SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre


Recent article publications


Idou to Kotoba

Idō to Kotoba [Mobility and Language] (Japanese)

Iwasaki, Noriko
Tokyo: Kurosio Publishers, 2018

In an age in which crossing borders has little to do with nationality or where one comes from, it is impossible to talk about crossing borders without considering the effect it has on language. Using the relationship between mobility and language as a base, this book aims to examine how researchers themselves consider research themes while crossing borders. This book unravels the relationships, language experiences and memories of the people moving across multilingual environments using interviews and life stories of those who have moved.

Neil Jackson Publication

Japan and the West: An Architectural Dialogue

Jackson, Neil
Lund Humphries, 2018

While historically there has been an acknowledged exchange of ideas between Japanese and Western architects, so far, the only examinations of this exchange have been limited to detailed studies of a single architect and their influences, such as Frank Lloyd Wright. This book addresses, in four distinct parts, the architectural dialogue between Japan and the West from the opening up of Japan in the 1850s until the end of the C20. Beginning with a section on Japonisme in Europe and America in the C19 and the "giyofu" (fake Western) architecture of Japan, the book then looks at Modern architecture in Japan, Europe and America between the two World Wars. The third section explores Architecture in Japan from 1945 until the Osaka Expo of 1970 and finally, it concludes with a section on Internationalism in Japanese and Western architecture in the late C20.  ​

Ninja Book Cover

Ninja: Unmasking the Myth

Turnbull, Stephen
Frontline Books, 2017

The Ninja Unmasked is a revealing, fascinating and authoritative study of Japan’s famous secret warriors. Unlike all previous books on the subject the author, who is an expert in the subject, does not take the ninja for granted. Instead he examines the entire phenomenon in a critical manner, ranging from accounts of undercover operations during the age of Japan’s civil wars to the modern emergence of the superman ninja as a comic book character. The popular ninja image is shown to be the result of several influences that were combined to create the world’s greatest secret warrior.

IMG - Ikkyu

Ikkyu Sojun: Der Zen-Monch “Verruckte Wolke” und seine Zeit (300 pp.) Iudicum

Steiner, Evgeny
Translator: P. Raff
Muenchen: Iudicium Verlag, 2017

This book is the translation (enlarged and modified, as well as furnished with the Foreword and commentaries of the translator) of the monograph Ikkyu Sojun: The Creative Personality in the Medieval Japanese Context (Moscow: Nauka, 1987). The translator, Dr. Peter Raff, is well known for his mission to introduce books of Russian Japanologists to the German reader. The subject of the book is the complex analysis of medieval Japanese culture with the focal point on the legacy of Ikkyu Sojun, the prominent poet, artist, and religious authority of the Zen school.

IMG - Steiner - Publication

Hokusai Manga: The Encyclopedia of Old Japanese Life in Pictures 

Steiner, Evgeny
Centre for Oriental Studies Publishers, 2017

Hokusai Manga (HM) is the biggest and the best known work of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) which consists of ca. 900 pp. published in 15 volumes from 1814 to 1875. This publication discusses the phenomenon of HM and its place in the context of Japanese picture books. Was it a drawing manual or comic cartoons or perhaps a pictorial encyclopedia? What are the historical meanings and etymology of the word manga? 

 Japan and the Great Divergence

Japan and the Great Divergence. A Short Guide

Franks, Penelope
Palgrave Macmillan, 2016

The economic history of early modern Japan has thus far remained at the margins of the complex debate on the ‘great divergence’ between western Europe and Asia. In her short monograph Penelope Francks proposes a twofold argument. First, it is possible to use the current discussion on global economic history to frame the study of individual countries. Second, as early as the Tokugawa period, Japan was experiencing Smithian growth based on a unique set of institutional and socio‐political factors.

The Routledge Intermediate to Advanced Japanese Reader: A Genre-Based Approach to Reading as a Social Practice

The Routledge Intermediate to Advanced Japanese Reader: A Genre-Based Approach to Reading as a Social Practice

Iwasaki, Noriko; Kumagai, Yuri
Routledge, 2015

The Routledge Intermediate to Advanced Japanese Reader emphasizes reading as a purposeful social act, which requires readers to make meaning of the text by considering the authors’ choices in language (scripts, vocabulary, styles) in the text. The learners are guided to situate each text in society (for example, the author, target audience, social-cultural background related to the subject) in order to understand the social significance of reading and writing. This book aims to help learners develop the ability to critically read and write in Japanese for their own social purposes. It is suitable for both class use and independent study.

Archaeology of East Asia

Archaeology of East Asia: The Rise of Civilisation in China, Korea and Japan
Barnes, Gina L.
Oxbow Books, 2015

Archaeology of East Asia constitutes an introduction to social and political development from the Palaeolithic to 8th-century early historic times. It takes a regional view across China, Korea, Japan and their peripheries that is unbounded by modern state lines. This viewpoint emphasizes how the region drew on indigenous developments and exterior stimuli to produce agricultural technologies, craft production, political systems, religious outlooks and philosophies that characterize the civilization of historic and even modern East Asia.

This book is a complete rewrite and update of The Rise of Civilization in East Asia, first published in 1993.

Japan’s Sexual Gods

Japan’s Sexual Gods: Shrines, Roles and Rituals of Procreation and Protection
Turnbull, Stephen
BRILL, 2015

Japan’s Sexual Gods is an authoritative and original work that describes the unique deities represented by sexual objects in certain Japanese shrines and temples. Hundreds of sexual shrines still exist in spite of previous repression and range from the Tagata Shrine with its well-known giant festival phallus to small obscure places. Many also contain female sexual imagery and some phalluses act in a protective role. The study is based on observations of over 500 sexual sites including phallic festivals, many of which are modern inventions created purely for commercial reasons. The study makes an assessment of the place of sexual beliefs in modern Japan and includes almost 300 stunning original photographs, a glossary and a highly detailed map.

Japanese Economic Development

Japanese Economic Development: Theory and practice
Third Edition
Francks, Penelope
Routledge, 2015

This fully revised and updated third edition of Japanese Economic Development looks at Japan's economic history from the nineteenth century through to World War II, recasting analysis of Japan’s economic past in the light fresh theoretical perspectives in the study of economic history and development.

Francks draws out the historical roots of the institutions and practices on which Japan's post-war economic miracle was based and provides a comparative framework within which the Japanese case can be understood and related to development in the rest of the world.


Hokusai's Great Wave

Hokusai's Great Wave: Biography of a Global Icon
Guth, Christine
University Of Hawai'i Press, 2015

Hokusai’s “Great Wave,” as it is commonly known today, is arguably one of Japan’s most successful exports, its commanding cresting profile instantly recognizable no matter how different its representations in media and style. In this richly illustrated and highly original study, Christine Guth examines the iconic wave from its first publication in 1831 through the remarkable range of its articulations, arguing that it has been a site where the tensions, contradictions, and, especially, the productive creativities of the local and the global have been negotiated and expressed. She follows the wave’s trajectory across geographies, linking its movements with larger political, economic, technological, and sociocultural developments. Adopting a case study approach, Guth explores issues that map the social life of the iconic wave across time and place, from the initial reception of the woodblock print in Japan, to the image’s adaptations as part of “international nationalism,” its place in American perceptions of Japan, its commercial adoption for lifestyle branding, and finally to its identification as a tsunami, bringing not culture but disaster in its wake.


Kokka ga Yomigaeru Toki

Kokka ga Yomigaeru Toki: Motazaru Kuni de aru Finrando ga Nandomo Saisei Dekita Riyuu
Noritoshi, Furuichi; Toivonen, Tuukka
Magazine House, 2015






Inventing the Way of the Samurai

Inventing the Way of the Samurai: Nationalism, Internationalism, and Bushidō in Modern Japan
Benesch, Oleg
Oxford University Press, 2014

Inventing the Way of the Samurai examines the development of the 'way of the samurai' - bushidō - which is popularly viewed as a defining element of the Japanese national character and even the 'soul of Japan'. Rather than a continuation of ancient traditions, however, bushidō developed from a search for identity during Japan's modernization in the late nineteenth century. The former samurai class were widely viewed as a relic of a bygone age in the 1880s, and the first significant discussions of bushidō at the end of the decade were strongly influenced by contemporary European ideals of gentlemen and chivalry. At the same time, Japanese thinkers increasingly looked to their own traditions in search of sources of national identity, and this process accelerated as national confidence grew with military victories over China and Russia.


The Youth of Things: Life and Death in the Age of Kajii Motojiro
The Youth of Things: Life and Death in the Age of Kajii Motojiro

Dodd, Stephen
University of Hawai‘i Press, 2014

The Youth of Things is the first full-length book devoted to Kajii Motojirō. It brings together English translations of nearly all his completed stories with an analysis of his literature in the context of several major themes that locate him in 1920s Japan. In particular, Dodd links the writer’s work with the physical body: Kajii’s subjective literary presence was grounded first and foremost in his TB-stricken physical body, hence one cannot be studied without the other. His concerns with health and mortality drove him to play a central role in constructing a language for modern literature and to offer new insights into ideas that intrigued so many other Taishō intellectuals and writers. In addition, Kajii’s early years as a writer were strongly influenced by the cosmopolitan humanism of the White Birch (Shirakaba) school, but by the time his final work was published in the early 1930s, an environment of greater cultural introspection was beginning to take root, encapsulated in the expression “return to Japan” (nihon kaiki). Only a few years separate these two moments in time, but they represent a profound shift in the aspirations and expectations of a whole generation of writers. Through a study of Kajii’s writing, this book offers some sense of the demise of one cultural moment and the creation of another.


Kristin Surak book pic
Making Tea, Making Japan: Cultural Nationalism in Practice

Surak, Kristin
Stanford University Press, 2012

Although few non-Japanese scholars have peered behind the walls of a tea room, sociologist Kristin Surak came to know the inner workings of the tea world over the course of ten years of tea training. Here she offers the first comprehensive analysis of the practice that includes new material on its historical changes, a detailed excavation of its institutional organization, and a careful examination of what she terms "nation-work"—the labor that connects the national meanings of a cultural practice and the actual experience and enactment of it. She concludes by placing tea ceremony in comparative perspective, drawing on other expressions of nation-work, such as gymnastics and music, in Europe and Asia.

Japan Since 1945: From Postwar to Post-Bubble by Christopher Gerteis and Timothy S. George
Japan Since 1945: From Postwar to Post-Bubble

Editor(s): Gerteis, Christopher; George, Timothy S.
Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013

Does Japan really matter anymore? The challenges of recent Japanese history have led some pundits and scholars to publicly wonder whether Japan's significance is starting to wane. The multidisciplinary essays that comprise Japan Since 1945 demonstrate its ongoing importance and relevance. Examining the historical context to the social, cultural, and political underpinnings of Japan's postwar development, the contributors re-engage earlier discourses and introduce new veins of research.

Japan Since 1945 provides a much needed update to existing scholarly work on the history of contemporary Japan. It moves beyond the 'lost decade' and 'terrible devastation' frameworks that have thus far defined too much of the discussion, offering a more nuanced picture of the nation's postwar development.