History of Japan

Reviews For History of Japan

I love just about everything for this podcast. It begins with a quick summary of the political narrative and then breaks down the Japanese historic culture by taking on various topics. It’s amazing listening to the end of the samurai and then the history of Hokkaido and then the rise and fall of communism in Japan as opposed to a single linear narrative gives so much more of an appreciation for one of the most unique countries on earth. For most podcasts that want to talk about modern nations I think they should replicate Isaac more often.
For those of us that love history in general but don’t see or hear much about the whole history of Japan, this podcast is great. The host is very enjoyable to listen to and obviously highly intelligent. ( hence the occasional subtle Star Wars and Star Trek references). But seriously I recommend listening to this podcast, you will learn a lot! Keep up the good work Mr. Meyers, much appreciated.
Very well-researched: more detailed and balanced in viewpoint than any Japanese-language history video or podcast series I have encountered. Provides a basic but multifaceted understanding of important and complex periods or concepts in Japanese history.
Perfect for history buffs in general, but especially if you love Japanese culture!
This podcast is great. Of course it’s not chronological... like, you’d never get to modern stuff if you did it that way? Anyway good show, chill host, etc.
I love the breadth of topics, particularly the time spent on more recent history and culture. You’ll also get to dive into a lot of figures that would be missed in a standard history course!
The series started seemingly well, and then I got to Episode 8, "The Three Unifiers". Yes, it's difficult to cover the period of the Three Unifiers in 27 minutes, but if you're going to do that, get the facts right. The errors were bad enough that I stopped listening to the podcast as it put in doubt the accuracy of the rest of the series. In some cases, it just seemed like Isaac was making things up to bridge gaps in his knowledge and made me wonder if his "former PhD student" status was because he couldn't do basic research. First of all, Nobunaga defeated Imagawa YoshiMOTO, not YoshiTOMO. Yes, a small error repeated several times, but a good researcher gets details right. Second, Ieyasu came from Mikawa, not Mino. Moving on, Hideyoshi did not execute all of Asai Nagamasa's children. True, the one son was killed, but that's to be expected of the times. The three daughters were, in fact, saved. The eldest eventually became a concubine of Hideyoshi and mother of his heir. The youngest daughter later married the future second Tokugawa shogun. Mr. Meyer claims that Hideyoshi was able to avenge the assasination of Nobunaga because he was "nearby". This ignores the fact that Hideyoshi successfully executed one of the most impressive forced marches in Japanese history after quickly concluding a peace treaty with western clans while concealing Nobunaga's death during negotiations. Most egregiously, Meyer claims Ieyasu had an "almost certainly fake pedigree" to be a shogun (you had to be a decendant of the Minamoto clan). Ieyasu's lineage did trace back to Minamoto Yoshiie. What an incredible insult to the Tokugawa legacy from a "former PhD student"!
What I really love about this show is it’s episodic nature. Rather than simply covering every aspect of Japanese history chronologically, the show is broken up into mini-series so the host, Isaac, can cover each topic in fantastic detail. This also allows new listeners to find a topic they are particularly interested in, and start there, rather than having to consume the whole show from start to finish. Great writing, broken up with enough humor to keep things from getting too dry. Highly recommended.
I was late in discovering this, but am going back through the old episodes. Am very interested in the topic, and Isaac really does a great job with topic selection, research, scripts, and delivery. One of my favorite podcasts.
Interesting subjects but it would be great if you could edit out the unrelated banter/talk about whiskey or whatever. Thanks!
Is there a way to find the first 30 episodes that aren’t populating here?
The first 20 episodes cover 2000 years of history in about 20 hours. The next 300 episodes randomly dive into topics in much more detail. Did not enjoy the random order, would have preferred chronological order.
Wide array of topics and critical background delivered with just the right amounts of care and humor.
Thoroughly researched, Isaac fits a boatload of story in every episode.
Isaac Meyers has a way of the best professors: incredibly informative depictions mixed with a bit of levity and thought-provoking statements. More than once I have had to re-evaluate my opinion on a topic because this podcast helped me connect the source material to my life in a new way. The breadth of topics covered, (from global forces to the life of an artist) is quite impressive, and brings together everything that makes Japan what it was once, and what it is today.
It’s a five star show, plain and simple.
All I can say is awesome awesome awesome
Great storytelling and it feels really grounded in the scholarship. The Meiji Restoration and other series have been good. The only complaint is the audio quality.
I spent 5 months listening to the podcast daily. It made my trip way more interesting and provided excellent context for the whole experience. A mixture of recent and ancient, single episodes for interesting events or people, and very easy to listen to. I recommend it highly if you are traveling to Japan.
Great podcast. I have been listening to it nightly before bed the past two months and average about three episodes a night. It’s a great compliment to studying Japanese language and history in school.
Isaac Meyer set out to do a Japanese History podcast in the vein of The History of Rome. Mission accomplished. Although the format is more topical and less chronological, I still feel I’m in the hands of an expert with an entertaining, thoughtful style. Well done, Mr. Meyer.
I want to visit Japan someday and this podcast just makes me look forward to the day I visit even more.Thank you very much for this podcast!!!
I like it because it brings a different perspective of the country’s history than how I have learned it in Japan.
You can tell he puts a lot of work into the research and he knows how to keep it interesting, rather than just a boring lecture. Some day this guy will be one of those favorite teachers you had in high school.
When I was looking at podcasts for the first time, this one just happened to be the first one I listened to. I was hooked, and I’ve been listening for over a year now. I enjoy a well- delivered, thoroughly researched lecture series, and if you do too, this podcast will not disappoint you!


By HanySR
Incredible podcast, great format, very accessible, love the variety of topics, the “intro” episodes were very helpful and the later episodes are fascinating
It's nice he did the history before just hitting topic after topic. Great job.
The postcast is very informative and entertaining. I've learned a lot about the history of Japan. The episodes are not chronological, though. Rather, they are organized by topic, so it's not unusual to hear a mini-series on WWII and then another on the events of the 15th or 16th century, after which we jump to WWI and then back to Middle Ages. This approach makes it difficult sometimes to see the whole picture. Hence the 4 stars instead of 5. Oh, and I hate, hate, hate the plinking ear-poking intro and outro music. I guess I am not a fan of traditional Japanese musical arts.
After studying Japanese language and history in college, I was curious how much of the content would be new on this podcast. I'm happy to report I've learned a lot! The host is great and makes even complicated sections of history easy to listen to. Great podcast!
Conversational in tone and very detailed, Meyer's podcast is definitely on par with Mike Duncan's series. Having lived in Japan for some time, I can tell you that if you listen to this podcast consistently, you will be fairly adept in your understanding of Japanese history in many cases much more so than the Japanese. I have seen some complaints in the comments section about the pop culture references and the casual tone Mr. Meyers adopts, to which I reply that this is a podcast, not an iTunes U episode. I think Mr. Meyers has the correct tone for the format he is presenting. Great job Mike!
After a relatively quick (for a podcast) breeze through the basics of Japanese history, Meyer did us all a favor and didn't stop there. He went back and topic by topic - be it the Meiji Restoration, or the history of Kabuki, or Japanese ghost stories, or the relationship between corrupt modern politicians and the Yakuza - goes into detail, with a perspective that is both educational and funny. I highly recommend it, and look forward to every new installment. The one thing he's weak on is the Sengoku period. If it isn't part of the final unification of Japan, Meyer thinks it's boring and nobody cares. It's interesting! WE CARE! This is especially funny from a man who manages to make the foibles of obscure Japanese modern politicians completely fascinating.
One of my favorite podcasts, and definitely my favorite podcast about Japan. Starts with a series of episodes giving a general overview of Japanese history, then proceeds to move on to individual topics. Trends in Japanese pop culture, noteworthy politicians past and present, aspects of Japanese society... it's a lot more than just a straight history podcast. Highly recommended for anybody who wants a bit better understanding of Japan.
Within this world of podcasts, in which there is so much useless garbage, Isaac's is awesome and of high-value! This has become one of my favorites shows and I look forward to check-up on all of the episodes!!
This is by far the best podcast I've ever subscribed to. Informative, interesting, well structured... it really makes everything else disappointing because nothing comes close in quality.
There are a few other podcasts related to Japanese history that I love and respect but Issac is the best. If you are remotely interested in the topic this is for you. The Hiroshima episodes are so so wonderfully informative! A+ would buy again ;)
This is an excellent podcast covering a long period of Japanese history, but still manages to go into detail about important events and people. He also manages to make it very interesting, not simply informative. The only flaw is that he speaks a little slowly, so I listen on 1.5 speed. ;)
I just discovered this little gem. I am looking forward to some serious listening! Thanks for creating this, as an Asian Studies and History nerd this is fantastic.
For me, this podcast was a super duper find. First, It's accurate (What he says usually checks out with stuff I knew from my other reading about Japan). Second, it's thorough. It's filled in MANY holes in what I knew about this history. Third, Isaac has a pleasant voice, speaks clearly and grammatically, and has an engaging manner. If you want to absorb a couple of thousand years of Japanese history painlessly, this podcast is the place to go.
Fun, informed and engaging speaker. Broken up into 20-40 minute chunks, not unlike the History of Rome. Be sure to check out the series on "Fall of the Samurai," not coincidentally Isaac's thesis topic.
The host of this podcast, Isaac Meyer, is a young academic working on his doctorate and his knowledge of Japanese history is deep. I would give this pod another star if the sound was better and Mr. Meyer’s delivery is flat sometimes. But the content is awesome and I recommend this pod for someone who is interested in Japanese history or just some aspect of it as the topics are not chronological.
This is among the best Japanese history podcasts on the Web. I always look forward to listening to it.
I just found this show a few weeks ago, and I've been working my way through from the beginning. The sound quality was really bad for a while, but Isaac is so good he kept me interested. That's pretty huge, in my opinion. I lived in Japan for two years, so it's personally great to hear all Isaac has to say.


Very informative and excellently researched.
Though the initial overview is scant, the podcast overall does a fantastic job of exploring different events and people in Japanese history.
I've gone through this podcast unceasingly for six months, and I think it's outstanding. Isaac Meyers' writes a sharp piece, and he delivers in an engaging voice. The episodes are well-rounded in scope and full of fascinating points. History of Japan is perfectly replay-friendly as there's plenty of folks, events, and eras to digest. As a bonus, you'll be able to casually reference shōguns, daimyos, seppuku, Sengoku jidai, and everybody's favorite Buddhist hillbilly hell-raisers, the Ikko-ikki in between bong hits. Campai!
You can't help feeling how much he loves this stuff. It's contagious. Thanks for an awesome course!
Love learning about history and japan. Good length, content and speaker. Thank you for the info!