A History of Japan

History Podcasts

A history of the people of Japan, from the prehistoric Jomon period to the modern era. WARNING: This podcast occasionally touches on subjects of human sexuality, suicide, violence, and torture.


United States


A history of the people of Japan, from the prehistoric Jomon period to the modern era. WARNING: This podcast occasionally touches on subjects of human sexuality, suicide, violence, and torture.






China's Famous Visitors - BONUS EPISODE

Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta were two travelers whose journeys to China made them famous. In this episode, we will explore their accounts and examine the criticism of their skeptics. Support the show


The Golden Age of Renga - BONUS EPISODE

Just like the political upheaval during the Muromachi Period, there was also aesthetic upheaval. The world of Japanese poetry would soon be challenged by a new type of cooperative verse known as Renga. The consequences for its champions, however, would sometimes prove extremely dire. Support the show


Selections from the Kemmu Shikimoku and Jinno Shotoki - BONUS EPISODE

In this special bonus episode, we will read the entire Kemmu Shikimoku and selections from Kitabatake Chikafusa's Jinno Shotoki. Support the show


The Onin War Part II: The Fire Spreads

As the Onin War continued to ravage the capital, it sparked regional conflicts and forced the Shugo-daimyo and peasants to fend for themselves amid the civil war. When the war was over, the political power of the Shogunate reached an all-time low. Support the show


The Onin War Part I: A Family Dispute

Ashikaga Yoshimasa wanted to retire from the office of Shogun, so he chose his brother Yoshimi to be his successor. In 1465, however, his wife gave birth to a son. As two powerful clans each threw their weight behind a different candidate, war became imminent. Support the show


The Rising Tide

After Yoshimitsu, the Ashikaga Shoguns would all try their hand at keeping the powerful shugo-daimyo clans in line. Ashikaga Yoshinori went to extreme lengths to dominate them, but paid the ultimate price. Support the show


The Pax Ashikaga

In the closing years of the reign of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the Shogun would continue to reach ever higher for honors and titles which were usually reserved for sovereigns. He would also continue to refine Japan's aesthetic tastes by patronizing Noh performances. Support the show


The Joseon Dynasty

As the Yuan Dynasty fled China, two factions emerged in the Korean government - one which supported Yuan restoration and one which acknowledged the new Ming Dynasty. As a result, the Goryeo Dynasty collapsed and in its place arose the Joseon Dynasty. Support the show


The Rise of the Ming Dynasty

As the Yuan Dynasty lost ground against rebel uprisings, a leader of the Red Turbans would eliminate his rivals until finally driving the Yuan out of Khanbaliq and founding the Ming Dynasty. Support the show


The Fall of the Mongols

After Kublai Khan's death, the Yuan Dynasty was divided by two rival factions - one who wanted total Mongol traditional rule and one who preferred Confucian government. The economic turmoil caused by these feuding parties gave rise, in part, to the Red Turban Rebellion. Support the show


Shikata Ga Nai

Ashikaga Yoshimitsu retires... or does he? The Ouchi clan seizes its moment but faces off against the Shogun's private army - the Hokoshu. We also explore the differences and similarities between the Muromachi Bakufu and the Kamakura Shogunate. Support the show


A Nation Somewhat United

The reign of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu was remarkable for many reasons, including the conclusion of the Nanboku-cho period. As the Southern Court finally capitulates, however, they soon learn that the Bakufu has no intention of enforcing their end of the peace treaty. Support the show


A City Divided

Within a decade, Heian-kyo would undergo multiple possessions by both the Northern and Southern Court. As Ashikaga Yoshimitsu is installed as the third Shogun, his regent Hosokawa Yoriyuki solidifies the Bakufu's status as a legitimate funcitoning government. Support the show


A House Divided

The rivalry between the Ko brothers and Ashikaga Tadayoshi comes to a head and results in a stunning reversal for the Northern Court. However, Ashikaga Takauji would not be quick to forgive his brother for his betrayal. Support the show


A Nation Divided

The Southern Court attempts to mount a nationwide uprising against the Ashikaga Shogunate, sending their agents to Tohoku, Shikoku, and Kyushu as the Bakufu struggles with internal dissention and rivalries. Support the show


Revenues and Expenditures

Leaving the fighting of the Nanboku-cho wars aside for the moment, we take some time to examine the economics, aesthetics, and social developments of the early Muromachi period. Support the show


The Northern and Southern Courts

After Emperor Go-Daigo's flight to Yoshino, the nation was split in a civil conflict which would last for decades called the Nanboku-Cho Wars. Support the show


Takauji's Triumph

Although Ashikaga Takauji had been chased out of Honshu for the moment, he was safe among allies in Kyushu where he planned to make a dramatic return. Emperor Go-Daigo, determined to remain in the capital, ordered his loyalists to attack Takauji as he made his return, resulting in a crushing disaster for his cause. Support the show


Takauji's Treason

Having left the capital without permission to quell a pro-Hojo rebellion in Kanto, Ashikaga Takauji compounded the situation by refusing to return to Heian-kyo. The resulting civil war pitted the loyalists of Emperor Go-Daigo against the frustrated samurai who followed the Ashikaga brothers. Support the show


The Kemmu "Restoration"

Emperor Go-Daigo took the throne and immediately tried to establish himself as the sole ruler of Japan. While his taxation of trade and mercantile approach to imperial governance were very practical, those he appointed to reward the samurai who had fought on his behalf were inexperienced and corrupt. Support the show