Category Archives: Japan

Canadian Eyes, Japanese Eyes

I wrote this article for a newsletter for researchers in Japan.


My name is Shaney Crawford and I am a Canadian woman who has lived in Fukushima Prefecture for five years and Ibaraki Prefecture for eight years. As a foreign resident of Japan, I am often asked to describe the things that surprised me when I first came here. However, I first came to Japan in 1995, which is now 15 years ago, and to be honest, I don’t have a very clear recollection of that time. (Imagine being asked to recall what it felt like on your first day of junior high school. You can probably remember that you were nervous, but not the details of what was going through your head at the time.)

However, I recently watched the movie “Avatar” and it made me pause and reflect a bit on my time here in Japan. I don’t want to ruin the plot of the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it yet (I’m sure there are still one or two people who haven’t seen it, right?), but the basic idea is that a man gets the chance to become a member of a group that is initially extremely foreign to him. (It is a very similar story to Dances With Wolves, or the Last Samurai, but it is set on another planet.) The movie served, at least for me, as a reminder of what it felt like when I first came to Japan.

I hope you will forgive me for sounding ungracious or ignorant, but I remember thinking to myself, when I first came here (and after the initial honeymoon phase was over), that there were a lot of things wrong with Japan. At the time, I saw everything with “Canadian eyes” and I was frustrated with several aspects of Japanese culture. I couldn’t understand why everyone was so concerned with what their neighbours thought about them, or why meetings seemed to go on for so long and rarely resulted in any decisions being made. I didn’t like how there were no senior positions available to women and that everything that I bought was individually wrapped and then covered in plastic only to be handed over to me in yet another plastic bag.

I found a lot to complain about in these early days. I was also prone to making sweeping generalizations about Japan and Japanese culture based on my limited experiences. Even though I was living in Japan, and on the surface enjoying my time here, I had not lost my Canadian eyes, and couldn’t understand why the people in Japan couldn’t see what I could see.

And then, something happened to change my thinking. It wasn’t an immediate change, but looking back on it now, I think I know what it was that caused a fundamental shift in my worldview: learning to speak, read, and understand Japanese. In particular, I believe it was through studying the 1006 kanji characters that Japanese students study in elementary school that made the difference.

By studying the kanji characters, and not just learning the meanings or the readings, but trying to understand each character by deconstructing it into its elements, I became more familiar with Japanese culture and history and, more importantly, I became able to find out information on my own and not have to rely on others to explain things to me. If I had a question about something in Japan, I could try to read a book or a website, or ask a Japanese person directly. When I first arrived in Japan, I did not have that choice. I could only learn about Japan from people who could speak to me in English. If I had a question about Japan, I had a very limited range of people to look to for answers. If they could not supply me with a satisfactory answer, I was forced to give up.

Through learning the Japanese language, I was given the key to understanding the culture at a much deeper level than I had when I first arrived. Suddenly, I could understand the forces working behind the decision-making processes at an office because I had spoken to my Japanese friends and colleagues about my experiences and they had explained the intricacies to me. Instead of seeing things at a surface level, or always having my understanding coloured by the understanding of the person who translated for me, I was able to dig deeper, and develop my own understandings based on direct contact with a variety of people and resources.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I am some kind of genius in Japanese. I am not. I can get by in Japanese, but I still have a lot to learn. I stumble on very basic grammar points, I have a very limited vocabulary, and I don’t think I will ever be able to pull off “keigo”, just to mention a few of my many weaknesses. But the key point here is that I kept on pushing until I was able to make sense of what was going on around me rather than just accepting what I was seeing at face value.

I feel that learning the Japanese language gave me the ability — and sometimes it almost feels like a magical ability — to see with Japanese eyes. Rather than criticizing everything that I saw in Japan, I became better able to see why things happened the way they did. And, slowly, I started to realize that there were also a lot of things wrong with how we do things in Canada. We Canadians often rush through things, prizing speed over accuracy. We will say anything with conviction, whether we have proof that it is true or not. And we will always put ourselves and our own interests first, rarely considering what might be best for the group or the community around us.

In the movie Avatar, one of the main characters initially refuses to teach the “foreigner” anything, saying something like “there is no point in trying to fill a cup that is already full”. When I first came to Japan, my head was full of Canada and there was no room for Japan. I thought my way was right and I think, in retrospect, I wasn’t capable of nuanced thought about what was happening around me because I didn’t have room in my worldview for other possibilities. Learning Japanese has provided me with another cup to fill. And, to continue the metaphor a bit longer if I may, it has made me realize that my “cup full of Canada” was only the appetizer. More than anything that I have experienced or obtained during my time in Japan, I feel that I am indebted to this country and its people for providing me with the chance to see the world through different eyes and, hopefully, keep my cups from ever becoming full again.

What is Internationalization?

国際化とは?

私は、日本に約10年暮らしています。その間、福島県の旧田島町(現南会津町)で英語の教員として、会津若松市で市の国際交流協会のスタッフとして、そして、現在は、筑波大学大学院生を経て、茨城県つくば市の研究機関で翻訳者として、実に様々な体験をしてきました。数人の外国人が暮らす田島町から、約7000人もが暮らすつくば市まで、それぞれに異なった環境で過ごした経験から、日本が国際化するにあたって直面する課題について、より広い意味でとらえられるようになりました。

人は生活の中で常に「判断」をしています。物事を理解するためには、自分の経験や教育をもとに、好きかどうか、見たことがあるか、安全かどうかなど、いくつもの判断をしなければなりません。これは、人についても同じです。誰かに出会った瞬間、私たちは、いい人か、怠惰な人か、友達になれそうかなど、自分の価値観で分類しようとします。ですから、異なる文化が出会ったときに問題が生じるのは何も不思議なことではありません。ある文化の中で育てば、ある一連の経験をし、それをもとに判断するようになるのです。

英語には、「give someone the benefit of the doubt」という表現があります。直訳すると「疑わしきは罰せず」ですが、何らかの結論に飛びつく前に、その判断に疑いの余地を残してみようということです。状況や人について、間違った解釈をしていないだろうか、あるいは、別の解釈の道はないだろうか。もしそうであれば、自分の判断に疑いの余地を与え、自分が思うより、その人が良心的である、あるいは少なくとも自分が考えたものと違った意図を持っていたのだと仮定してみるのです。実はこのことは、相手が外国人の場合に限らず、日本人の場合にこそ、より効果的でもあります。他人が自分と同じように考え、行動するとは限らないということを常に念頭において、判断する必要があるのです。

真の国際化とは、日本の文化を外国人に紹介するだけではなく、自分自身について知り、人種、信条に関わらず、他人を思いやり、尊敬することから始まります。ですから、次に人と会うときには、単に自分の文化に基づく判断を下す前に、立ち止まり、見た目から受ける印象にとらわれず、より国際的な視点から判断してみてはいかがでしょうか。

上記文章のオリジナル原稿は、以下のウェブページで閲覧できます。

The Internationalization of Japan: Going Beyond Ikebana and Tea Ceremony
How To Succeed In Japan

The Internationalization of Japan: Going Beyond Ikebana and Tea Ceremony

Life is about making judgments. In order to fit things into our internal schema, and thus come to an understanding of the world around us, we have to make thousands of judgments based on our past experiences and education. We look at an object and immediately start to make judgments based on its appearance. (Do I like the object? Do I want it? Could I pick it up? Have I seen one like this before? Is it safe? Can I ignore it?) We encounter thousands of objects every day of our lives, and each of those objects is subject to judgment. This act of judgment is what gets us through our days. In a world containing billions of people and thousands of cultures, it is probably one of the immutable laws of human nature. “I am, therefore I judge.”

This is why it is not surprising that problems arise when cultures come into contact. Being raised in a certain cultural setting provides a set of experiences that can be used as a basis for judgment. A single object, seen from two different cultural perspectives, can receive entirely different, even opposing, judgments. And, to complicate things, a single individual can have entirely different feelings about the same object depending on its setting. Consider how you feel when you see a frog in a pond versus how you would feel if the same frog were served to you for dinner. The frog hasn’t changed, but the setting has, and that has an effect on your own judgment. Now consider how someone from a culture that worships frogs would feel in those two situations. (Okay, I don’t know any frog worshipping cultures, but you get the idea!) The situations haven’t changed, but because the cultural perspective has, judgments are also effected.

This is one of the fundamental issues at play in internationalization. The variables of cultural perspective and setting (amongst others) come into play when making judgments about the people we meet every day. When we meet a person, we immediately set to work trying to place them our mental categories (good person, lazy person, someone to avoid, possible mate, etc.). Thanks to the incredible powers of the human brain, we are able to make decisions like this in fractions of seconds.
If you only ever dealt with people from a similar background as your own, these decisions might not ever need to be questioned. However, in today’s society, with the information superhighway at our fingertips and international flights at prices accessible to a large portion of the population, the chances of you never coming into contact with an “outsider” are very slim indeed.

So what can a person do to overcome the natural urge to judge? First of all, we have to learn to separate our perceptions from our judgments. Perceptions reflect what we see and, in the ideal case, do not contain any emotional triggers. Judgments, as we have seen above, are tightly woven into our own cultural and educational backgrounds, and do generally come with an emotional response (I like this, I don’t like it, I’m scared of it, etc.). Considering the frog in the above example, we can try to separate our perception of the frog (green, making a sound, sitting on a lily pad in a pond) from our judgment of it (dirty, noisy, peaceful). If we apply the same mental exercise to our encounters with humans, we can see how we need to stop momentarily at the point of perception before we leap to a particular judgment. We need to consider the actions and appearances of other people carefully before we let our hyperspeedy brains lead us to false judgments.

Consider the following situation: a tired-looking woman in a grocery store with two young children who are making a fuss. We might quickly jump to the conclusion that she is an overworked mother with badly-behaved children. However, if we took a bit more time to look at the situation, trying to perceive what is going on rather than make judgments about it, we might come to realize that the woman is not necessarily the mother. She could be the children’s grandmother or babysitter, or she might not even have any connection to the children at all. She could just be a random person who happened to be standing near the children. Or she might be trying to console them because they can’t find their parents. The children are now getting more upset because they are being spoken to by a stranger and the woman is looking even more tired because she is just here to pick up her brother who manages the store so he can drive her to work, and now she is running late.

This may seem like a trivial example, because random people in grocery stores don’t have anything to do with our daily lives, but it illustrates the point I am trying to make rather well. We took one look at the woman and made a number of potentially inaccurate judgments about her (she’s married, she has kids, she can’t control her kids, she’s shopping, etc.), and went away satisfied that we understood the situation. We have her pegged as a certain kind of person and yet we never even spoke to her! We make these kinds of judgments all throughout our day without ever really “thinking” about them.

I don’t think it is possible to stop ourselves from making judgments, since as I said, we need to make judgments to help us understand the world around us, but it is possible to start recognizing when you are making judgments (according to your culturally-based interpretation of your perceptions) and try to think of other possible conclusions.

In English, we have an expression that is useful in this situation: “giving someone the benefit of the doubt”. First of all, before you jump to any conclusions, try to introduce some doubt into your mind. Is there any possibility that you are misinterpreting the situation or the person? Is there any way to re-interpret the situation? If so, give the person the benefit of the doubt and assume that he or she likely has better (or at least different) intentions than you are assigning them.

Another way to train yourself not to judge so quickly is to try to catch yourself making assumptions. Assumptions are like mini-judgments that lead to bigger judgments. For example, it is easy to assume that everyone around you thinks the same way you do. In Japan, it is even easier to make that assumption, because at first glance, it may seem that everyone around you is Japanese. However, even if there are no “obvious” foreigners around you, there could be some non-Japanese Asians blending in to the scene. Or even some people who are 100% Japanese by blood, but who were born and raised in another country. And in any case, even if all of the people around you are in fact Japanese, they still don’t all think like you do. If you have ever traveled in Japan, or even watched a Japanese television show, you know that people from different parts of Japan have different traditions, different ways of thinking, and even different words for the same object. The assumption that you are surrounded by people who think and act like you do, even if they resemble you in appearance, is inherently faulty.

Internationalization is not just about introducing foreigners to tea ceremony and ikebana. It is about learning more about ourselves and learning to be more considerate and respectful of those around us – regardless of their race or creed. So, the next time you encounter someone (or happen to see a frog in a pond) remember to pause and reflect on your perceptions before jumping ahead to any culturally-based judgments. The frog may not notice that you have become a better person, but the people around you certainly will!

How To Succeed In Japan

Article written for the Ibaraki International Association

Over the ten years that I have been in Japan, I have lived in three very different places: Tajima-machi and Aizu Wakamatsu-shi in Fukushima Prefecture and Tsukuba-shi in Ibaraki. Tajima is a small, rural town with a population of about 14,000. (It is now part of Minamiaizu-machi, a merged town that has a combined population of 20,000.) Aizu Wakamatsu is a city of about 130,000 and it is famous for Tsurugajo, Byakkotai, and akabeko (red cows). And Tsukuba, the “science city” with a population nearing 200,000.

I have had very different experiences in each of these places. In Tajima, I taught English at a local junior high school and I was one of the only foreigners in the whole town. The difference between a “regular” event and an “international” event in Tajima was whether I was there or not! In Aizu Wakamatsu, I worked in an international association. The city had about 600 international residents at the time, so I was able to be a bit more anonymous in that city. In Tsukuba, it is bit easier for me to blend in with the 7000 foreign residents.

These three different experiences have given me a broader sense of the challenges of internationalization in Japan. In the past, I have been asked to write articles about how Japanese people should be “more like this” or “less like that” to make Japan more international or to make foreign people feel more welcome. However, after ten years of living here, I think it is time for me to write an article about what foreign residents of Japan should do to improve their chances of enjoying their time in Japan. (And since I don’t have a lot of space, I am going to keep my comments fairly brief.)

In my opinion, the difference between a foreign resident who loves living in Japan and one who doesn’t often boils down to two important points: how many same-age Japanese friends the person has, and how much of the Japanese language the person can speak or understand.

Why?

The more Japanese friends you have, the more you realize that Japanese people are not a single, homogeneous group of people with only one way of thinking. (And this is a common misperception among newcomers.) Japanese people are perhaps not as flagrantly self-expressive as the average North American, but that doesn’t mean that they are not individuals. When I hear about a foreign person having a hard time living in Japan, I often hear that person saying “they” and “them” to refer to the entire 130 million residents of this country as if they all conspired to make that person’s day go wrong. This kind of thinking is swiftly erased as soon as that person has made friends with “regular” Japanese people, especially if those people are from the same age group.

Furthermore, the more you understand of the Japanese language, the more likely you are to understand Japan. If you cannot speak Japanese, you cannot communicate with a majority of the people around you, and you cannot comprehend the details of the situations that happen around you. Your encounters are limited to those that involve Japanese people who are already “international” to a certain extent and your understanding of what is happening in your life is based on your ethnocentric (and often incorrect) perceptions. It is not an easy task for a foreign person to learn Japanese, but it is not easy for Japanese people to learn English either! I think that the amount of Japanese you learn is directly proportional to your enjoyment of the time you spend in Japan, so language learning should be made a priority for all foreign residents.

Many Japanese people work very hard to make foreign people comfortable in Japan. However, an equivalent effort has to come from the international residents. Foreign residents who feel frustrated with their experiences in Japan should try harder to learn Japanese and work harder to make friends with Japanese people, either in their workplace (although this can be somewhat difficult – I could fill a whole other article on that topic) or in their leisurely pursuits. And, since old habits die hard, I will finish with a wee bit of advice for the Japanese people who are reading this article: Please be friends with us (and I don’t mean “host”, I mean “friend”)!

Glossary of Terms for Studying Aizu Wakamatsu's History

Aizu 会津

  • original meaning – two gods met (会) by a river (津) in Aizu Takada

Aizu Clan 会津藩

  • Katamori Matsudaira (松平容保) [1834-1893] was the lord (daimyo – 大名) of the Aizu Clan
  • they were opposed to the Meiji Restoration and fought against the emperor’s forces in the Boshin Civil War

Boshin Civil War 戊辰戦争 [1868-1869]

  • Jan 27th 1868 to Jun 27th 1869 (last stronghold – Hakodate in Hokkaido – fell)
  • Meiji Restoration (明治維新) trying to unify Japan
  • some areas were fighting back, but many just accepted the new situation
  • Aizu was the last stronghold of the samurai way of life
  • Aizu clan fought against the anti-shogunate troops

Bukeyashiki 武家屋敷

  • residence of the samurai of Edo period (17th-19th century)
  • seven acres, 38 rooms
  • original buildings were burned 130 years ago during the Boshin civil war, rebuilt 20 years ago
  • took two years to rebuild
  • rooms have been decorated in Edo period style
  • lavatory has surface area close to 55 square feet
  • rice cleaning mill – 180 years old, brought from Shirakawa, water powered, has 16 stone mills, can pound 960kg of rice per day
  • kitchen has strong cross beams to support heavy snowfall
  • gyakubyobu (逆屏風) – the byobu (or screen painting) is placed upside-down to show that their has been a death in the family
  • while one retainer (Tanomo Saigo) went to battle, his wife and children killed themselves
  • papers on the wall or pillar—When people come here for sightseeing, they put the paper which has their names on the wall as a good luck charm or just in memory.
  • Inro—a case to keep an Inkan (stamp) or medicine. Rich people used to keep it in their pocket, and usually they had a stopper called “ “
  • money at the rice cleaning mill—Japanese people have a habit of making a monetary offering at shrines for the good luck. People visiting here offer money for praying the good harvest.
  • Nakahata Shrine – moved from Nakahata village, Gunjiro Matsudaira (judge) lived there, designated as important piece of cultural property
  • Chanoyu – tea ceremony – not pastime, but aesthetic ritual, follows rules set by Sen-no-Rikyu, his son, Shoan introduced the tea ceremony to Aizu, he built Rinkaku at Tsurugajo

Bushidou 武士道

  • way of the warrior
  • martial spirit, skill with weapons, absolute loyalty to one’s lord, strong sense of personal honour, devotion to duty, courage to sacrifice one’s life in battle or ritual suicide
  • was actually mostly developed in times of peace – warriors had very little to do but practice their “way” when the rulers took most of the powers away from them
  • martial aspects of bushido became popular during militaristic 1930’s, but then fell into disfavour after the war (WWII)

Byakkotai 白虎隊

  • 20 young men (16-17 years old [Japanese counting], 15-16 years old [Western counting]) who studied Bushido (see below) at Aizu Nisshinkan (会津日新館)
  • irony – Bushido teaches obedience to superiors, but Byakkotai were involved in a civil war, which is the exact opposite of obedience
  • were fighting off in Inawashiro (猪苗代町), but were losing
  • escaped through cave to Iimoriyama (飯盛山)
  • looked over Aizu to see the Tsurugajo (鶴ヶ城、若松城) in flames
  • if the castle fell, it meant the end of the Aizu Clan (会津藩)
  • rather than risk having to humble themselves before a new master, (and also to show their loyalty to the Aizu Clan) they killed themselves (1868)
  • in fact, the castle was not burning and the war raged on
  • Adachi Touzaburou 安達籐三郎, Ariga Orinosuke 有賀織之助, Ikegami Shintaro 池上新太郎, Ishida Wasuke 石田和助, Ishiyama Toranosuke 石山虎之助, Itou Teijirou 伊東悌次郎, Itou Toshihiko 伊藤俊彦, Ibuka Motarou 井深茂太郎, Shinoda Gisaburou 篠田儀三郎, Suzuki Genkichi 鈴木源吉, Tsugawa Kiyomi 津川喜代美, Tsuda Sutezou 津田捨蔵, Nagase Yuuji 永瀬雄治, Nishikawa Katsutarou 西川勝太郎, Nomura Komashirou 野村駒 四郎, Hayashi Yasouji 林八十冶, Mase Genshichirou 間瀬源七郎, Yanase Katsuzaburou 簗瀬勝三郎, Yanase Takeji 簗瀬武治, Iinuma Sadakichi 飯沼貞吉 [15,16 years old]

Byrd, Isabella イサベラ・バード

  • eldest daughter
  • born in Yorkshire, father was pastor
  • sick as a child (spinal disease), spent most of her adolescent years lying on a sofa in the rectory
  • in 1854 (she was 23), she decided to travel abroad in order to improve her health
  • first visited Canada, then U.S.A.
  • in the Spring of 1978, she set sail from San Francisco, arrived at port of Yokohama
  • stayed with Dr. Hepburn, an American missionary in Yokohama
  • didn’t like Yokohama very much, decided to travel into the interior even though it was not necessarily safe
  • hired a guide, an 18 year old boy named “Ito”
  • left Tokyo on horseback, Isabella in the lead
  • explored Nikko, headed further along the Kinugawa route (Aizu Highway)
  • visited Ikari, Yokokawa, Itosawa, Kawashima, Tajima, Toyonari, Atomi, Ohuchi, Ichikawa, Takada, Bange, Katakado, Nozawa, Najiri, Kuruma-toge, Hosaka, Torii, Eizan, and Tsugawa
  • when they reached Niigata, they had travelled 246 miles from Tokyo
  • continued to travel to Aomori via Yamagata, Shinjo, Yokote, and Kubota – covering 373 miles
  • visited villages of Ainu, where she closely observed the aborigines life and customs
  • took a ship called the Hyogo-maru back to Yokohama
  • whole journey lasted three months
  • wrote book – “A Trip to Japan’s Hinterland”, in which she described her visits to small towns, etc.
  • she visited Japan 5 more times between 1894 and 1896

Daimyo 大名

  • leader of local area (i.e. Aizu)

Fujinbutai 婦人部隊

  • group of female fighters during Boshin Civil War

Gamo Ujisato

  • ordered by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (shogun) to move to Aizu to rebuilt the castle and organize the city
  • protected the area from Date, who was Toyotomi’s enemy in Sendai
  • introduced culture to Aizu — lacquerware
  • rebuilt the castle as a seven storey building which resembled a crane in flight (current castle is 5 storeys)

Iimoriyama 飯盛山

  • markers at base – for horses
  • place where the Byakkotai came after losing a battle in Inawashiro
  • many markers donated to show support of Byakkotai and their samurai spirit
  • one marker from Italian government — axe removed from claw of bird

Iinuma Sadakichi 飯沼貞吉 [1853-1931]

  • Iinuma was the one Byakkotai who survived to tell the tale
  • his hand was injured, so he couldn’t complete the seppuku

Jinbo Shuuri 神保修理 [1838-1868]

  • samurai, against war – was killed due to his opposition to Aizu’s stance on Boshin Civil War

Karou 家老

  • advisor to the daimyo, elder

Kayano Gonbei 萱野権兵衛 [1830-1869]

  • karou, during Boshin Civil War

Komei Tennou 孝明天皇

  • Emperor before Meiji

Kumitate 組み立て

  • style of construction in which no nails are used (e.g. Sazaedo)

Matsudaira Katamori 松平容保 [1834-1893]

  • Daimyo during Boshin Civil War
  • adopted by Matsudaira family

Meiji Restoration 明治維新 [1868-1912]

  • January 3 1868 to July 30 1912
  • restoring imperial rule

Meiji Tennou 明治天皇 [1852-1912]

  • Meiji Emperor, opposed Tokugawa shogunate

Nakano Takeko 中野竹子 [1846-1868]

  • one of Fujinbutai, died during Boshin Civil War

Sagawa Kanbei 佐川官兵衛 [1831-1877]

  • samurai, was for fighting during Boshin Civil War

Saigou Tanomo 西郷頼母 [1803-1905]

  • karou, originally against fighting in Boshin Civil War, resigned, succeeded by Kayano

Sazaedo さざえ堂、栄螺堂 [1796~, 1889~present]

  • built in 1700s
  • fell into disrepair during Meiji restoration
  • rebuilt with support of local citizens
  • sazae = turban shell
  • shaped like double helix
  • philosophy – if you can’t climb a mountain, do a pilgrimage, then climb Sazaedo (similar to placing a rock on top of a rock to symbolize building a temple)
  • 33 images of Kannon (Buddhist Goddess of Mercy)
  • 16 metres tall
  • no nails used in construction – kumitate style of construction (組み立て)

Samurai 侍

  • member of the ruling class, originally warriors
  • bound by Bushidou during Edo period

Seppuku 切腹

  • ritual suicide by self-disembowelment
  • also called harakiri (腹切), but that is too direct for most Japanese
  • abdomen was chosen because ancient Japanese believed that it was the place where the soul resided and the source of action-derived tension, cradle of the individual’s will, boldness, spirit, anger, generosity
  • became very ritualized
  • apparel, site, time, witnesses, inspectors, assistant
  • open kimono, stretch out right hand to grasp knife, cut into abdomen from left to right
  • this wound was often not deep, and not intended to kill
  • prearranged signal to assistant would tell assistant to sever head
  • one of the 5 grades of punishment among samurai class

Shougun 将軍

  • military leader of the daimyo and all of Japan (until Meiji Restoration)

Tennou 天皇

  • emperor

Tokugawa Yoshinobu 徳川慶喜 [1837- ]

  • last Shogun

Toyotomi Hideyoshi

  • Shogun who ordered Gamo Ujisato to rebuild Tsurugajo and to protect the area from Sendai’s Date family which was Toyotomi’s enemy

Tsurugajo 鶴ヶ城 [1384-, 1590-, -1874, 1965-present]

  • Daimyo Residence
  • most castles in Japan are reproductions of the originals which were destroyed in battle or in restorations
  • Tsurugajo was rebuilt in 1965 after being destroyed in 1874
  • Displays
    • 1st floor – tomb-period excavations (4th to 7th centuries) and Buddhist materials
    • 2nd floor – antique lacquerware and pottery
    • 3rd & 4th floors – Boshin War items, Byakkotai displays
    • 5th floor – observatory
    • Southern wing – folk materials
  • corridor bridge (Red bridge) – so as not to let very many enemies attack, legend — bridge was originally built so that pulling any one board out of it made the whole thing collapse
  • suit of armor and a helmet – made of iron, covered with lacquer. At the front of the helmets, they have the symbol of their groups.
  • a sword guard – the protection for the sword, craftsmen carved beautiful patterns on it
  • Akabeko (赤べこ) – a famous souvenir of Aizu, red is believed to be a lucky colour, idea apparently comes from “red cows” that were needed to move the big stones to make the castle
  • Festival – September 23rd
  • surrounded by a stone wall
  • See: Interactive Tour of Tsurugajo