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    Japanese History (136 articles)

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    Historical and cultural facts, information on travel attractions, travel tips and more...
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  • 08 Apr 2014: Japanese traditional architecture, old Post office building 

    Japanese traditional architecture, old Post office building
    One of the modernization projects started at the beginning of the Meiji Period was the modernization of the postal service. The project, inspired by the United Kingdom's Post Office, was supervised ... »

    104 comments

    06 Mar 2014: Samurai helmet, Kawari Kabuto 

    Samurai helmet, Kawari Kabuto
    Although primarily designed for protection in battle, the samurai armor was also a status symbol, so the quality of the materials and the aesthetic of decoration wasn't neglected. The armor of the ... »

    93 comments

    01 Mar 2014: Oda Nobunaga's death place 

    Oda Nobunaga's death place
    The Honnō-ji Temple from Kyoto remained in the Japanese history as the place of death of Oda Nobunaga, one of the most important lords of the Sengoku period. During what is known today as the ... »

    73 comments

    30 Jan 2014: A living prayer for Peace: the A-bombed Nagasaki camphor trees 

    A living prayer for Peace: the A-bombed Nagasaki camphor trees
    At the beginning of this year I was in Nagasaki, visiting the places reminding of the atomic explosion and I was deeply moved by the sight of the two camphor trees from the Sanno Shrine, located only ... »

    91 comments

    28 Jan 2014: The Kyoto style gas lamp 

    The Kyoto style gas lamp
    Before gas lighting was introduced to Japan at the beginning of the Meiji Period, the public illumination in Japan was provided by oil burning lanterns made of bamboo and covered by paper. Of ... »

    82 comments

    18 Jan 2014: History and romance at Teradaya, Kyoto 

    History and romance at Teradaya, Kyoto
    150 years ago, the town of Fushimi was the closest river port to Kyoto, offering convenient water transportation between Kyoto and Osaka. This traffic led to the development of many inns, located ... »

    38 comments

    08 Jan 2014: The very first gas lamp in Japan 

    The very first gas lamp in Japan
    As we've discussed a lot recently about the Japanese winter illuminations and lighting effects, it was a nice coincidence to visit the place of the first modern lighting in Japan - a gas lamp ... »

    37 comments

    06 Jan 2014: Japanese firemen Matoi 

    Japanese firemen Matoi
    The first firemen units were established in Japan in 1641, after the Oke-machi Fire, but they began to gain momentum during the reign of "Abarenbō" Shōgun Tokugawa Yoshimune, who in 1720 ... »

    37 comments

    10 Dec 2013: Origami diorama masterpieces, a great place to see and a bit of history 

    Origami diorama masterpieces, a great place to see and a bit of history
    In Japan, the first historical mention of an object made by paper folding - origami (ori means "folding" and kami "paper") - was in a poem from 1680 by Ihara Saikaku, referring to the origami ... »

    63 comments

    09 Dec 2013: Traditional Japanese men hairstyle, Chonmage 

    Traditional Japanese men hairstyle, Chonmage
    In the medieval Japan, strict rules were set for the hairstyle, for both men and women, depending on the social status and age. Generally, the hair was long, a short hair being the associated with ... »

    35 comments

    02 Dec 2013: Osaka artistic manhole cover and a bit of history 

    Osaka artistic manhole cover and a bit of history
    Archeologists discovered that the first sewerage systems appeared in Japan more than 2200 years ago. Actually, those ancient systems were built so well that one of them, dating from 1583, still works ... »

    111 comments

    26 Oct 2013: To-ji, the only surviving Kyoto Imperial Temple 

    To-ji, the only surviving Kyoto Imperial Temple
    Long, long time ago, when the capital of Japan was moved from Nara to Heian-kyō (today's Kyoto), Emperor Kammu issued a law allowing only two temples in the new capital city (except for the one ... »

    112 comments

    09 Oct 2013: Historical transportation in Japan, Goshoguruma 

    Historical transportation in Japan, Goshoguruma
    In the old times, land transportation in Japan was extremely slow, most of the people were traveling by foot and only the rich were able to rent palanquins (kago or norimono)... And, of course, the ... »

    37 comments

    12 Sep 2013: Unusual samurai armor, Horo 

    Unusual samurai armor, Horo
    The armors worn by the samurai changed over time, following the developments in weaponry: from the heavy yoroi armors of the Heian Period, to the light protection worn by the last samurai during the ... »

    56 comments

    10 Sep 2013: Shinjuku Skyscrapers, the symbols of modern Japan 

    Shinjuku Skyscrapers, the symbols of modern Japan
    In 1898, at the beginning of the Meiji Period, in Shinjuku was innaugurated the first modern water plant, the Yodobashi Water Purification Plant, which is considered one of the first signs of the ... »

    76 comments

    05 Sep 2013: Ryounkaku, the tower soaring above the clouds 

    Ryounkaku,  the tower soaring above the clouds
    In 1964, the tallest building in Japan, the New Otani Hotel, was only 72 meters tall, insignificant compared to Empire State Building, which then was the tallest building in the world.But long ... »

    59 comments

    31 Aug 2013: The heaviest bell in Japan, a bit of history 

    The heaviest bell in Japan, a bit of history
    In the year 732, the heaviest bell in the world was the bell of the Todai-ji Temple from Nara (in today's photo), with an astonishing (for that era) weight of 48 tons. In 1633, the heaviest bell in ... »

    47 comments

    06 Aug 2013: Hiroshima Day, 68 years 

    Hiroshima Day, 68 years
    I was greatly impressed by the monuments of Hiroshima, equally by those built by man and by those created by nature, like the hibaku jumoku, the atomic bombing survivor trees. All these monuments ... »

    46 comments

    29 Jul 2013: Edo-style furin and a bit of history 

    Edo-style furin and a bit of history
    Made of iron or clay, the furin wind-bells were originally used at Buddhist temples, because it was believed that their sound wards off evil spirits.With the foundation of the Nagasaki port in ... »

    54 comments

    28 Jul 2013: Japanese traditional clothing, Mino straw raincoat 

    Japanese traditional clothing, Mino straw raincoat
    During the old times, the most elegant way to travel through the rain was by rickshaw or by kago... but these services were very expensive. Of course, the elegant wagasa was more affordable, but ... »

    35 comments

    12 Jul 2013: Shinkansen, a glimpse of history 

    Shinkansen, a glimpse of history
    The first high-speed Shinkansen train was inaugurated in 1964, but the Shinkansen brand is a little older. The word Shinkansen 「新幹線」 (meaning "new trunk line") was ... »

    32 comments

    06 Jul 2013: Sengan yagura, the story of a name 

    Sengan yagura, the story of a name
    Along the outer moat surrounding the Osaka Castle there are multiple towers, called yagura. The one on the right side of the photo, built by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1622, has the trivial name of ... »

    36 comments

    04 Jul 2013: Japanese samurai armor, Kabuto 

    Japanese samurai armor, Kabuto
    Although designed for protection in battle, the Japanese samurai armor was made without neglecting the aesthetic value. The overall appearance, the quality of the materials, the model and the ... »

    59 comments

    23 Jun 2013: The largest tomb in Tokyo 

    The largest tomb in Tokyo
    Close to the Tokyo Tower, between the Daitoku-in Mausoleum Somon Gate and the Prince Park Tower Hotel, there's a green park, completely covered by trees.Although it impossible to clearly see it, ... »

    46 comments

    03 Jun 2013: Kinmokaku gate: the Sen no Rikyu incindent, tea ceremony and seppuku 

    Kinmokaku gate: the Sen no Rikyu incindent, tea ceremony and seppuku
    The Kinmokaku Gate of the Daitoku-ji temple from Kyoto is known in the history of Japan for the incident that brought the death of Sen no Rikyū, one of the most famous historical figures of the ... »

    53 comments

    29 May 2013: Court ladies bridge from Itsukushima 

    Court ladies bridge from Itsukushima
    During the Heian Period, the court ladies (naishi) of the Imperial Court were among the most important attendants. With multiple ranks and well defined roles, they were sometimes involved even in the ... »

    31 comments

    24 May 2013: Samurai House, Yagi Gennojo in Mibu, Kyoto 

    Samurai House, Yagi Gennojo in Mibu, Kyoto
    For more than 700 years, until the Meiji Ishin, the history of Japan was the history of the samurai. But surprisingly few samurai residencies survived until today and a very small number of them can ... »

    54 comments

    21 May 2013: The first modern bronze statue in Japan 

    The first modern bronze statue in Japan
    The first bronze statue in Japan was erected in 1880 inside the Kenroku-en Garden in Kanazawa, to honor the samurai fallen during the Satsuma Rebellion against the Imperial government. The statue ... »

    34 comments

    15 May 2013: An American street in Tokyo 

    An American street in Tokyo
    At the end of the Edo period, Ginza was just like any other Japanese street: with narrow streets and wooden buildings (take a look at the photos from the Ginza Official history page).The first ... »

    39 comments

    07 May 2013: Gifu Castle clock and a little Japanese clock history 

    Gifu Castle clock and a little Japanese clock history
    The first mechanical clock in Japan (in 1551) was a gift from Francisco Xavier to daimyo Yoshitaka Ohuchi from Suo (today in the Yamaguchi Prefecture).Since the traditional Japanese time system ... »

    36 comments

    21 Apr 2013: History and Anime, remembering the Shinsengumi at Mibu-dera, Kyoto 

    History and Anime, remembering the Shinsengumi at Mibu-dera, Kyoto
    Ema are wooden votive plaques used at Shinto shrines and at some temples: the wishes are written directly on the ema, which is then hung on a special rack, to be "read" by the gods. I love to collect ... »

    36 comments

    13 Apr 2013: Sumiya, the last remaining ageya from Kyoto 

    Sumiya, the last remaining ageya from Kyoto
    During the Edo period, in Shimabara, the courtesans district (yūkaku) from Kyoto, the main attraction were the ageya, luxury restaurants specialized in sophisticated parties, with geisha and ... »

    40 comments

    18 Feb 2013: A glimpse of the samurai life, Nomura family house 

    A glimpse of the samurai life, Nomura family house
    400 years ago, the Nagamachi area from Kanazawa was the neighborhood of the samurai class ruling the Kaga Domain, but at the end of the 19th century, the samurai class was abolished and many of these ... »

    97 comments

    21 Nov 2012: Japanese castle architecture, Ishi-otoshi 

    Japanese castle architecture, Ishi-otoshi
    Although designed for military purposes, the Japanese castles were also architectural jewels, carefully designed to combine the defensive ability with esthetically pleasing ornaments. One beautiful ... »

    38 comments

    26 Oct 2012: Dotonbori 

    Dotonbori
    Like many other waterways from the Japanese cities, the Dotonbori canal from Osaka wasn't a natural water stream. Its construction was the idea of a local entrepreneur, Doton Yasui, who hoped that a ... »

    32 comments

    16 Oct 2012: Remembering the Dog Shogun's days 

    Remembering the Dog Shogun's days
    After dozens of cities visited, I never saw a stray dog in Japan... But it wasn't always like this: during the time of shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, stray dogs were roaming freely in Edo and their ... »

    42 comments

    09 Oct 2012: Tokyo, Ultra-short Skyscraper history 

    Tokyo, Ultra-short Skyscraper history
    Compared to other large cities, the vertical development of Tokyo begun relatively recently: while in New York the first building over 200 meters was built in 1909 (the Metropolitan Life Tower), up ... »

    31 comments

    06 Aug 2012: Hiroshima day, 67 years - Shelter for the Souls of the Victims 

    Hiroshima day, 67 years - Shelter for the Souls of the Victims
    Today, at 08:15 Japan time, marks 67 years since one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the mankind, the moment when approx. 80,000 people died instantly in the blast and the firestorm ... »

    54 comments

    05 Aug 2012: Hiroshima Children's Peace Monument, Sadako Sasaki's story 

    Hiroshima Children's Peace Monument, Sadako Sasaki's story
    67 years ago, Sadako Sasaki was two years old when she survived the atomic blast, although she was blown out of the window of her home from Hiroshima. However, 9 years later she became ill with ... »

    52 comments

    27 Jul 2012: Japan's first Western-style statue 

    Japan's first Western-style statue
    A lot was written (not to mention the movies) about the samurai who fought against the Meiji Restoration, but there are many interesting characters on the other side too. One of them is Ōmura ... »

    31 comments

    08 Jul 2012: Old Samurai House 

    Old Samurai House
    We are all fascinated by samurai stories, we read books and we watch movies about them... but to get a glimpse of their real life, one of the best things to do is to visit a museum. At the Boso no ... »

    46 comments

    07 Jun 2012: Zen Temple Panorama 

    Zen Temple Panorama
    Kencho-ji is the top temple amongst the Kamakura Five Great Zen Temples (Kamakura Gozan in Japanese) and is also the oldest monastery from Japan where Zen was taught and practiced. Over the history, ... »

    47 comments

    24 May 2012: Hiroshima Castle's Ninomaru Gate 

    Hiroshima Castle's Ninomaru Gate
    Built on a plain, the Hiroshima Castle is a hirajiro (flatland) castle, using for defense rivers, swamps or specially made moats. During the Edo Period, the castle featured complex fortifications, ... »

    52 comments

    21 Mar 2012: Rainy day at Kan'ei-ji 

    Rainy day at Kan'ei-ji
    The Kan'ei-ji Temple from Ueno, Tokyo, was established in 1625, during the Kan-ei Era, hence its name. At its peak, with more than 30 buildings, the temple was covering a vast area, the entire zone ... »

    52 comments

    11 Mar 2012: Tokyo Memorial Hall, memorial to the earthquake victims 

    Tokyo Memorial Hall, memorial to the earthquake victims
    Today we commemorate one year since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, the most powerful earthquake in the history of Japan. Today, I think that the most appropriate photo from Japan would be a ... »

    82 comments

    08 Feb 2012: Osaka Castle glamorous gold decorations and a travel tip 

    Osaka Castle glamorous gold decorations and a travel tip
    The Osaka Castle is one of the most glamorous Japanese castles, built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi as a symbol of its power and richness. It is known that Hideyoshi liked gold so much that he was using it ... »

    83 comments

    07 Feb 2012: Traditional Japanese fire lookout tower 

    Traditional Japanese fire lookout tower
    Throughout the history of Japan, the fires were among the main threats: not only because the traditional Japanese houses were built from flammable materials (wood, bamboo, straw and paper), but since ... »

    50 comments

    30 Jan 2012: The eucalyptus that survived the atomic bomb 

    The eucalyptus that survived the atomic bomb
    I learned a long time ago about the survivor trees from Hiroshima (called hibaku jumoku in Japanese), the trees that survived the atomic explosion, holly trees, silent witnesses of a horrific event ... »

    76 comments

    25 Jan 2012: Nagoya Castle, birds-eye view and a travel tip 

    Nagoya Castle, birds-eye view and a travel tip
    Built at the orders of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, the Nagoya Castle was located in a strategic place, to stop the attacks coming from Osaka. The castle was finished in 1612 while the adjacent Hommaru ... »

    46 comments

    24 Jan 2012: Yurakucho, a wide-angle street view and a bit of history 

    Yurakucho, a wide-angle street view and a bit of history
    Located between Ginza and Hibiya, Yūrakuchō is one of the oldest neighborhoods of Tokyo. A little known fact is that Yūrakuchō developed around the mansion of Oda Nagamasu, the ... »

    61 comments

    07 Jan 2012: Immersion in Japan's history, Boso no Mura Open Air Museum 

    Immersion in Japan's history, Boso no Mura Open Air Museum
    I believe that if you want to understand the people of a country, first you need to know their history and then you need to see how they lived. Obviously, you can learn from history books about the ... »

    67 comments

    08 Nov 2011: Old Japanese Post Box and a bit about its symbols 

    Old Japanese Post Box and a bit about its symbols
    One of the first improvements made by the Japanese government after the Meiji Restoration was the introduction of a modern postal service, because the old system, with post stations and mail couriers ... »

    79 comments

    17 Oct 2011: Hiroshima Ground Zero 

    Hiroshima Ground Zero
    On my visit to Hiroshima I felt compelled to visit as many places related to the atomic bombing as I could. And I soon noticed that all of them are marked with the distance from the "ground ... »

    74 comments

    01 Oct 2011: Taiyuin Mausoleum, a Story with many Shoguns 

    Taiyuin Mausoleum, a Story with many Shoguns
    Following the example of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, who asked his descendants to build a shrine for him (Toshougu Shrine from Nikko), Tokugawa Iemitsu, the grandson of Ieyasu, left instructions for a ... »

    64 comments

    25 Sep 2011: Sakamoto Ryoma in Osaka 

    Sakamoto Ryoma in Osaka
    Strolling through Osaka, in front of a restaurant, I found myself face to face with... Sakamoto Ryōma, one of the most beloved characters from the history of Japan, samurai and politician, ... »

    57 comments

    20 Sep 2011: Lady Shizuka's Sad Story 

    Lady Shizuka's Sad Story
    Lady Shizuka (Shizuka Gozen) is one of the most famous women from the history of Japan, known as one of the most talented shirabyōshi (female dancers performing dances for the gods, dressed as ... »

    45 comments

    19 Sep 2011: Dai-San Daiba 

    Dai-San Daiba
    In 1853, planning to protect Edo against attacks from sea, the Tokugawa shogunate started the construction of 6 fortresses built on artificial islands. The fortresses were armed with cannon batteries ... »

    56 comments

    02 Sep 2011: Sightseeing Hiroshima, Genbaku Dome 

    Sightseeing Hiroshima, Genbaku Dome
    Ever since my first visit to Japan, I wanted to see the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. I visited it yesterday... there are so many impressive and unforgettable monuments... Among them, the one that ... »

    61 comments

    27 Aug 2011: Hikone Castle 

    Hikone Castle
    The area of today's Hikone City was inhabited ever since ancient times (Jomon Period, 8000 years ago) and it was famous because it was producing the rice for the Imperial House. The first castle ... »

    81 comments

    11 Aug 2011: Nezumi Kozo, a Japanese Robin Hood 

    Nezumi Kozo, a Japanese Robin Hood
    Strolling on Denbouin dori in Asakusa, I suddenly noticed on a roof a man with the face half-hidden, dressed in the old Edo style, with a box in his hands... "A thief!" I thought, and I immediately ... »

    73 comments

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