The Sumida River and Fireworks Festival

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The iconic Sumida River (隅田川 ) is a beacon of Tokyo, Japan. The Sumida River stems from the Arakawa River and flows into Tokyo Bay, passing through several wards of Tokyo: Kita, Adachi, Arakawa, Sumida, Taito, Kōtō, and Chūō. One of Japan’s most anticipated fireworks displays is held there on the last Saturday of July each year.  Thousands of fireworks […]

The Last True Samurai’s Final Stand

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Saigō Takamori is best remembered as the “Last True Samurai.” He led a life according to the strict samurai code, bushido, and played a key role in the abolition of the han system as well as in establishing a conscript army. He opposed the modernization of Japan and the opening of commerce with the West and […]

The Delicious World of Japanese Noodles

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The world’s oldest noodles, found at the Lajia archeological site along the Yellow River in China, were believed to be about 4,000 years old. The noodles were well-preserved and resembled the traditional noodles from the area. The oldest written record of noodles is found in a book that dates back to the Eastern Han period of […]

The Historic Town of Tsumago-juku

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Tsumago-juku (妻籠宿) in Nagiso, Kiso District, Nagano Prefecture in Japan, is seemingly untouched by time. The quiet town has been restored to its original appearance since the Edo Period, some 300 years ago. Walking along Tsumago-juku’s quiet streets takes you back to a time long gone and allows you to experience the rich traditions and culture of Japan. […]

Saigō Takamori: The Last True Samurai

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Saigō Takamori was one of Japan’s most influential samurai in history and is best remembered for being the Last True Samurai. He is considered the embodiment of bushido, the samurai code, and legends paint a magnificent picture of a life well lived in the annals of history. The movie “The Last Samurai” starring Ken Watanabi and […]

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 […]