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Unit 4: Nationalism, Industrialism, and Imperialism

Lesson E: Modern Japan in a Western World

Lesson Overview

Map of Japan Map of Japan

Map of Japan [1]

Throughout its history, Japan was torn between isolationism and being a regional and international power. Japan began the 19th century isolated from the world and ended the 19th century as a major regional power. Japan was forced to open its doors to the Western world, but once it did the Japanese found ways to show its power to the world. The impact of international trade and involvement led to Western ideas challenging traditional Japanese culture.

Key Questions

  1. How and why did Japanese internal policies change during the 19th century?
  2. How did Japan industrialize and emerge as a world power during the 19th century?
  3. How did Japan interact with its neighbors in the world during the 19th century?
  4. How do art and culture reflect the values of a country?

19th Century Japanese Painting by Hokusai 19th Century Japanese Painting by Hokusai

19th Century Japanese Painting by Hokusai [2]

Student Outcomes

  1. Describe the changes in Japan's relations with China and Western powers from the 1850s to the 1890s.
  2. Analyze Japan's rapid industrialization, technological advancement, and national integration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries including the policies of the Meiji state, the role of traditional values, and the impact of Western ideas.
  3. Analyze the effects of Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars and colonization of Korea on the power of Japan and the people of Korea.
  4. Draw comparisons across eras and regions in order to define enduring issues. (Historical Thinking Skill)
  5. Evaluate multiple perspectives of various peoples in the past by demonstrating their differing motives and beliefs. (Historical Thinking Skill)

Key Terms

Student Resources

Chart of Activities:

Activities to Complete Estimated Time
5 minutes
Key Terms
5 minutes
Activator: The World - The 19th Century
5 minutes
Opening: Becoming Japan
10 minutes
Activity 1: Japan Prior to Western Contact
10 minutes
Activity 2: Arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry
15 minutes
Activity 3: Japan Industrializes
15 minutes
Activity 4: Japan Demonstrates Its Power
10 minutes
Activity 5: Japan Shows Its Strength - Historical Investigation
30 minutes
Activity 6: Japan Struggles to Find Its Identity
20 minutes
Review and Assessment
15 minutes
Lesson Summary
5 minutes

Lesson Completion Time

Total Time for Lesson: 145 minutes


Page Notes:

[1] Source: This image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Japan-CIA_WFB_Map.png is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the United States Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook.

[2] Source: This image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Great_Wave_unrestored.jpg is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.