Seppuku: A Samurai’s Death with Honor

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Note: article contains graphic content. Seppuku is the samurai’s honorable way of dying through his own hand. The samurai bushido honor code explicitly states that a samurai can perform seppuku voluntarily rather than fall into the hands of the enemy and likely be subjected to torture, or because he has brought shame to himself. It was […]

The Fall of Kamakura

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Kamakura (鎌倉) in Kanagawa Prefecture is a peaceful coastal town about an hour from Tokyo. Minamoto Yorimoto (1147–1199) was the founder and first shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate. Japan’s seat of  military government was based in Kamakura; rule continued for more than a century under the Minamoto shogun and then by the Hōjō regents. On 3 July 1333, […]

Ō-yoroi : The Samurai Armor

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We hear glorious samurai tales of honor, valor, and loyalty attributed to their strict adherence to the code of conduct, bushidō, or “the way of the warrior.” Samurai were the Japanese nobility of medieval and early modern Japan. Japanese armor can be traced all the way back to the 4th century. It has developed greatly over the […]

Mighty Shōguns of Japan

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Shōguns were powerful military governors of Japan during the shogunate regime from 1192 to 1867. Shōgun means general; their rank and position were hereditary.  Officially they were appointed by the emperor, but they were de facto rulers of the country.  A shogun’s office was the “shogunate” or bafuku (tent office/government), also the term for the shōgun’s […]

Tokyo in Pictures by KCP Alum Christian-Jay Flores

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These quirky photos of Tokyo by KCP Winter 2015 student Christian-Jay Flores show just how diverse and interesting the metropolis can be. With a bonus shot of Christian-Jay’s class pic! Check these out: Shinjuku train station. Wine barrels in Meiji Shrine. Sakura tree by a busy street. Takeshita Street in Harajuku. Statue of the samurai Kusunoki […]

Meiji the Great

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Emperor Meiji (1852–1912), also known as Meiji the Great or Meiji-taitei, was the 122nd Emperor of Japan. During his reign, Japan underwent rapid changes, from being a feudal state to becoming a capitalist imperial world power made possible by Japan’s industrial revolution. Prior to the Meiji Era was the Tokugawa period, when the Tokugawa Shogunate […]

Japanese Chopstick Etiquette 101

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Eating sushi without chopsticks is an incomplete experience, somehow. Chopsticks have become familiar utensils in Asian restaurants,  and they have also come to serve other uses such as holding up long hair or as a decorative piece. Developed in China about 5,000 years ago, chopsticks (箸) originated as simple twigs used to remove food from the fire.  The use of chopsticks is […]

William Adams: The English Samurai

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Valor, honor, bravery, and the ritual act of suicide by seppuku have always captured my interest whenever I think of the samurai warriors of Japan. Samurai were the warriors of Japan’s pre-industrial society. As the ruling military class, they became the highest rank in Japanese society during the Edo Period. Samurai were skilled in the use […]

Hysteria over Wisteria in Japan

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One of the best times to visit Japan is during spring when all kinds of colorful blooms paint the landscape. Japan is known for its iconic cherry blossoms, but wisteria can be equally as captivating and mesmerizing in its beauty. Wisteria is a type of flowering plant that belongs to the pea family. It includes a species […]