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Alumni Travel Reading Lists 2020: Inland Sea of Japan


Two couples under a pagoda looking out on a lush, green and red tress.

Kyoto, by Moyan Brenn

Great East Japan Disasters, March 2011

Flooded landscape with destroyed buildings and debris against a clear blue sky


Natori, Miyagi, by ChiefHira, via Wikimedia Commons


The 3/11 (March 2011) earthquake, tsunami, and reactor meltdown in northeast Japan reverberated through the nation, and continues to impact life today, including in politics and energy policy, community revitalization efforts, activism, and cultural works.

No Man's Zone official trailer

Read a review of the flm from the Berlin Film Review

Contemporary Art and Architecture

Seoul Verticality

Yeoeuido, Seoul, 2015. Aerial view of a Korean city with sky-scrapers and buildings with a river and bridges in the background.

Yeoeuido, Seoul, 2015 Photo by November-13
CC BY NC 2.0 License 

Gyeongju. Stone bridge over clam, opaque water with green trees along the water's edge.
Gyeongju by Mark & Emma Hambleton 
CC BY-SA 2.0 License

Inland Sea of Japan

Lone snow-capped mountain against a blue sky.

Mt. Fuji, by non-euclidean photography

Japan is rich with culture and history that becomes amplified  with captivation when personally adventuring through the nation. Offering visitors the best of all ends of the spectrum, Japan allows travelers to relax during a serene walk through many of their colorful gardens and ancient paths, challenge Mt. Fuji on an unparalleled hike, and enjoy their proclaimed "geek life," within the district exemplifying the country's video-game and anime culture. In addition, visitors can explore history in real-time with the exploration of Hiroshima, and immersing oneself in past and present Japanese culture and customs.


Selected and Annotated By:

Molly Des Jardin
Japanese Studies Librarian
mollydes @

Updated 2020 
Rebecca Stuhr, Academic Engagement

For more information, visit the Penn Alumni Travel Website.

Pop Culture

Bustling city street at night with cars, people, and buildings. Building faces are covered with bright multi-colored lights and advertisements.

Akihabara District at Night, by IQRemix

Tokyo Tribe, the 2015 live action film of the manga "Tokyo Tribes" by Santo Inoue. Reminiscent of Fellini's Satyricon in its clashing soundtrack, vibrant colors, and chaotic scenes. 

Beyond Tokyo and Seoul

Japanese and Korean History

Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan

Read this book online through

Underground Tokyo

Tokyo skyline. Dense urban landscape with sky-scrapers and city-buildings.

tokyo from the mori art museum, by non-euclidean photography

Enjoy Japan's Natural Beauty

Large, brown windmill against a blue sky with wispy light clouds and rows of pink and white tulips in the foreground.

Netherlands in Japan, by Agustin Rafael Reyes

Foreigners' Travels in Old Japan

Black and white photograph of a Caucasian man in a suit and tie with dark hair, a think mustache, and closed eyes.

Lafcadio Hearn, by Frederick Gutekunst, via Wikimedia Commons

These books offer accounts of travelers to Japan as it was modernizing in the late 1800s, providing valuable evidence of the ways in which early modern Japan was existing alongside Western influences. They give an interesting picture of Japanese daily life and customs in a time period vastly different from present day Japan.

Tokyo Sonata

Preview Tokyo Sonata at Youtube


These films cover the election campaigns of underdog candidate Kazuhiko Yamauchi, aka 'Yama-san.' First, he ran for Kawasaki city council (outside Tokyo) in 2005 as former PM Jun'ichirō Koizumi's handpicked choice, and then again with an anti-nuclear message several years later in response to the Fukushima disaster.

Nippon Kaigi, aka Japan Council, is a rising rightwing organization with close ties to the Abe administration, and has considerable influence on Japanese politics. These articles provide an introduction to the issue of rightwing politics in contemporary Japan through the case of Nippon Kaigi, and historical context for understanding Japan's political conflicts in East Asia.

Japan's Largest Rightwing Organization: An Introduction to Nippon Kaigi (article, Japan Focus)

Nippon Kaigi: Empire, Contradiction, and Japan's Future (article, Japan Focus)


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