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Japanese Feudalism
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Date:2006-04-11 14:22
Subject:The doctor in Edo Japan

Hi folks, I found this while stumbling around LJ. Basically run a complementary site that covers some of the topics you guys are interested in (edo_meiji), but I am guessing we're a little more general in our focus.

The question of the hour is where the doctors fit in the social class structure of Edo Japan. While I suppose most persons list them as a separate group apart from the samurai, there were persons within samurai families that were trained as physicians. For example, Kusaka Genzui's father and brother (while stipended samurai) were physicians as was Kido Koin/Takayoshi's real family.

What I can't conceptualize is whether docs were raised up and trained within a class structure to service those within that class (i.e., physicians from samurai lineages served samurai), merchant-class docs -> merchants and everyone else or if doctors in general (in theory) could service any class.

Does anyone have a good background on medicine in Japan in English? What little I've picked up comes as small discussions in other larger works.


Date:2006-02-20 17:41

"On Battle"

Fate is in Heaven, the armor is on the breast, success is with the legs. Go to the battlefield firmly confident of victory, and you will come home with no wounds whatever. Engage in combat fully determined to die and you will be alive; wish to survive in the battle and you will surely meet death. When you leave the house determined not to see it again you will come home safely; when you have any thought of returning you will not return. You may not be in the wrong to think that the world is always subject to change, but the warrior must not entertain this way of thinking, for his fate is always determined.

Uesugi Kenshin (1530-1578)

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Date:2005-11-25 12:47

A recent event is that Princess Sayako
of the Imperial Throne married a common man
and left royalty in order to live with
the man whom she loves.

If you were Princess Sayako, would you sacrifice
the royal throne?

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Date:2005-09-28 18:43

It's interesting how Japan's foreign policy rapidly changed from one of isolation
to one of invading and colonizing other countries.

Emperor Meiji ended feudalism, but also heroically opened up
Japan into a practical, powerful, competitive country.

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Date:2005-09-19 23:41

anyone here know about the "Land of the Eastern Cross"?

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Date:2005-09-13 02:19

I recently joined and hope to have an interesting stay with this commuinty. First off, a couple of questions:

Due to the set timeline, is it possible to move onto texts from other era's?

There are texts which was considered classical books which the samurai was taught from, these included books like Nihongi/Kojiki (Chronicles from the Earliest times 697AD) and Sun Tzu's Art Of War (originally Chinese and from an older timeline, but was a basis for a lot of Japanese tactics).

I read earlier a recommandation of books, amongst these were Hagakure and Bushido - isn't these the same book?

The bushido - way of the warrior and Hagakure in our store have a lot of the same quotations from Tsunetomo.

If you liked the earlier books, I recommend this book:

The Unfettered Mind - Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master by Takuan Soho


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Date:2005-07-08 21:14
Mood: chipper

Hello i would like to into myself, I am here to learn and i wont cause any probulems, all i wanna do it learn.
My name is Elexis, im 16 and im from new jersey. I dont really talk to much unless i get to know everyone pretty well. Um Yes thats about it.

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Date:2005-05-23 20:10
Subject:Yukio Mishima

Anyone ever read any of the works of Yukio Mishima?
Best Asian author ever.
Writes about the strong tradition and its fading presence in Japan.
This guy was the last samurai, he committed seppuku.
The greatest author of all time, in my opinion.
His works are provocative, inspiring, everything you can imagine.
"The Sea of Fertility" is a beautiful series about Japan's modern history.

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Date:2005-05-13 23:32
Subject:Miyamoto Musashi- article from www.samurai-archives.com

Prestigious samurai Musashi is often considered the greatest swordsman of ALL TIME.

Miyamoto Musashi

1584? - 1645

The famed swordsman Miyamoto Musashi was born Shinmen Takezo in Harima Province and may have fought at Sekigahara under the Ukita as a common soldier. He makes no mention this (perhaps unsurprisingly) in the brief biography in his book, rather confining himself to his achievements in single combat. He claimed to have defeated his first opponent (a certain Arima Kihei) at the age of 13, following this up with a victory over " powerful martial artist called Akiyama of Tajima province." After 1600 Musashi drifted to Kyoto and became involved in a well-known battle with the Yoshioka School of swordsmanship, emerging victorious. He wrote that he engaged in sixty duels without suffering defeat once, and was noted in this regard for his skill at handling two swords at once. He was also remembered for employing a simple bamboo sword, which he used to deadly effect.
Much of Musashi's life between 1600 and 1640 is the stuff of legend and some have postulated that he served at Osaka Castle (1614-1615) on the defending side, taking quite a few heads in the process. In a similar vein, he is sometimes said to have helped quell the Shimabara Rebellion of 1638 - a theory which, as with his glories at Osaka, is impossible to prove. On the other hand, many of the important events depicted in Yoshikawa Eiji's famous novel Musashi have a basis in reality, to include his battle with the Yoshioka School, his defeat of the noted spearman Inei (chief priest of the Hôzô-in), and his duel in 1612 with Sasaki Kojiro, another famed swordsman. Less well-known is his skill as a painter, his works including a number of self-portraits and naturescapes.
Musashi the man must have cut a forbidding appearance: he was said to have rarely bathed or changed his clothes as well as suffering from a somewhat disfiguring skin condition. Following his duel with Sasaki, he seems to have focused his energies on perfecting his style of swordsmanship, spending much time in travel and reflection - thus epitomizing the much-beloved image of the brooding wanderer samurai.
In 1640 Musashi accepted service with the Hosokawa clan, and three years later, in Higo Province, began work on his great book, Gorin no shô (The Book of Five Rings). He finished this influential work on swordsmanship in May 1645 - the same year he died.
Musashi has enjoyed an immense popularity in the 20th Century and beyond, largely as a result of Yoshikawa's novel (which was originally published in serialized form in the Asahi Shimbun). Musashi skillfully weaves fact and fiction together to create an engrossing tale that has experienced increasing reknown in the West. Interestingly, the Asahi Shimbun noted in 1988 that at least one Edo Period source questioned Musashi's duel with Sasaki, stating that Musashi was not alone at the fight, and that his followers killed Ganryu when he had been knocked down to the ground.
Musashi's own book, the Gorin no shô, was quite well thought of in the United States during the 1980's as a glimpse into the Japanese mind, and was thus consumed by American businessmen - perhaps to the ironic amusement of their Japanese counterparts.

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Date:2005-04-13 15:56

ah this group seems so dead but i will try to post some new topics soon.

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Date:2005-04-03 20:58

Interested in a martial arts style that is authentic and traditional and effective?

Try Okinawan karate, Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do, traditional Taekwondo or Hapkido, Judo, Ninjutsu, Jujutsu, Wing Chun Kungfu, or Aikido.


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Date:2005-03-23 18:02

I know all I do is spam you guys b/c I'm lazy. I keep meaning to post b/c all the clubs are my interests, but I barely even post on my own journal.
Anyway, I have a bunch of stuff up on eBay b/c I need to fit into and afford a dorm room next year. Sum of it's pretty applicable to group interests, but if it's not, then be offended and yell. Whatever. So far I have a dragon snowglobe/waterball, a brand new boombox and a really gorgeous mantle/shelf clock. Buddha dagger should be coming soon, for you samurai out there.

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Date:2005-03-21 17:42
Subject:Ninja Woodblock Print

Any suggestions about why the ninja is depicted riding a toad in this traditional woodblock print?

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

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Date:2005-03-14 18:43
Subject:Samurai Books

Here are some highly recommended philosophical books written by samurai:

Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai


The Book of 5 Rings

Yes the great ones to start with.

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Date:2005-02-22 15:22
Subject:Ninja History

I wrote this article for a school history magazine. Check it out-

Ninja History

So, ninjas are from Japan, right? Not exactly, buddy. References to the shadow warriors have been documented in Sun Tzu's Art of War, an ancient Chinese strategy guide, long before Japan even existed. According to historical lore, the ninja began in Japan when Daisuke Nishina, a defeated samurai, found refuge in the mountains, coming across the great warrior priest Kain Doshi (perhaps Chinese). He learned from him the basics of the fighting style known as ninjutsu and its code, Ninpo. The Shogunate at the time established a form of Buddhism as the official religion, and religious rebels fled to the mountains to learn the way of the ninja. They were first known as "yamabushi" (mountain warriors). To defend themselves against persecution, the ninja began to use spy networks, disguise, and assassination. Most people think ninjas were poor peasants, but many were also samurai hiding as spies in an underground network. These events all happened in the early Heian period in Japan. The next period, the Kamakura era, does not contain too many records of ninja activity, because of its relatively peaceful times. Afterwards, the Sengoku period brought the peak of warfare in feudal Japan. The first shogun of the time, Oda Nobunaga, despised the ninjas and persecuted them. The second, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was more tolerant. Lastly, the third, Tokugawa Ieyasu, employed ninjas for his services. During his reign, ninja activity was well documented, in works such as Hodo Godai-ki, Shinchoku-ki, and Iran-ki, different historical documents about the ninja. The Iga and Koga provinces in Japan represented the heart of ninja activity, while in China night warriors were often used as policemen to control crime or used as spies. Eventually, during the Meiji Restoration (modernization in Japan) and the destruction of feudalism in Japan, some ninjas served the emperor in fighting the headstrong samurai, while other loyal ninjas served the loyalists in defending feudalism. Now that there is peace, people can stare at Hollywood's fake remakings, or know the truth.

Ninja Weapons

1. Main weapons: Katana- Sword, Wakizashi- Short sword, Kyu- Bow

2. Shuko/ tekagi / nekote- 3 types of handclaws used for defense or climbing walls/trees.

3. Kama- A sickle attached to a chain.

4. Shuriken- Throwing stars which could be dipped in poison. (Not used as often as Hollywood ninjas do).

5. Metsubushi- Sight removing weapons such as eye irritants placed in egg shells, or smoke bombs.

6. Mudras- Contrary to popular belief, these mystic hand signals were not used by ninjas but rather monks.

7. Kunai- Nails for climbing trees. Can also be used as pegs.

8. Makibishi- Spikes thrown on the ground to injure one's feet.

9. Irogome- Colored rice used to tell other ninjas messages, such as "All clear" or "Enemy ahead."

10. Nunchaku- Contrary to popular belief, they were never used by ninja.

11. Martial arts style- Not karate or judo or kendo, but the ancient arts of jujutsu, ninjutsu, and kenjutsu.

Ninja Culture

What is real ninja culture, you ask? Certainly not turtles being taught how to kick Shredder butt from some rat, and certainly not the Taliban. First of all, ninjas seldomly dressed in the "shinobishozoku" (all black suit). They were used for espionage, so most of the time they disguised themselves as monks, merchants, artists, or ronin (masterless samurai). Ninja actually preferred hues of dark green, red, or brown, when they did wear suits, because they had better camouflage. Although it is believed that they most often were used in assassination attempts, ninja were mainly used for other purposes. A ninja could enter a castle stealthily and launch a surprise fire to cause confusion, while his army entered elsewhere. He could also survey and scout to find out the number and strength of an enemy army. Finally, he could substitute a samurai in battle if heavy losses came. Ninja villages were villages who secretly supported ninja without being noticed. They looked just like ordinary Japanese villages at the time. The Osa was the head of all the ninja, the Jonin were the high ranking ninja, the Chunin were the middle ranking ninja, and the Genin were the low ranking ninja. There were also female ninjas, the "kunoichi". Contrary to popular belief, they didn't usually use seduction to gain secrets. In ninpo, the most important rule was in keeping the secret of the ninja and the daimyo lords who supported them. The worst offenses for a ninja were betraying a fellow ninja and killing him or leaving the village and never coming back.

Ninja in Modern Times

In the classic film Star Wars, Jedi Knights can perform "ninja" moves, such as jumping great distances or disappearing. The most famous modern Japanese books about ninja are Fukuro no Shiro and Saigo no Igamono. Ninjas have appeared in many fighting and role-playing games, such as the Final Fantasy series. They are also popular in TV media, such as the hit show Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice, showed them, and modern famous movies include Shinobi no Nomo, Enter the Ninja, Duel to Death, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

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Date:2005-02-19 19:07
Subject:Mongol Invasions

Hey I wrote this fictional story about the Mongol invasions. Enjoy.

Final Version- "No Cost Too Heavy" written by Yasutake Takahashi
Gallop, gallop, gallop. The neighing of horses would not wake Takai from his sleep. Last night brought grueling labors of stone wall building for protection against the invasions. Today it would be different; it would be a work of blood.

Takai awoke to a scream. "The Mongols! The Mongols are coming!" Like a tiger ready to fight against his prey, Takai put on his warlike samurai armor. What he did not realize was that he was the prey and they were the tigers. He left the tent to be welcomed by a flurry of arrows. Falling to the ground and crawling to escape them, he looked up to see blood spurting from the holes in the bodies of his friends who were struck. Against all odds, Takai left the scout camp with his sword and horse as the only survivors. Fifty young samurai scouts were slaughtered at the hands of Mongol raiders.

Fleeing without being seen was a daunting task. Takai's instincts helped him to flee immediately at the threat of death, but a Mongol archer shot him in the back with an arrow. Wincing at the pain, he pulled it out in one swift stroke. He thought of how committing seppuku is also in one swift stroke.

Arriving at the main camp of his regiment, Takai was relieved to find the elite archers, spearmen, cavalry, and swordsmen in safe hands. He knew this was not for long, however. Hanzo, their regiment's only spy, was assigned to sneak into the Mongol camp grounds at night to count their numbers and perhaps steal a few Mongol bows. However, he was discovered and his head was brought back on a stake. Approaching his general, Raidon, Takai explained his misfortune.

"Their bows shoot arrows twice as far as our bows, they have superior horseback skills, and they have no mercy."

Raidon boasted, "Our cavalry has never lost a battle. This should be at ease. We will destroy our enemies or die in the means." Signaling the offense, Raidon sneered when Takai warned him of the high risks. He watched helplessly as the cavalry, the pride of the regiment, plunged into some deep oblivion.

Safe on top of the mountain, Takai eagerly awaited the fate of the cavalry through his eyes. He watched as the cavalry soon marched proudly into the now deteriorated scout camp. Headless young samurai lay lifeless as pools of blood formed around their corpses. Disgusted but not frightened, Raidon awaited his enemy.

He did not wait too long when an arrow whizzed past his ear. There, in the bushes, appeared to be about twenty Mongol archers. Signaling the attack, Raidon rode with pride in the hopes of glory.

That glory, however, was the enemy's. The diversion worked perfectly as they besieged the archers. A ring of arrows came from all directions in the forest. Stunned, Raidon died with six arrows in his heart. The stubborn cavalry would not retreat in the face of death. Charging blindly into the forest, they fell one by one. The forest ground was decorated with hues of deep red as dead horses and men bled.

Realizing that their main offense was utterly destroyed, Takai rushed back to the camp. No hope was present and death seemed ever more likely. He feared nothing and he regretted nothing. The regiment knew they were to serve Japan by defending the barricade until reinforcements arrived in a week. They knew they were outnumbered and overpowered by the wrath of a merciless enemy. Honor compelled them to finally make the decision.

With Raidon dead, Lord Kanaye, the strongest of all swordsmen, formed the plan.

"We have many archers. We shall use this to our advantage. Gather all the arrows and light them on fire. We will shoot them into the forest. When the enemy is forced to expose themselves into our sight, we will charge to victory with all our might."

The plan was well accepted by the entire regiment. Marching towards the hope of not winning but honoring themselves, the samurai led by Lord Kanaye marched the dreaded path to the Mongol invaders.

Lord Kanaye was wise to not charge blindly into the forest. Sheltered within the hills, he sent a horse without a rider into the forest. It was not too long before it was shot with arrows and neighed its last. Recognizing the directions from which they came from, he estimated the position of the Mongol archers.

The two hundred samurai archers formed the offensive line, ready to plunge their fire consumed arrows into the enemy lines. The entire army in turn formed the defensive rank adapted from Sun Tzu's Chinese warfare. The spearmen formed a defensive wall in the front, while the archers behind them prepared to fire. In the back, the swordsmen were well sheltered from an attack.

Lord Kanaye gave the order to fire. Two hundred fiery arrows flew from their bows and were delivered perfectly into the targets. To their fortune, the brushes and trees began to burn severely. Soon they could see Mongol archers writhe in their heated misfortunes. The archers finished three more rounds of fire when a deafening boom shattered their silent victory: the sound of the Mongol war drums signaling the cavalry charge. The Mongols would not risk any losses now.

No sooner had the war drums beated when a mass of perhaps one thousand horsemen swiftly approached the regiment. The samurai stood still. To die in combat was eternally better than retreating from the face of war. As the cavalry archers fired, some of the spearmen dropped and died, but the lines held strong.

Finally many Mongol horsemen met their doom. The entire regiment let out a huge war cry as the spearmen defended the regiment to their lives. Confusion broke out among the Mongols as many of them died by the piercing of spears. Their offense had been destroyed, but they still outnumbered the mighty samurai. The spears reached much farther than the swords of the Mongols. Welcomed with arrows and spears Mongols were soon to have many losses as heads flew and blood stained the land.

But as the Mongols broke through the few spearmen with sheer numbers, the archers became vulnerable. Stunned by the impact of the charge, the archers' bows were not useful in close combat. The heavy Mongol cavalry easily wiped across the 2 hundred archers as they struggled to defend the remaining samurai. Finally, Takai, Kanaye, and the rest of the samurai cried out and charged into the midst of the enemy.

Seven hundred Mongol horsemen remained against the five hundred samurai foot soldiers. As Takai engaged in the intense battle, many of his fellow soldiers breathed their last as an arrow, spear, or a sharp sword ended their lives. Takai fought valiantly and expected to die in the great conflict. As he finally realized, they were crushed. The heavy cavalry swept through the swordsmen as Mongols ruthlessly charged and pierced, stabbed, and shot.

Sights of heads rolling to the ground and men being sliced in half did not trouble the mind of Takai.

"If this is my destiny, it is my turn to die."

Images flashed before Takai's eyes. He saw his childhood friend, the beautiful Japanese girl he was planning to marry. His old sensei of jujutsu seemed to speak to him with penetrating eyes, while sipping green tea. He thought about the sakura blossoms in his village, the geisha girls and their traditional "koto" playing, the children rolling on the grass in the summertime, and, finally, the silence of mental peace. Arrows whizzed by, sinking into his body, but he did not notice. Samurai who lost their swords tackled their enemies and helplessly sank their teeth into them or beat them to death. Men's screams could be heard; so individually, for each man muttered what was most important to him.

"Here I die," Takai muttered.

Before this would happen however, the Mongols suddenly stopped their hostilities. Facing towards the opposite direction, they swiftly rode on away from the samurai. This was not a victory, for the numbers of samurai slain were much more than the number of Mongols. Takai finally realized the reason for this respectful intrusion.

Lying there on the grass and surrounded by a puddle of blood, Lord Kanaye struggled to talk.

"They have defeated our regiment and have left us. We cannot retreat. Honor yourselves."

The regiment along with Takai clearly knew what this meant. Drawing their swords together, they thought of courage, compassion, loyalty, honesty, courtesy, and honor. They were shamed in their defeat but they knew they could gain an honor for what they were about to do.

"A sakura blooms and withers, but lives on in the afterlife."

Unified in time, Takai and the swordsmen committed seppuku rather than retreating from the enemy. Disemboweling himself, Takai succumbed to the pain and the sacrifice for the way of the warrior. The Mongols would be there in the morning, knowing that the samurai were the true victors. To the samurai, no cost was too heavy for the preservation of their honor. They deserved a burial, but did not ask for one.

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Date:2005-02-18 18:27

Let me ask you a question.

If you were alive during the Meiji restoration, would you help the emperor or be against the emperor?

Explain using legitimate historical detail.

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Date:2005-02-11 23:33
Subject:Ninjutsu Origins

Ninja History (taken from Shinobi Kai Online)

In an era more than eight centuries ago Japan was composed of many independent feudal states. As warlords struggled to gain power, war was frequent, with many losses on all sides. One Samurai, DAISUKE NISHINA, disenchanted with war and the seemingly never ending wasting of life left the fields of war and retreated into the mountains. His aim was to leave behind the death and destruction of war, and to find peace for himself. Whilst living in the mountains he came across the warrior priest, KAIN DOSHI.

With the new understanding of life and religion he gained from Doshi, he decided to spend his days living in the remote mountain area.During this time Japan underwent a form of unification, and the ruling warlords decided to assist in this unification everyone should follow the same religion. Those refusing to change their religion were persecuted and many fled to the hills. Those that stayed were "convinced" of the wisdom in accepting another religious principle. Soon word spread of those in the hills following an alternative religion, and it was decided that those people also should be converted. During this time Doshi and Nishina, being worldly wise, had foreseen this and had trained all refugees in the fighting system they had created. And so were born the YAMABUSHI, the mountain warriors.

Many years passed before the Yamabushi became known as NINJA. Because of their total split with society the Ninja families went underground, and to counter-act the constant harassment they formed various strategies, from spy networks, to disguise and of course assassination. These were naturally for their own defence and survival. What better way of defending yourself than knowing when and where your enemy would attack? If you know the enemy army is larger than your own, better fed, better armed, and you have little chance of defeating him in open warfare, then why not assassinate the leaders of the opposing army. An army with no generals has no direction, after all. Soon the feuding warlords saw the advantage of having these resources for their own use, and the Ninja families began to be employed by the SHOGUN to help his personal disputes. Nishina had by now returned to the place of his birth, The Togakure village and to celebrate being "born again" took the name of the village as his own. So was born The Togakure system of Ninjutsu.

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Date:2005-02-09 20:56

Sorry about the lack of update lately.
Do you guys wanna see a good samurai movie that is not too old and is authentically made in Japan?

Check out "Heaven and Earth" (1990). Great graphics and battle scenes, it tells the story of Takeda Shingen vs Uesugi Kenshin during the Sengoku period (most intense time of feudal Japan). It also shows Oda Nobunaga too. Overall it is a great movie.

I've been reading about Christian samurai lately during the Satsuma rebellion. Although they lost, nonetheless Christianity was a major influence in some samurai's lifestyle and beliefs. It was passed from the Jesuits, and although some shoguns burned them, Oda Nobunaga himself tolerated them because of his tensions with fanatical Buddhist monks.

Keep up your samurai interests. =)

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Date:2005-01-19 21:32

Close your eyes. Count to 3. Now picture yourself in a sword duel as a samurai. Or picture yourself as a ninja hiding behind the castle walls to assassinate a lord. Or picture yourself enteratining others as a geisha.

Feudal Japan is amazing.

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