Shichi-Go-San / Seven-Five-Three

November 15th is the day of Shichi-Go-San (七五 三, 7-5-3). This festival celebrates the rite of passage for girls aged 3 and 7 and children aged 3 and 5.

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Bushido: ethics and conduct, the way of the Samurai

Between the period of the Kamakura shogunate (1185) and the Muromachi period (1336) the code of moral conduct known as Bushido took shape (武士道, the path of the warrior)

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Japan History: Yagyū Munenori

Yagyū Munenori (1571 - 11 May 1646) was a Japanese swordsman, founder of Yagyū Shinkage-ryū, one of two official sword styles sponsored by the Tokugawa shogunate (the other was Ittō-ryū).

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Kitsunebi Matsuri, when folklore comes to life

In ancient Japanese folklore, the Kitsunebi (狐火, foxfire) was a yōkai that, overnight, suddenly appeared as a glowing red-orange and sometimes blue light.

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Japan History: Kusunoki Masashige

Shimazu Takahisa was born May 28, 1514, son of Shimazu Sagami no kami Tadayoshi, adopted by Shimazu Katsuhisa. He became the lord of Kagoshima after Katsuhisa's escape in 1526.

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The Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri and the rampant euphoria

Every year, generally during a weekend in mid-September, the streets of Kishiwada, a small town near Osaka, are invaded by the fervor and euphoria for the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri (岸和田だんじ祭).

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Japan History: Kusunoki Masashige

Kusunoki Masashige, (1294 - 4 July 1336) was born in Minato-gawa, province of Settsu, and was a 14th century samurai who fought for the Emperor Go-Daigo in the Genkō war.

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Japan Tradition: Akita Kantō

The Akita Kantō (秋田竿燈まつり) is the Akita city festival. It is celebrated from 3 to 7 August with the aim of praying for a good harvest. This festival is very special, and to participate there is a need for special skills.

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Japan History: Takeda Shingen

Takeda Shingen (Takeda Harunobu December 1, 1521 - May 13, 1573), firstborn of warlord Takeda Nobutora, was born in the powerful Takeda clan.

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Japan Tradition: Tenjin Matsuri

The Japanese summer is characterized by the famous matsuri, including the Tenjin Matsuri (天神祭) of which we speak today. Ranked as one of the three largest Matsuri in Japan, Tenjin Matsuri takes place in Osaka.

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Tanabata, the legend and modern times

Tanabata: on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month we celebrate one of the five gosekku (五節), the most important festivals of the year.

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Japan History: Sakamoto Ryōma

Sakamoto Ryōma (January 3, 1836 - December 10, 1867) is still recognized as one of the most important figures of the Tokugawa Shogunate and one of the greatest heroes of the Edo period.

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Japan History: Torii Suneemon

Torii Suneemon (1540 - 1575) was a Japanese samurai of the Torii family, known for his courage and for the incredible value demonstrated in the battle of Nagashino (1575).

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Japan Tradition: Sanja Matsuri

The Sanja Matsuri (三社祭) is one of the most famous festivals, largest and "wildest" festivals in Tokyo dedicated to the Shinto religion. The festival is held in honor of Hinokuma Hamanari, Hinokuma Takenari and Hajino Nakatomo, the three men who…

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Japan Tradition: Kanda Matsuri

In the middle of May on every odd-numbered year, the Kanda Matsuri (神田祭) takes place in Tokyo’s Kanda. Together with the Sanno Matsuri and the Fukagawa Matsuri, Kanda Matsuri is one of the three most important Shinto festivals being held in……

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Japan Tradition: Aoi Matsuri

One of Kyoto’s three most well-known festivals, Aoi Matsuri (葵祭) takes place every year on the 15th of May, also known as The Hollyhock Festival

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Japan History: Sanada Yukimura

Sanada (Yukimura) Nobushige was one of the greatest samurai of the Sengoku period. Second child of Sanada Masayuki and younger brother of Sanada Nobuyuki, he was never called "Yukimura" during his lifetime, since his real name was Nobushige.

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Japan Modern Culture: 令和 ReiWa, the new Era

Exactly one month ahead of Prince Naruhito's accession to the throne, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced the beginning of the new Era for Japan. Reiwa, formed by the kanji 令 (rei) "auspicious", "ordered" and 和 wa "harmony", "peace",…

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Japan Tradition: Saigō Takamori

Saigō Takamori (1828-1877) is remembered both for his important role in the Meiji Restoration which overthrew the shogunate in 1868 and for his failed rebellion against the new government less than a decade later. Although he died a renegade, a…

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Japan Tradition: Hinamatsuri

There is a special celebration held annually on the third day of the third month in Japan known as Hina-matsuri, also known as Doll’s Day or Girl’s Day. During this celebration, the misfortunes of girls are transferred to the dolls and the family…

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Japan Traditions: Wakakusa Yamayaki Matsuri

One of Japan's most famous matsuri is the Wakakusa Yamayaki Matsuri held in the city of Nara on the fourth Saturday of January. The Yamayaki festival (burning mountain) comes from superstitions to calm the spirits of the dead at the Uguisuzuka Kofun…

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Japan History: Hasekura Tsunenaga

Tsunenaga Rokuemon Hasekura (1571 - 7 August 1622) was a Japanese samurai and servant of Date Masamune, the daimyo of Sendai, famous for having led numerous delegations of ambassadors that led him to travel the whole world. He led a delegation of…

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Japan Travel: Meiji Shrine

The Meiji Period is one of Japan's most famous historical moments and includes the 44-year reign of Emperor Matsuhito. Located in the heart of Tokyo and surrounded by a natural and urban forest, the Meiji-Jingu is a pearl of Shintō worship and one…

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Japan History: Tokugawa Ieyasu

Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康, Jan. 30, 1543 - June 1, 1616) was the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate, who effectively commanded the Battle of Sekigahara in Japan in the 1600s until the reconstruction of Meiji in 1868.

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Japan History: Italy & Japan 150 Years of Friendship

150 years of friendship between Italy and Japan was celebrated in 2016. This relationship between these two countries dates back to 1866, on the 4th of July, when an Italian military ship sent by King Vittorio Emanuele II arrived in Yokohama

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Japan History: Forty-seven Ronin

A band of rònin (samurai without leader) avenged the death of their master. The event is known as the revenge of the forty-seven rōnin (四 十七 士 Shi-jū-shichi-shi, forty-seven samurai)

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Japan History: Date Masamune

Date Masamune (伊達 政宗, September 5, 1567 – June 27, 1636) was a regional ruler of Japan's Azuchi–Momoyama period (last part of the Sengoku period) through early Edo period. Heir to a long line of powerful daimyōs in the Tōhoku region, he went on to…

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Japan History: Ishikawa Goemon

Ishikawa Goemon (石川 五右衛門, 1558 – October 8, 1594) was a semi-legendary Japanese outlaw hero who stole gold and other valuables to give to the poor. Precisely because of this characteristic he is sometimes called the Robin Hood of Japan.There are…

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Japan History: Hattori Hanzō

Hattori Hanzō (服部 半蔵, ~1542 – November 4, 1596), also known as Hattori Masanari or Hattori Masashige (服部 正成), was a famous samurai of the Sengoku era. He is famous for saving the life of Tokugawa Ieyasu and then helping him to become the ruler of…

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Japan History: Samurai

The name Samurai derives from the verb saburau that means "to serve" or "to stand by one's side", literally "the one who serves". In Japanese,during the Heian period (794-1185), it was pronounced saburapi and later on saburai. Another name used to…

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Japan History: Minamoto no Yoshitsune

Yoshitsune was the ninth son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo, and the third child he had with Tokiwa Gozen. Yoshitsune's childhood name was Ushiwakamaru (牛若丸). Shortly after his birth, Heiji's rebellion broke out, and his father and his two older brothers…

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Japan History: Maeda Keiji

Maeda Toshimasu, (1543-1612) also known as Maeda Keiji or Keijiro, was a Japanese samurai who lived in the Sengoku Period (1467-1568). Born in Nagoya, he was the son of Takigawa Kazumasu, later adopted by his uncle Maeda Toshihisa brother of Maeda…

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Japan History: Uesugi Kenshin

Uesugi Kenshin,( 上杉 謙信) "The Dragon of Echigo" , powerful war lord and brilliant strategist, wise administrator and man of honor. Many are the names he used in his intense life, many the battles and the enemies he fought. Among them Takeda Shingen…

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Japanese Tradition: Oiran

In ancient Japan ‘women of pleasure’ were called Yūjo (遊女). This word identified their job and also marked the difference between common prostitutes and courtesans, also called Oiran (花魁). The figure of the Oiran is the one we will analyze in this…

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Japanese Tradition: Gion Matsuri

The Gion Festival or Gion Matsuri (祗園祭), this is how it has been called since the Meiji era, takes its name from the famous Kyōto area, Gion, Higashiyama district. It’s a religious celebration dedicated to the Susanoo God, also known as Takehaya…

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Japanese Culture: Geisha & Maiko

The most representative and mysterious artistic figure of the 'Country of the rising sun' is the Geisha (芸者 "Person who embodies art"). She is often confused with the Maiko (舞妓 "Dancing girl") that is the apprentice and aspiring geisha. To become a…

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Japan History: Oda Nobunaga

Oda Nobunaga is the son of Oda Nobuhide one of the daymio from the Owari province. When his father died in 1551, he started to go completely crazy taking the distance from the Oda clan allies, preferring his brother Nobuyuki. Even if he was…

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Japan Tradition: Hadaka Matsuri

Even though nowadays nudity is not a shame anymore, in this part of the world, and not only here, it still is one of those topics usually considered tingly. In spite of Japan being a nation full of beautiful contrasts, there is no better chance to…

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Japan Tradition: Seijin Shiki

Seijin Shiki also known as Seijin no Hi (成人の日) is the Coming of Age day. This is a Japanese holiday held every year on the second Monday of January. The goal of this day is to congratulate and encourage all those who have become 20 years old, the…

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Japan History: Zojoji Temple

The Zojoji temple was founded in 1393. Relocated to the present site in 1598 after Ieyasu Tokugawa, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, entered present-day Tokyo in 1590. After the start of the Edo Period, Zojoji became the family temple of the…

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Japan Travel: Asakusa & Sensoji Temple

Asakusa is one of the most famous district of Tokyo. Situated in the north-east side of the city and delimited by the Sumida river. Asakusa is a very interesting place mostly thanks to the Sensōji temple dedicated to Kannon Sama, Buddhist goddess of…

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Japanese Traditions: Ōmisoka – New year’s traditions

Shogatsu (or Oshogatsu) is the new year for the land of the Rising Sun. In the Meiji period, this date was coinciding with the Chinese lunar calendar, but during the restoration of the same period, Japan changed to the Gregorian calendar too, fixing…

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