Japan's most famous Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, was Lord of Hamamatsu Castle for 17 years, from age 29 to 45. Here he is said to have matured as a samurai leader, and lessons he learnt protecting this local realm no doubt helped him in his eventual quest to unify Japan after two centuries of civil war. … Continue reading Hamamatsu Castle
Arai is Japan's only surviving feudal era checkpoint. Nestled on the west bank of Lake Hamana in modern day Shizuoka Prefecture, in feudal times access eastwards (to and from the capital Edo, modern Tokyo) was only by boat. Bridges were prohibited by the Shogun to make it difficult for any would-be upstart from the provinces … Continue reading Arai Checkpoint
Towards the close of the 19th century, Japan was adding Okinawa and small islands to the southwest to its territory, followed by the not-so-small island of Taiwan. Then, at the dawn of the 20th century, the unthinkable happened. Japan engaged the mighty European empire of Russia in war and won convincingly. The infallibility of the white man to the yellow man had been challenged.
Daily our headlines give us horror stories of more species sent to extinction by the destructive activities of our species. But did you know that one tree species at least, the Ginko, has enjoyed the reverse experience?
You know how it goes. “When in Rome…” Except, when the crunch comes and you are confronted with a cultural anomaly, do you revert to form? If you are an impatient, hot-headed individual, like me, with a fierce sense of personal freedom, and have a Japan trip coming up, read on. Visitor good behavior in … Continue reading A Visitor’s Guide to Good Behavior in Japan