The Historic Hirosaki Castle

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Japanese castles were an important part of Japan’s history.  They exemplify the careful planning of Japanese architecture and strategic planning. Japanese castles served as military defenses and were strategically placed in trading routes, rivers, and roads. They were also the center of governance in Japanese states. When the central government’s authority began to weaken sometime in the 15th […]

Emperor Jimmu: The First Emperor of Japan

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The sun goddess Amaterasu is said to have brought order to Japan after its creation through a cosmic union of male and female great spirits, or kami. According to Shinto belief, the universe constantly strives towards order, not chaos, and the establishment of the imperial system can then be directly related to the concept of order. In Shinto belief, Jimmu is a direct […]

Japan’s Breathtaking Sakura Season

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Cherry blossoms (sakura) are deeply ingrained in the history and culture of Japan, and they have come to identify the country. They are full of symbolism, such as their state of impermanence (blooms only last up to a week or two) which resonates with the samurai culture and the Japanese aesthetics of wabi-sabi (view centered on […]

In Japan, Spring is in the Air

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The month of March heralds the arrival of spring in Japan. There is no better place to admire and experience the beauty of the season than with all the lush foliage Japan has to offer, as well as the many events that welcome spring. Spring season events for 2015 Midtown Blossom, Tokyo (March 20 – April 15) Japan’s […]

Harajuku Haven

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Harajuku (原宿), the Kawaii capital of Japan, is the center of Japanese fashion and youth culture where you can get unique shopping finds and have a great dining experience. Harajuku, in Tokyo, is the best place to see extreme Japanese pop culture come alive, as well as to appreciate some of the country’s historic sights, all […]

Itsukushima Shrine and Its “Floating” Torii

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A torii is a traditional Japanese gate that marks the entrance to a sacred space. In Japan, it is common for roads leading to a Shinto shrine to be marked with one or more torii gates. This is one of the easiest ways to distinguish a Shinto shrine from a Buddhist temple. If the entrance of […]

Bonseki: The Ancient Japanese Art of Miniature Sand Sculpting

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Bonsai is a familiar Japanese art form of growing miniature trees in pots or trays. Bonseki is another ancient Japanese art of creating miniature landscapes on a black lacquer tray out of various sizes of pebbles, small rocks, and white sand using delicate tools such as small flax brooms, feathers, wood wedges, sifters, and spoons. The […]

Intricacies and Uses of Kumihimo Braids

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Kumihimo is a traditional Japanese form of braiding. Kumi himo can be translated as “gathering of threads.” The earliest form of kumihimo is believed to date back to the Nara Period  (710 to 794 CE) when braids were used to secure clothing as well as in some religious ceremonies. The Heian Period (794 to1185 CE) saw […]

KCP Winter 2015 Students Go on an Exciting Excursion to Asakusa

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This mid-February, the Winter 2015 students had fun visiting the sights in Asakusa district in Taitō, Tokyo. Asakusa is known for Sensō-ji Temple, a Buddhist temple dedicated to the bodhitsattva Kannon, and for Nakamise-dōri, one of the oldest shopping streets in Japan. The shops along Nakamise-dōri sell a range of items—traditional Japanese wooden dolls, hair […]

Akō vendetta : Revenge of the 47 Ronin

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The bushidō, “the way of the warrior,” was the samurai’s code of conduct. It exemplified a warrior’s moral values in mastery of martial arts, frugality, loyalty, and honor unto death. A rōnin was a samurai with no lord or master. A samurai could lose his master from death or even from falling out of his master’s favor. The story […]