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thomas

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News we'd like to read more often. :)

Historic ninja house in Hirosaki avoids demolition

hirosaki-ninja-house.jpg

Photo credit: Kyodo News



The wooden one-story house, which sits in a narrow alley in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, had faced the risk of demolition after the couple that owned it for about 30 years decided to sell it due to its high maintenance costs. However, the house was bought for about 20 million yen ($189,000) by Mitsumaro Sato, a 63-year-old Hirosaki city official, who has agreed to preserve the house and use it to pass on the history and culture of ninjas, according to Shigeto Kiyokawa, a professor at Aomori University who also acts as an advisor to the school's "ninja club." "We are very glad that we were able to find somebody who is keen to preserve it," Kiyokawa told a press conference.


 

thomas

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And here's another "Buddhist babushka": a rare 9.5-centimetre-tall gold-plated figurine depicting Fudō Myōō (不動明王) was found at Enryaku-ji inside a 76.5-cm-tall Gohō dōji (護法童子) statue dating back to the late Kamakura Period.

fudo-myoo01.jpg

Photo credit: Nobuhiro Shirai


Source: http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13839041
 

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thomas

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this is so cool makes you wonder what is out there that has not seen the light of day in hundreds of years. possibly thousands.

Indeed. This one hasn't seen the light of day since 1939: picture scrolls of the Jokyu Incident made in the early Edo Period have been found in a private home. According to the article, the four scrolls were housed at Ryukoin temple in Koya, Wakayama, and were "lost" after they were put on display at the predecessor of the Kyoto National Museum in 1939.

One scroll displays the only known portrait of Hōjō Yoshitoki (see below):

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Part of the fourth scroll of “Jokyu-ki Emaki” shows forces led by Retired Emperor Go-Toba on the left side of the Ujigawa river and forces sent by the Kamakura Shogunate on the right side. (Private collection, all photos by the Museum of Kyoto).

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Part of the fourth scroll of “Jokyu-ki Emaki” shows a scene from the battle at the Ujigawa River.

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Part of the second scroll of “Jokyu-ki Emaki” shows samurai warriors gathered in front of Hōjō Yoshitoki, upper left.

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Part of the sixth scroll of “Jokyu-ki Emaki” portrays Retired Emperor Go-Toba on an ox cart and his troupe heading to the Oki Islands after losing the war.

Source: http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13895131
 

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For people interested in Japanese History, I recommend this Youtuber's videos. He has all of Japanese History covered in about 70 videos. Here is the first video. The animation quality is quite good.


Shinto Creation Myth_ Izanami and Izanagi _ History of Japan 1

 

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takanawa-embankment.jpg


JR East reported that the remains of the 'Takanawa Embankment', built when the first railway opened in Japan in 1872, were found near Takanawa Gateway Station in Minato-ku during construction work. Construction started in 1870 and covered a distance of 2.7 kilometres from the current Tamachi Station to Shinagawa Station.

takanawa-station.jpg

Nishiki-e depicting a steam engine running on an embankment relocated during reclamation
works undertaken between the end of Meiji era and the beginning of Showa era.


JR East, the Minato Ward Board of Education and the Railway Museum in Saitama now consider preserving parts of the embankment and relocating others to Saitama as well as to offer public guided tours.

 

thomas

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In 1552, the first Christmas celebration in Japan took place in a converted Buddhist temple in Yamaguchi.

The Christmas of 1552 could hardly have been more different from the Christmases we know today. Familiar Yuletide iconography — Christmas trees, reindeers, mistletoe and the like — was not yet established anywhere in the world (and, naturally, there was not a whiff of the commercialism that marks modern-day Christmas festivities.) The setting for this Christmas was the abandoned Daido-ji Buddhist temple, converted into the Jesuits’ house of worship and living quarters. It would be among the first of Japan’s nanban-dera, or southern barbarian temples, the name given to the makeshift Christian churches housed in Buddhist buildings, with shoji and engawa (a type of terrace) and, often the sole exterior visual difference, a cross erected upon the kawara roof tiles.

On Christmas Eve, Japanese believers were invited to spend the night in the Jesuit living quarters, cramming the venue as they embarked upon an all-nighter of hymns, sermons, scripture readings and Masses. For today’s readers, at least, de Alcacova’s account comes across as a rather gruelling experience, although there’s no reason to doubt the missionary’s numerous references to the “great joy” of the Japanese converts. From dusk until dawn, the new converts were treated to sermons and readings about “Deus” — the Portuguese word for God. The entire celebration contained no fewer than six Masses.

 

thomas

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Last Friday, the press was again given access to the "Takanawa Embankment" (see above).

takanawa02-2.jpg


takanawa01-2.jpg

Photo credit: Sankei Shinbun

 

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A BBC Reel feature on the Mozu Tombs in Osaka Prefecture (see the article above).



The ancient tombs kept under lock and key​

A sense of mystery surrounds the keyhole-shaped kofun tombs in Japan. Although the iconic Mozu Tombs in Sakai city, Osaka have recently been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, surprisingly little is actually known about these intriguing monuments, kept under lock and key by the Japanese government.
 

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Tokiwa Bridge (常磐橋 Tokiwabashi), Tokyo's oldest stone bridge constructed in 1877, will reopen in April 2021. The bridge was closed for repair work after it had been damaged in the 2011 earthquake. The bridge spans the Nihonbashi River, a tributary of the Sumida River, and connects Chiyoda-ku and Chūō-ku.

Workers had been carefully restoring the bridge, originally built in 1877, after it was dismantled following the catastrophic earthquake due to fears it would collapse. Although workers tried their best to return the bridge to its original state by referring to materials used at the time it was first built, some new parts were also used. Restoration work on the bridge, located near the headquarters of the Bank of Japan, was completed last fall, but the surrounding park, which was used as a worksite, still needs to be cleared before it can be reopened to the public. The bridge's abutment and deck feature a mix of slightly different colored stones, while its white marble posts evoke a modern feel that contrasts with their Japanese-style garden lantern shape. The bridge, which was originally built with wood before the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1603, was rebuilt after the Meiji Restoration of 1868 using stones from Edo Castle.


tokiwabashi-2.jpg

Photo: Chiyoda Ward


More info on Tokiwabashi Gate and the bridge:

In 1877, meanwhile, the wooden bridge had been replaced by a western-style stone structure with two arches (earning it the moniker 'Meganebashi' or Glasses Bridge). This is the oldest surviving stone bridge in Tokyo. The name 'Tokiwa' can be written with two variant characters,
jn_han.gif
and
jn_ban.gif
. The former is said to have been chosen because the latter includes the element
jn_sara.gif
('dish'), which is considered unlucky because it is breakable.


Map:

 

mdchachi

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Tokiwa Bridge (常磐橋 Tokiwabashi), Tokyo's oldest stone bridge constructed in 1877, will reopen in April 2021.
I'll have to check it out on my next trip. It's within walking distance of my 本社.
 

mdchachi

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Haha. No, it's just a "start up" of 100 people in Japan and another 100 in the U.S. I put it in quotes because it's government backed by Japanese taxpayer money so it's not a traditional startup.

Ironically when I worked in Tokyo in the 1990s my office was also within walking distance of this bridge.
In fact we used to walk from Otemachi to Kanda for the occasional Wendy's run. There was also a tabehoudai Indian place around there we frequented.
At that time I didn't work for Bank of Japan but I worked for a company that was later bought by Bank of America.
I have very fond memories of those days. From my tall office I could look down into the Imperial Palace and watch the royals (or somebody anyway) riding their horses.
 

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The Asahi Shimbun published some rare, recently unearthed photos taken in Okinawa in 1935, one of them showing two bare-feet women carrying parts of a shrine on their heads.

okinawa-1935.jpg


The woman walking ahead in the photo carries a Buddhist shrine and a chair, while the other brings a costume box. Behind them is a shop that appears to sell furniture. Under the direction of the central government of Japan since the 1890s, Okinawans had to learn to speak standard Japanese, instead of a local dialect, as well as adopt Japanese manners and customs. Wearing outfits commonly worn by women on the main islands is one of the customs local women tried to emulate. “They were under societal pressure to conform to the Japanese style, but they could not take it up in its entirety,” she said. “So, the women blended traditional Ryukyu and Japanese styles.” Back in the 1930s, it was common for ordinary people to walk barefoot in Okinawa, as the prefecture lacked both the materials and techniques to make sandals. But walking shoeless was prohibited in Naha in 1941 after the southernmost prefecture began to step up efforts to draw in tourists.

Here's a link to the gallery:

 

mdchachi

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Why would they be thinking about tourism in 1941?! I wonder if that's a typo.
 

thomas

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Why would they be thinking about tourism in 1941?! I wonder if that's a typo.

Local tourism, I would assume. I wonder whether these "barefoot laws" were ever lifted.
 

mdchachi

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Local tourism, I would assume. I wonder whether these "barefoot laws" were ever lifted.
I guess in 1941 they'd still have been optimistic about their immediate future and wouldn't have had a clue that they were about to get plunged into war and become an American colony just five years later.
Probably those laws became null and void at the point the government was voided in 1945. But I'd still like to see an Atsugiri Jason video on the beach of Okinawa berating people for going barefoot.
 

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Last Tuesday, the restored Kumamoto Castle was presented to the media:

kumamoto-castle.jpg


The iconic castle will reopen to the public for the first time in about five years on April 26. The main castle keep interior was unveiled to the media on April 6. The 31.2-meter-tall structure is made of reinforced concrete and has one basement floor and six above-ground floors, topped by an observation platform. Efforts have been made to make the keep barrier-free, such as adding an elevator. Displays have also been renewed, including a large model of the keep, so that visitors can understand the building's structure.


 

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Visited there around 1972. They had some great old guns there on display. Seeing the picture bought back some good memories.
 

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My cousin in law took his wedding photos there not long before the kumamoto earthquake actually. Their wedding was in Nagasaki after the kumamoto earthquke. She is from there and ended up fighting with everyone at the ryokan that he was supposed to inherit and forced him to leave and move to Kumamoto basically dooming the family business.
 

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Unfortunately, this site is not open to the public.

Ruins of Edo Castle stone wall from 400 years ago unearthed​


edo-castle-01.jpg


edo-castle-02.jpg

Photo credit: Asahi Shinbun (Sugiura Tatsuro)


The roughly 4-meter-high stone wall was discovered in November last year on the grounds of Sannomaru Shozokan (The Museum of the Imperial Collections) in the palace’s East Gardens. A subsequent investigation led officials to conclude it is likely the oldest of the castle’s remains, dating to the earliest part of the Edo Period. The ward government and the Imperial Household Agency said they have no plans to open the site where the stone wall was discovered to the public, as work to rebuild the museum there is currently underway. However, they said they are considering putting items excavated at the site on public display.

 

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The city of Higashiyamato in Tokyo will open the former Hitachi Transformer Substation to the public in August. The building was destroyed in WWII.

hitachi-transformer-substation.jpg

Photo credit: Mainichi/Hiroshi Maruyama

A former electrical substation in western Tokyo with exterior walls pockmarked by bomb and bullet damage from World War II U.S. air attacks is set to reopen to the public in August. Following preservation and repair work, the former Hitachi Transformer Substation in the suburban Tokyo city of Higashiyamato will be unveiled to the public in its entirety for the first time, including the previously off-limits second floor. Equipment on the second floor of the former Hitachi Transformer Substation, which will be unveiled to the public for the first time following repair work, is seen in this photo provided by the Higashiyamato Municipal Government. According to the city, the factory, built in 1938, made military aircraft engines. Three U.S. air raids destroyed around 80% of the factory and killed 111 people between February and April 1945.

 

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"U.S. military aircraft fired countless rounds at the building and heavily bombed the complex, blowing in the substation's windows and leaving its walls a moonscape.

The equipment inside, however, survived the attacks, and the substation continued to operate until 1993"


Sometimes what seems like ancient history isn't so ancient at all. Can you imagine this bullet-ridden building was still pumping out electricity on the far edge of Tokyo in 1993?
 
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