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Japan, 1853-1912

4. Modernisation

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About this Lecture


In this module we think about the rapid modernisation of Japan in the later 19th century, focusing in particular on the politics, the economy and culture. What was the reaction to these sweeping reforms among the Japanese people? Was modernisation simply a case of Westernisation, or was the process more complex than that?


In this course Dr Andrew Cobbing (University of Nottingham) explores Japan in the 19th century. We begin by thinking about what Japan was like under the Tokugawa shogunate, focusing in particular on the main social, economic and cultural developments from the early 17th century. In the second module, we think about Western intervention in Japan – why did the Tokugawa regime collapse so quickly after the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853? In the following four modules, we look in turn at four key themes in the history of later 19th-century Japan: nationalism, modernisation, foreign policy and imperialism.


Andrew Cobbing is Associate Professor in History at the University of Nottingham. His research focuses on cultural relations between Japan and the West with particular reference to the experience of samurai travellers and the diaries they kept during their explorations abroad. His recent publications include Kyushu, gateway to Japan: a cultural history (2009) (as editor) and Hakata: the cultural worlds of northern Kyushu (2013).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Cobbing, A. (2018, August 15). Japan, 1853-1912 - Modernisation [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Cobbing, A. "Japan, 1853-1912 – Modernisation." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,