This broad and panoramic series, ripe with the telling detail on which history can turn, will help you pull an enormous sweep of history together into one coherent framework....
This series of lectures offers detailed analyses of the strategic and tactical dimensions of the Civil War's most important campaigns....
Japan is at a crossroads. The postwar economic miracle that brought it unprecedented development and prosperity is over....
These 24 rewarding lectures equip you with the knowledge and techniques you need to become a savvier, sharper critical thinker in your professional and personal life....
The past truly comes alive as you take a series of imaginative leaps into the world of history's anonymous citizens....
Join three literary scholars and award-winning professors as they introduce you to dozens of short masterpieces....
Eating is an indispensable human activity. As a result, whether we realize it or not, the drive to obtain food has been a major catalyst across all of history....
Experience for yourself the drama of this dynamic year in medieval history, centered on the landmark Norman Conquest....
This illuminating study explores the ways in which the defeat of the Japanese in World War II, followed by over six years of American military occupation, affected every level of Japanese society....
Do you want to learn Japanese the fast, fun, and easy way? And do you want to travel to Japan and get around like a pro? Then this is the audiobook for you....
Military history often highlights successes and suggests a sense of inevitability about victory, but there is so much that can be gleaned from considering failures....
Jazz is a uniquely American art form, with each generation of musicians applying new levels of creativity that take the music in unexpected directions that defy definition....
Learn how a single tongue spoken 150,000 years ago evolved into the estimated 6,000 languages used around the world today....
Can literature change our real world society? At its foundation, utopian and dystopian fiction asks a few seemingly simple questions aimed at doing just that....
While the lectures cover an enormous range of key thinkers and ideas, they always focus on the most important ideas....
In 1980 Cathy N. Davidson traveled to Japan to teach English at a leading all-women’s university....
Whether you want to write your own scripts or simply gain a deeper appreciation for the great stories you see unfold on the screen, Professor Angus Fletcher is here to show you the way....
Learn what the scrolls are, what they contain, and how the insights they offered into religious and ancient history came into focus....
Japan's extraordinary culture is like no other in the world, and it remains mysterious to many of us. And that's unfortunate, because to truly understand Japan's influence on the world stage, one needs to understand Japan's culture - on its own terms.
In an exciting partnership with the Smithsonian, The Great Courses presents these 24 lectures that offer an unforgettable tour of Japanese life and culture. Professor Ravina, with the expert collaboration of the Smithsonian's historians, brings you a grand portrait of Japan.
From the dawn of Confucianism and the Meiji Restoration to World War II and the economic miracle years of 1955 to 1975, you'll explore landmark periods of Japanese history and learn how broad events and movements introduced, innovated, and revised everything from spirituality to popular entertainment. Along the way you'll get revealing insights into Shinto (Japan's indigenous religion), the art of Katsushika Hokusai, literary works like The Tale of Genji and the haiku of Basho, the everyday lives of samurai, the universal appeal of filmmakers like Akira Kurosawa, foods like yakitori and tempura, and so much more.
You'll come away from Professor Ravina's final lecture with a stronger sense of the very soul of this one-of-a-kind nation.
What made the experience of listening to Understanding Japan the most enjoyable?
This course is a delight to listen to with a lot of information and a great narrator. My only complaint is that there is no PDF booklet to accompany the course like the other Great Courses. Hope it shows up soon!!!
19 of 19 people found this review helpful
Fantastic! Incredibly engaging overview of Japan which uses history and culture to explain where Japan came from and what it looks like today.
I downloaded this course as soon as my company moved me to Japan and have had a much better appreciation for this country since understanding the nuances explained in this course.
Thanks Professor Ravina for making this foreign culture understandable and accessible!
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
I really enjoyed this overview of Japanese culture. My only complaint is that it ended. :)
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
While there are lots of juicy details that the course glosses over, the breadth of coverage is awesome. The professor is a really excellent speaker and knows the subject matter really well.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Professor Ravina did an amazing job. The wealth of diverse knowledge of history, culture, economics, and philosophical explanations was awesome. I was particularly amazed by is precise and profoundly simplistic explanations of high Buddhist concepts and how they integrate into the thoughts, words and culture of the Japanese people. Being formally trained in Zen and Tibetan Buddhism Professor Ravina's grasp and ability to explain concepts of all kinds is a gift. As someone who has been fascinated with Japan and competes in its national sport of Judo it was so great to get the deep dive into the past, present and future of Japan. It is a great primer if you are making a trip to Japan. I'm very excited about being able to talk about history and cultural icons with my Japanese friends and colleagues. Thank you Professor incredible job and you had me laughing many times. Going to listen to it agin before my trip to Japan next year.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
Wonderful narration, easy to understand and remember. Covers everything from current day culture, attitudes towards the world to food, movies to origins of them
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Understanding Japan is excellent for anyone who wants a better understanding of Japanese history and culture. It is presented in a very clear fashion that opens up a world of understanding for a westerner of then meaning behind much of modern Japanese behavior and pop culture.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
I liked everything. The professor was very passionate and taught the subject matter very well. I only wish there was a little more on the modern dynamics between Korean and Japanese relations.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
This is a great overview of Japanese history with an emphasis on the cultural aspects. The professor is excellent. His presentation is very good, making it easy to follow in the audio program.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
There were several aspects of this lecture series that I really enjoyed, but the negative outweighed the positive. The lecturer, Mark Ravina was very enthusiastic. He seemed to be very knowledgeable of Japan’s customs, culture and history. If Ravina were to ever write a book about Japanese culture or his personal travels and experiences in Japan, I would read it. Unfortunately only five out of the twenty-four lectures were memorable for me: Understanding Japan through Ancient Myths; Aspects of the Japanese Language; Early Japanese Buddhism; Japanese Family Life; and Japanese Foodways. All the other lectures were too heavy on the politics and history for my liking. If this had included more information about modern Japanese culture and what it’s like to live there, I think I would have enjoyed this more. I am not a history buff, so I kind of zoned out during some of the lectures that were more historical than cultural. I ended up listening to a few of the lectures twice because I didn’t get anything out of them the first time around. And even after two listens, some of the lectures still didn’t stick.
I’m surprised that Audible didn’t include a course guide or, at the very least, a glossary of people, places, and terms.
This was not a bad listening experience, so don’t be turned off by my low rating. It just wasn’t exactly what I wanted or expected. I even considered abandoning it around Lecture 10, but decided to power through. In the end, I don’t regret listening to the entire thing, as a couple of my favorite lectures were numbers 20 and 21.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
This course covers Japanese culture and history for the past 1500 (ish) years. It is very different to the other Great Courses history courses in that it mixes historical lectures with those about Japanese culture. I hope they do many more in this format as it is gives a very good overview of the country, without getting bogged down in too many details.
The two themes of the course are globalisation and isolation, and how these have combined to create Japan's unique culture, cuisine and history. The history lectures will sometimes cover up to 200 years in one lecture, so if you want detailed accounts of major events you should go elsewhere. I found the history very approachable and interesting, and I will certainly be following up with other lecture courses to fill in the gaps.
As for the culture lectures these are interspersed throughout the history lectures so that when they occur you have the full historical context needed in order to understand the importance and relevance of the cultural movements. The topics covered include Shintoism, Buddhism, theatre, poetry and family life. All of these are introduced and discussed in historical context and with a discussion of how they impacted the culture.
My favourite of these culture lectures was certainly that on cinema, specifically on the work of Ozu and Kurosawa. This meshed very well with the themes of globalisation and isolation as these two film makers exemplify these contrasting aspects of Japanese culture.
I wholeheartedly recommend this course and hope they extend the format to other countries!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
The author describe Japan history and culture. He is obviously passionate about Japan. So I am. So I love this course. One of my favortite chapter was about food. I regret that the world war 2 and imperial Japan was not discussed in more details. The angle (phases of globalisation vs. isolationism) is deep and profound.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
A very engaging introduction into the key concepts of Japanese life and culture.
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
I would definitely recommend this to any friends or listeners who want to learn about the real Japan, as opposed to the image of Japan thst Westerners give themselves through some niche elements of Japanese culture or history - such as Japanese anime or the pop culture versions of samurai and ninjas - which can give a completely wrong impression. <br/><br/>I admit I have never been to Japan myself but having listened to this excellent series of lectures - I particularly enjoyed the theme of the different phases of globalisation and the lectures on the true history of the samurai - I feel that if I ever went I would find it much easier to understand why certain things were the way they are. <br/><br/>The lectures were all at a perfect pace and I came away from each one feeling like I knew more about the subject having listened to it and looking forward to the next one. I would not be surprised if I listened to these again in the near future or recommended them to some close friends in particular.
What about Professor Mark J. Ravina’s performance did you like?
Professor Ravina was a man I coukd have listened to for hours. His voice was very measured and calm befitting the subject matter but his clear interest and passion was infectious and obvious. Half the time I couldn't help but smile. <br/><br/>By the time I finished the lectures I felt sad to be leaving his virtual classroom. If he ever gives another series of lectures for The Great Courses I will be sure to get them from Audible.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Yes completely and totally. I was enraptured from beginning to end and found the entire thing fascinating. I truly hope they release more lectures focused on Japan or Asia in general as I'm sure I would love every minute of it like I did these. I have come away truly thinking I know far more about Japan's history and culture than I did when I entered. I cannot recommend these enough.
Fantastic story interwoven through so many different parts of Japanese culture and history. Lecturer is obviously tremendously knowledgeable and is very easy to listen to.
light on comprehensive history and facts, heavy on feminist agenda and personal opinion, unfortunately seems to be a recurring theme with the great courses after trying 4 of them...
The lecture was really well layed out and spoken. I learnt a lot about Japanese culture and history and plan to re listen some time soon.
I listened to these lectures as I prepared to go on a family trip to Japan . They were an excellent way for me to be introduced to understanding the culture I was about to visit. I'm currently sitting on the train getting ready to depart after 3 weeks and have definitely been inspired to come back again. Thank you for the insights, they were inspiring and enlightening. Arigato.
What does Professor Mark J. Ravina bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
He speaks really well. The audio (sound quality) is extremely well produced. Everything is easy to understand. He speaks slow enough to fully understand the concepts but rarely speaks with unnecessary flair. He gets to the point - he has a lot of insights to share!
Any additional comments?
I know this course has gotten many 5 star reviews - It seems unrealistic right? <br/><br/>But honestly: It really is an amazing course.