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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39 Comments / User Reviews

  1. W. H

    Beautiful made

  2. Deborah DeSnoo

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

    1. your mom

      no one cares

  3. bluetortilla

    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.

    1. nigel hay

      Regardless of Chinese past culture the Japanese as a culture today are more refined, more honest, have more respect others, dont steal, have better food, better manners , are more trustworthy, cleaner cities (as per rubbish in the streets), a great work ethic, etc etc and dont have a f*** you attitude like New Zealand Kiwis and other westerners .... who could learn a lot of healthy social interaction from them. For these reasons, in the world today, japanese culture is unique.

  4. Ossa25

    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.

    1. Juci Shockwave

      1.) A realist. One who doesn't put on a show to win brownie points, as some of you fakers are. Tell the truth, do you really care for those other nations and such? I bet you you are more in tuned with your work and family than over the woes of humanity.

      2.) Gesh, you online wankers clearly know nothing about figure of speeches.

      3.) Clearly, I'm not as blind as some of you folks are at the dangers of foreign places. Hell, I don't even visit other cities within my own state on my own. I do my research and find out the trash and the good.

      LMFAO!!! If you want to be in denial and only see the good ... boy, are you going to be in for a surprise and extreme disappointment when *beep* gets thrown at you. :P

    2. W. H

      Not belittling just truthful few hundred years of isolation, bhuddist missionaries sent to kamekura only 900 years old the shrine, familes sent to japan were chinese, oh im asian

  5. Kateye70

    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.

    1. Juci Shockwave

      *hugs, tons of hugs* Someone online with actual intelligence and understanding of the concept of reading whole posts, thank you for that. People take things out of context because quite frankly they can't read passed 3 sentences nor can they think and ask questions. Personally, I think these haters are a bunch of weeaboo children who think Japan is the greatest and such... and they all had the audacity to call me patronizing... LMAO!!!. XD These folks just want to broom the flaws of humanity under some rug and I wouldn't let them, so they hate. :/ That is on them and not on me.

      BTW I agree with your final EDIT post on the part that this video has very interesting broad overview, but has no definitive study. I also agree to your last statement, except that I would criticize the failings of humanity. If we don't critic and point out the flaws of our species, how can we ever improve and avoid those flaws from ever occurring again?

    2. Matuvo Namikaze

      the comment wasn't all smiles either. he was directly insulting japan and its people based on flawed generalizations and half baked information.

  6. terryrret

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

    1. Juci Shockwave

      Oh yes... because I don't sugar bull to people. I don't act as if all is great. Way too many BS folks pretending like they care... when in reality every and each one of you all really don't give two flying *beep* about those around you, much less those in other countries. If people did actually cared and did something about the miseries of the world... it would had ended long... long... very long time ago.

  7. wjhall1980

    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.

    1. Juci Shockwave

      Oh yea... because YOUR experiences are so much like every other foreigners experiences, right? >_> There are quite more bad cases than good ones of foreigners visiting Japan.

  8. Netuza

    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?

    1. Juci Shockwave

      Oh please stop acting all better than thou... every human being on Earth, inlcuding yourself has biases, assumptions, and prejudices... no one is special. >_>

  9. Yusiley S

    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

    1. Melissa Scholefield

      I usually stop thinking of people as 'sensitive,' as you like to think of yourself as, when they start calling natural disasters 'God's Punishment' for biased, unfair generalisations of a country which they've never even visited. Even if there are some people in Japan with the issues you describe in your post you can't even begin to think that some sort of 'divine retribution' is warranted - you're not sensitive in the least.

    2. Sarah Donaldson

      Ya, because you can better a r****d. R****ds are only bettered with euthanasia. Seriously, never compare Japan and the U.S. again. Actually stop pretending you understand anything, that's soooo American of you. Stop listening to your gun toting father. Join the Army, learn something for yourself, recognize the awful joke billionares are playing on your country's citizen serfs. By the way - China owns you 'Merica and if I was Chinese I would hire any and every Jap before I hired a s****d lazy fat American. The great thing about Japan is how kind, polite and welcoming they truly are. Japan LOVES white people. Japan treats rude white people - like yourself Yusiley - as rockstars, they are so nice that they actually incourage your insluting behaviour as it is so foregin to them that you're laughable and entertaining. You are very wrong on a lot of foregin matters. So many to pick apart and develop - so little time.

      Oh and one more thing before I am totally bored of your close minded god fearing ideas - you're right about the karmic natural disasters that God uses specifically against the countries that deserve payment for thier actions. New Orleans got what they asked for! Those loving drunkards. 9/11 too! That was God, right? Ya, I had to throw 9/11 in your face too.

    3. Juci Shockwave

      Your whole argument is contraditive to your message of peace and understanding of others. Bravo in proving and strengthen my post on how humanity still has a long way to go before it can declare itself superior. :P

    4. Michael K.

      You are only partially right in regards to how they treat children with
      disabilities, as they put kids with both physical and mental
      disabilities in the same schools, separate from other kids. Other than
      that they do treat people with disabilities with respect and don't draw a
      line between them and other people. You should get a proper research

      As for your other comments, it's just clear you've never
      been to Japan, not to say lived in Japan. If you've never eaten kangaroo
      meat, how can you write a detailed post on how it tastes? Hello, any common sense?!

  10. PatricktheAtheist

    This is my favorite documentary.

  11. TonyIII

    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.

    1. PatricktheAtheist

      "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"

      please elaborate, as it stands its unintelligible...

      Yes, no matter how you try to spin it, democracy will always be superior to feudalism. Terrible things happened to Japanese serfs under Tokugawa rule- many more terrible things than are mentioned here. But terrible things were done to serfs everywhere; Japan was no different than anywhere else in the world under feudalism. Their isolation simply denied them the opportunity to advance socially, but this doesn't make japan inferior to any other country. Indeed, Russia did not liberate its serfs until the early 1860s! I would love to hear you try to make a case for feudalism over democracy.

      Would you rather be a serf or a citizen? There is a reason why the US says it wants democracy for all: it sounds altruistic. I'm not saying that the US does what is says, but I am saying that democracy for all would be a good thing.

    2. Yusiley S

      My father always did say that the U.S. is one of the greatest nations on Earth due to its government and economy. Though I could name quite a few flaws with its current government and economy. However, compare to other nations I agree with him 100% and I agree with you that I rather be a citizen than a peasant or a serf.

      I would also like to point out that I wouldn't call the U.S. government a true Democratic government. It's more of a Republic, but even with that said it is a way better system of government than say Communism, Socialism, Nazism, Militarism, Feudalism and Monarchy (there are few other systems of government but I can't name them off the top of my head :) sorry about that).

    3. ThisDarkChestOfWonders

      Its still the monatery system regardless if its Democratic or feudalistic. We live under the illusion that we need the economy, but its the most evil thing smothering the human race. Its the same barter and trade system human beings have been using for thousands of years. We think we are so much more clever with the democratic for of government, but its still ran by the monatery system. Never listen to anyone who talks about how we have so much freedom in the US. Its all a lie. We have the freedom to pick from 50 ice cream flavors, but you cannot choose who will make the decisions who effect your way of life. If you think poloticicians are different from eachother, and not controlled by the same source then i feel bad for you. Democracy waould be good if people COULD choose what is important for them, but sadly it has been changing since ww2. Now only the rich and powerful make decisions. Sounds kind of like Feudualism doesnt it?

    4. Harry Dowdeswell

      haha totally agree, its good to know there are other people out there who arnt blind to the truth!

    5. Netuza

      Poignant observations. I like your comment.

  12. Manch

    Loved it, great stuff!

  13. hossana

    thanks! awesome documentary.

  14. Beast

    Good documentry 4 stars

  15. Kosuke

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

  16. coale

    feel asleep 3 times, great documentary.

  17. Willis

    Woot! Thx for the link.

  18. overdoze79

    amaizing ... big up

  19. Tom

    wow. Thanks for this documentary!

  20. johnphilippines

    Vlatko, Arigato Gozaymas :)

    1. Vlatko

      You are welcome @johnphilippines.