See Japan's castles the easy way
Article posted on Saturday, November, 6th, 2010 at 12:49 pm
Days off & blue skies do not come around often enough – FACT. How lucky that they once again joined forces to produce a sensational day last Wednesday, a public holiday. To further add sweet complexity to the mix, it was the opening day of the Saga International Balloon Festival.
First thing's first. Please check out the updated photos and information on the Saga Castle profile page. There's a video (like it or not) and you'll notice the new theme has finally been applied to the main site (again, like it or not).
A photo that didn't make it onto the Saga Castle profile page is this one. This sign is located about 40 metres to the North of the castle, and I wonder if you can't spot the hot-air balloon behind the breath-taking network of wires.
Article posted on Saturday, September, 25th, 2010 at 9:03 pm
One particular Chinese character that tends to catch my eye is 城. To anyone seeing this collection of squiggles for the first time, I trust you’ll have made the assumption that 城 = castle. Righty-o then.
Image: The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Dictionary
The picture above shows the stroke order i.e. how to write castle. How to read it can be a little tricky given that Chinese characters have multiple readings. The main(ish) ones are jō, shiro, jiro, ki and gusuku.
- jō – The most common suffix attached to the end of castle names.
- 姫路城 – Himeji jō, Himeji castle
- jō, shiro or jiro – Can often be found in kanji compounds. Sorry. Very much a case-by-case proposition. I do wish I could be more specific.
- 城郭 - jōkaku, castle fortifications
- 城跡 – shiroato, castle ruins / the site of where it once stood
- 山城 – yamajiro, mountain castle
- ki – The oldest reading.
- 水城 – Mizuki, the name of a dam-like fortification in Fukuoka Prefecture (built in the 600′s).
- 城戸 – Kido, a surname.
- gusuku – The suffix attached to the end of Okinawan castle names.
- 勝連城 – Katsuren gusuku, Katsuren castle
While we are on the topic of kanji (Chinese characters), here’s another: 館. It is a common enough kanji and means hall or large building. When relating to old fortifications it translates to mansion & can be read as yakata, as in 躑躅ヶ崎館 – Tsutsujigasaki Yakata (Takeda Shingen’s preferred place to hang out between gigs).
Further East (or North? – Hokkaidō & Tōhoku) it wasn’t read as yakata but tate (Tah-te), as in Fukuyama tate 福山館, what we know today as Matsumae castle in Hokkaidō.
I came across yet another kanji the other day that can refer to old “samurai” fortifications, 砦. It was in my very last post. Did you spot it? Apparently, it goes by the name toride. To-ri-de. Not as in the Beatles’ She’s got a ticket to ride. But, she don’t care.
My baby don’t care.
Article posted on Thursday, July, 15th, 2010 at 1:29 pm
It appears the days of Matsue castle‘s main tower being listed as an Important Cultural Property are numbered. They are going to tear it down.
Of course they’re not. (Did my lame ruse hook you for even a moment?) A committee has been established to determine if this particular I.C.P should be upgraded to National Treasure status. And, I don’t mean that it will appear in an upcoming Nicolas Cage movie. If so, they probably should tear it down.
According to an on-line newspaper article, a committee made up of 12 experts, will survey the castle structures and examine historical documents to assess the historical value. On the 13th of July, the committee did in fact visit the site and… “examined the stone foundations & climbed the main tower”. Wow. The ball is indeed rolling.
No doubt a conclusion will be reached in the coming years.
Other Japanese-castle-related national treasures
Hikone Castle – Main tower and two attached turrets.
Himeji Castle – Main tower, three sub towers and four attached turrets.
Matsumoto Castle – Main tower, one sub tower and three attached turrets.
Inuyama Castle – Main tower.
Nijō Castle – The six components of the Ninomaru Palace.
I was alerted to this news by an Daily Yomiuri newspaper article, but those articles don’t last too long on the internet. So, no link. Couldn’t link anyway. To link to an on-line, Japanese newspaper article, permission to do so must first be sought and given.
Article posted on Sunday, June, 20th, 2010 at 1:35 am
Another video! I jumped in the car and drove down the road for about 10 minutes or so. Me and Taiga ended up at the Asahiyama Castle Ruins, a site that had seen some conflict back in the day. It is a shame that there are no gates, towers or even stonework but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. What has remained is a little of the sculpting of the mountain in the form of a dry moat (ditch). Have I hyped it too much?
I have noticed that my videos in the past have been lacking greatly with regards to information. I’m happy to say that relatively speaking, this video is choc-full o’ facts. Relatively speaking.