Understanding Japan: A Cultural History

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Japan's extraordinary culture is like no other in the world, and it remains mysterious to many of us. And that's unfortunate, because to truly understand Japan's influence on the world stage, one needs to understand Japan's culture, on its own terms. In an exciting partnership with the Smithsonian, The Great Courses presents these 24 lectures that offer an unforgettable tour of Japanese life and culture. Professor Ravina, with the expert collaboration of the Smithsonian's historians, brings you a grand portrait of Japan vibrantly illustrated with stunning images from the Smithsonian's vast collections of Japanese artwork and archival material. From the dawn of Confucianism and the Meiji Restoration to World War II and the economic miracle years of 1955 to 1975, you'll explore landmark periods of Japanese history and learn how broad events and movements introduced, innovated, and revised everything from spirituality to popular entertainment. Along the way, you'll get revealing insights into Japan's indigenous religion, the art of Katsushika Hokusai, literary works like The Tale of Genji, the everyday lives of samurai, the universal appeal of filmmakers like Akira Kurosawa, foods like yakitori and tempura, and so much more. Every lecture draws extensively from the Smithsonian's vast collection of art, photography, and artifacts, making this cultural journey come to life in lavish visual detail. You'll come away from Professor Ravina's final lecture with a stronger sense of the very soul of this one of a kind nation.