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The Rise of Modern Japan, Saturday workshop (October 7, 2023)

Session(s) date

Session(s) date: 
Saturday, October 7, 2023 - 10:00am to 12:00pm

K-12 educators from all disciplines are invited to join this free online workshop. Japan's remarkable transformation from a secluded island nation to a major world power in just a few decades during the 19th and early 20th centuries is a fascinating tale of resilience, adaptability, and strategic reform. Several key factors drove these dramatic changes, ultimately leading to Japan's rise on the global stage.

Participants who fully attend the workshop and submit the survey feedback are eligible to apply for the certificate issued by the U.S.-China Institute with the contact hours listed. 

  • How was Japan able to transform itself in the space of a few decades into a major world power?
  • What drove these dramatic changes? What cultural and social norms and economic structures helped to facilitate the Japan’s rise?
  • What brought down the Tokugawa regime which had held sway for over two and a half centuries?
  • What political structure was erected in its place?
  • Who gained and who suffered in the remarkable transformation of Japan in the 19th and early 20th centuries?
  • How was economic strength translated into an expanding empire?

Urban Consumption  L: Utagawa Hiroshige, In Edo, Saruwaka Street by Night, 1856  R: Tokyo, Asakusa Park, street, ca. 1930s

All participating educators will receive background readings and select primary sources. Participants are encouraged to share ideas and raise questions prior to and after the workshop via our online forum. The live session on October 7 will also include time to brainstorm on how to best bring this remarkable period alive for your students.

W. Puck Brecher is Professor of History at Washington State University. He specializes in early modern and modern Japanese social and cultural history. His past research projects have focused on Japanese thought, aesthetics, urban history, race, private spheres, autonomy, as well as contemporary environmental issues. His books include The Aesthetics of Strangeness: Eccentricity and Madness in Early Modern Japan (2013), Honored and Dishonored Guests: Westerners in Wartime Japan (2017), Japan’s Private Spheres: Autonomy in Japanese History, 1600-1930 (2021), and Animal Care in Japanese Tradition: A Short History (2022). He also edited Defamiliarizing Japan’s Asia-Pacific War (2022).

This workshop is sponsored by the Japan Society and the USC U.S.-China Institute. It's offered in partnership with the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia and with support from the Freeman Foundation.





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