Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Book Review Essay, Feature Article

Planting the seeds of Wild Mustard: Reading Vietnamese Short Stories in the Study of Asian History and Religion

Wild Mustard: New Voices from Vietnam is a collection of contemporary short stories, translated into English and edited by Charles Waugh, Nguyen Lien, and Van Gia (Curbstone Books/Northwestern, 2017). I have used the book in two college courses on the history of Asian religions. This essay primarily focuses on using “Sleeping in the Lotus Flowers,” a story included in the book, in the classroom. There is also contextual content on Vietnamese culture and religion that should be helpful for in...

Feature Article

Borrowing from the Buddha: Buddhist Temples as Financial Centers in Premodern East Asia

We would not be surprised to hear the Buddha tell us how to meditate or how to be compassionate. We might be surprised to hear him offer financial advice. Yet in several cases, he does exactly this. In one early example, the Buddha advises a young layman to divide his wealth into four parts: “One part should be enjoyed, two parts invested in [your] business, and the fourth set aside against future misfortunes.”1 This demonstrates that rather than entirely renouncing money, Buddhism developed...

Teaching Resources Essay

Finding Quiet within the Noise: How Japanese Traditions Can Help Today’s Students

Mindfulness has become trendy around the world in recent years— but in Japan, it’s been ingrained into the culture for centuries. —BBC Travel Contemporary society is beset with physical and digital noise. News media supply a never-ending stream of sensational stories. Cellphones, computers, and video games distract teen and adults constantly, and almost unlimited access to one another through social media sites only increases tensions between and among individuals. It is almost impossi...

Feature Article

The Rise of Hindu Nationalism and Its Regional and Global Ramifications

European powers gained interest in the Indian subcontinent by the late fifteenth century. Competing powers, including the Dutch, French, Portuguese, and British, sought to control valuable resources and trade routes centered around spices, textiles, and tea. The British ultimately established their dominance in the subcontinent when British crown rule was formally declared in 1858 following a protracted nationalist uprising known as the Sepoy mutiny. The next ninety years would be especially tur...

EAA Interview, Resources

An EAA Interview with the 2017 Franklin R. Buchanan Prizewinner Anne Prescott for East Asia in the World: An Introduction

This is our twenty-first consecutive interview with the recipient of the AAS Franklin R. Buchanan Prize. This year’s winner is Anne Prescott, who is the Editor of East Asia in the World: An Introduction (Routledge, 2015). The text offers students a fresh, comprehensive, multidisciplinary entry point to East Asia, with an emphasis on the globalizing processes the region is undergoing. A review of East Asia in the World: An Introduction appears on page 62. Anne Prescott has been studying Japa...

Feature Article

A Tribute To Wm. Theodore de Bary: Asia in the Core Curriculum

As noted briefly in the fall issue of EAA, Professor Wm. Theodore de Bary died on July 14th, 2017. Professor de Bary, whose career at Columbia University spanned almost seven decades, was both an internationally known scholar of East Asian Confucianism and a pioneer in the movement to integrate Asian studies into undergraduate and secondary school general education courses. Those readers who are interested in learning more about arguably one of the greatest scholars and teachers of the twentieth...

Book Review Essay, Resources

East Asia in the World: An Introduction

Anne Prescott, ed. New York: Routledge, 2015 292 pages, ISBN: 978-0765643223, Paperback Reviewed by Stephanie Lee Rizas East Asia in the World: An Introduction, edited by Anne Prescott, should be in every history teacher’s classroom. This slim text somehow manages to cover essential elements of Asian history, culture, economics, and politics, and provides a plethora of extension resources that correlate to each chapter. The text itself is high-level, and some chapters and sections ma...

Feature Article

Cultural Associations of Water in Early Chinese and Indian Religion and Medicine

[caption id="attachment_7307" align="aligncenter" width="419"] Reading and relaxing by West Lake (Xihu) in Hangzhou, eastern China. Photo courtesy of the author.[/caption] While it invariably has been recognized as a necessary part of human life, water has been understood and spoken about in a variety of ways across cultures over the course of history. This article briefly provides an overview of the prevailing cultural associations of water in early Chinese and Indian traditions of religion...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Matteo Ricci and the Catholic Mission to China: A Short History with Documents

Matteo Ricci and the Catholic Mission to China A Short History with Documents By R. Po-chia Hsia Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2016 176 pages, ISBN: 978-1624664328, Paperback Reviewed by Michael Laver Professor R. Po-chia Hsia positions this new documentary history within a fairly well-received corpus of scholarly literature on Matteo Ricci: Jonathan Spence’s The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, Mary Laven’s Mission to China: Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit Encounter with the ...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Voices of East Asia: Essential Readings from Antiquity to the Present

Voices of East Asia: Essential Readings from Antiquity to the Present Margaret Childs and Nancy Hope, eds. New York: Routledge, 2015 342 pages, ISBN: 978-0765638342, Paperback Reviewed by Christa Adams One result of the expanding interest in East Asian history, culture, and religious beliefs amongst non-Asian-language readers and learners is the production of valuable source-driven texts like Voices of East Asia: Essential Readings from Antiquity to the Present, edited by Margaret Childs an...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Rain Gods and Rice Farmers in Rural Japan

In the mountains above the town of Chitose flowed a narrow stream. Clear, cold water zigzagged around trees and tumbled wildly over rocks before finally being corralled into cement-lined troughs that directed the water to the valley below, where it filled the rice paddies and then spilled into the Hozu River, and, flowing wild again, cascaded through the rocky gorge and into the city of Kyoto. A short hike up the mountain from my house on the edge of the paddies, the water tumbled over a twen...

Feature Article

Water, Tradition, and Innovation: Flowing through Japan’s Cultural History

Water, a gift from nature, is an essential part of our daily lives. People use water every day, everywhere, for everything—often without much consideration for its significance in terms of the larger social, cultural, historical, economic, and environmental implications for the twenty-first century. As an island nation, Japan has a deep connection with water in various ways, creating a cultural history where water and life go hand in hand. In Japan, water bridges past and present, tradition an...

Feature Article

The Hooghly River: A Sacred and Secular Waterway

[caption id="attachment_7320" align="alignright" width="205"] Detail from The Descent of the Ganga, life-size carved rock relief at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India. Source: Wikimedia Commons, by Ssriram mt, at https://tinyurl.com/y8jspxmp.[/caption] The Hooghly weaves through the Indian state of West Bengal from the Ganges, its parent river, to the sea. At just 460 kilometers (approximately 286 miles), its length is modest in comparison with great Asian rivers like the Yangtze in China or th...

Feature Article

Postcolonial Religious Conflict in Southeast Asia

“All religions teach people to be good people,” or so the Thai saying goes. This fits in with the general belief throughout Southeast Asia that religion is a good thing—though of course each person believes his/her religion to be the highest good. It is not surprising, then, that religious belief and practice remain key elements in Southeast Asian private and public life, with secularism little more than a theory. Religion continues to define the majority of people’s sense of self in Sou...

Feature Article

The Past, Present, and Future of the Swastika in Japan

Imagine your surprise as a recent arrival to Tokyo, among the world’s most futuristic and globalized cities. Safely ensconced in the Starbucks at Shibuya crossing, you open Apple Maps to plot a day of sightseeing in nearby Kamakura, a locale famed for its rich history and deep connection to Buddhism. Zooming in on the map (Figure 1), the first images to greet your eyes are . . . swastikas? Scattered all over the screen? Does the city hide a secret past related to the National Socialist German ...

Feature Article

Enlivened Learning: How to Play the Karma-based Moksha Game in the College Classroom

Editor’s Note: Please see the EAA online supplements for this issue including video screencasts, a course syllabus, and an example scoring sheet that will help demonstrate the Moksha game and various procedures described in this article. If you have any questions or comments about these materials, or about the Moksha game itself, you may contact the author at m.dennis@tcu.edu. This article describes Moksha (Sanskrit for “liberation” and “freedom”), a karma-based classroom game that ...

Feature Article

Cultivating Enlightenment: The Manifold Meaning of Japanese Zen Gardens

While Zen gardens have been a fixture of Japanese aesthetics since the Muromachi Period (1336–1573), the purposes and meanings of these austere landscapes have been far less fixed, and indeed have changed somewhat since their first appearance as places for meditation in the Zen temples of medieval Japan. For those of us who have been fortunate enough to visit such magnificent sites as Ryōanji or Tenryūji, the primary function of Zen gardens today seems to be to remind the busloads of tour...

Feature Article

Sacred Mountains of Japan, with a Particular Look at the Shikoku Pilgrimage

Japan is an island country, blessed with many peaks rising up to the clouds. It should come as no surprise that many of the mountains of Japan are treated as sacred spaces, and that visiting those heights may be an act of worship in and of itself. Of course, though we can think of all mountains as sacred, it is important to note that some are particularly venerated as holy peaks, or reizan. Mt. Fuji, probably the best-known of Japanese mountains, is the home of a Shintō goddess, the center o...

Online Supplement

Supplemental Materials for “Enlivened Learning: How to Play the Karma-based Moksha Game in the College Classroom”

Preview (supplementary material available as a PDF, attached) How to play Moksha 1. How to play Moksha: Managing Daily Points https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ar0E4EbW64&list=PLlDOLiSs74Vx21142BDiK25W nBzWOx3Qy&index=1 2. How to play Moksha: Creating Moksha Database https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gi7_BLPoNjE&list=PLlDOLiSs74Vx21142BDiK25Wn BzWOx3Qy&index=2 3. How to play Moksha: Adding Individual and Team Points https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zyBjAwshC8&in...

Asia: Experiential Learning, Resources

Thailand: Experiential Learning In and Outside the Classroom

How can students make meaning out of their experiences abroad? How can they connect their learning inside and outside the classroom? These are difficult questions for faculty teaching in a study abroad context where students learn not only from their professors. They have the opportunity to learn from religious leaders, museums, and temples, as well as to think about issues and current debates in societies other than their own as they exist in reality, not just in textbooks. As much as excursion...

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