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History of Japan to 1868


Admission requirements

There are no specific entry requirements for this course. Non-major Japanstudies students will also be admitted so long as there is seating available.


This lecture course explores the history of organised human societies in the Japanese archipelago from prehistory until the second half of the nineteenth century. Emphasis is given to historical narratives and the ways in which a national identity was and is being formed in Japan. We will focus our attention on more traditional forms of history in Japan, with a particular focus on political and social organisation. The majority of studies in literature, art, society and politics rely on these traditional historical narratives, which makes familiarity with such notions indispensable for students of Japan; at the same time, students should also get a first impression of the limits of this traditional approach to history. The reading of primary sources occupies a prominent place in the course and serves to illustrate different angles on history.

Course objectives

Students will be able to:

  • acquire fundamental knowledge about historical events and their narratives in the history of Japan to 1868

  • get an insight into how these events were connected to the history of Asia and the world

  • understand potential discrepancies between historical narratives and historical primary sources


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


Written Examinations with closed and open questions.


Mid-term Examination (40%)
Final Examination (60%)

The final grade is established by determining the weighted average of all elements. In order to pass the course, all elements must receive a passing grade (6 or higher).


Combined resit examination as resit for both previous exams.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • Brett Walker, A Concise History of Japan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015 (paperback)

  • De Bary et. al., Sources of Japanese Tradition, Second Edition, Vol. 1, Columbia University Press, 2001 (ONLY volume 1)

  • Vaporis, Constantine Nomikos, Voices of Early Modern Japan: Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life during the Age of the Shoguns, Westview Press, 2013.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte.
Registration Contractonderwijs.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof


Not applicable.