This essay focuses on the political, economic, and cultural history of Japan. Japan was never colonized and was not defeated by foreign powers until World War II. I discuss the rise, accomplishments, and fall of Japanese kingdoms over 15 centuries – the Yamamoto monarchy in the Taika Era (646-1192), the Minamoto, Ashikaga, and Tokugawa governments in the Shogun Era (1192-1868), the Meiji governments (1868-1945), the American occupation (1945-1952), and democratic governments in modern Japan (1952-present). I wrote these lectures for a Stanford Travel/Study program in Japan in April 2015.

        I first discuss how Japan was unified in 646 and how the Tokugawa Shogun took control in 1603. I next look at economic evolution under the Tokugawa shoguns and why the US forced Japan to open trade in the 1850s. I examine the impacts of the Meiji Restoration(1868), how Japan built a Pacific empire, and why it fought and lost World War II. I analyze the reforms of the American occupation, the determinants of Japan’s economic boom (1955-1990), and the causes of Japan’s economic stagnation after 1990. I include an addendum on the struggle between Japan and Russia over control of the Kurile Islands, and I append a time line, a bibliography, and a description of sites that I visited in Japan and the Kuriles.

Aboard the Caledonian Sky, Tokyo, Edo, Sado Island, Kanazawa, Matsue, Hagi, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Kyoto, Aboard The World, Yokohama, Nagoya, Shingu, Nara, Takamatsu, Kamchatka and the Kurile Islands, Aboard the Clipper Odyssey,  Russo-Japanese War, Shumshu Island, Matua, Shimushir, and Yankicha Islands, Urup and Iturup Islands, Tyuleniy Island, Sea of Okhotsk, Korsakov and Yukhno-Sakhalinsk, Silver Whisper, Naha, Okinawa, Shuri Castle, Aboard the Clipper Odyssey, 

Sado Island, Kanazawa, Matsue, Hagi, Nagasaki, Miyajima Island,Hiroshima, Okayama, and Himeji, Iriomote Island,