Japan is a collection of islands, but its past and present unfolds through continuous interaction with wider worlds. This course places Japan in contexts of Asian and global history. It begins with the people, institutions, and ideas of premodern Japan, from the emergence of a court-centered state 1500 years ago to a warrior-dominated society centuries later. We then examine the tumultuous process of change from the 19th century through the present and explore how people in Japan have dealt with the dilemmas of modernity that challenge us all. This course will be co-taught with Professor David Howell and both in the General Education and Core Curriculum for Harvard undergraduates, and through the Distance Learning program of Harvard Extension School.