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The Merchant's Tale: Yokohama and the Transformation of Japan

The Merchant's Tale: Yokohama and the Transformation of Japan

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Key Metrics

  • Simon Partner
  • Columbia University Press
  • Paperback
  • 9780231182935
  • 8.9 X 6 X 0.8 inches
  • 1 pounds
  • History > Asia - Japan
  • English
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Book Description

In April 1859, at age fifty, Shinohara Chūemon left his old life behind. Chūemon, a well-off farmer in his home village, departed for the new port city of Yokohama, where he remained for the next fourteen years. There, as a merchant trading with foreigners in the aftermath of Japan's 1853 opening to the West, he witnessed the collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate, the civil war that followed, and the Meiji Restoration's reforms. The Merchant's Tale looks through Chūemon's eyes at the upheavals of this period.

In a narrative history rich in colorful detail, Simon Partner uses the story of an ordinary merchant farmer and its Yokohama setting as a vantage point onto sweeping social transformation and its unwitting agents. Chūemon, like most newcomers to Yokohama, came in search of economic opportunity. His story sheds light on vital issues in Japan's modern history, including the legacies of the Meiji Restoration; the East Asian treaty port system; and the importance of everyday life--food, clothing, medicine, and hygiene--for national identity. Centered on an individual, The Merchant's Tale is also the story of a place. Created under pressure from aggressive foreign powers, Yokohama was the scene of gunboat diplomacy, a connection to global markets, the birthplace of new lifestyles, and the beachhead of Japan's modernization. Partner's history of a vibrant meeting place humanizes the story of Japan's revolutionary 1860s and their profound consequences for Japanese society and culture.

The Merchant's Tale: Yokohama and the Transformation of Japan

Author Bio

Professor Simon Partner teaches late 19th and 20th-century Japanese history Focusing on: growth of consumer markets; technology and social change; Japanese rural society. 

 

Education 

Ph.D., Columbia University 1997
M.Phil., Columbia University 1994
M.A., Columbia University 1993
M.A., University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) 1985
M.B.A., University of Manchester (United Kingdom) 1984
B.A., University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) 1980

 

Source: Duke University 

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