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Across the Perilous Sea: Japanese Trade with China and Korea from the Seventh to the Sixteenth Centuries

Originally published as Le commerce extérieur du Japon des origines au XVIe siécle in 1988, this new edition of the landmark French study chronicles Japan’s transformation from an importer of continental luxury items, raw materials, and techniques to an exporter of high-quality merchandise over nearly a millennium. The vicissitudes of foreign trade policy, as well as the volume and balance of trade, are examined within the context of regional political and economic developments. All aspects of state-sanctioned and unofficial external commerce are considered. Indeed, this volume reveals that proliferation of private foreign trade constituted a vital link between Japan and its neighbors throughout the suspension of diplomatic relations from the ninth to the fourteenth century. Evidence culled from Japanese, Chinese, and Korean annals and administrative compendia, archaeological excavations, classic literature, artifact collections, and monk and courtier diaries attests to the spectacular diversity of foreign trade goods and their significance in pre-Tokugawa Japanese society. Methodically revised, and featuring an updated, expanded bibliography and redesigned maps, as well as a précis on the state of the field since the original publication, the 2006 English edition is an indispensable resource for scholars and the teaching of premodern East Asian regional history.

Charlotte von Verschuer, Professor of Japanese history and philology at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris, conducts research on ancient and medieval Japanese foreign relations and material culture. Her other books include Les relations officielles du Japon avec la Chine aux VIIIe et IXe siÃcles (Droz, 1985) and Le riz dans la culture de Heian, mythe et rÃalità (CollÃge de France, 2003). She is currently co-editing a forthcoming publication, Dictionary of Sources of Classical Japan, with Joan Piggott, Ineke Van Put, Ivo Smits and Michel Vieillard-Baron.

Kristen Lee Hunter authored the translation while she was a doctoral candidate in medieval Chinese history at Cornell University researching Chinese tributary diplomacy with Korea and Japan during the Tang dynasty.

Source: publisher’s website

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