Top 2012 Japanese History Books

by on November 8th, 2014
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History is one of my greatest passions, and Japanese history is no exception. Every year there are dozens of new books published about areas of Japanese history, and I’ve found the top Japanese history books for 2012 to share with you. These new books range from an academic study on 17th century Japanese house paintings to a fun and energetic look at Japanese samurai. Whatever era of Japanese history you’re interested in, I hope you’ll find these Japanese history books great picks for your reading list in 2012!

Kabuki is a classic style of Japanese theater, which is best known for its dramatic make-up and costuming. Although there are a few books out there which provide an exciting visual glimpse into the world of Kabuki, this new work by A.C. Scott not only provides a visual reference but an in depth look into the history and technique of Kabuki.

Title: “The Kabuki Theatre of Japan”

Author: A.C. Scott

ISBN: 978-0486406459

Publisher: Dover Publications

Publication Date: January 17, 2012

Summary: A comprehensive look at Japanese Kabuki Theatre. This work not only describes the origins of Kabuki theater within the context of Japanese history, but also provides detailed analyses of Kabuki acting techniques, Kabuki playwrights, dance and music in Kabuki Theatre, and so much more. A definite must for anything interested in this classic style of Japanese theater.

That infamous Japanese warrior, the samurai, has long captured the hearts of historians and readers alike. This intriguing new book is written in the style of a manual, informing the reader about the lives of samurai in a unique and fun way. Who can resist a book which promises to teach the reader “how to storm or lay siege to a castle” and how to properly dispose of your enemies heads?

Title: “Samurai: The Japanese Warrior’s [Unofficial] Manual”

Author: Steve Turnbull

ISBN: 978-0500251881

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Publication Date: April 1, 2012

Summary: A unique look at the lives of Samurai through the guise of an unofficial samurai warrior’s manual. This book uses the latest research and contemporary sources to reconstruct what it would have been like to live as a samurai. Includes 126 illustrations, 15 in color.

17th century Japanese painting is best connected to the famous Kano painting house, which produced a large number of Japanese masterpiece artwork during this period. Since little has been published in English about this period in Japanese artistic history, this new work is definitely a breath of fresh air for teacher, students or anyone interested in Japanese artwork.

Title: Painting of the Realm: “The Kano House of Painters in Seventeenth-Century Japan”

Author: Yukio Lippit

ISBN: 978-0295991542

Publisher: University of Washington Press

Publication Date: May 15, 2012

Summary: The paintings produced by the Kano Painting House in 17th century Japan were no less than some of the best Japanese masterpieces of this period. The Kano house’s style evolved from that of classic Zen monk-painters during medieval era Japan, and was intertwined by Chinese painting styles during the 17th century to create truly amazing work. This new book explores the history and practices of the Kano painting house, including an exploration of how painting and legitimacy were connected in 17th century Japan.

When most people think of zoos, they probably don’t think about them outside of their modern purpose–to increase public’s awareness of animal species through their protection and conservation in a protected environment. However, zoos have often been used for political purposes. The Tokyo Imperial Zoo, or Ueno Zoo, played such a political role.

Title: “The Nature of the Beasts: Empire and Exhibition at the Tokyo Imperial Zoo”

Author: Ian J. Miller

ISBN: 978-0520271869

Publisher: University of California Press

Publication Date: July 1, 2012

Summary: A focused work that explores the history of Japan’s historic Ueno Zoo, also known as the Tokyo Imperial Zoo. The zoo, founded in 1882, served a way for Imperial Japan to establish its superiority and provide government spectacle to the Japanese people.


The information in this article has been acquired from Publication dates are subject to change.

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