A few years ago my wife and I went to Kokura for the day. It`s a big industrial city now and actually it has been since the industrial revolution back in the Meiji Period. Before that, it was a beautiful castle town right at the tip of northern Kyushu overlooking the very important Kanmon Straits.… Read More Kokura Castle, Kitakyushu, Kyushu
On a great stone monument near a flower-strewn grave in the verdant Yamaguchi countryside is a telltale description of the most radical samurai hero to hail from the most radical of samurai domains: “Once he got moving, he was like a bolt of lightening. Once he got started, he was like the wind and the… Read More Takasugi Shinsaku – Choshu Han revolutionary and swordsman
I finally got around to editing the photos from my trip to Oita earlier this year. Here is Nakatsu castle. It’s not a bad castle to visit. Lots of history here too. It’s small enough to walk around in about an hour and the museum inside is alright. Not enough English unfortunately. For me, the… Read More Nakatsu Castle, Oita, Kyushu
Ikedaya Incident The Ikedaya Incident, in which members of the Shinsengumi attacked and killed anti-Tokugawa activists thwarting their supposed plans to torch Kyoto, took place 155 years ago on July 8, 1864. The attack is known as the Ikedaya Incident, as the rebel Choshu (modern-day Yamaguchi Prefecture) and Tosa (now Kochi Prefecture) clan samurai had… Read More Shinsengumi Attack Rebels- Ikedaya Incident, 1864
Despite Fukuoka castle being one of the all time great castles of Japan (I’m a bit biased as I live in Fukuoka) there is not a whole lot of research material in English about it. Wikipedia has quite a nice write-up, but as we don’t know who the author is, it is not usually used… Read More History of Fukuoka Castle
A few years ago I wrote about the history of Kendo. I recently updated the post and submitted it as a Taiken article which they approved. Thankyou Taiken Japan for your continued support of my articles. Please find the article here: https://taiken.co/single/a-history-of-kendo-and-why-i-love-it/
Miyamoto Musashi Died On June 13, 1645. Considered one of the greatest samurai of all time, Miyamoto Musashi’s reputation has grown to mythic proportions over the years, despite much of his life remaining a mystery. The undefeated swordsman, master of strategy, calligrapher, painter, writer and martial arts icon, Miyamoto Musashi was born towards the end… Read More Reigando Cave and the life of Miyamoto Musashi
Miyajidake sits in the northern region of Fukutsu city about 1 hour from central Fukuoka. It is famous for the ‘road of faith’ and stairs leading up to the main temple which look out directly to the sea about a kilometre away. More on this later. Sunsets around October are supposed to be really beautiful.… Read More Miyajidake Shrine, Fukutsu City, Kyushu.
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)
The Battle of Shiroyama, the battle that inspired the final scenes in the movie The Last Samurai, took place on September 24, 1877. The Battle of Shiroyama was fought between the Imperial Japanese Army and the Samurai of Satsuma, in Kagoshima, Kyushu. 30,000 Imperial troops faced off against some 500 samurai, led by Saigo Takamori.… Read More Battle of Shiroyama – Saigo’s last stand.
(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
I visited the two Nagashino battlegrounds and museum in January 2016. It was a great experience to visit this place and walk on the old battlefield which was a decisive turning point for the Takeda family and eventually lead to their eventual downfall. The Nagashino campaign was launched by Takeda Katsuyori, son of the great… Read More Nagashino Battlefield and Museum
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
Everybody knows about Japan and their samurai. But did you know men were not the only ones being trained to kill, lead, and fight with deadly weapons back in feudal Japan? Lesser known than their male counterparts, the Onna Bugeisha played an important role in Japan’s history and Empress Jingu is perhaps the most legendary… Read More Empress Jingu and the Onna Bugeisha
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.
The Battle of Tabaruzaka was one battle within the Satsuma Rebellion fought between the rebels lead by Saigo Takamori and the newly established Imperial Japanese Army. I do not quite label Takamori as a rebel but I will go with that for this article. Tabaruzaka, also known as ‘Suicide Pass’ was the location for one… Read More Battle of Tabaruzaka
An acclaimed chronicler of samurai history and folklore once wrote, Under Tokugawa law, it was an inalienable right of the men of the warrior class to inflict capital and swift retribution for an insult perpetrated by a commoner. The samurai held strength and courage as the ultimate forms of male virtue while cowardice and meanness… Read More Tokugawa Samurai
The Meiji Restoration is a very important period in Japan’s history as it reestablished Imperial rule and was the catalyst for the Japanese economy and society to move into the industrial age. 268 years of rule under the Tokugawa shogunate ended, and was eventually replaced with a national parliamentary system. Most members of this parliament… Read More The Meiji Restoration – A quick rundown
This is a document analysis I did in 2010 regarding the Tokugawa Edict of 1635. It is a little long but it tells the history of the edict and how it changed the future of Japan at the start of Tokugawa rule. The “Closed country edict of 1635” was the Tokugawa bakufu (government) legislations enforced… Read More Edict of 1635 and its inception