December 24th, 2009
Episode 70 of 515 episodes
Melvyn Bragg and guests Gregory Irvine, Nicola Liscutin and Angus Lockyer discuss the history of the Samurai and the role of their myth in Japanese national identity.The Samurai have a fearsome historical reputation as a suicidally brave caste of Japanese warriors. During World War Two, kamikaze pilots were photographed climbing into their cockpits with Samurai swords, encapsulating the way the myth of the Samurai's martial ethos kept its power long after their heyday. But the Samurai's role in Japanese culture is much more complex than that. They were deeply engaged with Zen Buddhism and Noh Theatre, and sponsored haiku poetry. After their role in Japan's century of civil war, ending in the early 1600s, they became part of the country's civil service. A 250-year peace toppled them into identity crisis.In the 19th century, with the arrival of the West, they played an important role in the establishment of a Japanese nation-state, not least by restoring the Emperor to power. And in the 20th century the mythological version of the Samurai, designed in part for Western consumption, became integral to a newly forged national identity.Nicola Liscutin is Programme Director of Japanese Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London; Gregory Irvine is Senior Curator Japan at the Victoria and Albert Museum; Angus Lockyer is Lecturer in Japanese History and Chair of the Japan Research Centre at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
Have you trembled ‘round the campfire as the ghost stories are told? Do tales of horrors wrought by nature and beyond strike fear in your soul? Is it best when you are afraid to turn out the light? Thrill to stories that strike at your deepest fears, as host Stephen Kilpatrick brings the best of horror fiction to your ears and your mind, read to you by the most chilling narrators that podcasting has to offer. <br /> <br /> Podcasting the finest in genre fiction, Tales to Terrify is where the depths of horror reveal the truths of good, evil, and the human spirit in the District of Wonders podcast network. Like all shows in the District of Wonders, Tales to Terrify is supported by a welcoming community of dedicated fans and contributors. Subscribe today, and begin your journey through the spine-tingling depths of storytelling.<br /> <br /> Everyone has a story in the District of Wonders. Come and find yours.