Digital Japanese History


In this course, the students created various projects ranging from websites, podcasts, videos, and books


Hōjō Masako’s Role in the Shogunate by Manae Archer  

 Abstract: The Kamakura shogunate (1192-1333), Japan’s first samurai regime, is sometimes depicted as the beginning of a long slide in women’s rights. Although being a woman, Hōjō Masako (1157-1225) was instrumental in the development of many of the shogunate’s institutions. Masako resolved disagreements, regulated the regency, and mobilized troops as the wife of the first shogun and mother of the subsequent two. This strong woman was credited with being a shogun in her own right, which is recorded in contemporary sources. Later versions, however, paint Masako as a clever, cruel lady who was solely concerned with power and her biological family’s interests. This project will explore and analyze literature, the major role Hōjō Masako played in the Shogunate and how she contributed to the society of the Kamakura Period.

The Lives of Heian Aristocratic WomenAs Seen Through The Kagero Nikki by Reina Kamimoto 

Abstract: This project attempts to introduce the lives of Heian aristocratic women.Referencing academic sources, I will connect the information to examples in the KageroNikki, adding remarks and responses from Michitsuna’s Mother for more organic detail.I will likely introduce the information in chronological order as they appear in the author’s life. It will be presented in website form. 

Tokugawa Masako: Her Role Between Shoguns and the Imperial Family by Mone Yamaguchi 

Abstract: This research project will discuss the relations between shoguns and the imperial family in the early Edo period by focusing on Tokugawa Masako(1607-1678). Masakowas the daughter of Tokugawa Hidetada, the second shogun. Masako was also the imperial consort to Emperor Gomizunoo. She had the role of strengthening the shogunate and imperial ties using her unique family background. Using her position and resources, Masako enhanced the cities of Edo and Kyoto by restoring historically significant locations as well as creating new cultural communities such as the Shugaku-in Imperial Villa in Kyoto. Masako was able to make a name for herself later on in the world of art under the name Tōfukumon-in. Masako continued to be relevant in the history of Japan as her daughter Onna-Ichi-no-miya Okiko later becomes one of the few female emperors of Japan.   

Keywords: Architecture, art, culture, emperor, imperial consort, imperial family, shogun 

The Two Faces of (Shin)Yoshiwara: the Light and the Dark by Izumi Tanaka and Haruka Oizumi 

Abstract: Introduce the history of (Shin-)Yoshiwara and explore the role women played in these locations as well as the implications these locations had on society during the time. Moreover, explore the two sides of (Shin-Yoshiwara); the light side of Yoshiwara as a place where culture, art, and fashion prospered and the dark side of Yoshiwara that trapped women in harsh environments.

Keywords: Shin-Yoshiwara, Yoshiwara, pleasure districts 

Umeko Tsuda: Establishment of Female Education in Japan by Mao Kato 

Abstract: Umeko Tsuda (1864-1929) is a Japanese female educator who devoted her life to promoting English learning and empowerment of women through the establishment of a college for women, Tsuda College. It will see the biography of Tsuda from multiple perspectives, relating it to social changes and today’s situation of women. Having been abroad in her early life, Tsuda obtained a different and courageous attitude towards the patriarchal social structure that Japan had at that time. Her approaches to change the women’s education in Japan were steady and thorough in terms of its democratic and inclusive natures. This research will argue that her western way of thinking in terms of education and the empowerment of minority groups has a point to be considered even to date. It would be worth pursuing the factors that made Tsuda realize the need of becoming female educator after she accumulated the knowledge and experiences of science, language, and many other studies. Examining her life from the Meiji period to the wartime periods can certainly help capture the future vision of present Japan in which gender equality is not fully achieved even in the educational dimension and political field in particular. In addition, critical and objective research will explain why Tsuda did not advocate for feminist movements, with all her renovations and influence as an educational leader in Japan at that time.

The Role of Noblewomen in the Heian Period by Qiqi Zhang, Shota Nagao 

Abstract: This final project examines the position of noblewomen in the Heian period and their role in aristocratic households, and its gradual shift from a matriarchal to a patriarchal system within aristocratic households. This research attempts to examine the noblewomen community through the study of Uxorilocal Marriages (shoseikon招婿婚) and Virilocal Marriages (yometorikon嫁取り婚). Moreover, the project will look outside the ie and examine the positioning of women in society through portrayals of women in stories and plays. Furthermore, the role of noble women will be examined through the comparison of everyday life between male and female elites. In our research, we will limit our focus to the aristocratic noble class, as the role of women varies drastically between classes. 

Keywords: Gender, Elites, Noblewoman, the Heian period, Marriages 

The role ofYūjoin the mid-Edo period by Rei Enomoto and  Tamami Oba 

Abstract: We will be examining the role of Yūjo in the mid to late Edo period and their influence on society at the time. We will touch on who Yūjo were, how and why they started to appear, their background, the difference between Yūjo and other prostitutes/performers, their roles, their main customers, their influence on fashion, etc. 

Keywords: Yūjo, Edo, Japan, prostitution, Yoshiwara, Yukaku, women

Biography of wives of the three unifiers of Japan by Karen Sato 

Abstract: Japan had Three Unifiers during the Sengoku Period who fought to unify and bring peace in Japan, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. They all had a formidable wife behind them that helped their growth in power, Nobunaga’s wife, Nohime (Kicho) (1535-1612), Hideyoshi’s wife, Kodai-in (Nene) (1542-1579), and Ieyasu’s first wife, Tsukiyama(1543-1616). All the wives being born in a family with high ranks forced the political marriage to take place in order to keep the peace alliance between the families. They all lived as a powerful and clever model as the wives of Japan’s important leaders and supported their position. This project would portray the life story of the wives of the unifiers as they lived during the Sengoku Era supporting their husbands who were daimyos. 

Keywords: Nohime. Kodai-in, Lady Tsukiyama, Marriage, Biography, Women’s role, Status of a wife,Personality and Characteristics  

Women in Bakumatsu Period by Taiga Koshimizu  

Abstract: The topic focus on the activities of women from samurai family and seek how their activity from political and militarily angle. In Bakumatsu period, Japan was divided into have by two ideologies in terms of how Japan should be governed by who. As much as all historical record describing conflicting events between the two groups, I would like to focus on how women in samurai family involved in and gave impact on these incidents.

Ōoku in the Edo period by Shota Enomoto 

Abstract: This project will focus on Ōoku, which was the women’s quarter in the Edo period. Topics to be covered in this project will be basic information on Ōoku, the difference between other harems that existed in other countries, and the job and careers of the women working in Ōoku. In the end, it concludes by mentioning how Ōoku proved to be a very important element in facilitating the shogunate.

Keywords:  Ōoku, Women, Edo

The Roles of females in the Development of Noh by Dice Nara 

Abstract: In this project, I wanted to investigate the background of the Noh actors and the gender reaction in this very old history performance. Since it may have started as female were mainly performing of the Noh dance, as the period has changed with many other events, it has also affected the gender role and relation between the performers of Noh. In addition, with the new kind of traditional dance of Kabuki, this also adds on to how only male performers are allowed and or the only gender to perform male and female parts. 

The Evolution Of Fashion of Urban Common Women In The Late Edo to Meiji Period by Remi Shimada 

Abstract: The project explores the evolution of everyday clothes of urban common women across the late Edo to Meiji period and observe the development of women’s rights mirrored in their fashion trends.

The modern woman during the Meiji time period by Ashley Lotoya Dawkins 

Abstract: Taking a look at the modern woman and what that entailed during the Meiji time period. This includes taking a look at gender roles, as well as women’s rights, and reformation movements. This will cover the beginning of women’s education, work, and the intensification of the patriarchy 

Keywords: Meiji Japan, Factory girls, Underclass, Modern Woman, Women’s Rights 

Enlightenment Geishas during Meiji Period by Laura Méndez Castro 

Abstract: At the end of the 19th century, male geishas had disappeared with the Tokugawa period, and it was from this moment that geishas, during the Meiji Period, as we currently understand them spread throughout Japan.My project will focus on the important role played by geishas during the Meiji Restoration, when the government was no longer in the hand of the shoguns of the Tokugawa family and passed back to the emperor. A large part of the revolutionary plans was hatched in the tea houses, where the geishas worked, famous for their discretion, so that after the success of the Restoration, the geishas were widely favored by the new Japanese classes, as thanks, spending many of the mto be the concubines of the new men in power of the government emerged from the Restoration. 

Keywords: Geishas, Geiko, Maiko, Meiji, Restoration, Concubine, Gion, Hanamachi, Okiya 

Christianity and Gender Roles in Japan’s Christian Century by Alexander Maynard 

Abstract:  An exploration of women’s engagement with Christianity in 16th/17th century Japan, how this was informed by gender roles and to what extent this caused the female experience with Christianity to differ from the male, including why some elite women were receptive to Christianity in a way some elite men were not, or conversely why they showed hostility to it.

Key Words:Christianity, Women, Gender, Agency

Gender and Family Roles in Japan by Zoë Legros and Diane G Matal 

Abstract: We will focus on the roles of women, specifically daughters or sisters(all those who are still considered as children but also their relationship to their parents)during theKamakura period. We will talk about their political, religious, economic, and social roles in inheritance. For this we will take the example of a woman of that time, we thought about Hojo Masako but more investigation needs to be made.We would like to focus on the daughters in a Japanese Household, what were their rights, how they were different from their male siblings. We will then focus on women in the royal family especially daughters of emperors and what they could doin their childhood. 

Keywords: Daughters in Kamakura period-Inheritance and Marriage-Women’s education and rights-Warrior women In theKamakura period-Economic activities-Religious practices-Female child rearing-Inheritance 

Analyzing Elite Women’s Influence between Kamakura and Muromachi Periods by Seth Timple  

Abstract: Women of aristocratic and warrior status often occupied positions of authority and enjoyed relative autonomy in Kamakura and earlier periods, but seemingly lose these during the transition to the Muromachi era. By analyzing social trends such as marital practice, gender roles, inheritance, etc. this project hopes to dismantle the common myth of women’s complete oppression and analyze what influence women exerted in these periods and comparing the changes that occurred.  


Wives of Shogun During the Edo Period by Tamami Matsumura and Riko Fujiki 

Abstract: Gender inequality will always be a huge social issue especially in Japan and therefore, we were interested in the foundation of this inequality. In order to do this we decided to put focus on feudal Japan. Overall, we would like to focus on the role of women (female positions), specifically those who were wives of Shogun’s during the Edo period from the perspective of politics, family, and culture. We basically want to focus on the feudal system in Japan and how women were positioned in the society. Since the Edo period contains variations of context, we are thinking of making a timeline and distinctions (segments) within the Edo period. 

Keywords: Shogunate ,ie, buddhism, stereotypes ( women), political power, feudal Japan gender roles, responsibilities  

How have women governed as emperors? A comparison of the reign of female emperorKōken/Shōtoku and emperor Kanmu by María Luisa Itubure Díaz  

Abstract: In a podcast, I will compare the reign of female emperorKōken/Shōtoku and emperor Kanmu in the context of the debate about women’s exclusion from imperial succession. Since emperor Kōken/Shōtoku is often cited as an example of why women should not be in such a political position, my purpose is to analyze whether she was abad regent. Therefore, I will compare how both historical figures govern, the changes they brought to Japan, and the legacies attributed to them 

Keywords: women, female emperor, male emperor, imperial succession, Kōken/Shōtoku, Kanmu, Nara period,Heian period 

The Influence of Women Warriors in Japanese History by Yvonne Kalpakis and Gianna Vacca 

Abstract: This project is designed to elaborate upon the roles of Edo period women within the aspect of warrior hood. This research subject consists of topics such as women in the warrior class, certain onna-musha, and the influence of such roles on society during and before theTokugawa period as well as in current history.By analyzing academic articles and scholarly published documents, the information stays consistent throughout, providing proof of women with power who changed the course of progress in Edo periodJapan whether through organizing political advances, fighting battles, or participating in a certain social class. The presented conclusion relates to the hidden prominence of warrior women in pre-modern Japan and how an equitable lens can correct the injustice of this omission as pertinent to Japanese history.

Keywords: women warriors; onna-musha; Tomoe Gozen; military; Tokugawa period;Edo period; Samurai; martial arts; performing arts; legends; Empress Jingu, Nakano Takeko;Ueno Tsurihime; pre-Meiji;Japan; pre-modern; 


Transformation From “A Traitor’s Daughter” by Nodoka Machida and Nagisa Nakata 

Abstract: The project will look into two influential women: Tokugawa Iemitsu shogunate’s wet nurse named Kasuga no Tsubone (Lady Kasuga) and a daughter of Akechimitsuhide named Hosokawa Gracia. These two historical figures share the characteristics of achieving the transformation from“a traitor’s daughter” to “the woman who left a strong influence/impact on Japanese history” by sticking to their beliefs even under challenging situations/hardships, especially after the death of their father. Two women took different paths to crawl up from rock bottom. While Lady Kasuga became “an elite wet nurse” who was admired and took an important role in making Iemitsu the third shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty and supporting him to secure his positions, Hosokawa Gracia became “a devout Christian” who ended her life in an unexpected way. Comparing and. contrasting these women’s social/political prominence and role as well as their relationship with men around them, the project aims to explore the special qualities that allow them to secure their positions, authority, and beliefs 

Keywords: Kasuga no Tsubone (Lady Kasuga), wet nurse, Hosokawa Gracia, Christianity,Traitor’s daughter