Sino-Japanese Diplomatic Encounters from the 1st to the 9th Century
Play • 46 min

In this prequel to our first interview, UCLA Ph.D. student Greg Sattler talks about the diplomatic/tribute embassies that peoples and polities from the Japanese Archipelago dispatched to China from the 1st to the 9th centuries. While Japanese tribute embassies to China mainly evoke the missions that Japan dispatched to Tang China in the 8th and 9th centuries, diplomacy between China and Japan had been going on well before then. Greg talks about the evidence for these earlier embassies, why they happened, the role of the Korean Peninsula in facilitating exchange, why the Japanese decided to dispatched embassies to learn from Tang China, and why these embassies stopped in the late 9th century.


Greg Sattler

Gregory Sattler is a Ph.D. student in the Department of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research focuses on sea merchants in East Asia from the ninth to thirteenth centuries, with a particular consideration of their place in society, their trade networks, and their relationships with government officials. Gregory has recently published an article titled “The Ideological Underpinnings of Private Trade in East Asia, ca. 800–1127” (Journal of Asian Humanities at Kyushu University 6) and he is currently working on two additional manuscripts. He has received degrees in Taiwan and Japan, and is a proficient speaker of both Chinese and Japanese.

Yiming Ha

Yiming Ha is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. His current research is on military mobilization and state-building in China between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, focusing on how military institutions changed over time, how the state responded to these changes, the disconnect between the center and localities, and the broader implications that the military had on the state. His project highlights in particular the role of the Mongol Yuan in introducing an alternative form of military mobilization that radically transformed the Chinese state. He is also interested in military history, nomadic history, comparative Eurasian state-building, and the history of maritime interactions in early modern East Asia. He received his BA from UCLA and his MPhil from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.


Episode no. 8

Release date: February 13, 2022

Recording location: Los Angeles, CA


Bibliography courtesy of Greg


Cover Image: A 6th century Chinese depiction of a Wa (Wo) envoy from Japan (Image Source).

The golden seal, discovered in Kyushu, bearing the same inscriptions as one described in Chinese textual sources that was bestowed upon a Wa (Wo) embassy by Emperor Guangwu of Eastern Han in 57 CE (Image Source).

Bronze mirrors (Shinjū-kyō) uncovered in Japan. These mirrors are referenced in Chinese historical sources as gifts to the embassy of Himiko (Image Source).

A model of the type of ships that the Japanese dispatched to Tang China (Image Source).


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Holcombe, Charles. The Genesis of East Asia, 221 BC-AD 907. University of Hawai‘i Press, 2001.

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Saeki, Arikiyo. Treatise on the People of Wa in the Chronicle of the Kingdom of Wei: The World's Earliest Written Text on Japan. Trans. Joshua A. Fogel. Portland: Merwin Asia, 2018.

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