East Asian Studies
This website introduces four document collections in interactive formats for teaching and study. The first, Not So Secret Secrets, explores the elaborate safeguards for ensuring that Uesugi Kenshin could know that a gunpowder recipe that he received was in fact from the shogun. These documents also reveal the rapidity of transmission of Portuguese knowledge, and show the subtle social distinctions that are evident in these records. The second, The Emperor’s Clothes, provides four generations of documents relating to a particular incident where Awazu Kiyonori rescued the imperial wardrobe. Originally a low ranking noble, this act of valor allowed his great grandson to enter the lowest echelon of the court nobility. The third, The Better Part of Valor, reproduces six documents in the Migita collection that reveals how they were called to battle and fought for both sides in a civil war in the fourth and fifth months of 1333. A fourth section, The Shogun’s Mother, reproduces a 1338 letter by Uesugi Kiyoko (Seishi), the mother of the first Ashikaga shogun, who witnessed a decisive battle. Such letters rarely survive, and the condition of this record makes it challenging to read. The site was created by Thomas Conlan, Professor of East Asian Studies and History, and is used as a teaching tool for students, who translated and annotated the document collections.