June 03, 2022

The Afterlife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi: Historical Fiction and Popular Culture in Japan

By Susan Westhafer Furukawa, Associate Professor of Japanese
Harvard University Asia Center, 2022

Book cover of The Afterlife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi: Historical Fiction and Popular Culture in Jap... Popular representations of the past are everywhere in Japan, from cell phone charms to video games to manga (Japanese comics). Even young hipsters dress as their favorite historical figures in Japan. But how does this mass consumption of the past affect the way consumers think about history and what it means to be Japanese?

Furukawa’s book examines historical narratives and popular culture in Japan by exploring the consistent and evolving presence of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a 16th-century samurai leader.

Throughout the 20th- and 21st-century, Hideyoshi has continued to be an ever-present figure who changes with the needs of the current era, expanding our understanding of the powerful role that historical narratives play in Japan.

Furukawa teaches courses that consider how the narratives people create are subject to cultural, historical, and sociopolitical influences and that explore the ways in which language and stories are often used to curate our understanding of the environment and the world.

Also In This Issue

  • Barry R. Bauman in the studio at his home where he does pro bono restorations for non-profits and museums Thursday, December 19, 2013.

    In Remembrance: Barry Bauman’69, noted art conservator

  • Portraits that visiting professor Jason Scott collected from thrift stores attract faculty members Beth Dougherty, Daniel Youd, and John Rapp at the “Beloit Collects!” opening.

    Connecting Through Collecting

  • Robert Hodge

    In Remembrance: Robert Hodge, Professor Emeritus of History, former tennis coach

  • Book cover of “The Sonnets to Orpheus” by Rainer Maria Rilke.

    The Sonnets to Orpheus


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