Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire

Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire

2004, History  -   39 Comments
Ratings: 7.88/10 from 92 users.

Chernobyl HeartCommanding shoguns and fierce samurai warriors, exotic geisha and exquisite artisans - all were part of a Japanese renaissance between the 16th and 19th centuries when Japan went from chaos and violence to a land of ritual refinement and peace.

But stability came at a price: for nearly 250 years, Japan was a land closed to the Western world, ruled by the shogun under his absolute power and control. Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire brings to life the unknown story of a mysterious empire, its relationship with the West, and the forging of a nation that would emerge as one of the most important countries in the world.

The Way of the Samurai. Tokugawa Ieyasu unifies Japan and establishes a dynasty that will rule Japan for over 250 years.

The Will of the Shogun. The grandson of Ieyasu, Tokugawa Iemitsu, tightens control over Japan's warlords and expels all foreigners.

The Return of the Barbarians. Isolated from the West, 18th century Edo flourishes culturally and economically, becoming one of the liveliest cities in the world. But foreign forces are coming.

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W. H
1 year ago

Beautiful made

Deborah DeSnoo
3 years ago

I am the owner of this film... So what the eff is going on? I am tired of people stealing from me.

8 years ago

It is exotic but not of much consequence that 'traditional' Japanese culture is almost identical to the traditional Chinese culture on which it was built. What is alarming is the flippant attitude of scholars that assert that Japanese culture and society developed in isolation. Nearly every single detail of 'traditional' Japan can be traced to China. Not only are we not told of this, the fact is suppressed. And the average Japanese person would probably vehemently deny its truth. I realize that this is historical documentary- and perhaps that's the point. If people want to accuse Japan of having an attitude of superiority over its Asian neighbors, they would do well to remember that the West encouraged this attitude and continue to do so to this day, as this documentary does, despite the overwhelming evidence that Japan grew and developed using Chinese technology and knowledge. There is no shame in that, China was such a great power on such a vast scale that many other Asian countries did as well, but Japan's uniqueness is a total myth.

10 years ago

Who do you think you are?
God's punishment?!
You belittle a culture then say you want to visit and need a guiding buddy?!

Lol you are so annoying, shut up.

11 years ago

Getting ready to watch this doc, and of course reading comments before hand. So...

I'm a little surprised by all the hating on Yusiley S. If anyone bothered to read both posts, they would see an enthusiastic person who has a few caveats about a country they admittedly have never been to, but have an obvious admiration for--and would like to visit. Maybe their phraseology could have been better, but no one's perfect.

Sheesh, be a hater if you want, but at least hate on someone after you've read their whole post, not the first two sentences. Did anyone bother to read all the way to the last paragraph?

Edit: Finished the doc. It's interesting, well-done and gives a nice overview of about 500 years of Japanese history, ending with the arrival of Admiral Perry in the mid-1800's. It does a good job of setting the stage for Japan's expulsion of Westerners and eventual re-admittance.

By no means a definitive study, yet does a nice job of presenting a broad overview.

I admire the many fine qualities of Japanese culture and feel fortunate to be exposed to them, even if I never go there. I don't feel compelled to criticize it's failings--it's through them that we see our shared humanity.

11 years ago

Yusiley S a teacher ...... that`s terrifying

11 years ago

Yusiley S I live in Japan as a foreigner and you could not be any further from the truth in respects to how the Japanese view foreigners.

11 years ago

Yusiley, be careful with overgeneralizations about peoples you don't know in depth. Your view disregards shades of gray that exist in the perception of human diversity. It is dualistic, judgmental, and vindictive. Before criticizing others, why don't look at yourself and try to identify your biases, assumptions, and prejudice?

11 years ago

As wonderful as Japan is... I wouldn't want to live there and its not just because of their strict immigrations and the sort of blunt hatred towards foreigners (they even have a derogatory name for foreigners)... I just have difficult issues with societies that have total disrespect or inequality towards people with disabilities. At least in the U.S. we acknowledge people with disabilities and they have opportunities to better themselves. They even have various acts and policies to protect their rights.

Also Japan is pretty behind in their methods and ways to teach students with special needs. As a teacher who teaches and guides students with special needs, I find it odd and almost humiliating that such advanced civilization nations like Japan still have a disregard and ignorance towards with people with disabilities. I can forgive them for their blunt racist attitudes towards foreigners. I can understand their frustrations towards outsiders, outsiders are weird people to them, but having that same distaste and disrespect for their own people just because they have some form of disability or disabilities.... I would be embarrassed over that.

Going back to the disrespect and hatred over foreigners... hmmm I think the earthquake and tsunami are Gods' way of punishing the Japanese for mistreating outsiders who are looking for a new way of life. Now many of those same people who trash talked about foreigners and immigrants of their society are becoming immigrants and foreigners themselves. Karma is wonderful. Anyways to me... a foreigner who comes to visit my country is a sign of honor and total respect. It's like... "Wow you're interested to know more about my country and are curious about the cultures that are presented, otherwise you wouldn't bother coming here." That's my sincere belief in foreigners who visit... and for immigrants its like "YEEEEEAY... more workers... more citizens to back up our way of life... aka more homies." I mean really. Immigrants don't only work here but they protect the very nation in which they work in. We'll have not just a powerful military force, but a larger one at that.^_^ Just look at the Argentine ants... truly the dominate species on the planet. You can take one of these ants from one nation and place it into a completely different colony in the other side of the world and that new colony will accept that foreign ant as one of their own in a few seconds. It's amazing... why can't we humans do that? I look up to the Argentine ants as guiders for a better humanity.

Moving back to the topic of Japan.... Don't get me wrong, I would love to visit the nation before I die, especially their older capitol Kyoto... Heian era is my third favorite time period of human history and would love to visit the capitol of that time period. The first favorite time period are that of ancient and classical eras from Egypt and Greek (I put them together because I just love'em both equally). :) Later comes Ancient India, especially the time of Siddh?rtha Gautama (aka Buddha). Anyways I would like to visit and really get to know the real Japan... not just what is shown on television. Some times the real thing is more amazing than what the media portrays. Hopefully some of the people are open minded and sincere towards outsiders/foreigners, especially a quite, sensitive one such as myself. I do speak loudly at times and use my hands to express myself a lot, but that's due to my personality change. I'm very expressive and open. I just hope I don't scare anyone away... I need a guiding buddy upon my visit. :D

11 years ago

This is my favorite documentary.

12 years ago

Entertaining and at the start quite Historical.. However once the Shogunate is established, it goes rapidly downhill. It becomes a progressive exersize not unlike a crusade illustrating the American tendency to de-legitimatize all foreign social structure which is perhaps a hangover from American hatred for the Indian and certain immigrants. .
We are left with a heathy dose of "progressive" theory of how "the people" are the ultimate and infallable authority. Sound familiar?The world is heading toward infallable "democracy." Yeah of course.
The trouble is that it is too academic ; but it wont hurt to watch. it is well done.
I cannot see the writing as I write so please forgive spelling errors.

12 years ago

Loved it, great stuff!

12 years ago

thanks! awesome documentary.

12 years ago

Good documentry 4 stars

12 years ago

Very well edited video from the Japanese point of view! I respect for the presence of Dr.Michael Cooper throughout the video. Thank you.

13 years ago

feel asleep 3 times, great documentary.

13 years ago

Woot! Thx for the link.

13 years ago

amaizing ... big up

13 years ago

wow. Thanks for this documentary!

13 years ago

Vlatko, Arigato Gozaymas :)