Allegories of Time and Space: An Interview

Jonathan M. Reynolds’s new book looks carefully at how photographers, architects, and others wrestled with a postwar identity crisis as they explored and struggled with new meanings of tradition, home, and culture in modern Japan. Building on the work of Walter Benjamin, Allegories of Time and Space: Japanese Identity in Photography and Architecture (University of Hawaii Press, 2015) takes readers into a range of media in which … Continue reading Allegories of Time and Space: An Interview

Bad Water: An Interview

Robert Stoltz’s fascinating book Bad Water explores the emergence of an environmental turn in modern Japan, guiding readers through the unfolding of successive eco-historical periods in Japan while charting the transformations of an “environmental unconscious” lying at the foundation of modern social and political thought. Robert and I had a chance to talk about it for the New Books in East Asian Studies podcast, and you can listen to our conversation here. Continue reading Bad Water: An Interview

Rewriting Medieval Japanese Women: An Interview

Known primarily as a travel writer thanks to the frequent assignment of her Diary in high school history and literature classes, Nun Abutsu was a thirteenth-century poet, scholar, and teacher, and also a prolific writer. Christina Laffin’s new book explores Abutsu’s life and written works, taking readers in turn through her letters, memoirs, poems, prayers, and travel diary, among others. You can listen to our conversation about it here. Continue reading Rewriting Medieval Japanese Women: An Interview

The Nature of the Beasts: An Interview

A new understanding of animals was central to how Japanese people redefined their place in the natural world in the nineteenth century. In his recent book, Ian Miller explores this transformation and its reverberations in a fascinating study of the emergence of an “ecological modernity” at the Ueno Zoo in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We spoke about the book earlier this year, and you … Continue reading The Nature of the Beasts: An Interview

Meiji Restoration Losers: An Interview

There are so many reasons why I enjoyed talking with Michael Wert about his new book on the construction of memory around the “losers” of the Meiji Restoration, individuals and groups whose reputations suffered most in the late nineteenth-century transition from Tokugawa to imperial rule. Here are two of those reasons: (1) the book involves buried treasure, and (2) it consequently gave me an excuse to talk … Continue reading Meiji Restoration Losers: An Interview

Japanese Historiography and the Gold Seal of 57 C. E.: An Interview

Josh Fogel and spoke recently about his thoughtful new exploration of the transformations of an artifact as read through the transformations in the way that artifact has been understood historically. It’s a book about a very particular gold seal in the history of Japan, and simultaneously about much more, and you can listen to our conversation about it here. Continue reading Japanese Historiography and the Gold Seal of 57 C. E.: An Interview