Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Portrait of William Adams
Adams and a group of nearly dead survivors finally made it to
Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu
Though not formally educated, his technical and geographic knowledge was substantial. And his ability with languages was to become a key factor in the subsequent history of
A couple of years after
It was an interesting book and it revealed an aspect of Japanese history that I had not read about yet, that of some of the first foreigners to visit Japan. One thing about the book, although it is a book about the life of William Adams in
The character Blackthorne in James' Clavell's book Shogun is based on William Adams. In August, the town of Shizuoka holds a festival celebrating the event when Adams and his fellow sailors arrived in Japan near Shizuoka.
All in all it was an interesting book though and I learned more about the eventual persecutions of the Christians in
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Last Sunday I watched Samurai Banners (Furin Kazan). This movie is a samurai historical drama based on the sengoku period battle strategist Yamamoto Kansuke, a general for the great warlord Takeda Shingen. The movie stared Toshiro Mifune who played Kansuke. Furin Kazan means "wind, forest, fire and mountain" and was the battle standard of Takeda Shingen. It comes from Sun Tzu's The Art of War and essentially means "Move as swift as a wind, stay as silent as forest, attack as fierce as fire, undefeatable defense like a mountain."
Monday, August 17, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday night I watched Swords of Vengeance: Fall of Ako Castle (Ako-jo Danzetsu). Starring in this movie is Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba and Toshiro Mifune and was filmed in 1978. This samurai movie is about the Chushingura or Loyal 47 Ronin. The story of the 47 Ronin is probably the most famous samurai story in Japanese history. The story is supposed to be the classic example of samurai loyalty and honor. Of course the story has been sensationalized and glorified in the over 300 years since the incident.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Friday, August 07, 2009
Last weekend I watched Samurai I (Miyamoto Musashi 宮本武蔵) a film by Inagaki Hiroshi with Toshiro Mifune playing the character of Miyamoto Musashi, one of Japan's most famous samurai swordsman. Samurai I is the first of three and I plan to watch Samurai II and III this weekend. Samurai I was pretty entertaining. It followed the young Musashi, at that time known as Shinmen Takezo, as he fought for the losing side at the battle of Sekigahara and later how he tried to elude the authorities who were searching for him. Eventually he was befriended by a monk and taken to Himeji castle where he is locked up in a room to contemplate himself. He is eventually released and is then given the samurai name Miyamoto Musashi.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Company shows off new robot suit in Tokyo
TOKYO - Employees of a Japanese robotics company have been showing off a rehabilitation suit designed to help people with mobility problems on the streets of downtown Tokyo.
Cyberdyne said its 22 pound (10 kilogram) HAL — short for hybrid assistive limb — is equipped with sensors that read brain signals directing limb movement through the skin.
Wearing HAL, the three people took an hour-long train ride Monday from Tsukuba, north of the Japanese capital, to downtown Tokyo.
"HAL is to help people with weak leg muscles and mobility problems ... We wanted to show HAL is very useful for our daily life," said company official Takatoshi Kuno.
Belted to the waist, HAL relays brain signals to mechanical leg braces strapped to the thighs and knees, which then provide robotic assistance to people with weak limbs.
HAL comes in three sizes — small, medium and large — and has a one-leg version for a 150,000 yen ($1,570) monthly rental fee, while a two-leg unit goes for 220,000 yen ($2,300) a month. It was unclear when HAL would go on sale to the public or what the price tag will be.
The robotics company declined to say how much it cost to manufacture HAL.
Cyberdyne said the United States and some European nations have expressed interest, but it did not elaborate further.
HAL may have far-reaching benefits for the disabled and elderly. Japan is grappling with a rapidly aging society. About one-fifth of the population of 128 million is 65 or older, and that figure is expected to double in the next 30 years.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Saturday, August 01, 2009
This weekend I watched Kurosawa's samurai classic Kagemusha. Kagemusha is about the fall of the great Takeda clan at the end of the warring states period. The great clan warlord Takeda Shingen, who was feared even by Oda Nobunaga, was killed in 1573. But the clan generals fearing that their enemies Tokugawa Ieyasu and Oda Nobunaga would take advantage of Shingen's death and attack the Takeda, decided to hide his death. They employed a double or shadow warrior which is what Kagemusha means.