Welcome. I am Gregory Smits, and my academic specialty is East Asian history, particularly early-modern Japan, broadly defined. My sub-specialties fall into three areas: 1) the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom/Okinawa Prefecture; 2) earthquakes in Japanese history; and 3) intellectual history. I have recently completed a book manuscript examining earthquake culture in early modern Japan. The focus of the book is the Ansei Edo Earthquake of 1855, but to put that event in perspective, I also examine eleven major earthquakes before 1855 and two major earthquakes after 1855. In some respects, the 1855 earthquake was the culmination of a cumulative culture that had been developing for two centuries. In other respects, 1855 marked a turning point. One example was that the Ansei Edo Earthquake encouraged the idea that earthquakes might be predictable events—a goal that has continued to elude scientists to this day. I am currently working on a general history of the Ryukyu Kingdom, and I have planned several future projects connected with earthquakes and Ryukyu.
In addition to material connected with my academic research, this site features extensive material for use for use by undergraduate students and anyone else with an interest in East Asian history. Much of this material will be temporarily down during the fall and winter, 2011-2012 while I make major revisions to it.
The main URL for this site is www.east-asian-history.net. A backup copy of the site is located at http://s118842024.onlinehome.us. However, the search function and other advanced services may not work on the alternative site. Please use it only in the unlikely event that the main site is unavailable.