The meiji restoration

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Rarely has a nation seen such dramatic and rapid development as Japan did from 1868 to 1912. Such an extraordinary time is fertile ground for storytelling. Your assignment here is to create a scrapbook that represents an archetypal member of Japanese society across that period of time. For example, if you were a peasant, how did your life change over the course of those forty-four years? Born a peasant, did you remain a peasant? Or did you become a factory worker, a civil servant, a teacher, a businessman? So, this project is a work of historical fiction: you get to create the story, but the story you tell must show clear insight into the dynamic era of the Meiji Restoration.
The Assignment

Create three spreads representing the early, middle and late periods of your character’s life between 1868 and 1912. A spread is two 81/2 x 11 (or 9 x 12) pages side by side. You will also create a cover for your project. Each spread must include a 250-word journal entry and an assortment of related visual material. By reading and looking at these spreads, one should get to know your character as a person, what were significant changes and events in Japanese society, and how their life was affected.

Suggestions of Archetypes (if you have another idea, run it by me)

Consider this as your starting point; someone who was a young artisan in the beginning of the Meiji Restoration wouldn’t necessarily still be an artisan decades later!

  • An Artisan

  • A Government Official

  • A Merchant

  • A Military Officer

  • A Rice Farmer

  • A Samurai

  • A Woman Commoner


Journal Entries (25 points)

  • Character development is vivid and credible.

  • Historical information is relevant and accurate.

  • Critical understanding of the impact of the Meiji Restoration is strong.

  • Writing is fluent and carefully proofread.

Visual Matter (Including the cover) (15 points)

(You may use existing images and/or create your own.)

  • Images and design elements support and enhance the journal entries.

  • The style and details are historically appropriate.

  • The design is creative and executed with care.

A five-point deduction for each day late will be applied.


  • Thursday, Nov. 29: Project Introduction & Lab Time

  • Thursday, Nov. 29: Block 4 Sem. Skills: Lab Time

  • Friday, Nov. 30: Topic Due (5 points)

  • Week of Dec. 3: Show me a sketch of your project or portfolio of images you plan to use. (5 points)

  • Monday, Dec. 3: Lab Time

  • Monday, Dec. 3: Block 3 Sem. Skills: Lab Time

  • Wednesday, Dec. 5: Outline or rough draft of journal entries due (5 points)

  • Tuesday, Dec. 11: Project Due (40 points)

Some Textual Resources
The Constitution of the Empire of Japan (1889).
Gordon, Bill. Tokugawa Period’s Influence on Meiji Restoration.
Hays, Jeffrey. Meiji Period. Facts and Details. - 202
Huffman, James. The Meiji Restoration Era, 1868-1889. About Japan: A Teacher’s Resource. Japan Society.
Meiji Modernization. The Corner of the World. - Background
Timeline of Religion and Nationalism in Meiji and Imperial Japan. About Japan: A Teacher’s Resource. Japan Society.
Some Visual Resources
Japanese Old Photographs in Bakumatsu-Meiji Period. Nakasaki Univerity Library Collection.
Meiji Taisho: 1868-1926.
Throwing Off Asia I. MIT Visualizing Cultures.

Name: ____________________ Date __________

Mr. Alcorn / WT 113 Block __________



Early Life Spread

Mid-Life Spread

Late Life Spread

Alcorn/WT113, 11/2012

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