Education About Asia

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

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

Feature Article, Online Supplement

Mori Arinori and Japanese Education (1847-1889)

Editor’s Note: This manuscript is based upon a considerably lengthier earlier book chapter by the author, Terumichi Morikawa, titled “Mori Arinori,” published in Ten Great Educators of Modern Japan: A Japanese Perspective, ed. Benjamin C. Duke (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1989), 39–65. On the morning of February 11, 1889, Minister of Education Mori Arinori was scheduled to attend the promulgation ceremony of the new Imperial Constitution. Dressed in formal attire, he waited for th...

Film Review Essay, Online Supplement

Shifting Gender Roles in Postwar Japan: The On-Screen Life of Actress Hara Setsuko

Hara Setsuko (born Aida Masae, 1920) is one of Japan’s most admired actresses from its golden age of cinema. During her twenty-eight-year career, spanning the mid-1930s to early 1960s, she appeared in over one hundred feature films. Best known for her portrayals of ordinary, middle-class women, Hara’s performances were anything but ordinary. With large, expressive eyes and striking features, her unforgettable depictions of women from all stages of life, including daughters, wives, mothers an...

Film Review Essay, Online Supplement

Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful

“Be strong, be gentle, be beautiful” is not only the essence of the art and sport of judo, but a clear six-word biographical description of the life of Fukuda Keiko, AKA Mrs. Judo. The only woman in judo’s history (since 1882) to achieve the difficult tenth-degree black belt, Fukuda’s life is not only the story of achievement in a sport, but the struggle to overcome tradition and sexism. Japan’s men expected their wives to be at home each evening, when judo classes were taught. But Fuk...

Book Review Essay, Columns, Resources

The Sarashina Diary: A Woman’s Life in Eleventh Century Japan

The Sarashina Diary: A Woman’s Life in Eleventh-Century Japan, translated with excellent notes and short essays by Sonja Arntzen and Itō Moriyuki, gives a perfect opportunity to consider the significance of Sugawara Takasue no Musume’s “personal story.” 1 From the generation after the great luminaries Murasaki Shikibu and Sei Shōnagon, the young Takasue no Musume prayed “with abandon” to be able to read more tales of the “Shining Genji.”2 Takasue no Musume had quite the chance ...

Book Review Essay, Columns, Resources

Mountain of Fame: Portraits of Chinese History

For high school teachers and university lecturers hoping to improve their content knowledge and approach to China in world history survey courses, Mountain of Fame: Portraits in Chinese History by John Wills Jr. offers a tremendous introduction to the broad swath of Chinese history in a manageable and enjoyable volume. While the full volume is not appropriate for most high school general survey-level classes, there are countless passages where Wills’s biographical narrative outlines concepts i...

Columns, Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Using “Makers of Modern India” to Teach about India

Makers of Modern India, edited by acclaimed Indian historian Ramachandra Guha, is a terrific addition to the growing body of work on India’s founders. More than just a compilation of excerpts from selected writings by India’s foremost political figures and theorists, this excellent book gives a sense of how the extraordinarily rich trove of work that these influential Indians produced between roughly 1830 and 1970 helped shape India and continues to inform Indians. This impressive book he...

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...