Japan

Japanese bell

Telling time in Heian Japan

Japan during the Heian period— 794-1185 C.E., when the Tales of Yamabuki as well as The Tale of Genji are set—had no mechanical clocks. Nevertheless, to run society, people needed to know the time of day, the season, the month, and the day.

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 …

Archery and War Read More »

The World of Taira no Kiyomori

As a big fan of Japanese television, I have watched more than a historic drama or two. It is a rather Japanese style to introduce historic dramas by showing the films of historic places as they look today along with artifacts and scrolls. Think Ken Burns and The Civil War, if you are American. The …

The World of Taira no Kiyomori Read More »

Usagi Yojimbo -- Rabbit Bodyguard

Usagi Yojimbo — Rabbit Bodyguard

My kendo teacher told me about a wonderful comic book series by Stan Sasaki called Usagi Yojimbo, literally “rabbit bodyguard.” Set in the 1600, about 400 years after Yamabuki, it is a wonderful world invented by Sasaki, filled with animals who inhabit a Tokugawa Japan. Usagi is a samurai and a fighter, but he is …

Usagi Yojimbo — Rabbit Bodyguard Read More »

IOU0116youngWarlord

How Old Is Old In Heian Japan?

Recently I sent part of a chapter to a professional editor for review. I got an interesting reaction. In the excerpt young Inari Takakatsu, 17 at the time, is thrust into the position of ruler after his father, the war lord, is killed in an accident. It’s kind of like Hamlet, without an uncle who …

How Old Is Old In Heian Japan? Read More »

Who is the woman hero?

Who is the woman hero?

The Yamabuki series is inspired by a 12th-century woman chronicled in historic writings of the times. It is said Yamabuki was beautiful and that she accompanied Yoshinaka, The Rising Sun General, and Tomoe Gozen, a more famous woman warrior on their adventures and into battle. Some accounts even say she was a general who led …

Who is the woman hero? Read More »

Three wooden practice swords

My own swords

Writing about sword fighting comes from having taken some fencing lessons, Japanese style, and sword fighting has led to the writing about a Japanese fencer. Hazard Sensei suggested using walnut oil (available from most supermarkets) to keep the blades moist, especially for the shinai (the one in the middle). Although I do not re-enact the sword …

My own swords Read More »

Scroll to Top