During the ‘isolation period’ of Japan also known as the Edo Period a few nations were still allowed to trade in Japan. The Dutch, Koreans and Chinese were the only nations granted trade rights. The Dutch company ‘VOC’ were famous around the world and they set up a trade port in Nagasaki. Dejima was established… Read More Dutch trade port of Dejima, Nagasaki.
I haven’t done a post for a while about one of my favourite Ukiyo-e print series. So lets have a look. It is print #35, Narai Station, currently Narai town in Nagano Prefecture. It is a beautiful little town in the Japanese Alps and it still has the old Edo period feel to it. It… Read More Keisai Eisen – Kisokaido Narai Station, Print #35.
An amateur historian has unearthed compelling evidence that the first Australian maritime foray into Japanese waters was by convict pirates on an audacious escape from Tasmania almost two centuries ago. Fresh translations of samurai accounts of a “barbarian” ship in 1830 give startling corroboration to a story modern scholars had long dismissed as convict fantasy:… Read More Escaped convicts first ever Australian ship to Japanese waters.
In Japanese folklore the female demon (oni) Hannya figures prominently. Often depicted in traditional Noh and Bunraku plays using a wooden mask of a fierce and grimacing horned demon, this malicious entity may be Japan’s most well-known demon. An ancient legend recalls how the female Hannya persecuted all who attempted to pass through the Rashomon… Read More Hannya – (A Japanese She-Demon)
(Tenshu-kaku from the south) (Tenshu-kaku from the north. You can see the irregular shape of the base floor from this vantage point) I was originally going to post a combined Okayama castle and Korakuen gardens article but during my writing I realised that both are individually significant so I have split them into two articles.… Read More Okayama Castle
Shukkeien gardens date back to 1620, a year after feudal lord Asano Nagaakira was made lord of Hiroshima. Asano’s principal retainer, Ueda Soko, a master of tea ceremony built and designed the gardens. The gardens were built as an expression of many miniature scenes modeled on Xihu (West Lake) in Hangzhou, China. The centerpiece of… Read More Shukkeien, historical gardens in Hiroshima.
I went to Onomichi today hoping for clear skies and cherry blossoms. One came true, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom now. The sky was hazy so I couldn’t get nice blue/white contrasts. But it was nice and good exercise. I went to Tennei-ji, climbed what seemed like 1000 stairs to get up to… Read More Onomichi – Tennei-ji and Senko-ji
I finally got an afternoon off, so I did a bit of exploring around Mihara. I visited the castle ruins and there isn’t really much left. Looking at the old layout of the castle you get the impression that it must have been one huge grand castle complex using the ocean for its numerous moats… Read More Mihara Castle Ruins – Hiroshima.
God (Kami) When the English word God is translated into Japanese, it is generally represented by the kanji (Chinese character) 神 and pronounced kami. However, to avoid misunderstanding, it would be better to think of God, 神, and kami as three separate concepts. “God” is the supreme being of monotheism and is customarily capitalized to… Read More The Evolution of Japan’s Native Gods
Title: Konosu Station, View of Mt Fuji from Fukiage. This scene is dominated by Mt Fuji in the distance and the sharp curves of the Kisokaido (walking path). On the left of the print is a Komuso monk wearing a basket shaped straw hat and white attire of a holy man. He is carrying a… Read More Keisai Eisen – 69 Stations of the Kisokaido – Plate 8.
Title: Snow at Nihonbashi on New Year’s Morning. The Nihonbashi (Japan Bridge), was at the heart of Edo and the starting point of the ichirizuka, the mileposts highway that linked Kyoto with Edo. The view is to the east, towards an early sunrise after a light sprinkling of snow and a misty sky. Despite many… Read More Keisai Eisen – 69 Stations of the Kisokaido – Plate 1.
University essay case study: 16th & 17th Century Japanese Christianity By Stuart Iles 14th October 2011 In this essay I will discuss the 16th and 17th century global network of Christianity brought with the Spanish and Portuguese during the period of expansion throughout the Pacific and specifically analyse Christianity in Japan during the sixteenth and… Read More 16th & 17th Century Japanese Christianity
The earliest Japanese armour were solid metal cuirasses made up of several sections of plate — often roughly triangular in form — which were tightly laced together and usually lacquered against rust. It is not clear what they were originally called; some suggest the term kawara — which means “tile” — and others suggest it… Read More A brief history of Japanese armour.
鷺娘の精 (The Spirit of the Heron Maiden) woodblock print by Taniguchi Kokyo (1864-1915), dated 1925; from my collection. Oban tate-e (27.0 x 42.5 cm). “Sagi Musume no Sei,” the “Spirit of the Heron Maiden.” A kabuki hengemono dance (one actor/many roles) wherein the spirit of a heron changes into a girl and then back again.… Read More 鷺娘の精 (The Spirit of the Heron Maiden)
Sad news I found today about the closing of a famous and traditional Japanese inn. It dates way back to the Edo period and is even in the famous 53 Stages of the Tokaido by Hiroshige. I wish I had the money to buy this, to preserve the history and its legacy alive. Story is… Read More 360 year old inn closes its doors.
Not far from Minowa station on the Hibiya line is a nondescript temple called 浄閑寺—Jokanji. From the street, it looks like many other Tokyo temples, but behind the new main building is an old cemetery that has one particular point of interest, a crypt and monument to twenty-five thousand prostitutes interred there. Being so close… Read More The Throw Away Temple – Dumping Ground of the Yoshiwara Prostitutes.
I have had this print on file for a while but was never able to find the details of it other than it was Kyoto. Thankfully a fellow Japanese history lover found the info. You will see that I have two versions of the print. One is probably the original colourised one while the other… Read More Kyoto, Meiji Period print.
Nishi Honganji is the mother temple for the Jodo Shinshu sect of Japanese Buddhism established by Shinran Shonan who lived between 1173 to 1263. The temple has its origins in the Eastern hills of Kyoto, where Shinran’s mausoleum is currently located. The sect has an interesting history and the current site has been occupied since… Read More Nishi Honganji
Shikoku is host to the famous 88 temple pilgrimage. It is said to take up to 3 months to complete the 1200km. The pilgrimage dates way back to the time of famous Buddhist monk Kukai who lived from 774 to 835. There are several legends related to the beginnings of the pilgrimage. The most popular… Read More Shikoku Pilgrimage
While readers of Japanese literature from the Heian and Kamakura periods often find it difficult to determine when a sexual encounter has actually taken place, there are certain textual indicators that writers can use to make it plain that something carnal has, in fact, occurred. Writers may speak of the night as “dreamlike,” or describe… Read More Forced Affection -Rape as the First Act of Romance in Heian Japan (an essay)