SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

The Merchant’s Tale: one family’s experience of the Meiji Restoration and the transformation of Japan

The Merchant's Tale
Prof Simon Partner (Duke University)

Date: 3 October 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Finishes: 3 October 2018Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Lecture


In 1859, Shinohara Chūemon was one of the first merchants to open a shop in the newly-developed treaty port of Yokohama. Over the following fifteen years, he made and lost a fortune, while witnessing at close hand the dramatic political and economic upheavals that culminated in the Meiji Restoration. In this talk, I will examine the dynamics of Japan’s revolutionary 1860s, focusing on the economic opportunities, political threats, and social and economic disruptions of the restoration era, as seen through the eyes of one participant and his family.

Simon Partner

Speaker Biography

Simon Partner graduated from Cambridge University in 1980. He was a banker and management consultant before completing his PhD in Japanese history at Columbia University in 1997. His first book was a history of Japan’s emerging consumer society in the 1950s. Subsequently, Partner’s interest in history “from the bottom up” has led him to focus on the lives of previously unknown individuals – farmers, workers, merchants, and housewives. He has published four biographies based on this research, including the recently-published “The Merchant’s Tale: Yokohama and the Transformation of Japan (Columbia University Press, 2017). He is currently working on the history of a samurai woman during the mid-19th century. Partner is Professor of History at Duke University.

Organiser: SOAS Japan Research Centre

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Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4893

Sponsor: Meiji Jingu