Modern Japan: 1600 to Present





On the Tōkaidō highway near Yokohama (ca. 1870s)

How did an isolated, feudal society become the first non-western empire in the modern era within just a few decades? How did a despised World War II foe become the most important U.S. ally in Asia? How did Japan become cool? The history of modern Japan is made up of some of the most striking social, political, and cultural transformations seen in world history. Through critical reading of primary and secondary sources, group discussions, and analytical writings, this subject not only examines how Japan became a “modern” society but also how such a process was inseparable from the broader global modernity. We will also explore how such experiences have been understood by contemporaries and reinterpreted by historians and other interested parties with significant consequences.