Jakobina K. Arch
Bringing Whales Ashore
Oceans and the Environment of Early Modern Japan
University of Washington Press 2018
New Books in East Asian StudiesNew Books in Environmental StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Science & Technology July 11, 2019 Nathan Hopson
Bringing Whales Ashore: Oceans and the Environment of Early Modern Japan (University of Washington Press, 2018) is more than a history of whaling in Japan. Jakobina K. Arch weaves together a wealth of diverse materials to demonstrate and explore the social, cultural, economic, intellectual, and religious impacts of whales on the world of Tokugawa Japan. In doing so, Arch argues powerfully for a historical vision that locates Japan within a larger global environment and also understands the fundamental interconnectedness of land and sea in particular. It is, as she writes, “nonsensical” to draw a clear dividing line between the archipelagic and the pelagic. Arch traces the history of whaling from its recorded origins in the late sixteenth century across the stretch of the Tokugawa period and into the modern period. In doing so, Bringing Whales Ashore not only contributes broadly to Tokugawa and environmental history, but also engages with the modern and contemporary politics of whaling.