Category: Japanese

SAMURAI:  THE samurai (also bushi) were a cla…

SAMURAI: 

THE samurai (also bushi) were a class of warriors which arose in the 10th century CE in Japan and which performed military service until the 19th century CE. Elite and highly-trained soldiers adept at using both the bow and sword, the samurai were an essential component of Japan’s medieval armies.

Samurai may have been excessively romanticised since the 18th century CE as the epitome of chivalry and honour but there are many examples of them displaying great courage and loyalty to their masters, in particular, even committing ritual suicide in the event of the defeat or death of their lord. Warfare in medieval  Japan was, though, as bloody and as uncompromising as it was in any other region and money was often the prime motive for many samurai to participate in battle. From the 17th century CE, and no longer needed in a military capacity, samurai often became important moral teachers and advisors within the community.

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THE RYUKYU CASTLES OF OKINAWA: THE medieval Ry…

THE RYUKYU CASTLES OF OKINAWA: 

THE medieval Ryukyu castles on the island of Okinawa, Japan are impressive testimony to the kingdom’s power and wealth from the 12th to 16th century CE. Notable castles include Shuri Castle, the royal residence, and four excellent examples of medieval fortresses built in the Okinawa style: Nakijin, Zakimi, Katsuren, and Nakagusuku. Another star attraction is the religious shrine at Seifa Utaki considered the place of creation in Ryukyu mythology. All of these monuments are collectively listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The Ryukyu Islands (Ryukyu Shoto) are an archipelago of around 70 islands located at the very southern end of Japan. The largest island by far is Okinawa and its name is sometimes used to refer to this whole group of subtropical islands. The islanders of Ryukyu were independent for most of their history which goes back some 30,000 years. With genetic and cultural connections to the ancient Jomon and Ainu, the islanders have also regarded themselves as distinct from the Japanese occupying the more northern islands. Even their language, although similar, is different from the Yamato spoken in the rest of Japan. Japan only formally claimed the Ryukyu islands as part of its territory during the Meiji period (1868-1912 CE) when they became the Okinawa Prefecture in 1879 CE. Prior to that, the archipelago enjoyed some seven centuries of independence or semi-autonomy.

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YAKUSHIJI THE Yakushiji temple, located in Nar…

YAKUSHIJI 

THE Yakushiji temple, located in Nara, Japan, is the headquarters of the Buddhist Hosso sect and one of the most important temples in the country. Originally founded in 680 CE at Fujiwara-kyo but then relocated to Nara in 718 CE, its famous three-storey East Pagoda is original. Most of the other structures at the complex, although they follow traditional designs, were reconstructed in the 20th century CE following a destructive fire in the 16th century CE. The complex boasts many fine examples of early Buddhist art, notably the bronze Yakushi Triad which dates to 690-718 CE. Yakushiji is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Yakushiji temple was founded in 680 CE in Fujiwara-kyo, then the capital of Japan. The idea came from Emperor Tenmu (r. 672-686 CE) who, after his wife fell seriously ill with an eye affliction, wanted a temple built in honour of Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of healing (of both the body and soul). In a strange twist of fate, Tenmu died before his wife, but the latter, now reigning as Empress Jito (r. 686-697 CE), continued to support the temple project and construction was completed in 698 CE.

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Soldiers of the U.S. 37th Coast Artillery Brig…

Soldiers of the U.S. 37th Coast Artillery Brigade used searchlights to scan the skies above Los Angeles in the pre-dawn hours of February 24, 1942 searching for Japanese bombers, a day before the infamous “Battle of Los Angeles” .

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Japanese destroyer Isokaze moves to assist the…

Japanese destroyer Isokaze moves to assist the disabled cruiser Yahagi during operation Ten-Go, 7 April 1945

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Capt. Nieves Fernandez shows Pvt. Andrew Lupig…

Capt. Nieves Fernandez shows Pvt. Andrew Lupiga how she used her long knife to kill Japanese soldiers during World War II, 1944.

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Japanese high school girls training with bambo…

Japanese high school girls training with bamboo spears in preparation for a U.S. invasion. 1940s.

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Japanese destroyer Harusame underway, 30 Nove…

Japanese destroyer Harusame underway, 30 November 1943

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On this day. Japanese planes above Mayon Volca…

On this day. Japanese planes above Mayon Volcano, the Philippines. 12/12/1941

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USS Belleau Wood aflame on her aft flight dec…

USS Belleau Wood aflame on her aft flight deck following a Japanese kamikaze attack on 30 October 1944.

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