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Crescent Moon Bear

Bears are the two largest terrestrial mammals in Japan, however their ranges do not cross or overlap in that country. Brown Bear is found in Hokkaido, a region in the north of the nation, north of Blakiston’s Line, an essential biogeographical boundary, as well as beyond the Tsugaru Strait. The home range of the Asiatic …

Daimyo katagi (Portrait of a Daimyo) – Matsudaira Sadanobu (1759–1829)

Matsudaira Sadanobu (1759–1829) was the grandson of Tokugawa Yoshimune and the great-great-great grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first and eighth shoguns of the Tokugawa dynasty. He was a descendant of the Tayasu branch of the Tokugawa house, one of the cadet branches of the shogun’s family, or gosankyô, and was born in Edo Castle. His …

Osaka – Japan

Osaka, which is usually pronounced just “Osaka,” is a designated city in Japan’s Kansai prefecture on the island of Honshu. The third most populous city in Japan, after Special wards of Tokyo and Yokohama, it serves as the capital and largest city of Osaka Prefecture. It is also the largest part of the Keihanshin Metropolitan …

Wild and Mythical Tanuki

Tanuki, an indigenous monster that is both mythological and real, is common throughout mainland Japan, particularly in mountainous woods. It can be seen in houses all around the country and is more common and likely much more numerous in ceramic form than the actual wild critter. On the other hand, the wild animal is indigenous …

Daimyo and Domains in Japan

Daimyô was an informal phrase used to refer to the largest military lords in premodern Japan. It is made up of the Chinese characters dai (great or enormous) and myô (mean-ing myôden or “name land”). Earlier historical eras used the term in a variety of ways, but during the Tokugawa period it took on a …

Kawasaki – Kanagawa

One of the major cities in the Greater Tokyo Area and the Keihin Industrial Area is Kawasaki (Kawasaki-shi), which is located in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan. After Yokohama, it is the second most populous city in Kanagawa Prefecture and the eighth most populous city in all of Japan (including the Tokyo Metropolitan Area). With …

Firefighting clothing during the period Tokugawa

Due to the flammable nature of the building materials and the regularity of earthquakes, fires regularly broke out in the castle towns of Tokugawa Japan. They happened so frequently in Edo that the city was known by the proverb “Fires and battles are the flowers of Edo.” Although many different kinds of firefighting organizations were …

Bunbu – Civil and Military Arts

The “twin methods” (ryôdô) of military instruction (bu, also known as the “arts of war” or “martial arts”) and the “civil arts” (bun, also known as “the arts of peace” or “letters”), both of which were regarded as important for efficient government, created some conflict in Tokugawa Japan. The dual role that samurai were expected …

The Japan Alps

Japan is mostly made up of mountains, with numerous peaks peaking beyond 3,000 meters. The Nihon Arupusu (Japanese Alps), the largest of them, are a broken, three-part, mountainous range that spans 120 km across central Honshu and is divided by deep, water-cut valleys that resemble gorges. Igneous rocks, such as Cretaceous (145-66 Mya) granites, have …

The Nature of Mt Fuji

The symmetrical profile of Mt. Fuji is well known globally. It is challenging to fully grasp the grandeur and significance of the isolated cone of Japan’s prototypical stratovolcano because it dominates the landscape of lowland central Honshu. However, from over 3,000 meters in the Japan Alps, you can see the mountain for what it really …