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A letter of a Japanese diplomat, Horiguchi Kumaichi (堀口 九萬一, 1865-1945), assistant consul in Korea in 1895, reveals his confession to taking part in the 1895 assassination of Korean Empress Myeongseong. Steve Hasegawa, a Nagoya-based expert on stamps, obtained the letters at an antique market.

murder-of-empress myeongseong.jpg


The assassination came after the queen sought help from Russia in her attempt to remove Japanese influence from Korea after the Triple Intervention in 1895. That was a diplomatic intervention by Russia, Germany and France over the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Japan had imposed the treaty on the Qing Dynasty of China after emerging victorious from the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895). But the diplomatic intervention forced Japan to return the Liaodong Peninsula to the Qing Dynasty, which it had acquired after the war, and weakened Japan's influence in Korea. Kumaichi Horiguchi (1865-1945), who was assistant consul in Korea, was the diplomat who wrote the eight recently unearthed letters. He had sent the letters to Teisho Takeishi, his best friend in his hometown Nakadori (currently Nagaoka) in Niigata Prefecture, who was a scholar of Chinese classics.

 

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On 18 November, New Art Est-Ouest Auctions in Shinagawa auctioned off a painting dating back to the Kamakura period that's been designated an important cultural property. It was sold for 243.9 million JPY (2.13 million USD). The painting depicts Hōnen (法然, 1133-1212), the founder of the first independent branch of the Pure Land School of Buddhism, on his deathbed, surrounded by his disciples. It was owned and sold by a Japanese national. It has not been revealed who has acquired the painting.

This was the first time a national treasure or an important cultural property has been sold. Such sales are not prohibited but the artefacts have to be offered first to the national government at the expected sales price.

shihonchakushokushui-kotokuden.jpg

Shihonchakushokushui Kotokuden, Vol. 8 (紙本著色拾遺古徳伝)


 
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Remember when I said I was going to study Christianity in Japan? So, I bought literature and began to analyze the sources. First of all, of course, these are various kinds of personal diaries.

So, i'd like you to provide one interesting fact about religious life of Christians in Japan on the example of an entry from the diary of Nikolai Kosatkin (Nicholas of Japan):

April 2 (15), 1902. Tuesday.

Protestant pastors and preachers, mainly from Japanese, have been holding their meetings since the eleventh of this month in the nearby house of the "Society of Young People" (Seinen-kwai). Between different subjects of reasoning, the question "Is Jesus Christ God or not?" was discussed.. "One hundred and ten people rose up for the Deity, six people rose up against His Deity, thirty-three people did not dare to assert this or that." Shame on Christian preaching! Protestantism is corroded by doubts like rust.

As can be seen from this entry, theological issues were of great interest to the Christian community in Japan. The recording was probably made in Tokyo, since at that time Nikolai had already left Hakodate.

Source: Дневники святителя Николая Японского (1870-1911 гг.) (This is Nikolai's diary, written entirely in Russian)
 

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An entry in the diary of Hyakutake Saburo (百武三郎, 1872-1963), the grand chamberlain of Emperor Hirohito, revealed that the emperor was prepared to go to war as early as October 1941.

hyakutake-saburo.jpg


Emperor Hirohito appeared to be preparing for war against the United States about two months before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, according to a diary that raises further questions about his wartime responsibilities. Even government ministers were at times worried that the emperor, who was distressed that war with the United States was inevitable, was getting ahead of them in terms of battle preparations, according to the diary penned by Saburo Hyakutake. The diary was deposited with the University of Tokyo in 2019 and became available to the public this year, which marks the 80th year of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 (Dec. 8 Japan time).

Hirohito (1901-1989), posthumously known as Emperor Showa, was not indicted by the allied powers in the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal based on the argument that he was cautious about war and wanted peace, and that he reluctantly agreed to the war pushed by the government and military. But recent studies of modern Japanese history have turned up records that contradict that narrative, revealing an emperor who at some point was positive about Japan's entry into a war with the West. Some documents showed that Hirohito assumed Japan would go to war and ruminated about how to end the war even before it had started. Other records showed that he called for more aggressive operations after the war started and was happy about Japan's results.

 

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Stone foundations and other artefacts of what is presumed to be Toyotomi Hideyoshi's famed Shigetsu-Fushimi Castle were found during excavations in front of JR Momoyama Station in Kyoto's Fushimi Ward.

shigetsu-fushimi-castle.jpg

Photo credit: Makiko Komatsu via Asahi

Hideyoshi (1537-1598) started construction of Shigetsu Castle in 1592 as his retirement residence after he gifted his fortress and residence called Jurakudai to his nephew, Toyotomi Hidetsugu. The structure was remodeled into a castle with stone walls in 1594 and completed by 1596, only to be destroyed by the earthquake that hit in that year. The castle was reconstructed on nearby Mount Kohatayama (present-day Mount Momoyama). It is called Kohatayama-Fushimi Castle (Kohatayama Castle) to differentiate it from Shigetsu Castle. After Hideyoshi's death, Kohatayama Castle was destroyed in a fire during a siege leading up to the Battle of Sekigahara, the decisive conflict that ushered in the Tokugawa Shogunate founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu. Although the castle was rebuilt yet again by Ieyasu, it was dismantled in 1623 following a decree by the shogunate that allowed only one castle to exist in each province.

 

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An interesting visualization of a historical artefact that survived only partly: Tama Art University in Tokyo and the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara reconstructed a coffin unearthed in an ancient burial mound in Asuka-mura, Nara Prefecture. The coffin was attributed to a high-ranking figure from the 7th or 8th century CE.

asuka-coffin.jpg


Researchers used computer graphics to create a reproduction of the coffin based on fragments found at the site. The Takamatsuzuka burial mound in Asuka in the prefecture is believed to have been built between the late seventh century and early eighth century. The murals are designated as a national treasure. A team from the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara here and the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in Nara estimated the coffin measured 199.5 centimeters by 58 cm and was placed at the center of the mound's stone chamber. Past research established that the coffin was coated on the outside with black lacquer and its inside was painted with red pigment with traces of mercury. It remains unknown for whom the tomb was built, but clearly it was someone of very high rank. Murals depicting the beauties, as well as noblemen and animals, were discovered in 1972, along with fragments of the coffin and 15 decorative fittings made of gold-copper alloy and copper.

 

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A letter of a Japanese diplomat, Horiguchi Kumaichi (堀口 九萬一, 1865-1945), assistant consul in Korea in 1895, reveals his confession to taking part in the 1895 assassination of Korean Empress Myeongseong. Steve Hasegawa, a Nagoya-based expert on stamps, obtained the letters at an antique market.

View attachment 83408




Going back to this post... This was interesting to read after seeing some sections of the war diary that was posted in the translation section.
 

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A nice video, but don't expect any secrets revealed:

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A group of kofun, ancient Japanese burial mounds known for often having a distinctive keyhole-shaped layout, is the subject of a high-definition 4K video capturing the tombs' uniqueness and beauty. The tombs of the Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group comprise a World Heritage site in Osaka Prefecture, where local governments used drones and other equipment to make the four-minute video in a bid to promote tourism despite pandemic-related barriers to travel. In the video, armchair travelers — and future real-life visitors — can feast their eyes on the enormous tree-covered mass of the Nintoku-tenno-ryo Kofun in the central part of the Mozu area in Sakai, with the modern cityscape spreading out all around it. It also shows the Gobyoyama Kofun in the same area, with its moat reflecting the ever-changing colors of the morning sky in a beautiful time-lapse sequence.

Ancient tombs get 4K video treatment in Osaka


 

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The Saga Prefectural Nagoya Castle Museum has recreated Toyotomi Hideyoshi's Golden Tea Room. It will be displayed to the public as of tomorrow and can be rented for tea ceremonies from April.

hideyoshi-golden-tea-room.jpg

Photo credit: Mainichi/Yoshiyuki Mineshita
The tea room is a temporary type that does not use nails. The breakroom in the museum's permanent exhibition hall was remodeled and painted black to let the golden tea room shine. People can actually go inside and experience the "gorgeous culture of the Momoyama period." The tea room will be revealed to the public for free from March 27, and paid reservation-based tea ceremonies will start from the new fiscal year in April. During Hideyoshi's invasions of Korea (1592-1598), more than 150 daimyo and military commanders gathered at Nagoya Castle in the current city of Karatsu, which became the base for going to the Korean peninsula, and set up camps in the surrounding area. According to the museum, the golden tea room, which was first used in Kyoto in 1586, was taken to Nagoya Castle and used four times including when a tea ceremony was held with the daimyo. Saga Prefecture has designated the museum and the castle ruins as "a base for cultural tourism that offers the experience of actual history," and with a production cost of about 36 million yen (roughly $300,000), it restored the tea room -- measuring approximately 3 meters in width, 3 meters in depth and 2 meters in height -- based on historical references. Three tatami mats made of crimson woolen fabric are laid at the front, and some 16,500 pieces of gold leaves, each measuring 109 millimeters on all sides, are used for the interior and exterior, including the ceiling and sliding doors, as well as for tea equipment.

 

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A JT feature on the growing interest and re-evaluation of the Jomon period, Japan's Neolithic era. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Jomon hunter-gatherers were not the simply dressed, modest people that Japanese history books portray them to be but practised body modification, including tattoos, dental transfiguration and piercing.

oshima-jomon-tattoo.jpg

Oshima Taku, reviving Jomon-era tattoo techniques

Oshima is among a growing number of artists, researchers, filmmakers and other Jomon aficionados casting a new light on the period’s rich culture and mystique represented by the wildly imaginative forms and designs seen in the era’s earthenware, tools and jewellery - artefacts that provide insights into the religious and spiritual dimensions of the people who settled the islands of Japan for more than 10,000 years. Along with his friend and photographer, Ryoichi “Keroppy” Maeda, Oshima has been involved in Jomon Tribe, an art project focusing on tattoos featuring patterns from the Jomon civilization, a vast expanse of time that constitutes the Neolithic period before farmers from the Asian continent arrived and displaced the native hunter-gatherers.

 

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After a five-year renovation, the main shrine in the Amidado main hall of Nishi Hongwanji temple in Kyoto, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has been restored to its former glory.

amidado-nishi-hongwanji.jpg

Photo credit: Asahi (Kenta Sujino)


The Amidado hall is designated by the central government as a national treasure. Its miniature shrine housing an Amida Nyorai statue and the ceiling featuring lattice-shaped beams are now returned to a pristine condition under the project that spanned four years and eight months.

 

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The Daigokumon, the majestic front gate of Nara Palace Site Historical Park, has been restored and formally reopened.

Also known as Minami-mon (south gate), the structure serves as the front gate to the Daiichiji Daigokuden-in (former Imperial Audience Hall Compound) of the Heijo Palace. Standing about 22 meters wide, 9 meters deep and 20 meters tall, Daigokumon is reminiscent of the Heijo Palace in the ancient capital of Heijokyo in the early Nara Period (710-784). Used for important state ceremonies, the Daiichiji Daigokuden-in was a compound surrounded by cloisters with the Daiichiji Daigokuden hall (restored in 2010) standing at the center. Although no records show the name of the original gate, it was called Daigokumon when the restoration project started. According to "Shoku Nihongi," the imperially commissioned history text on the Nara Period, Emperor Shomu (701-756) observed an event held on the south side of the gate.

daigokumon-nara.jpg



 

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Michael Hoffman, author of "Cipangu, Golden Cipangu: Essays in Japanese History", on the life and death of Japan's true "last samurai", Saigo Takamori.

saigo-takamori.jpg



Here's JREF's entry on Saigo:

 

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The Hiroshima Daibutsu, a Buddha statue displayed near Hiroshima's ground zero soon after the atomic bombing to provide emotional support for survivors, is finally coming home after "disappearing" for half a century. It is currently enshrined at Gokurakuji temple in Ando, Nara Prefecture, and will be temporarily sent back to Hiroshima for the first time in 67 years to go on public display in July.

hiroshima-daibutsu.jpg

It is a gilded wooden statue about four meters tall and believed to have been made during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), in or around 1200. Over the centuries, it moved from one place to another across the country, taking up residence in places such as Yamagata Prefecture and Tokyo. It was enshrined at the Daibutsuden hall of Sairenji temple, located on the east side of the Atomic Bomb Dome here, on Aug. 4, 1950, as a symbol of peace. [...] In 1995, it was relocated to Kozenji temple in Itsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture, which is today located in Hiroshima's Saeki Ward. Before long, the traveling Buddha moved yet again, to another temple, before it went missing for nearly 50 years. It remained lost until Zengi Tanaka, 36, the chief priest of Gokurakuji, became curious when his grandfather referred to a statue he received from an antique dealer in 2006 as "a daibutsu that came from Hiroshima." The priest had a hunch. He asked an expert at the Nara National Museum to examine it. It was confirmed in 2011 that the statue was none other than the missing Hiroshima Daibutsu. The committee that organized the project to return the Hiroshima Daibutsu to its home announced the details to the media at a news conference on April 7.


Link:


 

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In Nagasaki Prefecture, the grave of Chijiwa Miguel (千々石ミゲル Chijiwa Migeru, 1569-1633) has been identified by one of his descendants. Chijiwa was a member of the Tenshō embassy (天正の使節) sent by the Christian daimyō Ōtomo Sōrin to the Pope and the kings of Europe in 1582. The embassy was led by Mancio Itō (伊東 マンショ Itō Mansho, 1570–1612), a Japanese nobleman who was the first official Japanese emissary to Europe.


tensho-embassy-2.jpg

German print (1586) depicting Miguel at the bottom right.​


Miguel was a nephew of the Christian daimyo Omura Sumitada. Some Christian feudal lords including Sumitada sent the delegation to Europe to gain support for missionary work. However, what happened to the emissaries after returning to Japan is a mystery. Project members including head Masahiko Asada -- a descendant of Miguel -- and stonework researcher Kazuhisa Oishi, who ran the excavation, had been investigating a burial site in the city they thought could be Miguel's. They started excavating in 2014 and discovered an about 1.4-meter-long wooden coffin and the bones of an adult human in summer 2021. Experts have recently concluded that the bones were from a man. A woman's remains were also found at the site. Waseda University professor and former chairperson of the Japanese Archaeological Association Akio Tanigawa, who advised on the project, concluded that the man's bones were Miguel's and the site was his and his wife's grave. He made the determination based on inscriptions on the gravestone, which included posthumous names believed to have been given to the Chijiwa couple, and dates in the Kanei period (1624-1644). Furthermore, artifacts unearthed at the site were dated to the same period.

 

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A long-missing illustrated scroll from Basho's travelogue Nozarashi Kiko (野ざらし紀行, "Journal of a Weather-Exposed Skeleton") has been acquired by the Fukuda Art Museum in Kyoto.

nozarashi-kiko.jpg

"Nozarashi Kiko" (Journal of a Weather-Exposed Skeleton) is Basho's first travelogue describing his travels from Edo (present-day Tokyo) to his hometown of Iga in present-day Mie Prefecture and the Kinki region between 1684 to 1685. All text and haiku in the scroll were handwritten by Basho himself. He also illustrated it. Shinichi Fujita, professor emeritus of Japanese literature at Kansai University, says, "I was stunned to know that the scroll exists." Two scrolls of "Nozarashi Kiko" remain in existence, but it was not known for a long time who owned this one, which was purchased by the museum, although there were photos of it. Of the two scrolls, only this one has illustrations. The museum will exhibit the scroll from October.

 

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Kogakkan University in Ise, Mie Prefecture, discovered video footage of Emperor Hirohito (as crown prince) and Empress Teimei visiting Ise-Jingu, the Fushimi Momoyama Mausoleum in Kyoto, and includes rare footage of scenes around Yamada Station on the Sangu Railway (present-day JR Iseshi Station).

crownprince-hirohito-ise-jingu.jpg


Both videos are in black-and-white and do not have sound. The footage was found on a Beta videocassette, apparently after being copied from films in 1982 when the university marked the 100th anniversary of its founding. The videocassette had been stored at the Museum of Shinto and Japanese Culture on the Kogakkan University campus and was apparently found among historical material stored in a room that staff members and others used for sorting. It is believed that the footage was released at the university alone. The location of the original films is unknown.

 

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A painting attributed to Date Masamune has resurfaced after 90 years. The painting depicts Daruma or Bodhidharma.

teizan-date-masamune.jpg

Photo credit: Yomiuri Shinbun

The painting has appeared for the first time since it was sold at an antiquities fair in the Tohoku region in 1928. Collector Kazukuni Shibuya in Sendai received it from an acquaintance and asked experts to ascertain whether it was real. Based on the style and a note on the box, the painting is considered highly likely to have been created by Masamune of the Sendai clan. The painting is 67.5 centimetres high and 34.5 centimetres wide. Daruma is drawn in dynamic strokes using several kinds of ink, and beside him is prose written by Seigaku, a monk whom Masamune trusted greatly. The paulownia box containing the painting has a note saying it was done by "Teizan," the name given to Masamune after his death. A similar note was found on the back of the painting. The handwriting resembles that of Fumihiko Otsuki, a Japanese language scholar who has strong connections with Sendai, and Shibuya asked several experts to appraise the handwriting. Shibuya later learned that Otsuki had bought the painting, which had been kept in Seigaku's natal home. After Otsuki's death, it was shown at the antiquities fair under the name of Otsuki's adopted child, and a photograph of the same painting was included in the fair's catalog. Former Sendai City Museum Director Norikazu Sato, who studies Masamune, said the absence of the artist's signature and seal indicates that the painting was highly likely to have been done by Masamune, because paintings by daimyo feudal lords often do not include such identification. Naotsugu Hamada, a former director of the museum and a painting specialist, said, "Based on the ageing paper and ink, it is safe to assume that it is about 400 years old."


Our article on Masamune:

 

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Rokuharamitsuji temple (六波羅蜜寺) in Kyoto's Higashiyama Ward has opened its new Reiwakan storage facility to the public, showcasing fourteen Buddhist statues designated by the government as important cultural properties and other sculptures.

saint-kuya.jpg

Photo credit: Shinichi Iizuka

The two-story reinforced-concrete storage facility with a total floor space of about 210 square meters was built to commemorate the 1,050th anniversary of the death of the priest this year. It stands next to the existing Homotsukan storage house, which has fallen into disrepair. The standing statue was crafted by Kosho, a son of master Buddhist sculptor Unkei, in the 13th century of the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). It is said that the small statues coming out of his mouth represent each character of the sutra "Namu Amida Butsu" (I take refuge in Amida Buddha) transforming into an Amida Buddha. "In one glance, I think you can understand how Saint Kuya, who was born into a high rank, discarded everything and chanted 'Namu Amida Butsu' for the salvation of people," said chief priest Junsho Kawasaki, 67.

 

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Last Thursday, the head of the Tendai sect announced that ink writings from the late Kamakura period had been found inside several Buddhist statues in Enryakuji's Nemoto Nakado hall (根本中戸), which is currently under renovation. Nemoto Nakado was burned down when Oda Nobunaga attacked and laid waste to Hieisan in 1571. The hall was rebuilt in the Edo period, and the Buddhist statues were thought to have been rebuilt later, but it was discovered that they had escaped the fire.

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The Horse Statue of the Twelve Generals (Enryakuji Temple)

Fourteen Buddhist statues, including the Twelve Heavenly Generals, were dismantled and repaired for the first time. Eight of the statues were found to have the year 1332 written inside, as well as the names of the monk Eiken (栄賢) and the Buddhist priest Raiben (頼弁) from the same period. The Twelve Heavenly Generals were thought to have been moved to Enryaku-ji from a temple in Kyoto in 1447 and destroyed in a fire. The newly found documents indicate that the statues were removed from the temple before the attack and escaped the disaster.

The 14 statues will be on display at the Otsu City Museum of History from 23 July to 4 September.


 

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Following up on the Hiroshima Daibutsu mentioned in post #89: the statue has returned to Hiroshima - albeit only temporarily.

hiroshima-daibutsu-2.jpg


The statue will be put on public display until 1 September 2022 before being returned to Gokurakuji temple in Nara Prefecture. A memorial service will be held on 6 August, the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing.

 

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The King of Na gold seal (漢委奴国王印) is a national treasure believed to have been bestowed by Emperor Guangwu of the Later Han dynasty upon a diplomatic envoy sent from the Na state of Wa (Japan). The artefact was discovered in the late Edo Period (1603-1867) on Shikanoshima island in Fukuoka Prefecture. Due to the dubious circumstances under which it was found, its authenticity is being challenged by some experts.

King of Na gold seal (漢委奴国王印)



King_of_Na_gold_seal.jpg


The face was engraved with great precision with five Chinese characters that imply the seal was given by the Han dynasty to the King of Na state of Wa. But the handle, which is in the shape of a coiled serpent, is hardly refined. Endo understood why when he heard the theory that the seal maker, having mistakenly thought that Japan lay north of China, first used the design of a camel, and then refashioned it into a serpent after he learned Japan lay south of China. As I scrutinized the stout serpent on the handle, it began to make perfect sense when I reminded myself that the creature was initially meant to be camel. The serpent's scales looked as if they were carved in great haste. I could almost imagine hearing the seal maker cursing himself, "Darn. Japan isn't a northern country."


 

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Legendary Heian-era swords tied to popular online game 'Touken Ranbu' on special display in Kyoto


onikirimaru.jpg


Two swords that have been passed down as treasures of Genji, a famous clan in the Heian period (798-1185), and have recently become popular among young fans thanks to an online game, are on special display in the ancient Japan capital of Kyoto. The swords "Onikirimaru" (also called "Higekiri") and "Usumidori" (also called "Hizamaru") are on display at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine's Treasure House in Kyoto's Kamigyo Ward and Daikakuji Temple's Reiho-kan museum in the city's Ukyo Ward, respectively. The exhibition is part of Kyoto City Tourism Association's summer travel campaign. Considered "brother blades," Onikirimaru and Usumidori are both designated as important cultural properties by the national government. The former has a blade measuring 84.4 centimeters, while the latter has one measuring 87.8 cm. According to legend, both were commissioned to be crafted by a Heian period military commander who was a descendant of Emperor Seiwa.




Links:



 

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Michael Hoffman, author of "Cipangu, Golden Cipangu: Essays in Japanese History", on the life and death of Japan's true "last samurai", Saigo Takamori.

View attachment 86676


Here's JREF's entry on Saigo:

The last samurai's name was Saigo? That's a little on the nose

Loving these stories about historic stamps and seals!
 

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In February this year, Ryoma no Yado Nansui (龍馬の宿南水), the birthplace of Sakamoto Ryoma and a famous ryokan in Kochi City, was closed as its owner had fallen sick and died in April. The ryokan will now be reopened under new management.

ryoma-no-yado-nansui.jpg


An inn that sits on the site where legendary samurai Sakamoto Ryoma was born will get a new lease on life as an accommodation facility continuing the tradition of remembering his role in Japanese history. Ryoma no Yado Nansui, as the ryokan was called, was forced to close in February after its manager suffered from poor health at a time of dwindling guest numbers due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The manager died in April.



 
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