Tag Archives: history

Today’s Random Japan Picture, Oct 25 2011

From a festival in Kyoto. Kyoto literally means “capitol” and was once the long-time capital of Japan. To this day, it remains a great cultural epicenter.

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Early Japan: Ritualized Duels

What’s Wrong With Ritual? In doing a little research on the history of the yari, the Japanese word for “spear,” I came across a mention that battles in early Japan, circa 700 A.D., were highly ritualized affairs with lone warriors … Continue reading

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Japanese: Places, Names, Fame and Renown

A Rose By Any Other Name What’s in a name? Today’s subject isn’t any particular place name; it is a term used for famous places as described in an essay on viewing Japanese prints, like ukiyo-e. There is, after all, … Continue reading

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On Wars and Japanese Emperors

Losing The Plot So, I was reading another article in the Japan Times, this time on a playwright who is doing a play that examines the origin myth of the Japanese imperial line (which would be the Yamato line, for … Continue reading

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The Sohei

Warrior Monks Although the word sohei is usually translated as warrior monks, the hei part fits “soldier” much better. These are monk-soldiers, but as English has no such term, warrior monks will generally do. The image above is a procession … Continue reading

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The Decay of the Power of Japan’s Emperors

A Bit Of Useful History Following the Genpei War (the subject of The Tale of Genji), which gave rise to the Bafuku (government said to be run out of a general’s tent rather than a palace), the Imperial line was subject … Continue reading

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Japanese Culture: Geisha, A Term Of Art

芸者 (げいしゃ、geisha) Let’s start with a bang: Geisha is a gender-neutral term in the original Japanese. This word is actually quite simple, combining 芸 (“gei,” lit. performance) with 者 (“sha,” lit. “person who does ___”). Thus, the word itself suggests a … Continue reading

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Japanese Culture: The Legacy of Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu, Adopted Guru of Japan One rather interesting footnote of Chinese history is that the land where Sun Tzu is said to have hailed, the state of Wu, was more or less the eastern tip of China, the closest … Continue reading

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Japanese School Culture: The Sailor Fuku and the Gakuran

Origin In Japanese, 服 (fuku) simply means clothing. In the case of an individual set of clothes, we may safely read this as outfit. Sailor Fuku = sailor outfit. The “sailor outfit” came to Japan in the early 1920’s. Although … Continue reading

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Why Bushido Didn’t Push Japan Into WWII

Setting The Record Straight I don’t want to link to this because it’ll only draw attention to leaky history but, in my efforts to find sites worth linking this blog to, I began reading a ‘history of Japan’ that floated … Continue reading

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