Samurai Summer 2015 Teacher Institute
Samurai helmet and face guard, 17th to 19th century. YPM.ANT.013329
Hemp palm raincoat, 19th century. YPM.ANT.236949

Samurai and the Culture of Japan's Great Peace

Summer Teacher Institute

July 13 to 16, 2015

Exact times/schedule to be determined

Location: Yale University, New Haven, CT

Most appropriate for upper elementary, middle and high school


Institute Description

The 2015 summer teacher institute “Samurai and the Culture of Japan’s Great Peace” centers on one of the great transformations in Japanese history. During a time when China was conquered by the Manchus, India by the Moguls, and Europe saw the rise and fall of the Napoleonic empire, the samurai rule of the Tokugawa period (1603-1868) achieved something rare in human history: more than two centuries of peace. Following the uncertainty and bloodshed of the sixteenth century, this was a time period noted for its remarkable decline in violence, massive urbanization, and the flowering of arts, literacy, and martial virtues. Drawing largely upon visual and material resources available through Yale University’s museums and libraries, the institute is designed to complement the special yearlong Peabody Museum exhibition of Samurai and the Culture of Japan’s Great Peace. The program will enhance and expand teaching and learning about Japan for K-12 education, as well as explore the potential for developing innovative image and object-driven learning as a gateway for reconstructing the past, and understanding how an object’s memories may or may not be part of its meaning and experience.


The Institute features:


  • Participation in seminars led by world-class scholars, including Yale faculty;
  • In-depth discussions about life and culture in Japan during the Tokugawa period;
  • Introduction of practical tools to assist teachers in developing innovative content, approaches, and resources for effective classroom teaching.

The Institute promotes object-based learning and primary-source study. All participants will receive guidance and support from Yale Peabody Museum education staff to prepare curricular materials.


Topics and presentations at the Institute will be relevant to social studies and language arts standards relating to culture; identity; geography; governance and diplomacy; and adaptation to economic and social change. Speakers from various academic disciplines, including history, art history, and comparative literature, will introduce concepts and content that will be useful in promoting evidence-based learning and analysis, critical thinking skills, and understanding of global connections and interdependence.




  • To present the best and latest scholarship on Tokugawa period Japanese history and culture;
  • To help educators share current perspectives on the samurai with their students;
  • To provide educators with opportunities to develop effective, original curricular materials;
  • To enable educators to strengthen the global aspect of their curriculum;
  • To connect educators with scholars who are experts in their fields.


Who Can Apply

The Institute is interdisciplinary and is designed to appeal to upper elementary, middle and high school teachers of various subjects, including—but not limited to—social studies, history, and art. While this institute is open to teachers from across the country, please note that only limited funds for travel reimbursement are available.


How to Apply

This institute has already taken place. A link to teacher-developed lessons from the institute will be posted here soon.


Expenses and Stipend

There are no charges for the Institute. Breakfasts and lunches during the institute, as well as one dinner, are provided. Personal expenses may include roundtrip travel to New Haven, housing, some meals, and ground transportation.


Thanks to generous funding from the Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University, teachers will be awarded a $100 stipend upon completion of the Institute’s modest curricular requirements. This includes developing and implementing pre- and post-visit lessons (or other educational activities) based on content from the Institute and providing feedback on the impact and effectiveness of the materials.


Institute Director: Kathi Matsuura

Kathi Matsuura is a 5th year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History, Yale University. Her research focuses on Tokugawa Japan, and is concerned with exploring the myriad communities of people who defy classification according to the simple hierarchy of “samurai, peasants, artisans, and merchants” that typically characterizes this time period. Her dissertation is focused on Japan’s maritime communities, and uses the Shiwaku Islands of the Seto Inland Sea as the geographical region with which to study former pirates and nomadic fishers who made this area their home. Through the lens of these people, she explores not only their unusual past, but also examines maritime networks, commerce, infrastructure, as well as the intersection of the ocean with local, regional, and national narratives of Japanese history. As a librarian, Kathi also has an ongoing interest in supporting and facilitating access to information and materials on Japan, and hopes to serve as a bridge between the two cultures of her upbringing.



The 2015 summer teacher institute, “Samurai and the Culture of Japan’s Great Peace”, was made possible by generous support from the Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University.



For more information, contact:

Tom Parlapiano, Education Coordinator, Yale Peabody Museum

(203) 737-3065 or