The rain misted down and I had two choices: the road up the hill, or the one alongside the river. I stood next to some kind of cement plant, most of it hidden behind a corrugated metal fence dripping with moisture. My pack pulled down on my shoulders. The river, engorged by two days of… Read More Looking for Hiroshige’s Japan
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)
Funerary objects meant to be seen Haniwa (“clay cylinder” or “circle of clay” in Japanese) are large hollow, earthenware funerary objects found in Japan. Massive quantities of haniwa—many nearly life sized—were carefully placed on top of colossal, mounded tombs, known as kofun (“old tomb” in Japanese). During the Kofun Period (c. 250 to c. 600… Read More Haniwa Warrior – Kofun Period.
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.
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
On this Day, December 16, 1614, a number of Samurai women were killed by cannon fire in Osaka Castle. 400 years ago today, during the Winter Siege of Osaka, a cannon used by the Tokugawa forces scored a direct hit on the Tenshu (Keep) of Osaka Castle, killing a number of Samurai women sheltering inside.… Read More Cannon use during the winter siege of Osaka.
Not something I have done before but I found this beautiful Ukiyo-e print with some history attached to it. It’s quite good so I thought I would share it with you. A scene from a famous Noh play. The outlaw priest Kumasaka Chohan (with long sword) fights a leaping Ushiwakamaru (later known as Minamoto no… Read More Ushiwakamaru defeats Kumasaka Chohan – Ukiyo-e print
Goto Matabei’s Armour. Among Kuroda Nagamasa’s captains was a samurai named Goto Matabei, a much-respected professional warrior who often proudly boasted of the 53 scars on various parts of his body, trophies of the many wars in which he had participated. He provided fine service to the Kuroda clan during the Battle of Sekigahara. Although… Read More Goto Matabei’s Armour.
Wow, so busy teaching at the moment so I haven’t had time to do any more research into my next blog post. In the mean time I found a nice article from the Japan Times. I hope you enjoy it. The sense of antiquity on the Kunisaki Peninsula is immediate. There are those that believe… Read More Kunisaki: Into a World of Moss and Stone
The newly refurbished roof of Himeji Castle is really, really white. No wonder people in Japan are bewildered. This isn’t what people are used to! Himeji Castle is one of Japan’s most famous and most beautiful castles. It is a World Heritage Site, and if you ever visit Japan, you need to visit it. Since… Read More Himeji Castle’s roof unveiled
I have a lot of old photos on my hard drive so I thought I would share some with you.
Just a short post. I found this photo of Osaka Castle from the 50s when it was being rebuilt after the war. Looking at at the surrounding area you can see how much Osaka has changed.
I have a always been curious about the Japanese population during different eras of Japanese history. Especially during the Mongol invasions, Sengoku, Edo and Meiji periods. When researching history I always come across army sizes and rebellion sizes etc. But the number of people who actively take part in a war or rebellion has no… Read More Interesting population statistics of Japan
The Kofun Period (古墳時代 Kofun jidai) refers to the protohistoric period of Japan, usually dated from 250 to ca 538 CE, characterised by the construction of large tumuli or tomb mounds (古墳 kofun). It is usually divided into two phases: early (fourth century), and late (fifth and sixth centuries). The Yayoi Period saw the development… Read More Kofun history