ...