Class Apps: Japanese History

There are currently seven video presentations available under this category:


Japan-Korea: Histories that Bind. Japan and South Korea are neighbors whose cooperation in the 21st century is vital. Yet this bi-national relationship is challenged by complex, intertwined, often violent, and contested histories. Historian Alexis Dudden, University of Connecticut, traces the ways in which these two countries have been tied together and torn apart through the 20th century and argues that acknowledging history and learning from it will be essential if these two nations are to move forward. She discusses the current controversy over Comfort Women and briefly considers North Korea.

The Japanese Constitution at 70. Part 1.  Japan’s 1947 constitution, imposed by US Occupation forces, is unique as a governing document that has remained unchanged despite its foreign origins. In Part 1 of this two-part Class App, historian Ethan Segal highlights the 70-year history and considers how this constitution came to be embraced in Japan.

The Japanese Constitution at 70. Part 2. In July 2016, Japan’s ruling LDP party gained the legislative majority it needs to push major constitutional changes, including changes to Article 9 (the no war clause), the role of the emperor, and more. In Part 2 of this two-part Class App, historian Ethan Segal focuses on constitutional controversies, calls for reform, and divided views within Japan.

Learning to “Read” Japanese Paintings: A Social Studies Perspective. One of several complementary Class Apps considering techniques for using visual art in the secondary curriculum, University of Washington NCTA director Mary Bernson introduces several questioning techniques before providing historical background information on the famous artist Sesshu Toyo. This Class App is designed to empower social studies teachers to explore artwork with their students in ways that respond to social studies skills and themes.

Learning To “Read” Japanese Paintings: An Art Historian’s Perspective. This is the first in a series of Class Apps that model ways of “reading” artwork from the perspectives of multiple courses and disciplines—art history, history, and literature. Art historian Carla Stansifer offers questions and strategies designed to guide students through a systematic study and analysis of a classic work of Japanese ink painting, “Winter Landscape,” by Sesshu Toyo. Stansifer introduces concepts and terminology that form the basis of analysis from the discipline of art history while also providing background on Japanese ink painting and its techniques, tools, and subject matter.

Learning to “Read” Japanese Paintings: Using Art as an Entry Point for Japanese Literature. High school literature teacher and NCTA alumna Sarah Campbell presents one in our series on Asian art in the classroom. Sarah shares strategies for using the piece “Winter Landscape” in an anticipatory activity for a unit on Japanese Buddhist stories. She then offers lesson plans and resources she has developed and used for teaching several medieval and contemporary Japanese stories with Buddhist themes.

The Meaning of President Obama’s Visit to Hiroshima. Why is it important to teach about Obama’s May 2016 visit to Hiroshima? Historian Alexis Dudden of the University of Connecticut offers her perspectives on the first official visit to Hiroshima by a sitting US president. Dudden presents an overview of the dropping of the A-bombs, including differing American narratives in the aftermath of the events, and discusses the significance of Obama’s visit in terms of the power of reconciliation and the uses of historical narrative as lessons for the future.

Teaching with the MIT “Visualizing Cultures” Collection. The “Visualizing Cultures” project offers an amazing collection of visual resources for teaching Japanese and Chinese history. Award–winning classroom teacher Meredith Changeux shares lessons and strategies for using the materials with secondary students.


Using Samurai to Teach Critical Thinking. Thanks to TV, movies, manga and anime, students may bring lots of knowledge of samurai to the classroom. But how much of what they know is based in fact? And how do teachers dislodge student stereotypes to teach and learn about samurai in their historical context? Professor Ethan Segal suggests that samurai offer an excellent case study for developing critical thinking skills because students can analyze the media sources of their own knowledge as well as historical primary and secondary sources, comparing and contrasting the information presented. In this Class App, Professor Segal offers a five-question template for interrogating sources. He applies those questions as he suggests a variety of print and visual sources that can be used in the classroom to engage students in historical inquiry and analysis of samurai culture in the medieval period. Segal concludes with the case study of the film The Last Samurai.