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  • 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...
  • 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 short description of the public holidays and the most common nation-wide festivals below. In 1998 and in 2001 Japan amended its laws in order to to move a number of public holidays in...
  • 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 some time 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...
  • Tozenji Temple

    The family temple of the Oguri clan and the grave of Oguri Tadamasa The Tōzenji (東善寺) temple belongs to the Sōtō Zen school of Buddhism (曹洞宗 Sōtō-shū), the largest of the three traditional sects of Zen in Japanese Buddhism. It is located in Kurabuchi Village, formerly known as Gonda Village,...
  • Tokyo Gate Bridge

    Tokyo Gate Bridge (東京ゲートブリッジ) opened on February 12, 2012 and connects Wakasu (若洲), an area of reclaimed land at the southern tip of Kōtō-ku, with Jōnanjima (城南島), another reclaimed island just north of Haneda Airport, thereby technically spanning Tokyo Bay. The construction took almost ten...
  • Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History

    The Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History (神奈川県立歴史博物館 Kanagawa Kenritsu Rekishi Hakubutsukan), also known as Yokohama Museum of Cultural History, is located in Bashamichi Dori in Naka Ward of Yokohama City. The historic building is the former headquarter of Yokohama Specie Bank...
  • Kogane Castle

    Takagi Taneyoshi (高城 胤吉, 1484 or 1501-1565), a vassal of the Hara clan, built Kogane Castle (小金城) in 1537 by order of the Chiba clan, themselves descendants of the Taira and rulers of Shimōsa Province (in modern-day Chiba). The Takagi controlled large lands in northwestern Chiba, including...
  • Mount Nokogiri (Nihonji Temple)

    Mount Nokogiri (鋸山 Nokogiriyama, lit. "sawtooth mountain") is located in the Bōsō Hills in southern Chiba Prefecture and faces the Uraga Channel, the waterway connecting Tokyo Bay and the Gulf of Sagami. Composed of sandy tuff, Mount Nokogiri's distinctive features are its sawtooth-shaped ridges...
  • 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...
  • 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...