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  • Masakado Kubizuka

    Masakado's head mound: appeasing a vengeful spirit Located in the heart of Tōkyō's buzzing business district of Ōtemachi, just a stone's throw away from the Imperial Palace, lies a speck of land that has remained largely untouched for centuries. For whenever it had been touched tragedy would...
  • Nogi Shrine and former Nogi Residence

    Nogi Shrine (乃木神社 Nogi-jinja) is a Shintō shrine located on the grounds of General Nogi's former residence in Akasaka, Minato Ward, Tōkyō, close to Roppongi's Mid-Town Complex. It was established in November 1923 and dedicated to Nogi Maresuke and his wife Shizuko who both took their lives on...
  • Hie Shrine

    Hie Shrine (日枝神社 Hie-jinja) is a Shintō shrine located in Nagatachō, Tōkyō. It is a popular venue for Shichi-Go-San (七五三) celebrations and famous for its Sannō Matsuri (山王祭), a festival held on June 15 and - along with the Kanda Matsuri and the Fukagawa Matsuri - one of three great festivals of...
  • Imperial Palace East Gardens

    The Imperial Palace East Gardens (皇居東御苑, Kōkyo Higashi Gyoen) are a part of the inner imperial palace and open to the public since 1968. In the 17th century, the current palace was the location of Edo Castle, the seat of the Tokugawa shogunate. The East Gardens comprise the former honmaru (inner...
  • Japanese New Year

    New Year's or ō-shōgatsu (お正月) is one of the most important and most elaborate of Japan's annual observances. There are regional differences in customs, but what is in common is that at this time homes are decorated and families gather to spend the holidays together. Shrines and temples are...
  • Taira Masakado

    Taira no Masakado, a member of the Kanmu Taira clan, was the son of Taira no Yoshimasa and a provincial lord in the Kantō region. In 939, Masakado organized a rebellion and attacked the government post of Hitachi (modern-day Ibaraki Prefecture), capturing the governor of the province. In the...
  • Sugiyama Castle

    Sugiyama Castle (杉山城 Sugiyama-jō) was a hilltop castle located in modern-day Ranzan, Saitama Prefecture. Constructed on a mountain ridge at the edge of the Kantō plain it was overlooking the old Kamakura Highway, the modern-day Kanetsu Expressway. Making perfect use of the steep topography more...
  • The Japanese Address System

    Signs displaying town addresses of Oji in Kita-ku, Tokyo Rather than odd and even numbers running consecutively along named roads, Japanese addresses are determined by a hierarchy of local areas. A typical Japanese address would start with the largest administrative unit, the prefecture (県...
  • Konno Hachimangu Shrine

    Kon’nō Hachimangū (金王八幡宮) is a Shinto shrine just a stone's throw from Shibuya Station. Founded in 1092 by the Shibuya clan who gave their name to the modern-day Tokyo ward, it was built right inside of what once was Shibuya Castle. History In 1051, Kawasaki Motoie (河崎基家), a descendant of the...
  • Hatakeyama Shigetada

    Kuniyoshi: Kajiwara Kagesue, Sasaki Takatsuna, and Hatakeyama Shigetada racing to cross the Uji River before the second battle of Uji Hatakeyama Shigetada (畠山重忠, 1164–1205) was a warrior of the early Kamakura Period (1185-1333) famed for his virtue and bravery. Shigetada was the son of...
  • Sugaya Castle

    Sugaya Castle (菅谷城) is located in Ranzan, Hiki District, in Saitama Prefecture and allegedly the site of the former residence of Hatakeyama Shigetada, an important retainer of the Kamakura Shogunate in the early Kamakura period (1185-1333). The castle was designated a National Historic Site in...
  • Edo-Tokyo Museum

    Designed by the renowned architect Kikutake Kiyonori, the Edo-Tokyo Museum (江戸東京博物館) was modelled after traditional stilted warehouses of the kurazukuri (蔵造り) type. It is located in Ryōgoku, Sumida-ku, right next to the Ryōgoku Kokugikan (両国国技館, Sumo Hall) and opened on 28 March 1993. Measuring...
  • Saga of the Samurai: Interview with Terje Solum

    Terje Solum is the author of the series "Saga of the Samurai". Over the past 14 years, he has published six volumes on the Kai Takeda clan. In late autumn, he will release his next volume dedicated to the Ōmi Gamō. We interviewed Terje in August 2017. Q: Tell us a bit more about your background,...
  • Ogura Castle

    Ogura Castle (小倉城) is a Sengoku-era hilltop castle located in Tokigawa Town, Saitama Prefecture. It stretched over three mountain ridges and was situated just 600 meters from the Tsuki River, forming a natural stronghold that allowed to monitor the traffic on the river. It was fortified with...
  • Mount Omuro

    Mount Omuro (大室山 Ōmuroyama) is a volcano south of Ito City on the eastern coast of the Izu Peninsula. Extinct for 3,700 years, the cone-shaped mountain is completely covered in grass and has a circular trail around its crater mound at an altitude of 580 meters. The trail is about one kilometer...
  • Enomoto Takeaki

    Tokugawa admiral and Meiji statesman Enomoto Takeaki (榎本武揚, 1836-1908) was born in Edo into a family of gokenin, direct vassals of the Tokugawa shogun, and attended the prestigious Shōheikō (昌平校と藩学 Shōheizaka School and Domain Studies) academy. In 1853, he went to study rangaku (蘭学, “Dutch...
  • Okinawa Travel Guide

    Composed of a chain of some sixty islands generally referred to as the Ryukyu Islands (琉球諸島 Ryūkyū-shotō), Okinawa is located south of Kyūshū and surrounded by the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The islands are generally subdivided into the Okinawa, Miyako, Yaeyama, and Senkaku groups....
  • Kyushu Travel Guide

    Kyushu (九州 Kyūshū, lit. “Nine Provinces”) comprises the following prefectures: Fukuoka (福岡県 Fukuoka-ken) Saga (佐賀県 Saga-ken) Kumamoto (熊本県 Kumamoto-ken) Nagasaki (長崎県 Nagasaki-ken) Oita (大分県 Ōita-ken) Kagoshima (鹿児島県 Kagoshima-ken) Miyazaki (宮崎県 Miyazaki-ken) Okinawa (沖縄県 Okinawa-ken) Kyūshū...
  • Shikoku Travel Guide

    The Shikoku Region (四国地方 Shikoku-chihō) consists of Shikoku (lit. “four provinces”), the smallest of Japan’s four main islands, and numerous surrounding islands. It comprises the following prefectures: Map of Shikoku Ehime (愛媛県 Ehime-ken) Kagawa (香川県 Kagawa-ken) Kochi (福島県 Kōchi-ken) Tokushima...
  • Chugoku Travel Guide

    The Chūgoku Region (中国地方 Chūgoku-chihō) comprises the prefectures of Chugoku Region Hiroshima ((広島県 Hiroshima-ken) Okayama (岡山県 Okayama-ken) Shimane (島根県 Shimane-ken) Tottori (鳥取県 Tottori-ken) Yamaguchi (山口県 Yamaguchi-ken) Geography Chugoku encompasses the entire western tip of Honshū, the...
  • Shiga Prefecture

    Shiga Prefecture (滋賀県) is part of the Kansai Region and borders the prefectures of Fukui, Gifu, Mie and Kyōto. Shiga is one of the eight landlocked prefectures of Japan and takes the form of a basin surrounded by mountains on all sides. Lake Biwa (琵琶湖 Biwa-ko), in central Shiga, is the largest...
  • Minakuchi Castle

    Minakuchi Castle (水口城 Minakuchi-jō), located in Kōka, Shiga Prefecture, is a hirayama-style (lit. "hill-top on a plain") castle also known as Hekisui-jō (碧水城, "deep blue water castle"), a reference to its reflection on the surface of the moat. It was constructed between 1632-1634 under Tokugawa...
  • Todaiji Temple

    Tōdai-ji (東大寺, Eastern Great Temple) is a major monastery-temple belonging to the Kegon sect of Buddhism. It was erected by order of Emperor Shōmu (聖武天皇, 701-756) in the eastern part of Nara, the capital of Japan between 710-784, to become the most important religious institution within the...
  • Kyoto Prefecture

    Located in central Honshū, Kyoto Prefecture (京都府 Kyōto-fu) is bounded by Fukui, Shiga and Mie prefectures on the east, Nara Prefecture on the south, and Hyōgo and Ōsaka prefectures on the west. It faces the Sea of Japan to the north. The prefecture is divided roughly into two parts, north and...
  • Kinkakuji Temple

    Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺), the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, formally known as Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺 “Deer Garden Temple”), is located in Kyōto’s Kita Ward and belongs to the Shōkokuji (相国寺) branch of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. Kinkakuji is built on the site of an estate of the aristocrat Saionji no...