Category Archives: History

Glover Garden Nagasaki

Nagasaki is a city full of history.  As the home of Dejima Island, it was one of the first Japanese cities to be influenced by foreigners.  When Japan finally did open,  many entrepreneurs from around the world traveled to the city to take part in new opportunities.  One of them was Thomas Blake Glover from Scotland.  Upon the top of a hill he built a house that still stands today, along with several historical buildings and gardens. The Glover Garden (pronounced closer to

Osaka’s Shitenno-ji Buddhist Temple Part 2

If you happened to read the first part of my Shitenno-ji tour you may have felt a vague sense of disappointment, incompleteness, or even confusion.  Don’t worry, all is answered here as our little tour moves past the gates and into the ground of the oldest state sponsored Buddhist Temple in Japan (the buildings aren’t the oldest, since they’ve been rebuilt, but the ground is the same-ish).  According to the English Language pamphlet provided with my entry fee, “Shitennoji was founded in 593 by

Shitenno-ji Temple, Osaka

Shitenno-ji is located in Osaka, Japan. It is the first Buddhist temple to be built by the state, specifically under the direction of Prince Shotoku. The Prince had a significant hand in promoting Buddhism in Japan during the 6th Century. The architecture is similar to Nara’s Horyuji Temple with a main gate, lecture hall, five-story pagoda, golden hall, and other structures. Unlike Horyuji, which holds the world’s oldest wooden building, Shitenno-ji has been rebuilt several times. Still, the grounds are

More on Japanese Roofing

Aside from a childhood obsession with Legos, I’ve never really been huge into architecture and building, yet something about Japanese style roofing has always caught my eye.  I did another post on roofs in Kyoto and one on clay that showed a bit about how roofs are put together in Okinawa and Japan, but a recent trip to the Shikina Royal Gardens gave me the opportunity to learn more about how Okinawan roofs were made while at the Udun Palace. The first part

Udun Palace – Okinawa

Last Wednesday I took you on a virtual tour around the Shikina Royal Gardens in Naha.  You might have noticed a glaring omission, there were almost no buildings among the pictures.  Though the gardens are beautiful and expansive, the main attraction of Shikina is the pond-side Udun Palace.  The palace is an expansive building built as a second home for the Ryukyu Royal Family. The building was also used to house visiting dignitaries from China who came for the crowning

Shikina Royal Garden

The Shikina Garden dates to the end of the 18th century and the Ryukyu Kingdom.  A UNESCO registered World Heritage site located in Naha City, Okinawa, the gardens are a located on large grounds with a multitude of historic buildings, views, memorials, and sights.  I was lucky  enough to be introduced to this less known historic landmark during my Golden Week trip to Naha. The grounds are the site of the largest second residence of the Ryukyu royal family.  There

Clay in Okinawa

Every culture has its own history of art and tool development.  One of the most interesting things about Japan, is that it has such a long and isolated history.  The fact that for much of Japan’s history it was culturally isolated, means we can find answers to some of today’s questions in the relics of the past. There are many questions, but if you travel through Okinawa Prefecture, you might find yourself wondering about the red roofs, the shisa lions,

Kitadaito Island’s Phosphorous Mine Ruins

Three hundred and twenty kilometers from the Okinawa mainland, two small islands sit alone in the South Pacific.  The Daito Islands, one time the Borodinos, have a short history, having been settled only 100 years ago.  Still they made it in time for both world wars.  Kitadaito is the smaller of the two islands, and boasts one of the most unique blendings of culture in Japan.  During the war, Kitadaito was settled mainly to harvest phosphorous.  It never became a

Mabuni (Suicide) Cliff Okinawa

There are books written on the subject of World War II, of the horrors and reasons, so I won’t go into it here.  Still there are places throughout Japan that remain a testament to what happened in the hope future generations do not repeat the same mistakes.  One of those places is in Okinawa and is called Mabuni Cliff. Located in Southern Okinawa, Mabuni cliff remains a reminder of the dangers of war-time propaganda, which helped make Okinawans and the Imperial Army

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