Book Announcement: Thought Crime: Ideology and State Power in Interwar Japan

Thought Crime: Ideology and State Power in Interwar Japan

Max M. Ward

In Thought Crime Max M. Ward explores the Japanese state’s efforts to suppress political radicalism in the 1920s and 1930s. Ward traces the evolution of an antiradical law called the Peace Preservation Law, from its initial application to suppress communism and anticolonial nationalism—what authorities deemed thought crime—to its expansion into an elaborate system to reform and ideologically convert thousands of thought criminals throughout the Japanese Empire. To enforce the law, the government enlisted a number of nonstate actors, who included monks, family members, and community leaders. Throughout, Ward illuminates the complex processes through which the law articulated imperial ideology and how this ideology was transformed and disseminated through the law’s application over its twenty-year history. In so doing, he shows how the Peace Preservation Law provides a window into understanding how modern states develop ideological apparatuses to subject their respective populations.

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Book Announcement: An Encyclopedia of Japan’s Cultured Warriors

An Encyclopedia of Japan’s Cultured Warriors
by Constantine Nomikos Vaporis

Alphabetically arranged entries along with primary source documents provide a comprehensive examination of the lives of Japan’s samurai during the Tokugawa or Edo period, 1603–1868, a time when Japan transitioned from civil war to extended peace.

The samurai were an aristocratic class of warriors who imposed and maintained peace in Japan for more than two centuries during the Tokugawa or Edo period, 1603–1868. While they maintained a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, as a result of the peace the samurai themselves were transformed over time into an educated, cultured elite—one that remained fiercely proud of its military legacy and hyper-sensitive in defending their individual honor.

This book provides detailed information about the samurai, beginning with a timeline and narrative historical overview of the samurai. This is followed by more than 100 alphabetically arranged entries on topics related to the samurai, such as ritual suicide, castles, weapons, housing, clothing, samurai women, and more. The entries cite works for further reading and often include sidebars linking the samurai to popular culture, tourist sites, and other information. A selection of primary source documents offers firsthand accounts from the era, and the volume closes with a selected, general bibliography.


  • Highlights important events related to the samurai and overviews the background of the samurai
  • Offers more than 100 alphabetically arranged reference entries for authoritative information about the samurai and their world
  • Includes sidebars of interesting facts, notes the role of the samurai in popular culture, and mentions various tourist sites for readers to visit
  • Provides suggestions for further reading, and an end-of-work bibliography directing users to other important works about the samurai
  • Features more than 50 photos related to the samurai and their world

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Book Announcement: A New History of Medieval Japanese Theatre: Noh and Kyōgen from 1300 to 1600

A New History of Medieval Japanese Theatre: Noh and Kyōgen from 1300 to 1600
Authors: Pinnington, Noel J.

This book traces the history of noh and kyōgen, the first major Japanese theatrical arts. Going beyond P. G. O’Neill’s Early Nō Drama of 1958, it covers the full period of noh’s medieval development and includes a chapter dedicated to the comic art of kyōgen, which has often been left in noh’s shadow. It is based on contemporary research in Japan, Asia, Europe and America, and embraces current ideas of theatre history, providing a richly contextualized account which looks closely at theatrical forms and genres as they arose.

The masked drama of noh, with its ghosts, chanting and music, and its use in Japanese films, has been the object of modern international interest. However, audiences are often confused as to what noh actually is. This book attempts to answer where noh came from, what it was like in its day, and what it was for. To that end, it contains sections which discuss a number of prominent noh plays in their period and challenges established approaches. It also contains the first detailed study in English of the kyōgen repertoire of the sixteenth-century.

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2019 Summer Kuzushiji Workshop

The Center for East Asian Studies Committee on Japanese Studies at the University of Chicago is pleased to announce the 2019 Early Modern Japan Summer Workshop: Reading Kuzushiji. The workshop will meet from June 17th-21st. The year’s workshop will feature two tracks: Professor Fujikata Hiroyuki of Tohoku University’s Northeast Asia Center will instruct the intermediate group in the reading of manuscript materials from the Tokugawa and early Meiji periods, and Dr. Nobuko Toyosawa (PhD, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), will lead a three-day introductory workshop focusing on print materials. Participants in Dr. Toyosawa’s group will be prepared to join the intermediate group from day 4 of the workshop. The workshop will conclude with an informal symposium on the morning of Saturday, June 22nd. We invite participants to present on their current research.

The workshop is open to faculty, graduate students, advanced undergraduates, librarians, curators, and independent scholars who are interested in reading print and manuscript materials from the Tokugawa and early Meiji periods.  Please note that the workshop will be conducted in Japanese and participants should have a working knowledge of classical grammar and some familiarity with hentaigana.  There is a $100 program fee that covers copy costs and lunch each day.

The workshop venue is in the John Hope Franklin Room 224, Social Sciences Building, 1126 E. 59th Street

Applications can be submitted online at

Modest funds are available to assist faculty and graduate students coming from institutions unable to offer support.

Additional inquiries can be directed to the workshop organizer, Professor Susan Burns (  The application deadline is May 1, 2019.

Participants are responsible for making their own housing arrangements.  In the past, participants have used airbnb to identify inexpensive lodging options.  In addition, housing is available in guest houses in Hyde Park with a listing available here.

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Book Announcement: American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War

American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War
by Duncan Ryūken Williams

This groundbreaking history tells the little-known story of how, in one of our country’s darkest hours, Japanese Americans fought to defend their faith and preserve religious freedom.

The mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II is not only a tale of injustice; it is a moving story of faith. In this pathbreaking account, Duncan Ryūken Williams reveals how, even as they were stripped of their homes and imprisoned in camps, Japanese American Buddhists launched one of the most inspiring defenses of religious freedom in our nation’s history, insisting that they could be both Buddhist and American.

Nearly all Americans of Japanese descent were subject to bigotry and accusations of disloyalty, but Buddhists aroused particular suspicion. Government officials, from the White House to small-town mayors, believed that Buddhism was incompatible with American values. Intelligence agencies targeted the Buddhist community for surveillance, and Buddhist priests were deemed a threat to national security. On December 7, 1941, as the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, Attorney General Francis Biddle issued a warrant to “take into custody all Japanese” classified as potential national security threats. The first person detained was Bishop Gikyō Kuchiba, leader of the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist sect in Hawai‘i.

In the face of discrimination, dislocation, dispossession, and confinement, Japanese Americans turned to their faith to sustain them, whether they were behind barbed wire in camps or serving in one of the most decorated combat units in the European theater. Using newly translated sources and extensive interviews with survivors of the camps and veterans of the war, American Sutra reveals how the Japanese American community broadened our country’s conception of religious freedom and forged a new American Buddhism.

“American Sutra tells the story of how Japanese American Buddhist families like mine survived the wartime incarceration. Their loyalty was questioned, their freedom taken away, but their spirit could never be broken. A must-read for anyone interested in the implacable quest for civil liberties, social and racial justice, religious freedom, and American belonging.”—George Takei, actor, director, and activist

“In his revealing new history of Japanese American internment, Williams foregrounds the Buddhist dimension of the Japanese American experience. His moving account shows how Japanese Americans transformed Buddhism into an American religion, and, through that struggle, changed the United States for the better.”—Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Sympathizer

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Book Announcement: The Haiku of Basho

The Haiku of Basho, by John White and Kemmyo Taira Sato

The Buddhist Society, London: 2019


Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is widely acknowledged as the greatest of all the Japanese haiku poets. In the original Japanese, the two defining features of the haiku form are its 5-7-5 sound unit format (the syllable being the corresponding unit in English) and its rhythm. This selection of three hundred of Basho’s finest haiku represents the first successful strict translation into English haiku of what was actually written, some 350 years ago, by a genius of the form. The renditions are beautiful; the crucial cadences are retained.

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Funding: Japan-US Friendship Commission Fellowships

The Fellowship Program for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan is a joint activity of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Awards support research on modern Japanese society and political economy, Japan’s international relations, and U.S.-Japan relations. The program encourages innovative research that puts these subjects in wider regional and global contexts and is comparative and contemporary in nature. Research should contribute to scholarly knowledge or to the general public’s understanding of issues of concern to Japan and the United States. Appropriate disciplines for the research include anthropology, economics, geography, history, international relations, linguistics, political science, psychology, and sociology. Awards usually result in articles, monographs, books, digital materials, translations, editions, or other scholarly resources.

In keeping with the JUSFC’s commitment to foster the next generation of leaders in developing and maintaining the Japan-U.S. relationship, NEH encourages applications to this program from junior scholars (that is, scholars who have earned their terminal degree within the last seven years).  Scholars at any career stage are, however, eligible to apply.

The fellowships are designed for researchers with advanced Japanese language skills whose research will require use of data, sources, documents, onsite interviews, or other direct contact in Japanese. Fellows may undertake their projects in Japan, the United States, or both, and may include work in other countries for comparative purposes. Projects may be at any stage of development. The fellowships provide $5000 per month, for 6-12 months of full-time work. Eligibility is limited to a) U.S. citizens and b) non-citizens who have lived in the U.S. for at least the three-year period immediately preceding the application deadline.

Application Deadline: April 24, 2019 (for projects beginning between 2/1/20 and 9/1/21)

Additional information and materials (including samples of successful applications) are available at:

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