The Miraculous Daikon

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Traditional winter dishes in Japan usually include daikon. Daikon (大根) is a winter radish popular in Japanese cuisine. Its mild flavor makes it a versatile ingredient; it is usually characterized by its long and white root. The origins of daikon can be traced to the Mediterranean. It spreadquickly to the east and is now grown […]

Romantic Places to Visit in Japan on Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day in Japan is observed mostly by women who give presents to men, usually chocolates. But not all presents given on Valentine’s Day involve romance.  Giri-choko (義理チョコ, courtesy chocolate) are chocolates given to men who are either friends, colleagues, or bosses, and these symbolize friendship or gratitude, while honmei-choko (本命チョコ, chocolates of love) are given […]

Sentō: Japanese Communal Bath House

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Japan consists of almost 7,000 islands. Over 70% of the country is mountainous; there are over 200 volcanoes in the Japanese jurisdiction. As a volcanically active nation, Japan has many bathing facilities and literally thousands of hot spring resorts scattered all over the country. Sentō (銭湯) is a Japanese communal bath house that charges a fee for […]

Han System: The Japanese Warrior Estate

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Japanese warriors like the samurai, ronin, and ninja are portrayed in the modern world as being cunning, skillful, and adept in their fighting prowess with some of the more popular weaponry we know as katana, shuriken, and tanto. These great warriors were essential in Japan’s feudal era. The country was in so much chaos that strong […]

Popular Contemporary Japanese Literature Authors

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Chinese literature significantly influenced early Japanese literature. Over time, Japanese literature came into its own as Japanese writers developed their own identities and started writing about Japan. When Japan opened its ports to Western trading after the sakoku years, both Western and Eastern literature greatly influenced Japanese literature until today. Japanese writers embraced free verse and incorporated […]

The Matsumae Clan

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During the 17th, 18th, and most of the 19th century, Japan adopted a policy that isolated the whole country from the outside world. This long period of national isolation was called sakoku, literally meaning chained country.  During sakoku, no Japanese could leave the country on penalty of death, and very few foreign nationals were permitted to enter […]

The Duel Between Sasaki Kojirō and Miyamoto Musashi

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Sasaki Kojirō (佐々木 小次郎, 1585–1612), of Fukui Prefecture, Japan, was also known as Ganryū, orLarge Rock style. Kojirō was a master swordsman during the Sengoku and early Edo periods. He studied  Chujō-ryū (old style martial arts founded in the 14th century by Chujō Nagahide) sword fighting from either sword masters Kanemaki Jisai or Toda Seigen.  Kojirō later went on […]

Kanda Shrine’s Colorful History

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Kanda Shrine (神田明神 ) is conveniently located in Japan’s capital, Tokyo.  The shrine was initially built in 730 CE during the Tenpyō Era, in the fishing village of Shibasaki close to the modern Ōtemachi district. When Edo Castle needed expansion in 1603, Kanda Shrine was moved to the former Kanda ward, then again in 1616 to its present […]

Nihon Ōdai Ichiran: A Chronicle of Japanese Rule

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During the Sakoku years of Japan, the country was deeply isolated from the rest of the world except for a few foreigners, mostly  Koreans and Chinese. The only Western trade with Japan was from the Dutch East India Company. Japan’s self-imposed isolation made their wares much coveted by foreigners. Isaac Titsingh  (1745–1812) was a Dutch merchant-trader, surgeon, scholar, […]

Niō: The Valiant Guardians of Buddha

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Religion is an important cultural aspect and way of life for many Japanese. Numerous Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples are scattered all around Japan and most times, they are right beside each other. In many Buddhist temples, you may notice a pair of stern looking muscular statues. The intimidating dynamic duo that stand devotedly at the entrance […]