Sengoku Daimyo's Chronicles of Japan

A History, Society and Culture podcast featuring
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In many ways Japan traces its "founding" as a nation to the story of Iware Biko--aka the Sovereign Jimmu--and the establishment of his court in the central land of Yamato in the Nara Basin.  This is the story of how Iware Biko is said to have marched from Southern Kyushu east to the eventual central land, where the first true capitals of Japan would be located.
Welcome to our 24th episode, and our 1 year anniversary! This episode we get to talk to a much overlooked figure:  Nigi Hayahi no Mikoto--elder brother to Hiko Ho no Ninigi no Mikoto, grandson of Takami Musubi no Mikoto and Amaterasu Omikami, and the first Divine Descendant to come down and rule in Yamato. So why don't we know more about this figure?  And what does it say that there were apparently two Heavenly Grandsons?  We'll go over this story and try to unwrap a little bit of the mystery, as best we can these many centuries past.
CW:  Men disrespecting/not listening to women This episode we finish the story of Ninigi and move on to the story of Hiko Hohodemi.  We'll touch on the stories, where we've tried to combine the elements of the various chronicles into one narrative.  And there are definitely some themes in these stories about the men of the Heavenly lineage not listening to the women in their lives, which shouldn't be much of a shock at this point.
Finally, the Heavenly Grandchild makes their descent to the earthly realm!  Thus begins the story of the main thrust of our story, with the royal line of sovereigns now in the archipelago--though we are still a few generations from the "first" ruler. This episode we will follow the Divine Descendant down to earth, along with their retinue, and see just who they meet along the way.
This episode we are back in the Chronicles and going through the attempts by the High Plain of Heaven to pacify the land so that they could send the Divine Descendant down to rule over it.  This would be perfect if it just weren't for the fact that, well, there were already people there. But that has rarely stopped people in the past. We'll go over the various attempts to send different kami down to subdue the land until finally they send kami that aren't going to just set up shop down in the earthly realm, and they gain the submission of The Great Land Master himself.  Spoiler alert:  Yamato eventually wins.
This episode finishes our brief look at Izumo.  There is a lot more that people could dig into, but this will give us the broad strokes through the Kofun period, up to roughly the period of the Chronicles.
This episode we take a quick break from the Chronicles to go over a bit of the history of Izumo, focusing on the archaeology of the region, which we don't really get in the Chronicles.  This episode we'll focus primarily on the geography and then the Jomon through Yayoi period history--right up to the time of Queen Himiko.  Next episode we'll look at the Kofun period. This means we'll be skipping around, going back to some subjects we've covered and looking a head into the future.  The goal is to get an idea of Izumo's history as we are reading through Yamato's account, so we can keep things in perspective.
This episode we continue with the rest of the story of Ōnamuchi--aka Ōnamochi, Ōkuninushi, Ōmononushi, Ashihara Shiko'o, Utsushikunitama, etc.   Last episode talked about his martial and marital exploits in becoming Ōkuninushi, the Great Land Master, and now we dive into his role as a Creator kami--finishing the work of Izanagi and Izanami.  We'll also talk a little about his partner, Sukuna Bikona, who assisted him in most of this endeavor, as well as how he came to also be associated with Ōmiwa no kami, the tutelary spirit of Yamato.  Finally, we'll discuss the land-ceding story, and how he eventually gave it all up to the Imperial Ancestor, Ninigi no Mikoto. 
Alright, so this episode we continue with the Izumo theme and we are going to focus on The Great Land Master, some times called the Great Name Holder, Ohonamuchi, aka Ohonamochi, aka Ohokuninushi, aka Ashihara no Shiko'o, aka Utskushikunimitama, aka... well, you get the picture.  The guy has a lot of names. Anyway, in this episode we'll go over the story of him and the White Rabbit of Inaba, as well as his conflict with his many brothers, which leads him down to Ne no Kuni, the home of Susano'o.
This episode we finish the  tale of Susano'o, including who he slew the giant beast, Yamata no Orochi, and thus saved Kushinada Hime, who would become his wife.   We talk about how, back on earth, Susano'o plays the part of the culture hero, rather than the wild and destructive god of the Heavenly Plains.  What is going on with that?  And just how deep is Susano'o's connection to Izumo?
CW for mild profanity. There is trouble in the High Plain of Heaven!  This episode we discuss the birth of Amaterasu, and her brother, Susanowo, and their, shall we say, rocky relationship.  We cover the siblings, from Susanowo's expulsion from the earthly realm to his time in the High Plain of Heaven, where his mischief causes Amaterasu to lock herself inside the Heavenly Rock Cave, to Amaterasu's return to the world and Susanowo's expulsion from the Heavenly Plain.
CW:  This episode deals with ancient Japanese stories that contain depictions of sex, misogyny, and death. The Chronicles of Japan finally get into the Japanese Chronicles!  This episode starts our foray into the Japanese Chronicles:  The Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki, with a look at what's behind the Chronicles and one of the first real stories:  The creation of the archipelago and the kami, or gods, of Heaven. We'll start with a discussion of the main chronicles for this time and go on to discuss the story of Izanagi and Izanami, the two gods who are said to have created Japan and are the progenitors of most of the later kami.  We'll examine all of this and look at some of the possible cultural information that can be gleaned from these stories.
We're finally here!  Queen Himiko.  In this episode we tell the story of Queen Himiko--or at least what we know of it.  From her rise to power as the paramount of the Wa to her missions to the Wei court in Luoyang and dealing with the commandery in Daifang. This was a particularly tumultuous time in northeast Asia, and the story dives into not just the Wa, but their interaction with the other polities that were developing into their own states and kingdoms on the peninsula. For more details, check out our blogpost at
CW:  In this episode there will be some mention of slavery, as well as reference to wars and warlords. We continue our journey into the culture of the Wa, looking at the social conventions and society.  The past may often be a foreign country, but there are also a lot of things that look familiar.  We'll look at how society was structured as well as the rituals we know about to give us more perspective on this time in history.
In this episode we follow the footsteps of the Chinese emissaries on their way to archipelago.  There had been plenty of travel back and forth, based on the various artifacts we've found, but it wasn't until the History of the Wei that we get our first look at the paths and directions to the countries in the island.  It is also when we get our first look at the people and customs of the people known as  the "Wa", including their sovereign:  A Queen known as "Himiko", and her home country, known as "Yamato". So come with us as we take a look at the lands of the Wa.
This episode we cover the archipelago at the turn of BCE to CE through the eyes of the Chinese chronicles.  We take a look at what the Chinese thought was the founding of Japan in the Qin dynasty, as well as the disruption to the islands caused by the Xin dynasty interregnum between the early and late Han dynasties.  We also look at the earliest recorded missions to China, as well as the fortunate discovery in the 18th century of the famous seal of the Kingdom of Na.
This episode is a bit different.  Whereas we've been looking primarily at the archaeological and historical evidence, this episode we look at the linguistic evidence--language--and what it tells us. 
In this episode we look at one of the other large innovations of the Yayoi period:  Bronze and Iron.  We'll explore just when bronze and iron came to the archipelago, and its role as a prestige good in the growing stratification of society.  We'll talk about how it connects the islands to the continent, but also how it connects the various settlements to one another.
Japan without rice? It's hard to imagine such a thing, but it is true. This episode we talk about how rice came to Japan and the culture that was created at about the same time.  This is the Yayoi culture, and it will be the subject of our next several episodes, moving forward. The Yayoi culture is a blend of continental and indigenous culture that creates its own mark on the archipelago and beyond. But why the change? How did this new culture come to the islands? We'll discuss all of this this episode.
This episode we take a brief departure from the Japanese archipelago and take a look at what was happening on the continent.  This is the formation of the states we would later come to know as China and Korea, though they aren't nearly so unified just yet.  Over on the mainland, the development of rice and various metal technologies will create changes that will eventually flow over to the archipelago.  We'll take a look at archaeological as well as historical evidence for this period.
This episode will be our final look at the Jomon Period in Japan.  Specifically we are focusing on the northern Jomon, in Tohoku and Hokkaido.  We'll take a brief overview of this northern area throughout the Jomon period, and then focus on the transition from the Middle to Late and Final Jomon periods. We also have a treat this episode--we are getting our best glimpse yet of the people through the DNA of one of the women from Funadomari.  We'll take a look at what we know about her, including what is up with the whole "wet earwax" thing. If you enjoy this episode, please feel free to reach out and Tweet or email us with comments.  How is it going and what would you like more or less of?
This episode we'll cover the Jomon period down in Kyushu where we will look at the evolution of the culture and the disaster that befell this early bastion of Jomon society.
This episode we'll continue with our exploration of the Jomon period, focusing specifically on the Middle Jomon in the area of Eastern Honshu.  This was truly a fascinating period, and saw the largest population boom anywhere of a non-agrarian subsistence culture.  We'll talk about why that is and look at some of the other cultural factors that we see in this area.
This episode kicks off a multi-part series on the Jomon period.  Known to some as Japan's Neolithic period, and named for the distinctive cord-marked pottery found from sites of this time, the Jomon period in Japan spans thousands of years as humans on the archipelago moved from a nomadic to a more settled lifestyle, yet still before any widespread use of full scale agriculture.  In this series we'll examine the early transitional phase into the growth of Jomon culture, we'll then look at the boom period in the Middle Jomon, and then the consolidation into northern and southern regions in the Late and Final Jomon periods, before the coming of the Yayoi. This episode will focus mainly on the transition into the Jomon period, the Incipient, Initial, and Early periods.  We'll look at the life of the people of this time as well as their homes, rituals, and food.  We'll discuss technological achievements beyond just pottery, such as lacquerware, and we'll see the importance of fishing for coastal settlements. Next episode we'll look at the boom period in the Middle Jomon, when the Kanto and Chubu regions grew to their most populous, ever.  For now, give a listen to 
In this first episode, we will look at an overview of Japan during the Paleolithic period.  We'll start with a look at the geological formation of the islands, and then talk about the first people who came over, starting about 40,000 years ago.  We'll go into what we know about them and discuss a little bit of what life must have been like for them.  This will take us most of the way through the Pleistocene, or Ice Age, period, right up to the period when the temperatures were just starting to rise.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Joshua Badgley
Podcast Status
Aug 31st, 2019
Latest Episode
Sep 16th, 2020
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
41 minutes

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