Resource: The Meiji at 150 Project

Today we introduce a wonderful, multifaceted and multi-year project spearheaded by the University of British Columbia that has been bringing great content to the Japanese Studies community in a number of forms: The Meiji at 150 Project.

In honor of the 150th anniversary of Japan’s Meiji Restoration in 1868, UBC launched a series of events, including a Meiji at 150 Lecture Series that brought numerous scholars to their campus (there are youtube videos of many of these lectures on the site!) and a Workshop Series that invited interdisciplinary students and faculty in Japanese Studies to consider different methods and topics in the study of modern Japanese history.

While the larger website provides tons of information on the entire project and these individual events on their page, for those that were not of UB or in the Vancouver area, they have also created two incredible online resources for the study of Meiji Japan and its global connections.

Image from Meiji at 150 Digital Resources page (click to access).

The first is the Meiji at 150 Digital Teaching Resource. This part of the site provides a series of “visual essays” that takes advantage of the collections of UBC’s library. Prints, maps, paintings, and photographs are paired with historical narratives and analyses to help contextualize these rare archival items. You can find topics that vary as widely as Canadian missionaries to Japan in the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries to “brocade pictures” that featured the apparel of Meiji women, pointing to how Japan was linked to global textile markets. These open-source teaching materials offer fresh and visually exciting ways to access this period of Japan’s past.

In this second one can also find a Digital Resources link that compiles much of these special collections into discrete categories alongside related projects, such as their collections of Tokugawa Period maps (linked to a distribution timeline!) or their Geomapping of Vancouver’s Japantown using archival photographs. There’s a lot of incredible materials to be found here that show how successfully the project has sought to connect the past to the present for a broad audience.

Also in that spirit, one of the highlights of the Meiji at 150 Project is their Podcast Series. From the website, the podcast is

hosted by Tristan Grunow [and highlights] the recent research and pedagogical approaches of specialists of Japanese history, literature, art, and culture. Topics covered will range from the position of the Meiji Restoration and Meiji Period in each scholar’s research, to how they view the significance of the Restoration in Japanese and global history, and finally to how they teach the Meiji Period in their classrooms. The companion Meiji at 150 Student Podcast, meanwhile, spotlights students studying Japanese history on the UBC campus.  Students discuss selected aspects of Japanese culture and share their research findings, thoughts, and passion for animemanga, food, music, literature, film, sports, and other facets of Japanese society and popular culture.

The podcast covers a wide array of topics, and their episode list breaks them down thematically, rather than by release, which is helpful for targeting specific topics for your own interest or in the classroom. You might be drawn to the Language & Literature theme, Gender,  Global Meiji, or something else—pick your favorite! Major props to the designers for also including a “how to cite” for the podcast episodes at the bottom so it’s very student-friendly.

Clicking on each episode will give you a brief synopsis, and you can either listen to the episode on the site, download it directly, or subscribe through your favorite provider.

The Meiji at 150 Project is a great example of how a huge variety of individuals can come together to create public-facing resources and make valuable contributions to our knowledge of the past and present. It’s been wonderful to watch this project unfold and continue to generate historical materials, resources, and conversations across institutions and even countries. Whether you plan on developing lessons for the classroom or just have a passing interest in Japanese history and culture, take a moment to see what the Meiji at 150 project has to offer! You can also keep up with them on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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Book Announcement: Modern Kyoto: Building for Ceremony and Commemoration, 1868-1940

Modern Kyoto: Building for Ceremony and Commemoration, 1868–1940
Alice Y. Tseng

Can an imperial city survive, let alone thrive, without an emperor? Alice Y. Tseng answers this intriguing question in Modern Kyoto, a comprehensive study of the architectural and urban projects carried out in the old capital following Emperor Meiji’s move to Tokyo in 1868. Tseng contends that Kyoto—from the time of the relocation to the height of the Asia-Pacific War—remained critical to Japan’s emperor-centered national agenda as politicians, planners, historians, and architects mobilized the city’s historical connection to the imperial house to develop new public architecture, infrastructure, and urban spaces. Royal births, weddings, enthronements, and funerals throughout the period served as catalysts for fashioning a monumental modern city fit for hosting commemorative events for an eager domestic and international audience.

Using a wide range of visual material (including architectural plans, postcards, commercial maps, and guidebooks), Tseng traces the development of four core areas of Kyoto: the palaces in the center, the Okazaki Park area in the east, the Kyoto Station area in the south, and the Kitayama district in the north. She offers an unprecedented framework that correlates nation building, civic boosterism, and emperor reverence to explore a diverse body of built works. Interlinking microhistories of the Imperial Garden, Heian Shrine, Lake Biwa Canal, the prefectural library, zoological and botanical gardens, main railway station, and municipal art museum, among others, her work asserts Kyoto’s vital position as a multifaceted center of culture and patriotism in the expanding Japanese empire.

Table of contents:

Chapter one: A new imperial garden and imperial shrine
Chapter two: Beginnings of a cultural park in Okazaki
Chapter three: Enthronements and exhibitions
Chapter four: Commemorative projects as urban landmarks

For more information, please see

Alice Y. Tseng is associate professor of history of art and architecture at Boston University


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Job Opening: Assistant Professor of Art History and Assistant Curator of Asian Art

The School of Art at Ball State University welcomes applications for a tenure-track position at the level of Assistant Professor of Art History and Assistant Curator of Asian Art to begin August, 2019. Responsibilities include a 2/2 teaching load consisting of undergraduate art history surveys and upper-level courses in the candidate’s area of expertise. The remaining portion of the faculty member’s load is devoted to serving as assistant curator of the David Owsley Museum of Art’s collection of Asian art.

The School of Art at Ball State has forty-nine full-time faculty and offers state-of-the-art facilities serving almost 600 undergraduate majors as well as a growing graduate program. Programs at the BA, BS, BFA and MFA levels include animation, art education, art history, ceramics, drawing, glass, graphic arts management, metals, painting, photography and intermedia arts, printmaking, sculpture, and visual communication (graphic design).

Housed in the Art and Journalism building, School of Art students enjoy over 57,000 square feet of world-class facilities, a nationally ranked animation program, the Atrium Gallery, and the Glick Center for Glass. Students and faculty work closely with David Owsley Museum of Art on campus, among the finest university art collections in the nation.

Ball State University is accredited by the National Association for Schools of Art and Design.

Deadline: 2/5/2019

For more information:

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Call for Papers: Travel and Landscape in Japanese Literature, Art, and Culture

Travel is Life, Travel is Home: Representing Travel and Landscape in Japanese Literature, Art, and Culture

April 4-6, 2019

University of Iowa, Iowa City IA

Deadline for proposals: December 10, 2018

Keynote: Meredith McKinney, visiting fellow at the Japan Center, Australian National University

In the introduction to his seventeenth-century travel diary, The Narrow Road of the Interior, Matsuo Bashō declares, in Helen McCullough’s translation, that “travel is life, travel is home.”  While the use of travel as a metaphor to express the transience of life was centuries old by Bashō’s time, the idea continues to resonate even today. The awareness of one’s environment as both the basis for and product of human experience has shaped representations of travel and landscape throughout Japanese cultural production, from Saigyō’s twelfth-century travel poetry, to Natsume Sōseki’s 1906 Kusamakura and beyond.


The interaction between humans and their environments is increasingly conceptualized in terms of mobile bodies, from observations of space as both “a product of interrelations” and a sphere of “contemporaneous plurality” (Doreen Massey 2005); to place as “the surveyor’s active involvement with the landscape” (Jeff Malpas 2009); to the paradox of “cosmopolitanisms” that simultaneously resists a stable permanent residence while adopting a plural understanding of places of origin (Robbins and Horta 2017). Instances of travel in all of its forms—for pilgrimage, official duties, tourism, military strategy, emigration, or evacuation, exile, and refuge—posit a body that moves through its environments, rather than existing as a static object. Even in the case of virtual or imagined travel, there is an emphasis on movement across space and through a succession of multiple places. Such instances of travel, represented and explored through literature, art, and performance, allow for an analysis of the ways in which humans not only conceptualize and interact with, but indeed move through their environments.


The University of Iowa Japanese Program, Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, and International Programs, with generous support from the Japan Foundation, seek papers addressing this conference’s broad themes, focusing on any period of Japanese cultural production. We are especially interested in papers that explore the themes of landscape, space, place, and travel as they are represented in literature, art, film, performance, religious history, and intellectual history or that engage relevant representations using media beyond the written word.


Please submit proposals, including name, affiliation, a paper title, and an abstract of no longer than 300 words for a 15- to 20-minute paper presentation, by December 10, 2018. Registration is free. Some funding will be available to defray travel expenses for participants.


Suggested Topics:

Travel within, through, outside of, or to Japan

Tourism and famous places

Pilgrimage, wandering, and reclusion

Official travel, exile, or statelessness

Nomadic or migrant patterns

Landscape and gender, sexuality, or the body

Virtual, imagined, or simulated travel

State or religious ideology and landscape

Authenticity, experience, and representation of landscape

Relationships between space and time

Ecological observations and processes

Impacts of technology or infrastructure upon travel practices

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Funding: 20th Century Japan Research Awards for 2018-2019

20th Century Japan Research Awards for 2018-2019

The Nathan and Jeanette Miller Center for Historical Studies and the University of Maryland Libraries invite applications for two $1,500 grants to support research in the library’s Gordon W. Prange Collection and East Asia Collection on topics related to the period of the Allied Occupation of Japan and its aftermath, 1945-1960. Holders of a Ph.D. or an equivalent degree are eligible to apply, as are graduate students who have completed all requirements for the doctorate except the dissertation. The competition is open to scholars in all parts of the world and from any discipline, but historical topics are preferred. University of Maryland faculty, staff, and students may not apply. More information can be found on the Prange Collection website.

The application deadline is December 7, 2018.  The grant must be used by December 14, 2019. Grant funds will be disbursed in the form of reimbursement for travel, lodging, meals, reproductions, and related research expenses. Such costs as computers or software are not eligible. NOTE TO NON-U.S. CITIZENS:  approximately 30% of the total award may be withheld for tax purposes, depending upon the recipient’s country of origin. The withholding may be reimbursed to the recipient after filing a tax form with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

All applications must be submitted electronically by attachment to with “Twentieth-Century Japan Research Awards” in the subject line. Applications must include a curriculum vitae and a two-to three-page description (double-spaced) of the research project. Applications from graduate students must be accompanied by a letter from the principal faculty advisor attesting to the significance of the dissertation project and to the student’s completion of all other degree requirements.

Materials in the Gordon W. Prange Collection include virtually all Japanese-language newspapers, news agency releases, magazines, pamphlets, and books dating from the period of Allied censorship, 1945-1949, in addition to over 10,000 newspaper photos.  There are also materials published by Chinese and Korean residents, most of which are written in Japanese.  Related collections in English include the personal papers of Charles Kades and Justin Williams.  Office correspondence documenting policies and decisions of the Publications, Pictorial, and Broadcast Division, Civil Censorship Detachment (Civil Intelligence Section), Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers Japan, are complementary to official Occupation records housed at the National Archives, College Park.  Japanese newspapers and magazines from the Prange Collection are available for research on microform.  The East Asia Collection contains Japanese-language books published during the wartime period, scholarly monographs on Occupied Japan, and a wide variety of reference works.

During the campus visit, the award recipient will give an informal talk on her/his research.  At the conclusion of the visit, the recipient will submit a blog post reflecting on her/his research experience that will appear on Prange Collection social media sites. Reimbursements will be made after the blog post has been submitted to the Prange Collection staff.

For further information about the collections, consult the following websites: http:/ and

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Job Opening: Assistant Professor, Asian History, University of Manitoba

The Department of History at the University of Manitoba invites applications for a full-time tenure-track appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor in Asian History. Applications are invited from specialists in any region, period or scholarly specialization, excluding sole focus on Modern China. The person appointed would be able to teach thematic and/or nation-based courses in Asian history in her/his/their area of specialization at the undergraduate and graduate level. The successful candidate must also have a demonstrated willingness and ability to teach introductory courses. Teaching responsibilities will include introductory level courses in Asian Civilization, as well as the possibility of introductory courses in World History.

Preference will be for a scholar whose research intersects with existing and emerging areas of strength in the Department, Faculty, and University including: migration and ethnicity; citizenship; comparative indigenous studies; comparative colonialism and postcolonial histories; human rights, social justice and labour histories; gender and sexuality; culture, communication, and material culture; and/or nature and the environment.

For details, see

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Job Opening: Assistant Professor of Modern Japanese History

The Department of History, University of British Columbia (Vancouver) invites applications for a tenure-track appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor in Modern Japanese History. Open to all specializations, we are particularly interested in candidates who place Japan in broader regional contexts and whose work complements or expands existing strengths in the Department. Expected start date is July 1, 2019.

The successful candidate will show outstanding potential as an innovative scholar and researcher, as evidenced by their record of intellectual engagement, published work, and/or work in progress. A strong commitment to teaching excellence at both the graduate and undergraduate level is also required. The successful candidate would be expected to offer courses at both the graduate and undergraduate level within their area of specialization, as well as teaching lower division surveys. Candidates are expected to have a Ph.D. in hand by July 1, 2019.

Applicants should apply only through the UBC faculty careers website, Applicants should upload (in the following order, and not exceeding 12 megabytes per attachment): a cover letter or letter of application, a curriculum vitae, up to three article-length samples of scholarship (including published articles, unpublished papers, or book/dissertation chapters), a sample syllabus for an advanced undergraduate or graduate course on a relevant topic, evidence of teaching effectiveness, and a one-page statement identifying the applicant’s contributions, or potential contributions, to diversity, along with their ability to work with a culturally international student body.

Applicants should also arrange to have three signed and confidential letters of reference sent by email to Ms. Janet Mui,, or by mail to: Ms. Janet Mui, Modern Japanese History Search, Department of History, University of British Columbia, 1297-1873 East Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1, CANADA. All materials should be received by December 6, 2018. Applicants with questions about the position are welcome to contact the search chair, Dr. Timothy Cheek, by email at
This position is subject to final budgetary approval. Salary is competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience.

Equity and diversity are essential to academic excellence. An open and diverse community fosters the inclusion of voices that have been underrepresented or discouraged. We encourage applications from members of groups that have been marginalized on any grounds enumerated under the B.C. Human Rights Code, including sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, racialization, disability, political belief, religion, marital or family status, age, and/or status as a First Nation, Métis, Inuit, or Indigenous person. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents of Canada will be given priority.


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