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Showing posts with label japanese history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label japanese history. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sakamoto International Cemetery Nagasaki


The Sakamoto International Cemetery in the Urakami area of Nagasaki in Kyushu is located near Sanno Shrine and the Atomic Bomb Museum. Established in 1888, the cemetery consists of two parts divided by a road. The later part was added in 1903.

Sakamoto International Cemetery Nagasaki

The Sakamoto International Cemetery contains the graves of Thomas Glover (1838-1911) and his family. Glover was an influential business man in Nagasaki who backed the domains of Choshu and Satsuma with arms in their successful bid to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate in the late 1860's.

Glover's son Tomisaburo, who was held under house arrest during World War II and committed suicide shortly after the end of the war, is also buried in the family plot. Tomisaburo's Japanese wife, Waka, is also laid to rest here.

Sakamoto International Cemetery Nagasaki, Kyushu, Japan

Sakamoto International Cemetery also includes a Jewish cemetery as well as the tombs of of French soldiers and Vietnamese workers killed in the Boxer Rebellion in China.

The first foreign cemetery in Nagasaki was begun at Goshinji Temple in 1859 for Dutch and Chinese traders with another one established near the Oura foreign settlement in 1861. When land near Oura became scarce, the cemetery at Sakamoto was opened as the number of foreigners living and dying in Nagasaki increased.

Nagai Takashi, the Catholic doctor, who did so much to revive the spirit of Nagasaki through his work and writings after the atomic bombing in 1945 is also buried in Sakamoto International Cemetery.

Tomb of Nagai Takashi, Sakamoto International Cemetery Nagasaki

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Three Japanese Authors

For a few years now I have nurtured an interest in Japan and its culture. Lately I have been searching far and wide for English translations of Japanese fiction, and often the Japan Times will turn me on to a potential choice.

Inspector Imanishi Investigates

Recently I have read Seicho Matsumoto's Inspector Imanishi Investigates. A reviewer commented, "A superb thriller... tantalizing." Ah, that description turned out to be quite accurate!

Although set in the late 1950's, the characteristics that continue to define Japan are ever present in the novel. Inspector Imanishi is a very likeable protagonist, and I was so taken by the book I searched for other Matsumoto titles, yet only three or so books have been translated into English. I did purchase a collection of Matsumoto's stories, The Voice and Other Stories, which I am clutching dearly for my upcoming flight to Japan.

Fires on the Plain by Shohei Ooka

Fires on the Plain, written by Shohei Ooka, was first published in 1951. The story is about a soldier's experience during World War II as he struggles to survive on the island of Leyte in the Philippines. It is a moving treatise on the brutality and senselessness of war. A film adaptation of the book was made in 1959, and it may be viewed on YouTube. One evening I watched the movie on my iphone while under the kakebuton. Even on the tiny screen I felt the impact of the film.

Fires on the Plain by Shohei Ooka

Then there is Taiko by Eiji Yoshikawa. I loved this book, a monumental work of nearly 1000 pages. This historical novel tells the saga of the Warring States, with an emphasis on Toyotomi Hideyoshi, hence the title, Taiko. The book will endow you with a working knowledge of that turbulent era in Japan's history. It can make visiting the historical sights in Japan a much richer experience.

Taiko by Eiji Yoshikawa

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Akechi Mitsuhide's Grave Kyoto


Not far from Shoren-in Temple, located on a quiet back street just south of the Okazaki district of Kyoto is the grave of Akechi Mitsuhide (1528-1582).

Akechi Mitsuhide's Grave Kyoto, Japan

Born near Akechi village in what is now Gifu Prefecture, Akechi was a general in the armies of warlord Oda Nobunaga, until he turned traitor against his patron and attacked and killed him at Honnoji Temple in Kyoto.

Akechi had risen to be one of Nobunaga's most trusted men, serving in the destruction of the Tendai monks at Enryakuji Temple on Mt. Hiei in 1571 and in Oda's most recent campaigns against the Mori clan in the west.

However, Akechi's mother had been killed by enemies of Nobunaga in 1579 and when Nobunaga began to slight his trusted subordinate in public, it seems Akechi set his mind to revenge on his erstwhile master.

In 1582, Akechi saw his chance and surrounded Honnoji, where Oda was staying with just a few followers, and either Oda was killed in the fighting or took his own life. Oda's son, Hidetada, was also hunted down and killed close to Nijo Castle.

Akechi Mitsuhide's Grave Kyoto, Japan

Oda's glittering castle palace at Azuchi on the shores of Lake Biwa, north of the capital, was also destroyed and looted by Akechi's men.

Oda Nobunaga's murder was avenged by another of his generals, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who along with the Christian daimyo Ukon Takayama, confronted Akechi's army at the Battle of Yamazaki in present-day Kyoto Prefecture, south west of Fushimi. Akechi - "the 13-day shogun" - fled the battlefield but was killed in unclear circumstances later in the day.

Bridge and stream near Area near Akechi Mitsuhide's Grave in Kyoto

The plaque at the small shrine states that Akechi's head was brought here by his followers. The severed head had first been presented at Oda's grave by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, in a symbolic gesture that revenge was complete.

Akechi Mitsuhide's grave is marked on public maps of the area erected outside notable temples and places of interest.

Akechi was the father of Hosokawa Gracia, a famous Christian convert of the times.

Google map of Akechi Mitsuhide's Grave

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Twenty-six Martyrs Museum Nagasaki


The memorial to the Twenty-six Martyrs and the adjoining Twenty-six Martyrs Museum in Nagasaki commemorates the twenty-six men who were crucified on the orders of warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi on February 5, 1597 on Nishizaka Hill, not far from present-day Nagasaki Station. The victims had their right ears cut off and were forced to walk from Kyoto to Nagasaki with their hands bound. On Nishizaka Hill they were then lanced on the cross with spears thrust diagonally through their bodies.

Shrine of Twenty-Six Martyrs in Nagasaki

An outdoor sculpture in the shape of a cross by Yasutake Funakoshi was erected in 1962 to mark this important event in the history of Christianity in Japan.

The Twenty-six Martyrs Museum at the site has an excellent collection of historical artifacts relating to the introduction of Christianity in Japan including original statues of the Virgin Mary, disguised as Kannon, the Japanese goddess of mercy, historic reliquaries, paintings, statues, carvings, books, maps, prints and fumi-e, metal images of Jesus or Mary, that Christians were forced to stamp on to renounce their faith after the crack-downs on Christianity at the beginning of Tokugawa rule in the 17th century.

Twenty-six Martyrs, Nagasaki

The highlight of the Twenty-six Martyrs Museum is an original letter written by Francis Xavier to King John III of Portugal.

Twenty-six Martyrs Museum Nagasaki, Kyushu, Japan

Luis Frois, the most prominent Jesuit in Japan at the time, attended the executions but was to die a few months later. A plaque at the site marks his life as a priest in Japan.

Shrine of Twenty-Six Martyrs Nagasaki Kyushu

Twenty-six Martyrs Museum
7-8 Nishizakamachi
Tel: 095 822 6000
Google map of the 26 Martyrs Museum

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hagi Castle Ruins

If you have read my previous posts, you know that I am an American who is crazy for Japanese history.

Hagi Castle Ruins, Yamaguchi

When my daughter and I visited Hagi it was because I was in a Mori Motonari phase. I wanted to see Hagi Castle Ruins, the place where Motonari's grandson and heir had lived.

Mori Terumoto had been forced to leave Hiroshima because he had supported Mitsunari's side during the Battle of Sekigahara. He built Hagi Castle in 1604 and the Mori ruled the domain for about 260 years.

Three cats at Hagi Castle, Yamaguchi

The castle grounds were very quiet. I touched the rock walls that remained, and as we moved forward I saw three cats sunning themselves on a wooden bench. "Three cats, just like the three Mori brothers who stuck together," I told Amanda. We decided to climb to the tsumemaru, or citadel, which sat atop Mt Shizuki, elevation 143m. The elevation meant nothing to this American raised on inches, feet, yards, and miles.

Mt Shizuki path at Hagi Castle

I had in my possession a piece of Hagi ware, a rather large and lovely vase I had purchased in the city. It was fairly heavy and I thought about setting it down and coming back to get it later. My daughter thought we might not return to the same spot, so I put the vase inside my backpack. Aaaarrrgh! What a mistake!

The trail up the mountainside was uneven and rough, necessitating extra steps here and there and caution where the path was muddy. We kept going, up and up, and I breathed very hard and sweated under the weight of the Hagi ware.

Top of Mt Shizuki, Hagi Castle, Yamaguchi

How long had it taken the Mori vassals to get up and down this mountain? When we reached the top I rested. Then there appeared a man in business attire who had obviously been climbing behind us. He looked perfectly groomed and refreshed, not disheveled and exhausted like me. For him, the trek had been no trouble at all.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Gifu Squirrel Village


I am fascinated by Japan's Warring States Era, and over the years I have visited historically significant sites all across Japan.

Gifu Squirrel Village, Mt Kinka

On this day my daughter and I took the ropeway up to Gifu Castle. Once inside, we enjoyed viewing the portraits of warlords such as Saito Dosan and Oda Nobunaga, but seeing the brutal weapons of war made us cringe with discomfort.

Also, I think there is something about Gifu Castle and its environs that you should know - there is a Squirrel Village. In fact, we stopped at the Squirrel Village before we climbed the steps to Gifu Castle (Sorry, Nobunaga). And we were utterly charmed.

Gifu Squirrel Village near Gifu Castle

After we paid the 200 yen entrance fee, the attendant handed us each a glove to wear. She opened the gate and we could see squirrels both gallivanting and lazing about. The attendant sprinkled a finely ground "nut dust" into our gloved palms and the squirrels were immediately attracted, jumping up and nibbling at the treat we held. It was pretty darn cute.

We each took pictures using our un-gloved hand. Next, we were given a few peanut pieces to feed to the caged chipmunk, who was even cuter than the squirrels. I felt sorry that the chipmunk was confined because it zipped frenetically around the cage - it would have driven my cats insane - but given a peanut, the chipmunk paused to eat. We were enchanted by the Squirrel Village, but if you are afraid of rodents (like my mom) or if you consider them pests (like my dad) it is probably best to pass this one by.

Chipmunk, Gifu Squirrel Village

Amanda and I reflected on what Oda Nobunaga would think about the Squirrel Village existing on the castle grounds. We concluded that it would meet his approval as long as it produced revenue!

Gifu Squirrel Village map

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Iwamotocho Horse-Watering Plaza

In slick, clean modern Tokyo it is very easy to forget that a little over a century ago the city had no subways or railway or sealed roads - let alone cars - and that what has become the hum and beep - and fumes - of traffic was once the clip-clop, whinny - and droppings - of horses.

Iwamotocho Horse-Watering Plaza, near Akihabara, Tokyo.

Iwamotocho Horse-Watering Plaza (Iwamotocho Uma no Mizunomi Hiroba) lies between the manga, cosplay and electronics mecca of Akihabara and the traditional doll and toy town of Asakusabashi (also renowned for its reasonably-priced and conveniently located tourist accommodation, hotels, and hostels. Note the minibus at the right of the picture: a free shuttle bus for one of Asakusabashi's most popular budget hotels).

Explanatory plaque at Iwamotocho Horse-Watering Plaza, Tokyo.

The plot - now just grass - has a plaque about its horse-watering history, erected by the Chiyoda ward council, translated as follows:

"Iwamotocho Horse-Watering Plaza

This was a place for watering horses drawing loads (rice, vegetables, seafood, building materials, etc.) from the Boso Peninsula and the north-eastern regions, and provided a resting spot for travellers. As such, it served an important role.

Chiyoda Ward Office"

Iwamotocho Horse-Watering Plaza is a now very silent and deserted, but refreshingly green, reminder to this long-gone aspect of Tokyo life.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Shiroyama Park Takayama


Shiroyama Park in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture is the former site of Takayama Castle.

Shiroyama Castle, Takayama

Kanamori Nagachika (1524-1608), an ally of Ieyasu Tokugawa, constructed Takayama Castle and the surrounding town of Takayama from 1588 onwards and his equestrian statue stands in the park, in recognition of his founding of the town.

Little now remains of the original Takayama Castle except for its stone walls, Hakuunsui spring and Otemon Gate.

Remains of Ohtemon Gate, Takayama

The 24 hectares of ground became a public park in 1873, which is famous for its cherry trees in season. Shiroyama Park is the largest public park in Takayama.

Hakuunsui Spring, Shiroyama Park Takayama, Gifu

Shorenji Temple is just to the north west of the hill on which Takayama Castle once stood.

Shiroyama Park Takayama Gifu Japan

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kosatsuba Edo Period Noticeboards


Kosatsuba were Edo period message boards erected at the entrances to post towns (-juku) on Japan's main highways such as the Nakasendo and Tokaido linking Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo).

Kosatsuba Edo Period Noticeboard, Ena

These wooden structures set out in clear fashion the laws and regulations of the ruling Tokugawa regime and the use of kosatsuba became widespread in Japan after 1711.

Regulations broadcast on the message boards included strictures against Christianity, which was proscribed at this time in Japan, a ban on forming associations not agreed with the authorities and announcements on the set fee for employing porters between towns.

Kosatsuba Edo Period Noticeboard, Ena

Punishments for disobeying the official Tokugawa laws were strict and included beheading and crucifixion. Severed heads were often displayed to deter others.

Nearly all of the kosatsuba on Japan's historic highways, including the Nakasendo and Tokaido, are modern restorations. Kosatsuba can be seen on the Nakasendo in Ena, Nakatsugawa, Ochiai, Magome, Tsumago, Kiso-Fukushima and Narai.

Kosatsuba Edo Period Noticeboard, Nakatsugawa

Walk Japan runs highly recommended walks along Japan's Nakasendo Way where participants can learn about the history of the highway in the Edo Period.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Kunozan-Toshogu Shrine


My impressions of Tokugawa Ieyasu and his son Hidetada, whether for good or bad, have been largely formed by the NHK's 2000 Taiga Drama "Aoi Tokugawa."

Kunozan-Toshogu Shrine, Shizuoka

Having loved that drama, I have sought to visit all related historical sites across Japan in recent years. I have been to Nikko and seen the monumental tribute Iemitsu created for his grandfather. There was snow on the ground at that time and the scene was quite lovely.

My daughter and I had heard about another Toshogu Shrine while making preparations for our May travels. I read that it was not as popular than the Shrine at Nikko - because it is less publicized? I was very interested in seeing Hidetada's tribute to his father - if Nishida Toshiyuki can't make you like Hidetada, then nobody can.

Kunozan-Toshogu Shrine, Shizuoka, Japan

There is a bus which takes you directly to the Toshogu Shrine, but we made a mistake and got on one that stops at the Nihondaira Zoo. It seemed like a pleasant place to spend the morning, but when you've got the Tokugawa on the brain, the zoo just won't cut it. There was no bus schedule listed at the zoo stop so we had to summon a taxi. The driver took us on a drive up the mountain for about 1100 yen. It is a simple drive with none of the hairpin turns of Nikko.

Kunozan-Toshogu Shrine, Shizuoka, Japan

We were dropped off at the Nihondaira Ropeway. A round trip ticket costs 1000 yen per adult. I think it is worth it to take the ropeway. The view is very nice and the trip is quick. Your alternative is to climb up the 1,159 steps on the other side of the attraction. I have discovered that type of climb is not so easy.

The Kunozan Toshogu Shrine is built and decorated in similar colors and style as Nikko, but the area is smaller. I can imagine Hidetada wanting to create a fitting tribute to his father and it is beautiful - it is also much more accessible than Nikko. There is much to contemplate. Once there stood a pagoda, but it was, according to the guide, "pulled down in 1873 under the prohibition of hybrid worship."

Unfortunately, the Kunozan Toshogu Shrine Museum was closed for some minor construction on the day of our visit. The collection comprises about 2,000 items, including a Spanish clock owned by Ieyasu. It was a gift from Phillip III of Spain, and it is said to have been treasured by Ieyasu. It is also the oldest mechanical spring clock in Japan.

My daughter and I liked the Kunozan Toshogu Shrine. We thought that Iemitsu wanted to outshine his father Hidetada and make something bigger and better and more spectacular, so he built the Toshogu Shrine at Nikko. He seemed like that kind of guy.

Kunozan-Toshogu Shrine, Shizuoka, Japan

Following our trip back on the ropeway we sat on a bench outside the Nihondaira Park Center. Four cats approached us. I always carry cat treats in my purse for such an occasion as this. Oh, they were excited and meowed as I distributed the contents of the bag to one and all. Then satisfied for the time being, they lolled in the sunshine amidst other tourists eating soft ice cream and regional strawberry confections.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Masako of Kamakura

I have read that Masako, the wife of Minamoto Yoritomo, was the most powerful woman in Japan. As she is portrayed in the NHK Taiga Dramas, she is fearless, shrewd, strong, and amazing. I doubt if Yoritomo would have encountered the success he attained without Masako's support, nor the Hojo clan.

Exploring Kamakura, A Guide for the Curious Traveler

When we visited Kamakura recently, we were eager to see signs of Masako's influence. We had a very helpful book, "Exploring Kamakura, A Guide for the Curious Traveler," by Michael Cooper. The book is full of historical information and interesting anecdotes which make one more fully appreciate the city's attractions. In addition, we had a map provided by the local tourist information center.

Yoritomo's tomb, Kamakura

We climbed the stairs to Yoritomo's tomb and contemplated the man's life (although I imagined him looking like Nakai Kiichi). A local resident mentioned that the local Yoritomo fan club had put up the historical information and tended to the grave site. Next we were ready to visit Masako's tomb, yet there was no indication on the tourist map that such a thing existed. We decided to ask the local resident, who very kindly provided detailed instructions to the burial place, located on the other side of the train station.

Masako's tomb, Kamakura

We found what is believed to be Masako's tomb at the top and furthermost point of a large cemetery. We did not understand why the Kamakura Tourist Association would make no mention of Masako or mark her tomb on the tourist map. It did not make sense to us that a woman of Masako's stature and place in history would be forgotten in the city she helped build.

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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Aya Castle Miyazaki Prefecture


Aya Castle is located in the middle of Miyazaki Prefecture 20km west of Miyazaki city.

The original Aya Castle (Aya-jo) is believed to have dated from the 14th century and was named after Koshiro Yoshito aka "Aya".

Aya Castle Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan

During the Sengoku ("Warring States") period of Japanese history the castle was lost to the Shimazu clan based in Kagoshima to the south in 1577. However not much later in 1615, the Tokugawa regime's policy of "One Country, One Castle" meant that Aya Castle was demolished.

The present keep (tenshu) was rebuilt in 1985 using original plans and houses a museum displaying samurai armor, weapons and historical documents.

Visitors to Aya Castle in Miyazaki Prefecture may also like to visit the Miyazaki Science Center (Cosmoland), the Miyazaki Prefectural Museum of Nature and History and Miyazaki Prefectural Art Museum.

Aya Castle
1012 Kitamata
Admission: 350 yen

Access: Take a bus one hour from JR Minami-Miyazaki Station to Aya-Machiaiba Bus Stop (approx. 1 hour). Aya Castle is then a 20 minute walk.

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Monday, May 06, 2013

Miyazaki Prefectural Museum of Nature and History


The Miyazaki Prefectural Museum of Nature and History in Miyazaki city in on the south east coast of Kyushu is located in the grounds of Miyazaki Jingu close to Miyazaki Jingu Station.

Miyazaki Prefectural Museum of Nature & History, Japan

The Miyazaki Prefectural Museum of Nature and History opened in 1971 and has exhibits connected with the natural history and history of Miyazaki Prefecture.

The museum is surrounded by the open-air Miyazaki Prefectural Museum Minka-en, where four historic farmhouses, some of them over 200 years old, have been moved from the hinterland of the prefecture to this location.

Miyazaki Prefectural Museum Minka-en, Kyushu, Japan

The Miyazaki Prefectural Museum of Nature and History has recreated forests and other natural environments, dinosaur fossils, insect specimens and stuffed animals and birds showing Miyazaki's diverse flora and fauna as well as recreated dwellings, clothing, crafts, tools, farm implements, photographs and dioramas showcasing the history of the prefecture.

Visitors to the Miyazaki Prefectural Museum of Nature and History may also like to visit the nearby Miyazaki Science Center (Cosmoland) and Miyazaki Prefectural Art Museum.

Miyazaki Prefectural Museum of Nature and History
2-2-4 Jingu
Miyazaki City
Hours: 9am-5pm; closed Tuesday
Admission: Free; charge for special exhibitions

Access: The museum is a short walk from Miyazaki Jingu Station.

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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Kagoshima Prefectural Museum


The Kagoshima Prefectural Museum presents the geography, geology and flora and fauna of Kagoshima Prefecture in the south of Kyushu.

Kagoshima Prefectural Museum, Kyushu, Japan

Though there is precious little English, the exhibits of stuffed animals and birds, fish and small reptiles in tanks, dinosaur skeletons, fossils, a scale model of the Sakurajima volcano and rocks from the area are mostly self-explanatory.

The Kagoshima Prefectural Museum has three floors of exhibits with the 4th floor on the annex having a planetarium.

Kagoshima Prefectural Museum (in Japanese)
1-1 Shiroyamacho
Tel: 099 223 6050
Admission: Free; 200 yen for the planetarium.
The museum is an short walk from the nearest tram stops Asahidori or Tenmonkandori and is close to the Reimeikan.
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Reimeikan Museum Kagoshima


The Reimeikan Museum in Kagoshima, on the southern island of Kyushu, is located at the foot of Mt. Shiroyama and is dedicated to the history, culture and folklore of Kagoshima Prefecture from ancient times to the present.

Reimeikan Museum Kagoshima Japan

The Reimeikan opened in 1968 to commemorate 100 years since the Meiji Restoration, an event of great importance in the history of Kagoshima when it was known as Satsuma domain.

The Reimeikan underwent a renewal and modernization in 1996.

The Reimeikan is built on what was formerly the site of Kagoshima Castle (aka Tsurumaru), of which only the stone walls and moats remain. The grounds contain a number of cherry trees.

Reimeikan Museum Kagoshima

The Reimeikan has three floors and includes exhibits and historical documents relating to the culture and festivals of Kagoshima including dioramas, scale models, paintings, scrolls, tools and clothing.

The Reimeikan's somewhat plain and austere exterior belies what is actually a very modern, interactive, variegated and intelligently laid-out museum that kids will enjoy every bit as much as adults.

The museum also contains a restaurant, a cafe, an auditorium and a shop.

The Reimeikan is close to the Statue of Saigo Takamori on Shiroyama. Access is from Shiyakusho-mae tram stop.

7-2, Shiroyamacho
Tel: 099 222 5100

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Chiune Sugihara Memorial Museum


The Chiune Sugihara Memorial Museum, located in the deep countryside of Yaotsu in Gifu Prefecture in central Japan, is a museum dedicated to the life and good deeds of this small town's most famous son.

Chiune Sugihara Memorial Museum, Yaotsu, Gifu

Chiune Sugihara (1900-1986) was born in Yaotsu and spent his early life at schools in Nagoya before studying languages in Tokyo at Waseda University. In 1919 Sugihara joined the Japanese Foreign Ministry and was posted to Harbin in China, becoming an expert in Russian.

Twenty years later Sugihara found himself as the vice-consul at the Japanese Consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania when the Second World War broke out in Europe with the German invasion of Poland.

Chiune Sugihara Memorial Museum, Gifu, Japan

It was here that thousands of European Jews besieged the Japanese Consulate begging for transit visas via Japan to escape Nazi persecution. Sugihara asked for advice from his superiors in Tokyo on how to deal with the escalating humanitarian crisis outside his consulate. Ignoring their orders not to issue visas, Sugihara followed his conscience and began hand-writing visas for the thousands of Jews pleading for an escape route.

Sugihara's actions of issuing valid transit visas are thought to have saved the lives of around 6,000 Jews, who fled across Russia to Vladivostok and then Japan to escape the concentration camps. Sugihara continued issuing visas even as his train was leaving the railway station Lithuania when the consulate was closed down in 1940 and he left for a new posting in Berlin.

Chiune Sugihara Memorial Museum

After the war Sugihara returned to Japan and was dismissed from his post. During the 1960s Sugihara used his Russian language skills working as a representative for Japanese companies in Moscow. It was in 1968 that he was contacted by people his actions had saved and he was honored by the Israeli government with the State Medal of Honor.

The Chiune Sugihara Memorial Museum presents the history of Sugihara's life using video (including English and Hebrew language versions), photographs, realia and a recreation of his office in Kaunas. Each visitor is given a blue "passport" on entry in remembrance of Sugihara's humanity.

The western-style museum is pleasantly built of cypress (hinoki) trees and close by is the Bells of Peace Monument representing the piles of visas issued by Suhihara, with the words "Love", "Courage" and "Heart" engraved on the bells.

Chiune Sugihara Memorial Museum
Yaotsu 1071

Hours: 9am-5pm; closed Monday
Admission: 300 yen

Access: there are irregular buses from Akechi Station on the Meitetsu Line to Yaotsu and then a bus to the museum (10 minutes) or a bus from Mino Ota Station to Yaotsu and then the same bus to the museum.
By car, the museum can be reached from the Toki and Tajimi ICs on the Chuo Expressway or from the Komaki IC on the Meishin Expressway and then National Highway 41.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Inshu-Ikeda Residence


The Inshu-Ikeda Residence (aka Kuromon or "Black Gate") in Tokyo's Ueno Park district is the former residence of the daimyo (feudal lords) of Inaba Province, present day Tottori Prefecture.

Inshu-Ikeda Residence, Ueno Park, Tokyo

Originally located in the Marunouchi area of the Japanese capital near Tokyo Station, the gate was moved here in 1954.

The Kuromon has a hipped gable roof and twin sentry boxes. The gate is classified as an Important Cultural Property.

Inshu-Ikeda Residence, Ueno Park, Japan

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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Meiji Restoration Museum Kagoshima


The Meiji Restoration of 1868 was a major turning point in Japanese history.

Over 200 years of Tokugawa shogunate rule came to an end after a turbulent decade of instability triggered by the arrival of the American Commodore Perry and his Black Ships at Shimoda in 1853.

Meiji Restoration Museum, Kagoshima

The new Meiji government began a process of Western-inspired industrialization and modernization that was to make Japan a modern state to rival Western nations within 50-60 years.

Two domains in South western Japan, Choshu (present-day Yamaguchi Prefecture centered on the town of Hagi) and Satsuma (present day Kagoshima) were the vanguard of the forces seeking to end the rule of the Tokugawa regime and center power in a "restored" imperial line.

Saigo Takamori, Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan

Such "heroes" of this movement include Kagoshima natives Saigo Takamori and Okubo Toshimichi and the museum is dedicated to the role Kagoshima played in this pivotal moment in Japanese and indeed world history.

The history of the Meiji Restoration is shown using dioramas, robots and a video animation (available in English as well as Japanese).

Meiji Restoration Museum (Ishin Furosato Kan)
23-1 Kajiya-cho
Tel: 099 239 7700
Admission: 300 yen
The museum is an 8 minute walk from JR Kagoshima Chuo Station or 3 minutes from the nearest tram stop Takamibashi.
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