For about a year I have wanted to visit Hara Castle ruins. I first heard of Hara castle when I visited Amakusa, a short distance across the Ariake Sea. Both regions made famous during the Amakusa Rebellion in 1589-1590 and the larger Amakusa-Shimabara Rebellion in 1637/38. I covered the rebellion in Amakusa a little in… Read More Hara Castle Ruins and the Amakusa/Shimabara Rebellion, Minami Shimabara, Nagasaki Prefecture.
A statue of Shiro Amakusa. The young Christian rebel who rose up and led a rebellion against the Tokugawa Shogunate. Amakusa-Shimabara Rebellion (1637) Cherry blossoms and a Tori on the way up to Nokanetenbo Park Sakitsu Church, established in 1569 by the Portuguese. Interior of the church. I have never seen tatami in a church… Read More Amakusa and the Shimabara Rebellion – 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)
(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.
My first visit to Fukuyama and it turned out to be a beautiful day. After doing my immigration paperwork I went to the castle. Fukuyama castle is beautiful on the eye. As with most castles it was also bombed during the war, which is a sad pattern I’m finding for each place I go to.… Read More Fukuyama Castle
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
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
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.
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
Maritime Asia, as I use the term, encompasses the lands in and around the Japan Sea, the East China Sea, the South China Sea, and the Bay of Bengal, as well as all of Indonesia and the Philippines. The peoples of this densely populated, economically vibrant area, which includes southern coastal China and Japan, have… Read More The Dutch East India Company and Japan
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.
The Sea of Okhotsk to the north and northeast of Hokkaidō plays no significant role in recorded Japanese history until the second half of the eighteenth century, when clashes began to occur between Russians advancing southward through the Kuril Islands and Japanese settlers trying to drive them back. But from archeological evidence and records from… Read More The Ainu and Early Commerce in the Sea of Okhotsk
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.
Teradaya Inn. The simple, old inn with a lot of history. Most people would simple bypass this place without having a second look. But if are a Japanese history nut like me it is an important stop. During the Restoration Period, Ryoma Sakamoto, had an assassination attempt on his life by Tokugawa loyalists inside the… Read More Teradaya Inn – Fushimi
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
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)