A Short History of Japan Podcast

A walk through the best bits of Japanese history with a focus on the key people, best stories and the funny little mistakes that created Japan
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
A Short History of Japan Podcast







All Episodes
Now displaying: Page 1
Apr 24, 2016

"How did it come to this?" - This must have been the question the Christian missionaries asked themselves as Hideyoshi followed by successive Tokugawa Shoguns made life unbearable for Christians in Japan.  If only we had handed over the ship...if only we'd handed over the treasure.....if only we had that Englishman beheaded.....

It would be hard to find a group of Japanese more oppressed than the Christians.  But why were they especially targeted?   What threat did they represent?

Oct 9, 2014

To Christian missionaries, Japan was a most attractive prospect. Literate, cultured and rich - the Jesuits arrived in Japan in the 1500s and set about a process of conversion: from the lowest peasant to the highest warlord.  In Part One, we chart the rise and rise of Christianity under Nobunaga and Hideyoshi - before things turned sour.

Apr 22, 2014

With the destruction of the Toyotomi at Osaka in 1615, the Tokugawa clan were unrivalled in their domination of Japan.  They would establish a Shogunate that would last over 200 years.  But how did they change Japan from a nation perpetually at war to one of enforced peace?

Jan 29, 2013

The Siege of Osaka Castle in the winter of 1614-15 and the final Battle for Osaka Castle in the summer of 1615 marks the final chapter in the Sengoku Jidai. After years of rivalry between the forces of the Toyotomi and the Tokugawa the final question of who would dominate Japan for the next few hundred years was decided - but not before conspiracy, cowardice, spanked bottoms and cross dressing was tried as a winning strategy!  Here is a map of the events discussed in the podcast.

Nov 11, 2012

Tokugawa Ieyasu had won the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 and set up organising Japan under his clan’s domination.  However, safely ensconced in Osaka Castle was Hideyori, son of Hideyoshi; the last of the Toyotomi.  Tokugawa Ieyasu knew that he would never be safe until the last of the Toyotomi claims to control of Japan were snuffed out.

Nov 11, 2012

And the winner is of the Size-L Oda Nobunaga t-shirt - complete with his slogan “Tenka Fubu” (The Realm Subjected to Military Power) is……………………

Nov 5, 2012

OK - I’m going to draw out the winner of the competition THIS SATURDAY (Australian Eastern Standard Time) so if you haven’t entered - get your act together and make it happen!  Good luck!

Oct 16, 2012

I went to Japan with 25 students and 2 other teachers.  In this podcast I’ll tell you where we went with a particular emphasis on the historical dimension (obviously!) and *drum roll* I bought you a present!!  Well, there is a competition and a prize!  Here is the map of the places we went and a link to a sliderocket presentation with some pics too!

Sep 10, 2012

With Hideyoshi’s body barely cold, the plotting and scheming began in earnest.  This was the complete opposite of what Hideyoshi had hoped and begged for - for the sake of his infant son.  But promises to a dead man counted for little when the domination of Japan was in the offing.  Here is a google map with a few locations of the places mentioned in this cast

Jul 17, 2012

My mother says that the cemetery is full of people who thought they were indispensable - but in Hideyoshi’s case, he would have been right.  His fervent desire was to ensure that his son, Hideyori, would be able to maintain the Toyotomi rule over Japan.  In the end, he had to rely on promises of men he clearly didn’t trust.

Jul 11, 2012

In 1592 and 1598 Hideyoshi pointed the enormous Japanese capacity for warfare at the task of conquering one of the greatest civilizations in the world, China.  In this episode we discuss why he decided that that was a good idea and how it all went.

Apr 26, 2012

Hideyoshi, in spite of being a warlord, transitioned Japan from a state of war to a state of peace.  Though Japan wasn’t finished with the sengoku jidai by the time he died in 1598, he did put in place a series of laws that made peace more profitable than war.  When it came to creating a sustainable peace for the Japanese nation, he made the bird ‘want to sing’

Apr 19, 2012

The rise of Hideyoshi from sandal bearer to dictator of Japan was phenomenal. After hundreds of year of civil war, he, without any sense of irony, brought the country to unified peace with remarkably little bloodshed.  Well, at least a lot less than what one might expect if Nobunaga had lived long enough to make it happen.  Not only did he unify the Daimyo, he set about reorganising the process of taxation and commerce for the whole realm.

Apr 16, 2012

If murdering Nobunaga was Phase One of a long thought-out and well-considered plan for the take-over of Japan it certainly wasn’t obvious in 1582.  In fact, it hardly seems obvious today!  One thing we do know, Hideyoshi, though flat-out besieging the Mori clan, was not going to let this opportunity pass.  If things went right, he could achieve victory over the Mori, avenge his lord and overcome rivals for control of post-Nobunaga Japan.

Mar 27, 2012

Hello.  Just a quick note to say thank you for being patient.  It is becoming a worrying habit - this apologising for keeping you waiting!  The ‘real-life’ thing is taking up way to much ’spare’ time.  I have school holidays in a couple of weeks and I have one episode written already for recording.  As soon as the holidays start, the dog is quiet and the children out-sourced I should be able to get four episodes out in quick procession.  I know that the frequency of these podcasts is an issue for some people (it certainly is for me!) so my goal is to average about 1.5 per month - but to squeeze them out in short bursts when ‘real-life’ allows.  If I were a samurai, my shame would cleansed by seppuku…..but I’m just a teacher and a white-board marker will not pierce my belly.   Be well and I’ll ‘talk’ to you soon.

Jan 27, 2012

Between 1575 and 1582 Oda Nobunaga was sorely tested by the most powerful opponents to his domination; The Ikko Ikki Buddhists, the Takeda Clan and the Uesugi Clan.   In the end, however, it might have been an unpaid dinner tab that killed him.

Jan 24, 2012

In 1570 Oda Nobunaga faced a dangerous combination of rival daimyo and religious fanaticism.  He decided to treat Buddhist rivals to his power the same way he did anyone else.  With fire.

Jan 11, 2012

Oda Nobunaga took Kyoto in the name of the Shogun and the Emperor in 1568.  By 1570 the Shogun knew that he served at Nobunaga’s pleasure and little else.   Nobunaga almost lost it all to traitors and two bullets from a ninja’s arqubus andThe Asakura and Asai daimyo took to field against Nobunaga in the famous Battle of Anegawa. Enjoy! ( Here is the script.

Jan 7, 2012

Oda Nobunaga had the luck, the allies, the staff, the location, the armies and the validation to make a move on Kyoto while the other major Daimyo kept busy fighting amongst themselves.   He also had an ego to match his ambition.  Here is a map of the provinces of medieval Japan and the the script for the episode.

Dec 22, 2011

In this episode we introduce one of Japan’s three Great Unifiers.  His rise to power was certainly not easy and could easily have relegated him to the status of also-ran.

Dec 22, 2011

The Portuguese bumped into Japan in 1543 and brought with them guns and god.  In this podcast we will hear about how Japan received these products of the west.

Feb 9, 2011

War in medieval Japan was a colourful bonanza - bravery, cowardice and accounting!

Feb 8, 2011

The word sengoku means 'chaotic states' or 'warring states/countries' and 'jidai' means 'age - like 'iron age'.  Betrayal, destruction, suffering and despair.  It's every man for himself - and a few men rose to the top.

Feb 6, 2011

The peasants of Japan finally get their turn at dealing out violence!

Feb 5, 2011

Every tourist who goes to Kyoto goes here - but its story, and that of the Silver Pavilion, are not well known

1 2 Next »