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TOOLS OF CULTURE: Japan’s Cultural, Intellectual, Medical, and Technological Contacts in East Asia, 1100s–1500s. (Goble, Robinson, Wakabayashi)

ISBN: 978-0-924304-53-8, 336 pages. Paperback.

This important collection addresses aspects of Japanese human and material interactions in East Asia from the late eleventh through the late sixteenth centuries, a period coincident with Japan’s late classical and medieval eras. The collection broadens our understanding of Japanese history, by departing from a traditional focus on Japanese history as a phenomenon essentially limited to the Japanese archipelago, and expands the horizons of that history to encompass the ubiquity of overseas contacts and the constant circulation of people, experiences, and objects. Each chapter provides a different perspective on the interactions—travel, trade, texts, religion, poetry, medicine, and art—rippling through Japanese society and across the waters that joined Japan and the continent.

“Tools of Culture offers refreshing, important new perspectives on the production and reproduction of medieval Japanese culture, taken in the context of the international and transnational processes of travel, trade, and interaction with contemporary Korea, China, the Mongols, and the Arab world. The authors’ focus on the materiality of culture as embodied in the movement of pilgrims, proselytizers and traders, of the texts they carried to Japan as physical objects and as objects of possession, of the new temple complexes they constructed and religious practices they introduced, of ceramics and other trade goods, and of medical and other forms of knowledge, reframes the cultural milieux of medieval Japan in productive contexts that will enrich our understanding and recast our agendas of research.” — Ronald P. Toby, Professor of History and East Asian Languages & Cultures, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“A welcome collection of essays on the dynamic human and cultural exchanges that connected premodern Japan with the rest of Asia, written by a fittingly multinational, multidisciplinary cast of authors. This book makes an important contribution to our understanding of Japanese history by calling attention to the volume, diversity, and significance of cross-cultural contacts in premodern times. The authors and editors are to be congratulated on an outstanding piece of work.” —Bruce Batten, Professor of Japanese History, J. F. Oberlin University, Tokyo