Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Columns, EAA Interview

The Sister Mountain Curriculum Project: Mount Rainier and Mount Fuji: A Brief Interview with Peter Conrick and Setsuro Kobayashi

The United States–Japan Foundation, The Mountain Institute, and the National Park Service collaborated to create the Sister Mountain Curriculum Project. The Mountain Institute’s Alton Byers is project director and works with Lee Taylor of the National Park Service. The Sister Mountain Curriculum Project teaches middle and high school students in the US and Japan about two iconic mountains, Mount Fuji and Mount Rainier. These famous peaks serve as a lens to focus student awareness of the phys...

Columns, Film Review Essay

Shugendo Now

DIRECTED BY JEAN-MARC ABELA JEAN-MARC ABELA AND MARC PATRICK MCGUIRE, PRODUCERS EMPOWER PICTURES, 2009 88 MINUTES, ENGLISH SUBTITLES, DVD Reviewed by William Londo As the title of this documentary suggests, Shugendō Now examines the state of Shugendō practice today as practiced by both professional practitioners, known as yamabushi, and ordinary Japanese people. The film begins by explaining that yamabushi are those who enter the mountain to seek experiential truth. They perform austeri...

Columns, Film Review Essay

The Lessons of the Loess Plateau

The Lessons of the Loess Plateau was produced, written, and directed by John Liu, an American and former CBS cameraman, who has been living in China for the past twenty-five years. It tells the amazing story of how scientists, working in collaboration with local farmers in one of the most eroded places on the planet, reversed thousands of years of environmental degradation perpetrated by the combined actions of humans and nature....

Book Review, Feature Article

A Vietnam War Reader: A Documentary History from American and Vietnamese Perspectives

Divided into seven chapters, the compact A Vietnam War Reader is a brilliant guide to one of history’s most analyzed conflicts. This volume’s excellence is rooted in the editor’s choice of documents and his narrative introductions to each chapter; every chapter introduction concludes with questions for discussion. Professor Michael H. Hunt brings a lifetime of knowledge and scholarship to this edited book. Very few, if any, scholars have the gift for succinct, engaging narrative combined w...

Book Review, Columns

Japan in World History

Reviewed by John H. Sagers This splendidly lucid text will delight teachers and students looking for a concise, well-written, and up-to-date introduction to Japanese history. Despite the title, this new book is unlikely to be widely adopted in world civilizations courses typically dominated by texts covering many regions at once. And while it contains a respectable set of maps, black and white photos, and a timeline, the publisher has kept costs down by sacrificing color and features like prima...

Book Review, Columns

Paradise in the Sea of Sorrow: Our Minamata Disease

BY ISHIMURE MICHIKO TRANSLATED BY LIVIA MONNET UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, CENTER FOR JAPANESE STUDIES, 2003 379 PAGES, ISBN 978-1929280254, PAPERBACK Reviewed by Jason R. Harshman The study of Japanese environmental literature must begin with the work of author and reluctant activist Ishimure Michiko. This name may be unknown—and underappreciated—by many in the West due to a limited and delayed translation of Ishimure’s work outside of Japan and her unconventional approach to nonfiction ...

Columns, Teaching Resources Essay

China Today: Teaching about a Changing Cultural Landscape

Social Education, the Teaching Journal for the National Council of the Social Studies VOLUME 74, NUMBER 1, JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2010 EDITED BY KATHLEEN WOODS MASALSKI AND TEDD LEVY Reviewed by Jeffrey R. Johnson Change in China is not new. The myth of a static “Orient” was never true. However, ongoing developments in contemporary China promise to affect the lives of our students more directly and more profoundly than ever before. The National Council for the Social Studies’ flagship journ...

Columns, Curriculum Materials Review

Uncovering North Korea

It is my pleasure to have worked with SPICE in a variety of capacities. I enrolled and participated in the SPICE seminar on East Asia, I served as a presenter to that same seminar in later years, I worked as a consultant on a curriculum unit, and I have long considered myself a devoted user and fan of their classroom resources and curricula. The latest unit on North Korea is no exception. What I particularly appreciate about SPICE materials is that while they are exceptionally well-organized and...

Columns, Curriculum Materials Review

U.S.-South Korean Relations

U.S.-South Korean Relations is a valuable resource for any teacher at the secondary or college level seeking to introduce their students to the complex interdependent relationship of the two countries over the last sixty years. Even though the unit, developed by Rylan Sekiguchi, Joon Seok Hong, and Rennie Moon at the Stanford Program on International and Cross-cultural Education (SPICE), is designed as a self-contained exploration of historical and current US-South Korean interactions, its vario...

Columns, EAA Interview

Japan and Imperialism: 1853-1945: A Brief Interview with James L. Huffman

Key Issues in Asian Studies (KIAS) booklets complement Education About Asia and are practical teaching resources for college, university, and senior high school teachers and students. James L. Huffman is H. Orth Hirt Professor of History Emeritus at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, where he taught East Asian history for thirty years. A former journalist, he also has taught at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Indiana Wesleyan University, and Dartmouth College. He is the author of se...

Columns, EAA Interview

An EAA Interview 2010 Franklin R. Buchanan Prize Winners: Rylan Sekiguchi, Rennie Moon and Joon Seok Hong

This is our fourteenth consecutive interview with winners of the Franklin R. Buchanan Prize. The Association for Asian Studies awards the prize annually for development of outstanding curriculum materials on Asia. The 2010 prize was awarded to the Stanford Program on International and Cross–Cultural Education (SPICE) curriculum units, U.S.–South Korean Relations and Uncovering North Korea....

Feature Article

Can Samurai Teach Critical Thinking? Primary Sources in the Classroom

Many Americans are fascinated by the samurai. Although there are no samurai today—the official status was abolished by the Japanese government in the 1870s—they remain alive and well in the popular imagination. Samurai-themed manga such as Lone Wolf and Cub, Blade of the Immortal, and Vagabond are wildly popular, as are animated television series such as Samurai Champloo and Samurai Jack. Japan’s legendary warriors star in many computer and video games and are regulars on the silver screen...

Feature Article

Teaching about Environmental Issues in Japan

Environmental education in Japan’s schools has become more active in the last sixty years in both research and practical application. It is often said that environmental education in Japanese schools is now in the third phase of its development. In the first phase, during the 1960s, study of industrial pollution was the focus. Social studies curricula in elementary schools, as well as in lower and upper secondary schools, included lessons on the ways environmental pollution (river, seacoast, a...

Feature Article

Minamata as a Window on Modern Japan

Minamata is often described as a condensed version or “miniature portrait” (shukuzu) of modern Japan. Like “Việt Nam” for Americans, “Minamata” for Japanese is much more than a place name. It signifies an era of conflicts, tragedies, and transformations whose repercussions have yet to fade away. Just as Việt Nam can serve as a lens on important parts of twentieth-century United States history, Minamata is a window on much of modern Japanese history. A course or unit centered on M...

Feature Article

Postwar Environmental Changes in Japan

Japan’s postwar economic development made a tremendous impact oncthe national and global environment. Like China today, Japan in the 1950s and 1960s expanded rapidly and pursued growth at almost any cost. Rapid growth and unbridled pollution led to Japanese citizens demanding change and environmental protection in the 1970s. By the mid1970s, extensive programs for environmental protection were implemented. Japan succeeded in protecting the environment and continued to grow during the 1970s and...

Nation Versus People: Ashio and Japan’s First Evironmental Crisis

Farmers along the Watarase River sixty miles northwest of Tokyo had never worried much about the spring and summer floods, even the occasional big ones, because the waters brought rich top soil from the north and with it, better harvests. The floods of 1890 were different, however. New seeds refused to sprout once the waters evaporated; fish in the river died; silkworms ate mulberry leaves along the shore and shriveled up; sores broke out on field workers’ feet. And when even bigger floods cam...

Feature Article

China’s Environmental Challenges

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is a mighty engine of population growth, food production, and economic power. Since 1950, China’s population has more than doubled to 1.3 billion people and life expectancy has greatly increased. Once known for famines, China is now the world leader in many categories of food production including wheat, fruit, and meat. The PRC is the world’s second largest economy— behind only the United States. China is already number one in many industrial factors,...

Feature Article

Rumble in the Eco-Jungle: China’s Green Non-Governmental Organizations

While Western mainstream media frequently report on the dismal situation of China’s environment, the same media rarely focus on the country’s emerging green movement, which deserves more attention. Besides illuminating important efforts in combating the country’s deteriorating environmental situation, studying China’s green Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) sheds light on the conditions under which civil society organizations in China work and how they cope within a restrictive polit...

Feature Article

Asia and the Climate Crisis

If life were fair, Asia would not have to deal with the climate crisis at all. After all, its population per capita emits significantly less greenhouse enhancing gases like carbon dioxide than the Western countries. Moreover, despite recent growth, it has not been industrialized nearly as long as Western Europe and the United States. That reality is especially significant considering that what really matters with the longer lasting atmospheric gases is the cumulative impact of decades of industr...

Feature Article

Major Asian Rivers of the Plateau of Tibet: The Basics

In relatively recent geologic times, less than forty million years ago, the Indian subcontinent crashed into the Eurasian tectonic plate. As the South Asian plate began to subduct under the Eurasian plate, it pushed up the Himalayas, the Plateau of Tibet, and folded the ranges of mountains to the east of the Plateau of Tibet. The Indian plate is still converging on the Eurasian plate at a little over three-quarters of an inch per year, deforming the boundary and raising the Himalaya Range. This ...