See Japan's castles the easy way
Article posted on Friday, February, 17th, 2012 at 11:09 pm
Would you believe that I’ve been a busy boy? Like, very busy, even? Anyway, I was looking through old photos of my travels over the last year. And, thanks to the ever expanding capacities of memory sticks, that means litterly 1000′s of photos. Several did stand out, but it was this one from the Tsurugane Shrine (located next to the Sengan-en) that prompted me to attempt a post. Something I haven’t done for quite some time.
The weather was rather drab that day. That day being the day I snapped a shot of Sakurajima coughing up some soot (Sakurajima Bang.) What we see in the photo below is called an Ema, something you’d write your wishes on.
You know what I’d wish for? No? I do, but how about you? What would you wish for.
Article posted on Sunday, November, 13th, 2011 at 10:21 pm
So I was in Kagoshima mid/late September, Pool of Zen & myself were road-tripping from Kumamoto to Kagoshima. The reason the town of Chiran was on our radar was for its Special attack peace museum (Kamikaze pilot museum) and, as it turned out, its tea.
Chiran is a compact & tidy town with more than a few sights of interest. Aside from what I’ve already mentioned, there’s Chiran castle and a single street lined with old-style gates and residences with stunning Japanese gardens. One house in particular had its armory on display that fine afternoon.
Article posted on Thursday, October, 6th, 2011 at 4:03 pm
The region of southern Kyūshū has long intrigued me. Over the centuries, there’ve been some fascinating conflicts involving both fellow countrymen & those from across the seas. Equally as interesting were the many positive developments that stemmed from early international relations (more on this later, so stay tuned.) Finally, how can we forget Satsuma-pottery or the humble satsuma, that small, loose skinned, orange fruit.
My visit there the other week, accompanied by Pool of Zen, confirmed that it very much is a unique corner of Japan, and more than deserving of the crawl-like, all-day drive that it took to get there. Of all the places we visited & of all the things we saw, the first thing I’d like to share with you is my first experience with an active volcano.
We arrived at Sengan-en (仙巌園) moments before it opened its gates. I’ve got to say, the whole place is amazing. It’s like an historical theme-park where everything is the real deal. You all really do have to visit. Anyway, that’s where I snapped the above shot.
I took the photo below, I’m guessing, moments after the mountain-top explosion. I say guessing because there was no audible bang, nor did the ground shake.
(Sengan-en official site)
Article posted on Friday, February, 18th, 2011 at 10:53 pm
Setting the scene
In 1862, the acting head of the Shimazu clan, a guy named Shimazu Saburō (島津三郎), attended the Emperor’s envoy’s entourage to the capital of Edo. Perhaps he was there to offer weight to the request that the Shōgun travel to Kyōto to discuss measures that could be implemented to keep foreigners off Japanese soil.
In addition to his already stated purpose, there were two additional items Saburō wanted to discuss with the Shōgun. They were:
- the law requiring lengthy attendance by Daimyō in the capital (and when not there, hostages in their place) to be abolished
- for himself to be appointed by the Shōgun to a level of particular importance in the Emperor’s court
Not only were the above two requests denied, but the Shōgun didn’t even make space in his schedule for face time with the regent of Satsuma. This only served to add to what was already a deep, hereditary hatred that the Shimazu had for the Tokugawa.
A woodblock print depicting the attack upon a British national on September 14th, 1862. The man standing upright with the red, billowing Hakama is none other than Shimazu Saburō (this time written as 嶋津三郎).
The dangers of horseback riding
With their business more-or-less concluded, they left Edo. When on the Tōkaidō, the main road linking Edo with Kyōto and Ōsaka, Saburō and his procession came across four mounted Englishmen, one of which was a lady.
When the day-trippers got close, only one of the four dismounted & bowed. To dismount was seen as the right thing by the Japanese, but seen as appalling by every other foreigner in Japan at the time. In fact, the Anglo-Japanese friendship treaty that was in effect, deemed such an action as unnecessary for Anglos. In any case, Charles Richardson, pictured in the black coat & top hat, met his end for not having shown sufficient respect.
Compensation of ₤25,000 was demanded for Mr Rishardson’s death, however almost one year had passed and the British still hadn’t received the requested funds. Dissatisfied, several British ships were assembled and proceeded to bombard the Satsuma capital of Kagoshima.