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Ian Rapley

Dr Ian Rapley

Senior Lecturer in East Asian History

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

+44 29208 74260
John Percival Building, Room 4.31, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a historian of modern Japan, focusing on the early twentieth century and a blend of social, cultural, and intellectual history. My first book, Green Star Japan, a history of Japanese engagement with the planned language Esperanto, is due out in trhe second half of 2024. It examines various figures who were excited about the possibilities of an easy to learn, global language, featuring early Meiji period intellectuals, left wing radicals, diplomats at the League of Nations, villagers across the country, and more besides. I am currently developing new research projects.

I am an enthusiastic teacher, interested in exploring the ways that we can use new and creative methods to explore historical topics in the classroom and beyond. Please see my website ( for some examples. 

I am also a participant in the activities that go into sustaining our academic community: I was the honourary treasurer of the British Association of Japanese Studies from 2019-2023, and I am the current chief editor of the journal Asian Literature and Translation ( - if you have an article, translation or some other piece of work on a broadly Asian theme, please consider submitting it to us. We're particularly interested in work which might lie outside of the formats of conventional academic journals). 









Book sections



I currently teach on a range of modules across the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, with a focus on East Asian and transnational themes. I also supervise dissertations and other independent study modules. My main undergraduate module is the co-taught East Asian history course, Close Neighbours Dangerous Enemies: China, Japan and East Asian History and I am developing a final year module on the 1930s/40s in Japan titled The Dark Valley of Fascist Japan, expected to launch next year. I have previously taught a range of modules focusing on Japan and East Asia. In particular, I developed a final year undergraduate module which was an intensive look at the experiences of (chiefly Western) travellers in Japan: Glimpses of the Unfamiliar: Travellers to Japan, and which I hope to be able to turn into a research project when time allows. 



I first lived in Japan between 1999 and 2001 on a Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation scholarship. Since then I have been a regular visitor. My research and before that work has taken me across the country, from Hokkaido and Aomori in the north, to Kumamoto and Oita in the south (but never to Okinawa, yet). I've spend extended periods in both Tokyo and Kyoto. 

1995-1999 - Undergraduate/masters degree in Mathematics, Lincoln College, Oxford University

1999-2001 - Daiwa Anglo Japanese Scholarship, Tokyo

2007-2009 - MPhil, Modern Japanese Studies, Nissan Institute, Oxford University

2009-2013 - DPhil, Mopdern Japanese History, Nissan Institute, Oxford University

2014-2015 - Postdoctoral Teaching Associate, Nissan Institute, Oxford University

2014 - present - Cardiff University


I currently have two research students:

  • Michael Trull - a 'new diplomatic history' of Anglo-Japanese Relations (PhD)
  • Alec Batty - Chaplains in the Far East during the Second World War (Mphil)

Research themes


  • 20th Century
  • Asian history
  • japanese history
  • East Asian History
  • Japanese studies