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Focus 3+4: Histories of Japanese Society. Making Japan 1500-1900: Society, Governance and Anti-Christian Ideology



This course examines the way that various Japanese governments, particularly the early and late Tokugawa and early Meiji states, used culture and religion to achieve political objectives of state-building. In addition, we also examine other developments in culture, religion, art and literature which occurred independently of state authority and have serious ramifications for how we look at Japan and the world in this critical period of history.

One major case study we examine is the way that Japanese governments used Christianity and images of Christianity to achieve various political objectives of state-building. In addition to this main focus on the role of Christianity, we also look at how images of Buddhism and Confucianism were also manipulated during this period. This includes an examination of the attacks on certain sects of Buddhism by samurai governments between 1500 and 1700, and on the attempt to outlaw Buddhism by the early Meiji state in the early 1870s.

Course objectives

This course has three main aims. Firstly, to equip 2nd year students with an understanding of a range of issues in the history of early-modern Japan. Secondly, to introduce students to a range of sources about early-modern Japanese society. Thirdly, to equip 2nd year students with analytical skills which can be applied to deconstructing long term narratives of history by using particular theoretical paradigms of modernization discourse. This course will particularly concentrate on introducing students to theories relating to the role of ideology and religion in modern state formation.


Check Links on the first page of the Japanese Studyguide 2010-2011

Mode of instruction

Seminar: First hour lecture based, second hour tutorial based.

Assessment method

  • Class Discussion and Readings: 20%

  • Review Paper: 20%

  • Group Research and Presentation: 20%

  • Individual Research Paper: 40%



Reading list

Kiri Paramore. Ideology and Christianity in Japan. London: Routledge, 2009.
Plus a wide range of source, journal and book chapter readings.


Enrollment via uSis is mandatory.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Contact information

Dhr. Dr. K. Paramore