What is a Samurai?

Introduction Samurai (侍, /ˈsæmʊraɪ/) were the hereditary military nobility and officer caste of medieval and early-modern Japan from the 12th century to their abolition in the 1870s. They were the well-paid retainers of the daimyo (the great feudal landholders). They had high prestige and special privileges such as wearing two swords. They cultivated the bushido… Read More

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What was the Shogunate?

Introduction Shogun (将軍)was the title of the military dictators of Japan during most of the period spanning from 1185 to 1868. Nominally appointed by the Emperor, shoguns were usually the de facto rulers of the country, though during part of the Kamakura period shoguns were themselves figureheads. The office of shogun was in practice hereditary,… Read More

What was the Meiji Restoration?

Introduction The Meiji Restoration (Japanese: 明治維新, Hepburn: Meiji Ishin), referred to at the time as the Honorable Restoration (御一新, Goisshin), and also known as the Meiji Renovation, Revolution, Reform, or Renewal, was an event that restored practical imperial rule to the Empire of Japan in 1868 under Emperor Meiji. Although there were ruling Emperors before… Read More

What is a Daimyo?

Introduction Daimyo (大名, Daimyō, Japanese pronunciation: [daimʲoː]) were powerful Japanese magnates, feudal lords who, from the 10th century to the early Meiji period in the middle 19th century, ruled most of Japan from their vast, hereditary land holdings. They were subordinate to the shōgun and nominally to the emperor and the kuge. In the term,… Read More

What was the Battle of Shiroyama?

Introduction The Battle of Shiroyama (城山の戦い, Shiroyama no tatakai) took place on 24 September 1877, in Kagoshima, Japan. It was the final battle of the Satsuma Rebellion, where the heavily outnumbered samurai under Saigō Takamori made their last stand against Imperial Japanese Army troops under the command of Generals Yamagata Aritomo and Kawamura Sumiyoshi. The… Read More

Serving Indolently or Well…

“If a man who serves indolently and a man who serves well are treated in the same way, the man who serves well may begin to wonder why he does so.” Asakura Toshikage (1428 to 1481) Asakura Toshikage was the Daimyo of Echizen, a province on the Japan Seas coastline. Like many of the lords… Read More

Perception, Strategy & Distance…

“Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.” Miyamoto Musashi (1584 to 1645) Miyamoto Musashi was a famous Japanese soldier-artist of the early Edo (Tokugawa) period (1603 to 1867). He was also known for… Read More