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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.


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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.






The Cult of Tokugawa Ieyasu

All three of Japan's unifiers attempted to merge secular strength with spiritual authority, with varying degrees of success. After his death, however, Tokugawa Ieyasu would continue to be venerated by future shoguns as a shining avatar of Buddha watching over the nation from the heavens. Support the show


To Rome and Back, the Journey of Hasekura Tsunenaga -- BONUS

Near the beginning of the Edo Period, a samurai from Sendai Domain in Tohoku took a globe-spanning journey which took him across two oceans and included Mexico, Spain, France, Italy, and the Philippines. Support the show


The Life and Times of Miyamoto Musashi

While some Ronin chose to lay aside their swords and take up artisinal crafts, some found new purpose in teaching the way of the warrior to the next generation. Miyamoto Musashi embodied the twilight of the Sengoku samurai in walking the path of dueling, teaching, creating, and ultimately leaving a legacy of strategy, tactics, and wisdom. Support the show


Artists of the Early Edo Period -- BONUS

In this episode, we discuss the founder of Kabuki theatre Izumo Okuni, playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon, legendary sculptor Hidari Jingoro, poet Matsuo Basho, and the birth of Ukiyo-e painting. Here is a link to a short film about Hidari Jingoro (CONTENT WARNING: EPIC STOP-MOTION VIOLENCE): https://youtu.be/DpefYPLH67A?si=qpVZHtEncVs9WnPT Support the show


Yoshimune's Gambit

After the brief reigns of Tokugawa Ienobu and his young son Ietsugu, the Bakufu selected a new shogun from the Kii Branch of the Tokugawa Clan. Tokugawa Yoshimune inherited a national government in the midst of multiple crises and introduced the Kyoho Reforms to try and set the ship of state back on its proper course. Support the show


The Pax Edo

The Early Edo Period was a time of newfound stability for the formerly chaotic Japanese archipelago. Although the samurai were the official ruling class of the nation, however, in many ways they were not the principle beneficiaries of the new national status quo. Support the show


The Righteous Reign of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi

The tenure of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi was marked by a fervent support of Neo-Confucian reforms, some of which were extremely radical and some of which were downright wacky. It was during his reign that the events surrounding the tale of the forty-seven ronin occurred. Support the show


Tumult and Turnover in Joseon

The Kings of Joseon were faced with many difficult decisions throughout the 1600s as their nation faced Manchurian invasion, internal military coups, and a tumultuously factional political class. Support the show


The Rise of the Qing Dynasty

As the Ming Dynasty faced utter collapse in the face of famines, plagues, and peasant rebellions, the Qing Dynasty of Manchuria would surge and, eventually, take its place as the ruling dynasty of China. Support the show


The Fall of the Ming Dynasty

Under pressure from outside and within, the Ming Dynasty of China gradually lost control after a series of famines, plagues, and peasant rebellions. By the early 1600s, however, the Later Jin Dynasty began to take charge after unifying Manchuria and soon set its sights on claiming the Mandate of Heaven for themselves. Support the show


Iemitsu's Marvelous Machine

The reign of Tokugawa Iemitsu proved to be a stabilizing force in Japanese politics, as he defined the duties of the various office-holders throughout the Bakufu which helped make the Edo Shogunate the longest-lasting samurai government in Japanese history. Support the show


A State of Emergency

The reign of Tokugawa Iemitsu was marked by a general trend toward increasing the shogunate's power through self-perpetuating bureaucracy. His son Ietsuna's reign would prove to be a test of the Bakufu's machinery. Support the show


The Shimabara Rebellion

As the Bakufu continued to persecute Christianity, and certain daimyo continued taxing their subjects at punitive rates, a rebellion broke out in Kyushu in 1637 which would prove to be the end of any remaining tolerance the Shogunate had for foreign elements in Japan. Support the show


The Siege of Osaka

When conflict erupted at last between Toyotomi Hideyori and Tokugawa Ieyasu, the resulting battles would decide the political future of Japan for hundreds of years to come. However, in spite of the reduction they had experienced at the Shogun's hands, the Toyotomi Clan was still able to raise significant numbers of troops. Support the show


Tokugawa Ieyasu's Big Move

Shortly after the foundation of the new shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu gradually makes his fortified city Edo into the new unofficial political capital of Japan. He needed to proceed carefully, however, to avoid offending the powerful daimyo who still supported young Toyotomi Hideyori. Support the show


The Sacred and the Profane

Throughout Japanese history, there were people called "Nonhumans" who specialized in removing spiritual pollution. While their descendants would face discrimination during the Edo Period, in this episode we explore their origins and discuss why they became segregated and oppressed. Support the show


The One-Eyed Dragon of Oshu -- BONUS

In this special bonus episode, we follow the career of Date Masamune, a daimyo from Tohoku who consolidated power in the north and became one of the most feared warriors and battle leaders in the nation during the Azuchi-Momoyama Period. Support the show


To Osaka and Beyond

After the Battle of Sekigahara, Tokugawa Ieyasu continued carefully and gradually accumulating his own power and was named Seii-tai-shogun in 1603. This episode also features the adventures of William Adams, the first Englishman to come to Japan. Support the show


The Battle of Sekigahara

Ishida Mitsunari gathered the various factions that composed his Western Army, hoping to face off against Tokugawa Ieyasu in Mikawa Province. Ieyasu had other plans, however, and confronted Mitsunari in Mino Province instead. The battle that ensued was legendary, and the winner would gain control over the entire nation. Support the show


A Game of Succession

After the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Go-Tairo, or Council of Five Elders, would contend with one another over how best to interpret and execute the Taiko's final commands. Support the show