Archery and War

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 →

Matsue Castle: Still original, now a treasure

The magic of the seasons translates into the magic of the castle in all the times of the year. Truly a treasure.

San'in Monogatari

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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A Woman Samurai in the Era of Genji

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 →

Forced Affection -Rape as the First Act of Romance in Heian Japan (an essay)

As a fan of Anthony Bryant, I have been influenced by his insights. This essay is rich in detail and texture.

Rekishi Nippon

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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