(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 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
Kumamoto Castle is still one of the most impressive castles in Japan. It is one of the big three which also includes Osaka castle and Nagoya castle. Feudal lord Kato Kiyomasa (we will learn more about Kato later), renowned for his castle building skills in Japan and in Korea supervised the construction of both Kumamoto… Read More Kumamoto Castle, Kyushu.
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.
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
Riding the circular Yamanote Line on a Sunday in Tokyo, it is easy to daydream. Those who have found themselves at times wondering what the city might have been like in the past are likely to enjoy the aptly named “Lust, Commerce, and Corruption: An Account of What I Have Seen and Heard, by an… Read More A firsthand account of vice and profit in Edo – Book review.
I have finally done some updating of my book and Journal listings. If you are interested in learning more about Japan and Japanese history this may be a good starting point. Journal articles are usually available through your local library online. Book reference list (Chicago) Bix, Herbert P. 2001. Hirohito and the making of modern… Read More Book and Journal lists updated.
A few notes from a poster presentation I did about the Tokugawa family and the Edo Period. History of the Tokugawa Family Matsudaira Motoyasu (later Tokugawa Ieyasu) was born into a powerful clan which traces its history back to the Minamoto clan during the Heian period (794-1185) and the Ashikaga Shogunate in the 1330s. During… Read More Tokugawa and Edo Period (Poster presentation notes)