Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching about the Comfort Women during World War II and the Use of Personal Stories of the Victims

“Comfort women” refers to the system of sexual slavery created and controlled by the Imperial Japanese government between 1932 and 1945. It is the largest case of government-sponsored human trafficking and sexual slavery in modern history. Many scholars have argued that the term comfort women, a euphemism coined by the Japanese military, obscures the gravity of the crime. While the authors agree that “military sexual slaves” is a much more accurate and appropriate phrase, we use the term...

Book Review Essay

A Village with My Name: A Family History of China’s Opening to the World. Reviewed by Kristin Stapleton

To plunge readers into the thick of life at some historical period, memoirs and other personal accounts can’t be beat. A book such as The Diary of Anne Frank presents history in a fully embodied way, combining details of material conditions with an avenue into the consciousness of the writer or subject. The intimacy and immediacy of diaries and memoirs give them a power that can be used to stimulate interest in a very unfamiliar past. In this way, Scott Tong’s family history is well-suited t...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Incarnations, a History of India in Fifty Lives

By Sunil Khilnani New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2017 464 pages, ISBN: 978-0374537210, Paperback Reviewed by Tommy Lamont In his latest book, Incarnations, Sunil Khilnani, director of the Kings College London India Institute, helps broaden and deepen our understanding of and appreciation for the rich history of South Asia, particularly India. With the same smooth, bold, and engaging style that characterized his excellent 1997 award-winning book The Idea of India, Khilnani once again w...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The Osamu Tezuka Story: A Life in Manga and Anime

By Toshio Ban and Tezuka Productions Translated by Frederik L. Schodt Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press, 2016 928 pages, ISBN: 978-1611720259, paperback Reviewed by William Tsutsui Tezuka Osamu is hardly a household name in the United States, even in the fan communities that so eagerly consume the products of the Japanese pop culture industry that Tezuka was instrumental in building after World War II. In Japan, however, Tezuka is revered as a “god of manga,” a pi...

Feature Article

Mahavira: From Heretic to Fordmaker

Apart from Buddhism, Jainism is the only other ancient non-Vedic Indian tradition that has survived until the present day. While Buddhism all but disappeared from India by the fourteenth century CE and was only later revived, Jainism has existed in India uninterruptedly for over 2,500 years. However, unlike Buddhism, it had not spread from India until recent times, which is largely due to the observance of the ethical principle of nonviolence. Careful attentiveness not to harm even the tiniest o...

EAA Interview, Feature Article

Is There a New India?: A Conversation with Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor is an Indian author, diplomat, and politician who has twice been elected Member of Parliament from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. He was previously Minister of State in the Government of India for External Affairs and Human Resource Development. Tharoor was born in London in 1956, grew up in Bombay and Calcutta, and left India in 1975 for graduate school in the United States. In 1978, at the age of twenty-two, he earned a doctorate from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tuf...

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...

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

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

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

Dōgen: His Life, Religion, and Poetry

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 Chinese styles of writing, including poetr...

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 epoch, ...

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

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...

Story of Hiroshima: Life of an Atomic Bomb Survivor

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 December 1945.1 The energy of the A-bomb consisted of heat rays, blast, and radiation.2 Severe heat rays from the A-bomb reached people residing up to two miles away from the hypocent...

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

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 Western designs, and almost none could yet compete directly against foreign wares. Many of Japan’s industries were badly crippled by US bombing campaigns late in the Second World War (1939–1945), an...

Feature Article, Online Supplement

Mori Arinori and Japanese Education (1847-1889)

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 the official carriage to take him to the great event heralded by the government as a monumental stride forward in the modernization of Japan. Unannounced, Nishino Buntaro, a former samurai from Yamaguchi Prefecture, called at the Mori home in Tokyo, purportedly on a matter of great urgency. As the secre...

Columns, Web Gleanings

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...

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, Resources

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...

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