Group Heian Final Post

Although this class was short, everyone in Group Heian agrees that getting to know each other was a worthwhile experience. I hope everyone feels the same way about their respective group members. We all hope to incorporate the podcast making skills learned in this course into future projects. While the course did not fulfill Jacob’s hopes to study one of his all time favorite films, Mulan, he felt very satisfied with the material and subject matter covered. Throughout the course, Maddy became much more confident with speaking, in presentations and in the podcast, and with doing historical research. In addition, Will was happy to study gender, a topic of particular interest to him, in the context of East Asian history and the stories covered. Maddison, with a keen eye for editing, made our podcast flow much better that it did in our original draft — learning how to edit podcast scripts to sound more casual and interesting in the process. During the course, I learned a good deal about the mechanics of editing sound using the software Audacity. I also learned about a subject that I knew little about before taking the course: East Asian history.

From everyone in group Heian, thank you for reading our posts and please listen to our podcast.

Wrapping Things Up

Hey everybody,
For perhaps the final time ever, Group Heian is back again today to give an update about the progress being made on our podcast. As far as audio production is concerned, we’re simply making some minimal final tweaks. Having presented today for the class, we know that our time together is quickly coming to an end, so today we’ve been hard at work to ensure that the final podcast is the best we can make it. Personally, I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished as a group and I believe that everyone has come out of this class with a positive experience. Hope you all enjoy the final product!

Group Heian Update!

Good evening everybody!

It is the last Friday of Centreterm and I thought I would give you an update on how Group Heian is doing. I did the presentation today focusing on Filial Piety and its role in our podcast in terms of The Analects and from Japanese Tales. The podcast is going quite well, with only a few more changes to make for the final version. We had a couple of challenges this week, one being finding a good song from the music library. There is decent music out there, you just have to take some time to search for it! We are looking forward to participating and seeing all of the final presentations. Throughout our rough draft I really think we all enjoyed the recording process. Many of us had never recorded, or made anything like this so it has been really fun to see the final product start to come together. Everyone have a great weekend!


Last Minute Research and Discoveries with Group Heian

Good evening everyone!

We are in the final stretch of Centre Term and Group Heian is putting the finishing touches on our podcast. While we have mostly completed our research, we are still finding some really cool historical context surrounding our topic. I have been particularly interested in discovering as much as I can regarding the manifestation of the subdued role of women in Japanese Yokai and folklore.

As many of you know from past posts, the Yokai, the Yamamba and Ubume, have both proved excellent case studies for Confucianism’s influence on the role of women in Heian, Kamakura, and Muromachi Japan.

This week, as I was conducting in depth research for my long essay, I found a great article, Transformation of the Oni: From the Frightening and Diabolical to the Cute and Sexy, which presents a lot of fantastic information about depictions of the Yamamba in Muromachi Japan, a time period spanning from the mid 1300s to the late 1500s AD. During this time, an artist by the name of Zeami produced a play entitled the “Noh Play” (Reider, 146). The play portrayed the Yamamba as a protagonist in contradiction to the popular depiction, which illustrates her as villainous and bizarre. Zeami created a character that was lonely, invisible and strived to assist humans with chores. This portrayal contested the Confucian values that were present in the original folklore interpretation of the Yamamba. This is great for our group because it proves that these values were present and being debated in Japanese culture during the Muromachi period.

Since we found this information late in the term, we may not include it in our final script and production. However, we are definitely considering it. We will just have to see what the editing process looks like this weekend.

In other news, we have begun planning for our final presentation on Monday or Tuesday of next week and look forward to finalizing that over the weekend.

See everyone in the morning,


Works Cited

Reider, Nokito. “Transformation of the Oni: From the Frightening and Diabolical to the Cute and Sexy.” Asian Folklore Studies 62, no. 1 (2003): 133-157. Accessed January 17, 2017.

Group Heian 1/18/17

Hi everyone!

Today we had a meeting with Dr. Harney! It went well, but on the side note we still have to tinker our podcast, due to some sound issues with the microphone picking up random noises and little mess ups. Overall we are excited to share our podcast about Confucianism influence on Japanese gender roles during the Heian period. Another big part of the podcast we are working on at the moment is the flow of how we present our information. With Madison being our host we should have no issue fixing that problem. Group three has been a great group to work with this term! Here is a picture of my group getting down to business!

From left to right: Madison, Will, Jacob, Henry

Another update, we are recording our parts once again tonight to make sure we have good sound quality. Thanks to audacity, we have this great tool, noise reductions, to make our voices sound at their best.

Group Heian Update

Today, we put some finishing touches on our podcast rough draft before turning it in. We put a simple placeholder song under our recorded audio to show what our podcast sounds like with music. In addition, over the past few days, I edited out pauses, breathing, mispronunciations and other errors or unnecessary segments from the audio I recorded of myself and my group members. Also, Maddison, as the host of the podcast, wrote an introduction and some transition statements to go in between each section. We included the transition audio in our rough draft. We are meeting later this evening to record some audio that will sound more like dialogue to make the transition between each section sound smoother. Additionally, Jacob found enough music earlier today for me to replace the music we are currently using. Finally, Maddison is working on a concluding statement that will tie together the four sections — relating them back to our thesis — and address some lingering ideas that we were unable to address within the four sections.


During class and also while viewing the films and doing certain readings, I have noticed the reoccurring theme of fate or destiny. The stories do not appear to indicate that their use of the terms fate and destiny align with Western interpretations of these concepts. In Western thinking, terms like fate and destiny invoke Calvinist conceptions of predestinations where an omniscient God predetermines all that will happen to an individual before that individual comes into existence. Fate and destiny, as they are used in the tales we have read for class, seem to mean something similar. The lives of individuals are often discussed as being determined in some way. However, these tales lack an omniscient being that clearly acts as the author of individual destinies. For example, in the “The Examination for the Post of the Guardian Angel” from Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio, the protagonist interacts with the God of War who reads protagonist’s predetermined fate from a scroll (Songling 27). The God of War clearly did not write the protagonists fate because he had to read from a scroll in order to learn the protagonists destiny. Because he is a God though, the God of War has the ability to see a mortal man’s fate. Further, the story, and others like it, appear to leave unclear what creates predetermined destinies for individuals — never questioning the idea of determinism or its source. This may suggest that the East Asian cultures and communities that produced these tales assumed that fatalism or determinism were simply unproblematic aspects of reality.

Group Heian Update

Hey everybody, Jacob Cooper from Group Heian here again to give you an update on the great progress we’re making in the development of our podcast. For the most part, our script drafts and audio drafts are coming along really well and I believe that in the end we’ll all be satisfied with the end product.

One problem that we’re facing right now is the selection of the audio music that we’ll be using during our podcast. Our group has been relentlessly pouring through the free music files provided to us by the CTL but have yet to really decide on an appropriate song to use during our podcast. Many of the songs we have found feel inauthentic while others simply don’t match the mood we’re trying to set during the Podcast episode. Despite this, I feel very confident that our group will make a decision on the music that will satisfy all members fairly soon. However, I feel that musical selection is very important to the production of the Podcast so we need to take our time when making that decision.

Another problem we’re confronting is the content of the written script. I don’t believe that we are struggling with academic content but rather with making the podcast sound less like a formal essay or presentation. As of right now our script reads like a book and we would prefer it to be a bit more of a conversational style of podcast. One solution we have proposed is using Madison as a host type figure that would make the transitions between sections more fluid but we are unsure if we want to clog up the podcast with material that is not necessarily content-based. As we continue to develop this script, I am confident that the group will find a healthy balance between the two.

All things considered, Group Heian is plowing forward full steam ahead. As we continue to hammer out issues we run up against, we simultaneously make large strides towards producing a great podcast. Hopefully everything works out!

Group 3: A Look at Ubume

Happy Friday!

As Jacob described in his presentation this afternoon, Group 3 is discussing social interaction and responsibility in Japanese society based on the Confucian tradition and expectations. We will be discussing topics like filial piety and responsibility, lust, and the subdued role of women in the final draft of our podcast. The section relating to the subdued role of women has inspired my fellow group members and I to research various female Yokai and how they reflect Confucianism’s influence on the expectations of women in Japanese society. Earlier this week, we took a closer look at the Yamamba, or Mountain witch. This afternoon, I found another female Yokai, known as Ubume, in Michael Dylan Foster’s The Book of Yokai. 

The picture above depicts a ghostly woman with gray hair holding her newborn child. She is usually thought to be the spirit of a woman who painfully died during childbirth. Typically, an individual, most of the time a male, will meet her at a fork in the road or before crossing a bridge. Covered in blood and crying while cradling her infant, she asks the man to hold the child before disappearing. The baby becomes heavier and heavier in the man’s arms until he can’t move from fear of dropping it. In some legends, the man is rewarded for his dedication and effort with amazing physical strength and capabilities.

Death during childbirth was extremely common prior to the modern period, providing a potential explanation and origin for the conception of this Yokai. One legend or tale related to the Ubume details the story of a shopkeeper who is repeatedly visited by a strange woman. One night, the store owner follows the strange woman after she leaves to discover her disappearing into a graveyard before hearing the sound of a crying baby. As he ventures into the graveyard, the shopkeeper finds the corpse of the woman in a dug up grave with a healthy, live infant beside her. The child, in some legends, grows up to be a successful monk.

Within the context of Confucianism’s influence on the subdued role of women, I think the Ubume is an excellent example of the value placed on Japanese women limiting themselves to the responsibilities of the household rather than pursuing more impactful roles in society or government. A woman dying in childbirth meant the child’s primary nurturer and caregiver would be absent; this was surely seen as a tragedy, depriving the son or daughter of a vital foundation established during childhood that ensured success later on in life. Therefore, we see this mother searching for the proper environment for her child while crying over her inability to be there for him or her.

While we have not incorporated this Yokai into the script, like we have with the Yamamba, I think it is definitely something to investigate further and see where this takes us. There is great potential for us to further expand the dialogue surrounding the subdued role of women and develop and build upon what we have already established with our secondary sources and the information on the Yamamba.

Stay tuned for more information! Have a great weekend!


Dylan Foster, Michael. The Book of Yokai. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2015.

1/12/17 Group Heian Update

Happy Thursday!

Group Heian is moving along in terms of our preparation for the podcast. As Maddy mentioned in the blog yesterday, we have decided to use the Yamauba as our Japanese Yokai of choice in our podcast. We are also working on our scripts and will have our first draft done by tomorrow. We have had great success in accessing some extremely helpful secondary sources, and have found several useful books on Coufucian Ideology in the library. Jacob’s presentation should give more information on our sources, and if any group hears of a source they would find useful for their podcast, feel free to ask to use it! One challenge we have all found while writing content for the podcast is making our script sound like more of a conversation than a book reading. We are hoping this will be resolved when we all start recording together. Any tips on this subject would be appreciated!

Have a great evening!


Group 3 1/11/17: Update

Hi everyone!

Group 3 has been hard at work these past couple days. We have started on our script! The day for recording our podcast is nearby and we could not be more excited. We have four subtopics to our main topic, Confucianism’s influence on Japanese gender roles. Today we found a great yokai that would further our discussion for our fourth topic subdued role of women. The yokai we would like to discuss in our podcast is the Yamauba. Yamauba means mountain old woman. She is has other nicknames such as mountain witch. According The Book of Yokai, depending on the region where you live, that is the way you determine if she is good or evil (Foster, pg.144). Yamauba is known for kidnapping woman, eats livestock and children, and punishes people who are nearby. When a Yamauba is good she helps with chores and represents a figure against the patriarchy. It is almost as if she is a figure of feminism.  She is not a typical woman. She is also known for being the mother of Kintaro. We think that her rebellious and untraditional ways of being known as a woman would be a great argumentative point for the subdued roles of women. Yamauba does not follow confucian ideology. Pictured below is the Yamauba.

Foster, Michael Dylan, and Kijin Shinonome. The book of yokai: mysterious creatures of Japanese folklore. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2015.