Category Archives: History

Video: Nishime Walkabout

How different can two neighborhoods be on the same island? Both the Maja Tour and Nishime Tours are guided around local neighborhoods on the same island by different local guides, yet the experiences are quite different. Dissimilar geography and historic precedents have led to the areas being used in different ways. In the Ryukyu period the island was separated into two districts, which became villages in the Meiji era. The separation of the island into districts and even smaller neighborhoods

New Video: Kumejima’s Maja Scenic Tour

Kume Island in Okinawa is home to many scenic and historic spots. For most visitors and locals, the main attractions such as Hateno Beach or events such as the yearly festival overshadow the much older local delights that can only be found when walking along with someone who truly knows the area. Recently, a new program is offering island experiences to delve into the historic, cultural, and natural side of Kumejima that the casual tourist might enjoy but find difficult

Kumejima Kumiodori

If you keep up with my Facebook page’s daily photos you might have seen the post below a few weeks ago from the Ancient Tales of Yomitan Village production that the Kume Island Board of Education brought to Kume Island to entertain and inform. Post by Benjamin Martin. That production started off a lot of discussions with the Tao Factory writers and producers and in just a short time they began working on a new production based on Kume Island’s

Senso Temple in Tokyo

After visiting Tokyo Skytree during my two-day trip to Tokyo I worked my way down to the new train station to work my way back into town. Many people had suggested the Asakusa area so I got off at the Asakusa station, just a few stops from the tower. I didn’t have any specific plans or maps but I quickly found my way to a highly populated area before the Senso Temple grounds. Between the Kaminari (lightning) Gate and the Hozo

Tokyo National Museum

Just outside the grounds of the Ueno Zoo is a wide paved pavilion. Walking from the zoo, past the Starbucks and to the left is the Tokyo National Museum. For those interested in Japanese history it is a great place to stop by and see a wide selection of art, architecture, and historic items.  The museum complex includes five separate buildings, each with a separate focus. Honkan: Japanese Gallery The largest and most central building of the museum is the

Kume Island’s Lost Village

Last week, after filming an upcoming video post, I went exploring through Kume Island‘s lost village.  I didn’t stay for very long because of the danger of poisonous snakes during this time of the year, but I did have my camera.  Hidden under the trees of the island’s north shore is an abandoned village.  Today, only the walls and a few stone buildings remain of what was once a vibrant village. The only visitors are the occasional explorers and locals

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture is hailed as the most fabulous of Japan’s many castles. It is definitely the largest. I had the opportunity to visit Himeji for a half-day at the start of March in 2013. Himeji Castle is a UNESCO World Hertiage site. Restoration Over the past several years, the main keep of Himeji Castle has been covered by a giant scaffolding that is essentially a building that encircles the high roof. The internal structure has been reinforced

Osaka Castle Part 2

Back in June, I covered some of the grounds and parks surrounding Osaka Castle.  Today, I have pictures from inside the grounds and keep.  Osaka Castle is full of history, but can become quite crowded as well.  When I went it was in the midst of Golden Week, and the crowds meant a long line to enter the keep and almost no chance of seeing any of the displays.  Although the peak of the building offers great views of Osaka,

2012 Nishime Eisa

I’ve talked about Eisa before, but one of the great things about this Okinawan take on dance and drumming is that there are so many ways to do it.  Almost everything is up for grabs when it comes to unique community identity in Eisa performances.  This past weekend, I attended the annual Nishime sumo competition and Eisa on Kumejima.  Nishime is one of nearly 35 aza or neighborhoods on the island. As at the Gima Okinawan Sumo competition, the purpose

Shopping in Japan

Shopping may not be instantly recognizable as an aspect of traditional Japan, but the art of  selling has long been part of Japan’s culture.  Looking back into Japan’s history, we can see the mark of consumerism in the merchant class of the hierarchical days of samurai rule.  When Japanese society was divided into the various classes, its sure to be noted the merchants were not accorded much honor, though they did have a group to their own. The samurai’s fall came in part because

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