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  1. Travel Sakura Castle

    Sakura Castle (佐倉城 Sakura-jō) is located in the city of Sakura in Chiba Prefecture and was constructed on the 30-meter-high Kashima plateau. Due to its elaborate use of the natural topography it was an impregnable location surrounded by marshes and rivers. The map is based on Google Earth. The location of enclosures or others are my speculation, so they may not be correct. Built on the unfinished remains of Kashima Castle that had been started by the Chiba clan in the Sengoku Period, Doi Toshikatsu (土井利勝, 1573-1644), a high-ranking official in the Tokugawa shogunate and advisor to the...
  2. History Recommended books on Japanese History

    This list comprises some of the foremost resources on Japanese history. While they are largely in English, notable works in other languages are listed as well. These resources will be continually updated. Japanese History in general Beasley, William G., The Japanese Experience. A Short History of Japan; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999 The Cambridge History of Japan, John W. Hall et al. 6 vol. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989-1999 Mason, R. H. P. u. John G. Caiger, A History of Japan; Rutland, Vermont; Tōkyō: Tuttle, 1997 Morton, W. Scott, Olenik, J....
  3. History Glossary of Japanese Historical Terms

    A glossary with important terms relating to the history of Japan. This list will be continually expanded. TERMKANJIDESCRIPTION bakufu幕府Government of the shogunate, also referring to the seat of the government and administration bakuhan taisei幕藩体制Edo-era system of government, characterised by the central authority of the bakufu and local autonomy of the han be部Hereditary professions assigned to uji bunmei kaika文明開化"Civilization and enlightenment", an early Meiji-era movement aiming at re-organising Japan according to Western ciliization buke, bushi武家・武士Warrior class chōnin町人Edo-era...
  4. Travel Usui Castle

    Usui Castle (臼井城) is a hilltop castle near present-day Sakura City, Chiba Prefecture. Its ruins are now part of Usui Castle Park. The castle is located on a plateau overlooking Lake Imbanuma to the north-east. According to legend Usui Tsuneyasu (臼井常安, 1106-1168) founded the castle. The Usui were descendants of the Chiba clan and ruled over the castle until 1561. In that year, Masaki Tokishige (正木時茂, 1513-1561), a retainer of Satomi Yoshitaka, who came to support Uesugi Kenshin in his siege of Odawara, attacked and put Usui Hisatane (臼井久胤) to rout. The castle was then taken over by Hara...
  5. Culture Momotaro

    Momotarō (桃太郎, "Peach Boy") is a popular folktale recounting the adventures of a boy born from a peach found by an elderly woman washing clothes on a riverbank. When she and her husband try to eat the peach, they discover Momotarō who claims to be sent from heaven to be their son. He is adopted by the couple. Maturing quickly, he soon leaves the couple together to fight off a band of ogres (鬼 oni). On his way to their island he meets a dog, a pheasant, and a monkey who join him. Conquering Ogre Island (鬼ヶ島 Onigashima), Momotarō returns home with treasures for his foster parents. Momotarō...
  6. Culture Kintaro

    Kintarō (金太郎, "Golden Boy") is a popular figure in Japanese folklore and was the childhood name of Sakata no Kintoki (坂田金時), one of the four trusted followers of the famous warrior Minamoto no Yorimitsu (源 頼光, 948-1021). Although Sakata seems to have been a historical figure from the Heian Period who appeared in the 11th-century anthology Konjaku Monogatari (今昔物語), he is later depicted as the son of a yamauba (山姥 or 山うば, mountain witch) born on Mount Ashigara (modern-day Kanagawa Prefecture). Being of Herculean strength, he said to have wrestled with bears and other beasts. Kintarō...
  7. History Himiko

    Himiko (卑弥呼, c. 170–248 CE), also known as Pimiko, was a female ruler of the early Japanese political entity known as Yamatai (邪馬台国 Yamataikoku), as described in the Wei Zhi (魏志, "Records of Wei"), a Chinese chronicle of the 3rd century CE. The location of Yamatai has long been the subject of intense historical controversy: at one time controlled by male rulers, Yamatai was described as situated in either northern Kyūshū or the Yamato (Nara) region. According to the Gishi Wajinden (魏志倭人伝), the section in the Wei Zhi dedicated to Japan, or the "Land of Wa" (倭), warfare erupted among the...
  8. Travel Konodai Castle

    When you cross Edo River on Keisei Line toward Chiba, you can see a huge plateau on the opposite bank. This is the Kōnodai (国府台) plateau with its long history that not only encompasses a Sengoku-era castle but reaches back to Paleolithic settlements. (This map bases on Tokyo Terrain Map powered by gridscapes.net) The castle is said to have been constructed by Ōta Dōkan (太田道灌, 1432-1486) who established a temporary camp there. Kōnodai turned into an important strategic point between the provinces of Musashi and Shimōsa and into a battleground of the Kantō warlords. Kōnodai was the...
  9. Travel Setagaya Castle

    Once upon a time, right in the center of Tōkyō's Setagaya Ward near the present-day ward office, there was a small fortress called Setagaya Castle (世田谷城). The ancient castle was located on the tip of a tongue-shaped plateau that stretched south from the hills between Gōtōkuji (豪徳寺駅) and Kyōdō (経堂駅) stations on Odakyu Line, surrounded by Karasuyama River (now a culvert). This map is based Tokyo Terrain Map powered by gridscapes.net Nowadays, the former inner bailey (本丸 honmaru) is located on the grounds of the adjacent Gōtōkuji temple, and the south-eastern enclosure of the castle became...
  10. Art Sengai Gibon

    Sengai Gibon (仙厓義梵, 1750-1837) was a Zen painter and calligrapher whose ink drawings are characterised by a warm, satiric, and often self-critical humour. He was born into a family of poor farmers in Mino (modern-day Gifu Prefecture) and became a monk of the Rinzai School of Buddhism at the age of eleven. He studied at Seitaiji (清泰寺) under Kūin Enkyo (空印円虚, 1704-1787) and received the priest name of Gibon. In 1768, he set out on his first pilgrimage and arrived at Tōki-an (東輝庵) temple near present-day Yokohama where he took up his studies under the guidance of Gessen Zenne (月船禪慧,...
  11. Travel Inohana Castle

    Inohana Castle (亥鼻城 ), also known as Chiba Castle, is located in Chiba City and was constructed on the Inohana Plateau, close to the present-day Chiba Prefectural Office. The Chiba clan (千葉氏), a cadet branch of the Kanmu Heike clan,* established a fortification there as early as 1126. For some 330 years, the town prospered as an important commercial and cultural center in Kanto area, along with Kamakura. In 1455, Makuwari Yasutane (馬加胤持) a retainer related to the clan, defeated the Chiba and took their name. Yasutane's son Suketane abandoned Inohana Castle and moved to Motosakura Castle...
  12. Biographies Date Masamune

    Date Masamune was a warrior of the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1568-1600) and the early part of the Edo Period (1600-1868) and one of the greatest daimyō of northern Japan. Succeeding his father at the age of 17, he defeated most of his rivalling neighbours and thereby significantly expanded his territories. Supporting the hegemons Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu he consolidated his power base and established the fiefdom of Sendai, one of the largest in the Edo Period. He showed interest in Christianity and despatched an embassy to Europe; he died renowned as an unconventional warrior,...
  13. Travel Miharu Castle

    Miharu Castle (三春城) is located in Miharu-machi in the Abukuma Mountains, 10km east of Koriyama in Fukushima Prefecture. Being an old castle town, Miharu has many temples and a picturesque town center held in traditional Japanese style. The castle lies on a hill called Shiroyama and faces the eastern boroughs of the town. Almost none of the original buildings survived, only the Hanko Gate (Hanko was a school founded by the Tamura clan) is still on display at the entrance to Miharu elementary school. During the Edo Period (1600-1868) the residence of the daimyō was situated on the grounds...
  14. Travel Tsuchiura Castle

    Tsuchiura Castle (土浦城 Tsuchiura-jō) is a flatland castle (平城 hirajiro) located in the wetlands along the western shore of Lake Kasumigaura, at the mouth of the Sakuragawa (桜川), in Ibaraki Prefecture. It is also known as Kijō (亀城, Turtle castle), because in times of severe flooding it looked as if the castle buildings emerged from the water, like a turtle floating on the surface of the sea. (This map is based on Google Earth. The location may not be completely accurate.) According to folk tradition the first castle was built in Tsuchiura in the Heian Period. Around 1430, Wakaizumi Saburō...
  15. Travel National Museum of Japanese History

    The National Museum of Japanese History (国立歴史民俗博物館 Kokuritsu Rekishi Minzoku Hakubutsukan) is located in Sakura City, Chiba Prefecture. Also known as "Rekihaku", it was established in 1981 as a university research institute and opened to the public in 1983. The collections of the museum focus on the history, archaeology, and folk culture of Japan and hold some 200,000 artifacts. Rekihaku The permanent exhibitions comprise six galleries divided into twenty-five topics. There are also several Special Exhibitions throughout the year (additional admission fee). Gallery 1: currently closed...
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