Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Book Review Essay, Online Supplement

The Entrepreneur Who Built Modern Japan: Shibusawa Eiichi

Shibusawa Eiichi BY SHIMADA MASAKAZU TRANSlATED BY PAUL NARUM TOKYO: JAPAN PUBlISHING INdUSTRY FOUNDATION FOR CULTURE, 2017 196 PAGES, ISBN 978-4916055798, HARDCOVER Reviewed by John H. Sagers Shibusawa Eiichi (1840–1931) was one of Japan’s most famous and prolific entrepreneurs, who launched nearly 500 business enterprises–including the dai-Ichi Bank, Oji Paper, Sapporo Beer, and Tokyo gas. living ninety-one years during Japan’s transition from the world of the samurai under...

Film Review Essay

Maineland: Directed by Miao Wang. Reviewed by Carol Stepanchuk

Directed by Miao Wang Produced by Miao Wang, Violet Feng, Robert M. Chang, and Damon Smith 90 minutes, Color Three Waters Productions, 2017 “An eye-opening cultural commentary” —Huffington Post Reviewed by Carol Stepanchuk Stella (Xinyi) Zhu instantly engages with the camera: “Today is a very special day for me—I’m so happy to receive an offer from Fryeburg Academy—it’s my ideal school, my dream come true. . . I won’t let you down!” Harry (Junru) He also rece...

Book Review Essay

A Brief History of Indonesia: Sultans, Spices, and Tsunamis The Incredible Story of Southeast Asia’s Largest Nation. Reviewed by Paul A. Rodell

By Tim Hannigan Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 2015 288 pages, ISBN: 978-0804844765, Paperback Reviewed by Paul A. Rodell When planning my fall 2017 Modern Southeast Asia course, an introductory survey intended for undergraduates with no prior background, I decided to explore new textbook options. On a whim, I looked through Tim Hannigan’s A Brief History of Indonesia and was immediately taken with this highly accessible volume with its decent font size for easy reading and even a centerpie...

Book Review Essay

Pachinko

By Min Jin Lee New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2017 512 pages, ISBN: 978-1455563920, Paperback Reviewed by Charles Newell Pachinko, a game of chance not skill, is a rather curious Japanese amusement. It can best be described as a combination of pinball and a slot machine. Players purchase small silver balls that they drop or launch into the vertical pachinko machine. The balls bounce off pins and bumpers, and players hope the balls land in cups or slots that will win them prizes or m...

Book Review Essay

Understanding China through Comics, Volume 2 Division to Unification in Imperial China: The Three Kingdoms to the Tang Dynasty (220–907)

By Jing Liu Albany: Stone Bridge Press, 2016 168 Pages, ISBN: 978-1611720303, Paperback Reviewed by Karl R. Neumann The classic Romance of the Three Kingdoms opens with the famous line, “Anything long divided will surely unite, and anything long united will surely divide.” This aphorism aptly summarizes the historical thread that winds its way through the second volume of Jing Liu’s series Understanding China through Comics. In just under 150 pages, Liu deftly navigates the ebb and...

Book Review Essay

China in the 21st Century What Everyone Needs to Know. Reviewed by Karen Kane

By Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom and Maura Elizabeth Cunningham New York: Oxford University Press, 2018 240 pages, ISBN: 978-0190659080, Paperback Reviewed by Karen Kane Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine, first published China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know in 2010. In that year, China was still advertising the mascots of the 2008 Olympics and crowds were lining up to be photographed at the Bird’s Nest Stadium. Hu Jintao held th...

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...

Teaching Resources Essay

Public Opinion Polls as a Tool for Understanding Millennials’ Views on Asia

Like many countries around the world, Canada is becoming more at­tentive to its economic and diplomatic relationship with countries in Asia. This is especially the case with China, now Canada’s sec­ond-largest trading partner (behind only the United States). Public opin­ion is an important, though not always well-understood, facet of these relationships. Since 2004, the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada) has conducted regular national opinion polls to gauge Canadians’ views on...

Digital Asia

Expanding Language Instruction through Digital Tools

When I entered middle school, I was asked to decide between two foreign languages. Other young learners, including in the rural school district where I now live, are provided just one option. My young neighbors and I have something in common with nearly all American students of foreign languages. According to the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages (NCOLCTL), 91 percent of us have engaged in the study of a major European language: French, German, or Spanish. This past spring, a...

Book Review Essay, Online Supplement

Down and Out in Late Meiji Japan

BY JAMES L. HUFFMAN HONOLULU: UNIVERSITY Of HAWAI'I PRESS, 2018 362 PAGES, ISBN 978-0824872915, HARDCOVER Reviewed by Daniel A. Métraux Author James L. Huffman begins this study of the daily lives of Japan’s massive impoverished population around the turn of the last century by recounting an epigram he found on the wall of an old slave castle in Africa that said: “until the lion has his historian the hunter will always be the hero.” Huffman’s point is that no history of Japan’...

Feature Article

Some Demographic Trends in the World’s Most Populous Country-to-Be

Sometime around the year 2023, India will surpass China as the world’s most populous nation, with a population approaching 1.4 billion (see Figure 1).1 Such change at the top of demographic rankings is rare, and so it is likely to generate some attention, reflection, and commentary. People are likely to be curious about India’s population growth—does it show signs of slowing? In the Western imagination, India, perhaps more than any other country, has been associated with overpopulation. St...

Feature Article

History and Sustainability of Bunraku, the Japanese Puppet Theater

As governor of Osaka Prefecture, and later mayor of Osaka city, Tōru Hashimoto was faced with significant debt accruing from annual budget deficits. To address this, he assertively promoted competition, private business, and reduction of public funding for the arts. He felt strongly that “what users don’t choose basically shouldn’t be pro­vided” and, accordingly, believed that arts organizations such as the Osaka Symphony Orchestra and National Bunraku Theater should be self-sup­porti...

Feature Article

Leaving North Korea: My Story

Editor’s note: What follows is a lightly edited version of a North Korean defector’s true story, which was originally a presentation at the AAS Committee on Teaching about Asia workshop for educators at George Washington University in March 2018. The author requested that her name not be published. I am a North Korean defector currently working as a research intern at the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, located in Washington, DC. Before I begin talking about my personal sto...

Feature Article

The People Who Left the People’s Republic: A History of the North Korean Diaspora

Our primary questions are: Who are the people leaving the People’s Republic? When did they leave? Why did they leave? How many are there? The word “diaspora” is derived from the Greek word diaspeirein (to disperse) and relates to “the movement, migration, or scattering of a people away from an established or ancestral homeland.”1 What makes the application of this term special is that it is very emotional, as people indirectly associate it with the plight of Jewish or African sl...

Feature Article

Challenging Homogeneity in Contemporary Korea Immigrant Women, Immigrant Laborers, and Multicultural Families

South Korea (“Korea” afterward) has been widely known as a homo­geneous nation. The government, political leaders, and popular cul­ture frequently promote the notion that Koreans share a single racial, ethnic, and cultural identity. Yet this perception is at odds with reality. During the last three decades, the number of foreign residents in Korea has exponentially increased, making significant changes to the demographic landscape of the country.1 After only a 22 percent rise between 1980 ...

Feature Article

Labor Migration in Central Asia: Will Kazakhstan Be the Anchor for Stability

Labor Migration in Post-Soviet Central Asia The five former Soviet states of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajik­istan, and Turkmenistan may collectively be referred to as Central Asia. In the quarter-century since these countries gained independence, their geo­political importance has become obvious. Not only does this region serve as a classic buffer zone between Russia and the turmoil in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they also hold large reserves of hydrocarbon and hydroelec­tric ...

Feature Article

Poverty in Late Meiji Japan: It Mattered Where You Lived

We know only a few things about the coal collector who eked out an existence in Osaka’s slum neighborhoods early in the 1900s. He had a twenty-four-year-old wife, a three-year-old son, and wages of ¥12 or ¥13 a month—about half of what a railway con­ductor made, and a third as much as an ironworker. We know too that these wages barely covered food, housing, and rented bedding, leaving the family dependent for everything else on the ¥2 his wife made each month making straw sandals.1 The g...

Feature Article

Nation, Immigration, and the Future of Japanese Society

Today’s classroom maps, globes, and atlases show the boundaries of all sovereign states across the world. These boundaries establish the territories of states and define the homelands of nations. However, combining the political institution of the state with the cultural attributes of a nation is a nineteenth-century European political invention that came to dominate world politics in the twentieth century.1 British historian Eric Hobsbawm pointed to the fact that “history” has always been...

Feature Article

Encounters Between Chinese and Jewish Civilizations

Comparison of Chinese and Jewish civilizations does not seem an obvious choice. At first glance, the differences between Chinese and Jewish history, numbers, language, religion, and more are enormous. Yet since 1605, when Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci in Beijing encountered for the first time a Chinese Jew, meetings between Chinese and Jews, as well as thoughts about their similarities, have fascinated the Western mind.1 Belgian– Australian sinologist Pierre Ryckmans called China “the oldes...

Feature Article

Same Land, Different Life? Questioning Narratives Surrounding China’s State-Led Rural Urbanization

“Same land, different life”: Under this slogan, Huaming, a model town in the suburban Dongli District of the municipality of Tianjin, China’s fifth-largest city, was presented at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai as a successful example of China’s rural urbanization. The slogan was meant to express that the peasants who had to give up their land in the process of urbanization and relocate to Huaming were leading better lives than before. This is in line with the official portrayal of gover...

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