Ninjas are undoubtedly one of the most well-known tropes in Japanese pop culture. As practitioners of ninjutsu, the warriors who followed this path were referred to as shinobi. But it would be incorrect to assume that the role of black-clad assassin was reserved solely for men.
Women could be moulded into the ultimate expression of death as well and they were known as Kunoichi, a term that’s evolved to mean ‘female ninja’ in the modern day. So, what is the history of these mysterious figures and how did they function within Japanese society? Continue reading “Japan’s Deadly Female Ninjas: Walking The Path Of The Kunoichi” →
Japanese tattoos, also known as irezumi, is a distinctive art style that has developed over hundreds of years. Known for colourful mythology, monsters and nature motifs, irezumi is a beautiful expression of individualism. The ultimate expression of Japanese tattooing is the bodysuit, which covers the skin in a similar way to clothing. Continue reading “A Brief History Of Japanese Bodysuits” →
A traditional Japanese tea ceremony is one of the most important aspects of Japanese culture. A celebration of harmony and the transience of life, the tea ceremony can be a transformative experience, and like many traditions, the ceremony was a crucial part of the samurai lifestyle.
In addition to being fierce warriors, samurai were meant to be cultured and poetic. They placed great value on the Zen nature of the tea ceremony and believed it needed to be carried out in a certain way. The famous samurai Umawatari Bogyu was one of many warriors who adhered to strict tradition, and in his opinion, the tea ceremony could only be enjoyed under a set of specific rules. Continue reading “The Dos And Don’ts Of A Japanese Tea Ceremony (According To A Legendary Samurai)” →
Women Warriors is a series that puts the spotlight on Japanese women who have left their mark on history. Many formidable Japanese women could be found among the onna bugeisha, female fighters who became a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. One of the most badass onna bugeisha happened to be a 12th century woman called Tomoe Gozen.
The wife of Minamoto no Yoshinaka, Gozen earned a reputation as a legendary warrior during the Genpei War. Gozen’s story took place at a time of great social upheaval, making it an even more inspiring tale. Continue reading “Women Warriors: Tomoe Gozen” →
The Second World War was one of the most tumultuous times in all of human history, and there are still people alive today who remember living in fear and uncertainty. Much has been done to bring reparations to groups who were persecuted during WW2, but it can be easy to forget that there were those alive during the period who didn’t agree with the harsh treatment of Jews and other marginalised people. One man who believed in fighting against persecution was Japanese government official Chiune Sugihara. Continue reading “Remembering The Bravery Of Chiune Sugihara” →
Japanese history is filled with stories of legendary figures like Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Sengo Muramasa who helped to shape the time periods they lived in. For every tale of a man who dictated the future of Japan, there are just as many inspirational stories about Japanese women shocking the system. Women Warriors examines the life of these brave souls who went against tradition.
One of the most interesting stories of a woman changing the status quo involves the legendary Empress Jingū, A semi-mythological figure, Empress Jingū’s life is a topic of much debate. Continue reading “Women Warriors: Empress Jingū” →
The legend of the samurai is woven into the culture of Japan. Dutiful, stoic and formidable, samurai were bound to the code of bushido, protecting their lords and masters at any cost. In order to carry out their duty, samurai relied on a variety of equipment, and one of their most important assets was armour.
Traditional samurai armour is striking for how intimidating it looks. This was deliberate on the part of the warriors, as they wanted to terrify their opponents in battle. A great amount of detail went into the forging of the armour, with each piece being intricate and durable. Let’s take a closer look at samurai armour and see how it was made. Continue reading “Dissecting The Parts Of Traditional Samurai Armour” →
In every culture around the world, you’ll find stories of women who stood out for their bravery and courage. They are the women who went against tradition and did what they believed to be right. Women Warriors is a series that investigates the lives of Japanese women who forged their own destinies.
During the heyday of the samurai, women were assigned traditional roles of house keeping and cooking. The idea of them being fighters was frowned upon, with men being responsible for going off to war. But Nakano Takeko defied societal norms by taking up the role of a samurai and fighting during the Boshin War In the 19th century. Her story is one of bravery, defiance and tragedy. Continue reading “Women Warriors: Nakano Takeko” →
When it comes to decorative statues, good craftsmanship is essential, which is why I enjoy collecting them. A type of figure I’ve appreciated for some time is jizai okimono, a Japanese design that was started in the 17th century by makers of samurai armour. The words roughly translate as ‘move freely decorative object,’ and the way to describe jizai okimono is a type of highly-detailed articulated statue that has moving parts. The most common designs are animals, which is why I was excited to purchase a jizai okimono dragon created by Kaiyodo. Continue reading “Kaiyodo Dragon Jizai Okimono Full Colour Review” →
Japan attracts visitors from all over the world because of its unique culture and outlook. The Land of the Rising Sun features various philosophies, and one of the most interesting is the concept of kokoro. Translating to ‘heart’ in Japanese, it should not be confused with shinzou, which represents the physical organ. Continue reading “Calling All Japan Enthusiasts For The Kokoro Files” →