The Meiji Restoration and Its Afterlives: Social Change and the Politics of Commemoration

Critical Reflections on the 150th Anniversary of Japan’s Meiji Restoration

Part of a multiyear project to facilitate international discussion of the Sesquicentennial of the Meiji Restoration in 2018, organized in collaboration with colleagues from Wake Forest University and Heidelberg University. For further information, see:


Edward P. Evans Hall
Room 2420 – Betts Classroom
Yale School of Management
165 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511


Available for download here.


Day 1 Friday, September 15

9:15-9:45 Welcome and introductory comments  

Daniel Botsman (Yale University), “The Restoration at 150”

Response: Yoshida Nobuyuki (Tokyo University)

9:45-10:00  Coffee

10:00-12:00 Perspectives on Social Change in the Tokugawa-Meiji Transition

Chair: Rohit De (Yale University)

Sarah Thal (University of Wisconsin), “The Personal Costs of the Meiji Restoration: An Aristocrat Starts Over”

John Porter (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies), “Poverty Management, Social Integration, and Subsistence in Meiji Tokyo”

Hirokawa Waka (Senshū University), “Modernizing Doctors, Practice, and Community Medicine: Through the lens of General Practitioners in the Meiji period”

Tsukada Takashi (Osaka City University), “Policing and Status in Osaka: The Role of the Yaku Kido from Early Meiji Documents” (「大坂における取締りと身分―明治初期・役木戸の再設置出願から―」)

Comments: Fabian Drixler (Yale University)

12:00-1:30  Lunch

1:30- 3:00    Violence, Trauma and Persecution in the Restoration

Chair: Alan Mikhail (Yale University)

Michael Wert (Marquette University), “The Meiji Ishin as an Event: Putting Trauma Back into the Restoration”

D. Colin Jaundrill (Providence College), “Toba-Fushimi Revisited: Remembering the Violence of the Restoration Moment”

Mark Ravina (Emory University), “Mapping vanished temples: Revisiting the persecution of Buddhism in early Meiji Japan”

Comments: Eiko Maruko Siniawer (Williams College)

3:00-3:15 Coffee

3:15-4:45 Spaces of Change 1: The View from the Trees

Chair: Amy Stanley (Northwestern University)

Matsuzawa Yūsaku (Keiō University), “Forests and Villages in the Meiji Restoration” (「森林と村の明治維新」)

Yoshida Yuriko (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies), “Cities and Trees—Castles and Castle Towns in the Transition from Early Modern to Modern” 「日本の都市と樹木−城と城下町の近世から近代へ−」

Comments: William Kelly (Yale University)

4:45-5:00 Coffee

5:00-  Keynote address

                   Anne Walthall (University of California, Irvine), “The Meiji Restoration: Past and Present”

6:30-  Conference Reception 

Day 2  Saturday, September 16

9:00-10:30   Spaces of Change 2: The View from the Sea

Chair: Robert Hellyer (Wake Forest University)

Sugimoto Fumiko (Tokyo University), “Sea changes and the geo-body—the creation of 19th century ‘Japan’” (「海洋の変容とgeo-body―19世紀「日本」の創出」)

Maren Ehlers (University of North Carolina, Charlotte), “Small Domain, High Ambitions - Ono Domain and the Colonization of Kita-Ezo, 1855-68”

Yoshida Nobuyuki (Tokyo University),  “Modernizing the Shoreline—The case of the outskirts of Edo (Tokyo)” (「海辺の近代化ー江戸(東京)近郊地帯を事例として」)

Comments: David L. Howell (Harvard University)

10:30-10:45 Coffee

10:45-12:00 Politics, Memory and Commemoration Before World War II

Chair: Harald Fuess (Heidelberg University)

Takagi Hiroshi (Kyoto University), “Memory and Commemoration of the 50th and 60th Anniversaries of the Meiji Restoration—The Political Culture of 1917 and 1928” 「明治維新50年、60年の記憶と顕彰―1917年、1928年の政治文化」

Sean O’Reilly (Akita International University), “The Restoration at 60: Valorizing the Villains in the 1927-1928 Bakumatsu Film Boom”

Comments: Greg Pflugfelder (Columbia University)

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:30 Gender and Sex in the Meiji Restoration  

Chair: Daniel Botsman (Yale University)

Susan Burns (University of Chicago), “Gender, Law and the Meiji Restoration: Sexual Violence in the Tokugawa-Meiji Transition”

Saga Ashita (Osaka City University), “The Restoration and Commercial Sex— Examining the “Emancipation Edict for Prostitutes and Entertainers’” (「維新変革と性売買問題―芸娼妓解放令を素材に―」)

Yokoyama Yuriko (National Museum of Japanese History), “The Meiji Restoration and Gender: From the Perspective of the Early Modern City” (「明治維新とジェンダー:近世都市の視点から」)

Comments: Marnie Anderson (Smith College)

2:30-2:45   Coffee

2:45-4:15 Conceptualizing Social Change

Chair: Eiko Maruko Siniawer (Williams College)

David L. Howell (Harvard University), “The Economy of Fear”

Hansun Hsiung (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science), “Reflections on the Revolution in Franch [sic]: The Restoration from Comparative to Connected History”

Comments: Julia Thomas (University of Notre Dame)

4:15-5:45 Roundtable discussion: The Meiji Restoration and Global History

Chair: James Scott (Yale University)

Sebastian Conrad (Free University of Berlin)

Amy Stanley (Northwestern University)

Peter C. Perdue (Yale University)

Carter Eckert (Harvard University)

Mark Ravina (Emory University)

Mitani Hiroshi (Tokyo University)

Day 3 Sunday, September 17

9:00-10:15   Politics, Memory and Commemoration Since World War II

Chair: Marnie Anderson (Smith College)

Nick Kapur (Rutgers University-Camden), “The Empire Strikes Back? Historians and the Battle against the Meiji Centennial

Rob Hellyer (Wake Forest University), “The Meiji Restoration as a Local Event: 1868,1968, and 2018”

Comments: Jenni Allen (Yale University)

10:15-10:30 Coffee

10:30-12:00 Final Discussion

Chair: Daniel Botsman (Yale University)

Andy Gordon (Harvard University)

Yokoyama Yuriko (National Museum of Japanese History)

Harald Fuess (Heidelberg University)

Matsuzawa Yusaku (Keiō University)

12:00-1:00 Lunch