Hazard Sensei used to say that archery was the prefered method of fighting in old Japan. Swords were too personal. Too in close. Too involved with the opponent. Archery was "better." In fact, the old Japanese root word for "war" is said to come from something approximate to "archery exchange." As I draw to a... Continue Reading →
The magic of the seasons translates into the magic of the castle in all the times of the year. Truly a treasure.
On May 15, 2015, Matsue Castle was deemed a National Treasure!
It was already Important Cultural Property and one of the twelve remaining original castles of Japan, noted especially for the atmosphere within from its wooden floors, pillars, and stairs, steep and uneven with the same character they had when the castle was completed back in 1611. It is now the fifth castle around Japan to enjoy this status, one that a dedicated citizens’ group had long been working to achieve. Matsue Castle has a history of relying on its citizens, as it was only due to the citizens’ insistence and fundraising to purchase it from the government that it was saved from being burned down during the Meiji Period, when many castles were deemed unnecessary by the Westernizing government and subsequently torn down (only to be rebuilt in concrete years later). The black castle, affectionately nicknamed Chidori-jo (Plover Castle)…
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In Kurosawa's film Seven Samurai, Toshiro Mifune plays the character Kikuchiyo, the seventh (and odd-ball member) of the seven samurai. For those not familiar with the film, the concept is that seven unemployed samurai (sometimes called ronin, literally "man of the wave") are hired by a group of hapless farmers to protect the farmers' village... Continue Reading →
I am bringing out a new Yamabuki book in the next few weeks called Cold Rain, or Reiu 冷雨in Japanese, but you don't have read or understand Japanese to enjoy this book. This book was created when the original Book 2 Cold Heart became too large to comfortably fit into the series, so the 6... Continue Reading →
It is very sad to hear that composer John Horner was killed when his light plane crashed yesterday, June 22, 2015. Many remember his scores for Avatar and Titanic, but over the last several weeks, with my headphones on, I had listened to his score for The Hunger Games and A Beautiful Mind as I... Continue Reading →
The Yamabuki series traces the adventures of a young samurai set shortly after the time of The Tale of Genji. It is in large part a homage to Genji’s author, Lady Murasaki, while never forgetting it is a head-on story of a warrior in the tradition of Japanese chambara (crashing swords) and jidaigeki (historical (i.e.... Continue Reading →
The third book of the Sword of the Taka Samurai series is Cold Trail and is expected to be released by the end of July, 2015. Originally the six books of the series were all expect to be straightforward reads of 20,000 to 40,000 words, each. As the draft for the "uhr" Cold Heart rose... Continue Reading →
As a fan of Anthony Bryant, I have been influenced by his insights. This essay is rich in detail and texture.
While readers of Japanese literature from the Heian and Kamakura periods often find it difficult to determine when a sexual encounter has actually taken place, there are certain textual indicators that writers can use to make it plain that something carnal has, in fact, occurred. Writers may speak of the night as “dreamlike,” or describe the woman as “pliant” or “vulnerable,” and the use of these latter two terms hints at the fact that the encounter may have been more coercive than consensual. Some encounters are written to indicate so much forcefulness that they seem to the Western reader to be nothing less than rape. It is these forced encounters that I propose to examine in this paper.
Sexual relationships in Heian and Kamakura court literature (most notably in Monogatari) may often begin with a contact that can only be compared to rape, but the strictures of the court society…
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Old swords are rare, even in a country as obsessed with them as Japan. Giving Up the Gun, Japan's Reversion to the Sword, 1543-1879, traces the significance of the sword in Japanese society. Many of us picture Japan as a country of swords-only, but that was not always so. Films such as Ran show samurai... Continue Reading →