Category Archives: History

Syria: Lest we forget

Syria: Lest we forget I don’t normally touch on non-Japan related issues, but the civil war in Syria is too important not to comment on. While it is out of sight, having largely disappeared from our newspapers and evening bulletins, … Continue reading

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Mori Ogai: The Demands of the Day, Part 7

“At the beginning of the Taisho period, on the day of Emperor Meiji’s funeral (September 13th, 1912), General Nogi and his wife closed the door to their second-floor living room and prepared to end their lives. He had removed his … Continue reading

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Mori Ogai, The Demands of the Day, Part 6

Ogai returned from the Russo-Japanese War in January 1906. As a result of his efforts to improve hygiene and reduce communicable diseases, he was promoted to Surgeon General in October 1907, the highest medical position in the army and the … Continue reading

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Mori Ogai, The Demands of the Day, Part 5

Ogai went to war in April of 1904. The Russo-Japanese war has been called ‘the first great war of the twentieth century’, and its pattern of rival empires failing to come to a peaceful resolution over territory which both saw … Continue reading

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Mori Ogai: The Demands of the Day, Part 4

After Maihime, Ogai published two more novels in short succession; Utakata no ki (A Sad Tale), mentioned in part 2, and Fumizukai (The Courier) in January 1891. Fumizukai is particularly interesting for a detailed psychological portrait of Ida, a German … Continue reading

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Mori Ogai: The Demands of the Day, Part Three

Ogai found love in Berlin, but his original purpose for going to the great capital was to meet with Kitasato Shibasaburo, a physician studying in Berlin under Robert Koch, the famed microbiologist. Kitasato cut an impressive figure, tall, rotund and … Continue reading

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Mori Ogai: The Demands of the Day, Part One

Between 1850 and 1900, Japan underwent a change as drastic as any nation has undergone in half a century anywhere on earth. The insular nation of 1850 was rocked first by its forced opening to the west at the hands … Continue reading

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Jokichi Takamine: Samurai Chemist

A short biography of Jokichi Takamine, a Japanese chemist who deserves to be known by everybody. Continue reading

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