Japan in East Asian History: From the Medieval Through the Premodern Periods

This series examines how the history of Japan fits into the overall historical development in East Asia by exploring a number of different topics: the so-called “wajin” coastal pirates, the area of Eurasia, the Sea of Okhotsk, and diplomatic relations during the Edo period (1603–1868). The series contributors are preeminent scholars who have contributed in recent years to the development of historical research related to Japan.

The Dutch East India Company and the Rise of Intra-Asian CommerceOta Atsushi

To students of Japanese history, the Dutch East India Company, or VOC, is forever associated with a quaint little trading post on an island in Nagasaki harbor, where the traders were confined under Tokugawa policies limiting contact with the outside world. But the Dejima factory was just one of many hubs in a maritime trading network that extended over much of East, Southeast, and South Asia. Ota Atsushi explores the VOC’s contribution to the economic and cultural interaction of maritime Asia in the early modern era.

Foreign Relations in Early Modern Japan: Exploding the Myth of National SeclusionArano Yasunori

Historian Arano Yasunori helped revolutionize our perception of early modern Japan by challenging the notion that the country was uniquely isolated during the Edo period. Here Arano provides a thought-provoking overview of the complex system of trade and diplomacy by which the Tokugawa shogunate maintained peace, prosperity, and autonomy over a period of two and a half centuries.

The Ainu and Early Commerce in the Sea of OkhotskKikuchi Toshihiko

Centuries before the Sea of Okhotsk entered Japan’s collective awareness, the Ainu were crisscrossing its waters from Hokkaidō to Kamchatka, playing a pivotal role in the region’s lively cultural and commercial interaction.

Historical Trends in Eurasia and Japan: From the Mongols to the ManchusSugiyama Kiyohiko

There is a tendency for historians to study Japan within the limited regional context of East Asia—China, Korea, and Japan. Sugiyama Kiyohiko illustrates how a broader, Eurasian perspective can shed new light on Japanese historical trends in the medieval and early modern periods.

Extranational Pirate-Traders of East AsiaMurai Shōsuke

The national origin of the pirates and smugglers who plied the East China Sea during the medieval period has become a major bone of contention among East Asian historians. Murai Shōsuke argues that by attempting to reduce the so-called Wokou to one nationality or another we lose sight of their fundamental character and the nature of their role in East Asian history.

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