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The Intelligence of Crows

In Japan, crows are common. However large you may believe the crow you are observing is, it is not a Northern Raven, despite frequently being misidentified as one. The more slender-billed Oriental Crow and the massive-beaked Japanese Crow are the two most prevalent species (known also as Large-billed Crow and before that, the Jungle Crow). …

Bushido

Usually dating back to the Kamakura period (1185–1333) and continuing through the Tokugawa period, the name “bushi” (sometimes known as “samurai” in the West) refers to the ideas of bushi, or “the way of the warrior.” The phrase, however, was not frequently used during the Tokugawa period and only began to gain popularity in the …

The Hooded Love Bird of the East is Mandarin

Silent figures leap into the air, ascend to the skies, and fly through a heavily forested river valley, disappearing from view upstream almost like phantoms or moving shadows. Mandarin Ducks are typically quiet, shade-loving birds, but when you get a good look at one, their vibrant colors scream Oshidori. In their hidden summer habitat near …

Samurai and Bushi are commonly used interchangeably

“Bushi” is frequently used interchangeably with “samurai.” one of the top sources for information regarding Tokugawa Japan. Even though the two phrases are frequently used interchangeably, it is important to realize that they differ if one applies a rigorous definition of “samurai.” Two Chinese characters, “bu” (which means “military” or “martial”) and “shi,” which means …

Wintering Waterfowl in Japan

While sea ducks prefer the surf, harbors, and rocky coastlines, another 25 or so species of dabbling and diving ducks, geese, and swans make Japan’s freshwater and brackish ecosystems incredible magnets for wintering waterfowl. Lakes, marshes, lagoons, rivers, and river estuaries are a few of these environments. Each autumn, waterfowl migrate from Siberia to Japan, …

Boshin War (1868 – 1869)

The Tokugawa shogunate and its supporters were defeated by an alliance of rival domains commanded by Satsuma and Chôshû, and the emperor’s authority was “restored” as a result of the Boshin War (so named because it started in the year in the sexagenary cycle with that name) (the Meiji Restoration). It ended the Tokugawa era’s …

The Heart of Japan – Honshū

The largest island in Japan, Honshu, is frequently referred to be the country’s mainland. In addition to providing significant ecological diversity from north to south and east to west, Honshu’s mountainous spine separates the Pacific coast from the Sea of Japan coast and produces regional meteorological effects. These regional and local climate patterns then have …

Bannermen (Hatamoto)

The bannermen (hatamoto) and the gokenin made formed the Tokugawa shogun’s retainer band (also known as liege vassals), which comprised two sections totaling roughly 22,000 men (house men). In 1700, the territories officially awarded to the two types of liege vassals totaled 2,606,545 koku, as opposed to the 4,213,171 koku immediately owned by the shogunate. …

Copper and Green – Pheasants in Japan

Both of Japan’s pheasants are endemic, and the Green Pheasant, also known as the Kiji, is the country’s emblematic bird. Although it prefers to stay concealed in tall grasses, this somewhat elusive metallic-green bird can occasionally be observed skulking around in fields. It can be identified by its very raspy, loud “ko-kyok” call. It prefers …

Shiba Gorô (Remembering Aizu)

Aizu domain was assaulted by the newly founded Meiji government army in 1868 as retaliation for its support of the Tokugawa shogunate. Shiba Gorô (1859–1955), a samurai from a high-ranking samurai family in the northern realm of Aizu, provides a personal description of these events in his book. Aizu had previously played a significant role …