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  • Japanese Food

    Japanese cuisine, celebrated for its emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients, has become on of the most popular culinary delights all over the world. The key ingredient of most meals is white rice, usually served steamed, and the Japanese word Gohan (ご飯) means “meal”. Soybeans are a key source...
  • Aum Shinrikyo

    Aum Shinrikyo (now known as Aleph) is a new religious movement. The group was founded by Shoko Asahara in 1984. The group gained international notoriety in 1995 when it carried out the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. The name “Aum Shinrikyo” (オウム真理教 Ōmu Shinrikyō) derives from the Sanskrit...
  • The Forty-Seven Ronin

    The revenge of the 47 rōnin (四十七士 Shi-jū-shichi-shi, “forty-seven samurai”), also known as the Genroku Akō incident (元禄赤穂事件 Genroku akō jiken), is one of the most famous episodes in Japanese history and a paradigm of samurai loyalty and ethics. Remembered each year on 14th December, it has...
  • 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 kilometre...
  • Ii Naosuke

    Lord of Hikone and ill-fated Tokugawa regent Ii Naosuke (井伊直弼, 1815-1860) was the fourteenth daimyō of the Hikone Domain (modern-day Shiga Prefecture) and as tairō (大老, “regent”) of the Tokugawa shogunate the de-facto ruler of Japan for almost two years (1858-60). During his short rule, Ii...
  • Hokkaido Travel Guide

    Hokkaidō (北海道) is the northernmost and the second largest of Japan’s four main islands. It is separated from Honshū to the south by the Tsugaru Straits (津軽海峡 Tsugaru Kaikyō) and bounded by the Sea of Japan on the west, the Sea of Okhotsk on the northeast, and the Pacific Ocean on the south and...
  • Sugawara no Michizane

    Court scholar, poet, and prominent Heian figure Sugawara no Michizane (菅原道真, 845-903) was a leading court scholar, poet, and political figure of the Heian Period (794-1185) who challenged the powerful Fujiwara family and was sent into exile where he died in disgrace. The Sugawara descended...
  • 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...
  • Fukagawa Edo Museum

    The Fukagawa Edo Museum (深川江戸資料館, Fukagawa Edo Shiryōkan) is a historical museum located in the typical and picturesque shitamachi quarter of Fukagawa, Koto-ku, Tokyo, and reproduces the popular Edo neighbourhood of Saga-cho (佐賀町) at the end of the Tokugawa period. Fukagawa is located at the...
  • 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,...
  • Nagoya Travel Guide

    Nagoya (名古屋市), Japan’s fourth-largest city, is the capital of Aichi Prefecture, located in central Honshū on Ise Bay, as well as the political, financial, and cultural centre of the Chubu Region, halfway between Tōkyō and Ōsaka. History Located on the fertile Nōbi Plain, the region was early...
  • Nirayama Castle

    Nirayama Castle (韮山城 Nirayama-jō) is located in the northern neck of Izu Peninsula, in present-day Izunokuni. In 1493, Hōjō Sōun who had risen to power in Kokokuji Castle defeated Horikoshi-kubō Ashikaga Chachamaru who had ruled Izu and put the entire peninsula under his control. He rebuilt...
  • Sen no Rikyu

    Sen no Rikyū (千利休, 1522-1591) was a tea master of the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1568-1600) and the founder of the Sen school of tea ceremony. His grandfather, Tanaka Sen'ami, is said to have been one of the dōbōshū (同朋衆, special retainers to the Muromachi shogunate who practised the tea ceremony...
  • Kami

    In Shintoism, kami 神 describes all spirits of divine nature, of essence or natural forces. The Chinese 神 (shin or jin) refers to traditional Chinese nature spirits and may have entered the Japanese language through the Ainu loanword “kamuy” (Ainu: カムイ, Japanese: 神威 or 神居, kamui), describing...
  • History of Kyoto

    The history of Kyoto (京都) starts as early as the eighth century CE when the city became the capital of Japan and home to the imperial court from 794 to 1868. Today, it is the capital of Kyoto Prefecture. Rich in historical sites, relics and monuments, the city attracts more than 30 million...
  • Noh Theater

    Noh (能 nō) or nōgaku (能楽) is an abridgment of sarugaku no nō, an aristocratic form of sung and danced performance developed from kagura (神楽, “god-entertainment”) plays, a type of Shinto theatrical dance, sarugaku (猿楽, lit. “monkey music”), a form of theatre popular in Japan during the 11th to...
  • Nagahama Castle (Izu)

    Nagahama Castle (長浜城 Nagahama-jō) is located on the southern edge of Numazu City in Izu Peninsula (Shizuoka Prefecture). The hilltop castle was a naval base built in 1579 by the Late Hōjō. After the invasion of Suruga (modern-day Shizuoka) in 1569, the Takeda finally had access to the sea and...
  • Yukio Mishima

    Renowned poet, actor, agitator Born on January 14, 1925, in Yotsuya, Tokyo, under the name Hiraoka Kimitake (平岡公威), the young Mishima was raised by his grandmother Natsu, an illegitimate granddaughter of Matsudaira Yoritaka (松平頼位), the daimyō of Shishido in Hitachi Province. Her eccentric,...
  • 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...
  • The Advent of Buddhism in Japan

    The Nihon Shoki (日本書紀), one of Japan’s earliest chronicles, states that Buddhism was introduced to Japan in 552 CE, when the king of Paekche (백제), one of the three Korean kingdoms, sent a mission to the emperor of Japan that presented, among other things, an image of Śākyamuni (Sanskrit:...
  • Golden Week

    Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク, Gōruden Wīku, often abbreviated "GW") is - along with o-bon in August and ō-shōgatsu (the New Year festivities) - one of the ōgata renkyū (大型連休), the three long vacation periods observed in Japan. It comprises a series of public holidays (see below). Many employees take...
  • Japanese Falconry

    Japanese falconry (鷹狩 takagari) is said to have come to Japan from China around the 4th century CE and was practised by emperors, courtiers, and later by the samurai class well into the Edo period. Haniwa, earthenware figures of the Kofun Period (ca. 250-710 CE), show a falconer, and the Kojiki...
  • Japanese Public Holidays and Festivals

    Japan has thirteen public holidays (marked with ▲) and a lot of nation-wide as well as local festivals. Find a list of the public holidays and the most common nation-wide festivals below. In 1998 and 2001 Japan amended its laws to move some public holidays in Japan to Mondays, creating a...
  • Kokokuji Castle

    Kokokuji Castle (興国寺城 Kōkokuji-jō, also known as 根古屋城 Negoya-jō) is located in Numazu in Shizuoka Prefecture. It was constructed sometime between 1469 and 1487 and given to Hōjō Soun (or Ise Shinkuro at that time) for services rendered to the Imagawa clan. The rise of the Late Hōjō in the Kantō...
  • Lord Kira's Residence

    Located in Ryōgoku, Sumida Ward, just west of Ryōgoku Elementary School, lies Honjo Matsusaka-cho Park (本所松坂町公園), a small memorial site for Kira Kōzukenosuke Yoshihisa (吉良上野介義央, 1641-1703), a court official at Edo Castle and infamous villain in the popular story of Chūshingura, the literary...
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