A Short History of Japan by Cameron Foster

Posted: 2011.10.07 in Podcasts

In my recent pursuit of interesting podcasts, I turned towards something nonfiction given my recent gaming pursuits. Because of my abiding love of the country, I listened to a few different shows about Japan ranging from news to life as a traveler or foreigner living in Japan to the actual history, though of course there are more podcasts out there than one might imagine on any given subject, so the extent to which I have delved thus far is fairly limited.

However, the one I ultimately chose to download is called A Short History of Japan by Cameron Foster, who is an Australian teacher. The reviews both on iTunes and his Podbean website are all very positive; the latest review on iTunes for example is from someone with a PhD in Japanese art and history and they approve of the accuracy of the content and the presentation as it is easy to follow.

It’s laid out easily enough, detailing one small part of the history at a time. The episodes are short, usually about 20 minutes each although a couple are nearly an hour long. It’s only intermittently released every few months, so a listener will have to subscribe and check back later, but this is not necessarily a bad thing as sometimes the sheer number of episodes being cranked out for a given show can be a little overwhelming.

It delves into the myths and legends regarding the origin of Japan and intends to discuss on through the modern era I would assume. It begins with the Shinto mythology about the creation of the island and its people, which is of course very interesting stuff. Mr. Foster, as a teacher, has a knack for arresting the listener’s attention and speaking in layman’s terms so that anyone can follow along without much trouble. He also has a wry sense of humor that I amusingly enough likened to Monty Python right before Mr. Foster made his first reference to that British comedy group. He is very funny while also being informative and educational. I shared this podcast with several other people, who then also became interested in it and downloaded all the episodes.

To anyone seeking a greater understanding of Japan; to anyone wanting to learn a bit in some spare time (or while multitasking as I have as I’ve listened to the podcast at work); to anyone who would like a little enriching entertainment, I would certainly recommend this outstanding history podcast.

My friend Lourdes gave the most succinct review imaginable: “I wish he was my teacher! I can listen to this podcast for hours, over and over again!”

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