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Shedding Light on “Formosa’s Betrayal”: Kabira Chōsei on George Kerr and Taiwanese History

Soon after World War II ended, the February 28 Incident rocked the island of Taiwan. The diplomat and scholar George Kerr explored this bloody chapter in Taiwanese history in his book Formosa Betrayed. We spoke with Kabira Chōsei, an Okinawan broadcaster raised in Taiwan under Japanese rule, about George Kerr—who taught him English in his school days—and his take on Taiwan’s past and present.

Sakamoto Ryōma: The Samurai Who Dreamed of a Modern Japan

Sakamoto Ryōma is one of Japan’s favorite historical figures and was a central mover in efforts to overthrow the shogunate 150 years ago. He was killed at the age of 31, however, and so did not live to see his efforts to modernize the country bear fruit. In this article we look at the life and enduring popular appeal of a low-ranking samurai who became influential at the highest level.

Hideyoshi’s Rare Letter to Concubine Chacha Found in Hyōgo (News)

Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, July 7 (Jiji Press)—A rare letter that Japanese warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537–98) wrote to his concubine Chacha, or Yodo-dono, has been found in Toyooka, Hyōgo Prefecture. The letter written by Hideyoshi himself to Chacha is on display at Hyōgo Prefectural Museum in Himeji. (© Jiji) The letter shows Hideyoshi's concern for Chacha, who had run a high temperature,…

Nishioka Fumio: An Armorer Bringing National Treasures Back to Life

Traditional Japanese armor combines a diverse set of different crafts and skills, including lacquer, leather, and textile work. Professional armor restorer Nishioka Fumio is one of the few people in Japan with all these skills at his command. We spoke to him about his work restoring some of the masterpieces of Japanese armor to their former glory.

Siebold: A German Naturalist in Nineteenth-Century Nagasaki

One of the most beloved figures in the history of nineteenth-century Japan was not a Japanese at all but a German: the Bavarian-born doctor and biologist Philipp Franz von Siebold. During his years as a doctor at the Dutch trading post in Nagasaki, Siebold built up a huge collection of Japanese animals, plants, artworks, and maps. These allowed him to write some of the most influential early modern works on Japan—and led to his deportation from Japan on suspicion of spying.

Five Japanese EmperorsNippon.com Staff

Japan’s imperial system extends back through the nation’s recorded history and into legendary prehistory. Emperors rarely ruled directly, but have often been influential in politics. They also play a priestly role in Shintō, and are traditionally considered to descend in a direct line from the sun goddess Amaterasu. Japan’s fabled first-ever emperor founded the country in 660 BC, according …

Behind the Scenes of Obama’s Hiroshima VisitJulian Ryall

Barack Obama’s May 27 visit to Hiroshima brought together a president and a survivor of the 1945 atomic bomb in an image of compassion that went around the world. We talked to the documentary film producer who shed light on Mori Shigeaki’s work.

President Obama’s Hiroshima Speech: An AssessmentDaniel Sneider

When Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima, his speech outlined the threat to humanity of nuclear weapons and the need for humankind to turn its ingenuity to the task of achieving a world free of them. Reactions were largely warm, but as Daniel Sneider writes, the voices of those who found his remarks lacking may serve as a signpost toward a future of deeper reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific.

The Japanese Historian Honoring Hiroshima’s American DeadJulian Ryall

The August 6, 1945, atomic bombing of Hiroshima also ended the lives of 12 American POWs held in the city. Amateur historian Mori Shigeaki has spent over 40 years identifying them and locating their families, a process that drew the attention of US filmmaker Barry Frechette, whose Paper Lanterns chronicles Mori’s work.

Self-Published Spanish Author’s Sengoku Bestseller

Spanish author David B. Gil had to self-publish his debut novel El Guerrero a la Sombra del Cerezo (The Warrior in the Shade of the Cherry Tree), set in feudal Japan, but it soon won fans and became a bestseller. He describes his love of Japanese culture, his influences and research for the novel, and his struggle to get it published.

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