10 Interesting Edo Period Facts You Probably Did NOT Know

Sushi Etiquette Japan 6

The Edo Period, also known as the Tokugawa Period, was considered the last period of history that was considered ‘traditional’ and ‘olden’ Japan.

This era was characterized by strict samurai ruling, rapid economic growth, peace across the prefectures, borders closed, cultural revolutions, and in particular, the major urbanization of Japan.

For example, it was during this period that such forms of entertainment as Kabuki and Haiku became popular. It was also during this time that sushi came into existence!

In fact, there are many interesting cultural and traditional aspects of Japan that emerged during the Edo Period that you probably didn’t know.

Let’s have a look at some of them with these 10 Edo Period Facts!

1. Sushi was the ‘fast-food’ option of the Edo Period

Sushi may seem like a Japanese dish that has been around forever, but it was actually invented by a street vendor as a snack during the Edo Period.

Back then, it was tasty, nutritious and cheap, and thus became a staple for the less affluent people in Tokyo.

Due to the industrialisation efforts of the Shogunate, there were many construction workers who were mostly single men who either did not know how to cook or were too tired after work. Sushi was the easiest option, and fast became one of the most popular options for food.

However, it wasn’t until the early to mid 1900s that its popularity spread around Japan, as this was when technology caught up and made refrigeration and transportation easier.

Read More: 10 Things Not To Do When You Eat Sushi In Japan

2. Women shaved their eyebrows after marriage (amongst other things!)

Edo Period Beauty Standards

It’s often the case that beauty is in the eye …continue reading

    

Best Tourist Spots in Kurashiki

Have you heard of Kurashiki (倉敷), a charming Japanese town that is known for its Edo Period canal district and old storehouses? The Ohara Museum and Ivy Square with historical significance but a trendy feel to it are other attractions of Kurashiki. Chances are that this is the first time you learn about what’s called the ‘Venice of Japan’, and that is because it is not on the average international tourists’ radar yet. Local Japanese tourists already know about the charms of this city in Okayama Prefecture though, and we would like to introduce the best tourist spots in Kurashiki to you as well! History of Kurashiki During the Heian […]

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Woman’s Japanese countryside life with dogs has people thinking she’s living out Ghibli movies

Source: grapee.jp

With many beloved animation giant Studio Ghibli’s films being set in Japan, it’s not exactly a surprise that you can run into areas that seem to recreate Ghibli anime magic in real life when you explore the country.

Japanese YouTube channel wan life (Dog’s life) very much shows an area and lifestyle with that Ghibli aesthetic in spades, as it covers the daily relaxing adventures of a woman and her three dogs who live at the foot of Mount Kai-komagatake, which straddles Hokuto City, Yamanashi Prefecture and Ina City, Nagano Prefecture.

The charming “slow life” videos have gained quite a following, with many finding themselves soothed by the “in harmony with nature” aura that each video gives off–which shouldn’t be surprising as the channel’s uploader has been living in the area for 26 years.

There’s some DIY appeal to be seen, as you watch her boil wild vegetables from the forest and make them into salads or deep fry them on skewers, all with the company of her three canine friends who seem more than happy to explore the almost fairytale like setting.

Watching her introduce her home, which looks right out of a Studio Ghibli film, is also a treat, as are how she impalements simple items purchased from 100-yen store Seria into her daily living.

Those looking for some real life Studio Ghibli aesthetic, DIY tips, or simply something soothing ASMR and visual stimulation may want to check in on dog’s life on YouTube!

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Yoshiwara – Discover The Old Tokyo Red Light District of Edo Period

Yoshiwara Tokyo Edo Red Light District 3

Most people will know Tokyo’s red-light district as Kabukicho, but this wasn’t always the case. Throughout a huge chunk of history, Old Tokyo’s red-light district actually lay nearby to Asakusa, in an area once known as Yoshiwara.

It goes against the grains of social norms today to speak casually and openly about the activities commonly associated with red light districts.

Yet back in the days when Yoshiwara was arguably the most popular destination across Japan, visitors were rampant and it was not uncommon or even stigmatised to marry a woman from the district.

This relatively unknown part of Tokyo’s history is full of eye-opening, albeit some dark, facts that you might find interesting to learn. Let’s discover more Yoshiwara!

History Of Yoshiwara

Whilst most areas of Old Japan have carried over to current areas that exist today, Yoshiwara is not one of them. Circa medieval Japan, prostitution was widespread, and growing. The Edo shogun then confined it to somewhere on the outskirts of today’s Ningyocho.

This became known as Japan’s first ever red-light district.

However, it didn’t last long as in 1657, the Great Fire of Meireki burnt the entire place to the ground. Yoshiwara was then moved to a new district, somewhere within the north of today’s Asakusa, and thus became the greatest entertainment district across all of Edo.

Yoshiwara Tokyo Edo Red Light District 2

At one point in time, it is believed that Yoshiwara employed more than 9000 women in this district. Most lived out their lives as prostitutes, waiting behind bars at establishments until men chose them to spend the night with. Some, however, were lucky enough to become apprentices to high-ranking oirans and …continue reading

    

The 10 Best Yakuza Movies You Should Definitely Watch

Best Yakuza Movie - Ryuji 1983

Best Yakuza Movies – The Yakuza are essentially the Japanese Mafia, a hierarchical organisation characterised by underground crime, black market trading, extreme subservience and prideful violence.

Surprisingly, they’re also viewed as a business organization, complete with business cards, corporate offices, investments and trade, and even tabloid magazines!

Since gaining immense popularity and recognition during the post-war economic book in the 1960s, the Japanese mafia have dipped their fingers in many different pies. They’ve spawned rational fear amongst the public with their gang violence and territorial wars, aided in humanitarian efforts across Japan, and a certain syndicate has even developed a thorough written exam for aspiring gang members to sit.

Unsurprisingly, the Yakuza have since developed their own genre of movies and shows. Most will tell stories of gang members seeking vengeance and honor through violence, toppling authority through schemes, and the difficulty of finding love.

We’ve listed below some of the best Yakuza movies you should watch.

1. Outrage (2010)



Outrage is an amazing movie directed by Takeshi Kitano, one of the most popular Japanese movie directors. The film is about a territorial Yakuza syndicate looking to assert power and dominance by getting rid of a rival gang.

Sekiuchi is the gang leader of the Sanno-kai, a huge gang who control the entire Kanto region. He learns that one of his henchmen has become friendly with an alliance of the dis-associated drug-dealing Murase-gumi gang whilst in prison, and is not happy.

Said henchman, named Otomo, is then set the task of bringing the Murase-gumi gang in line.

What ensues is a bloodbath of violent gang fights, killings, and backstabbing. Of course, the law enforcement officers are too corrupt and afraid to step in.

2. Graveyard of Honor (2002)



This movie is Takeshi Miike’s version of the 1975 masterpiece of the same name.

It follows the story of …continue reading

    

Kyoto-based company develops the world’s first audio metaverse platform, an inclusive digital space for all

Source: grapee.jp

With the majority of the world having been put on hold over the last two years, people have found the drive to pursue a more digital existence. This motivation has ultimately led to the launch of a variety of ways to enjoy virtuality, such as with VR technology, cryptocurrencies and the expansion of the metaverse.

Now, I won’t go into too much detail about the metaverse itself, but for those who are reading the word for the first time think of it as a network of interconnected virtual worlds developed for social interaction.
So far, the majority of these metaverse technologies have been focussed on visual elements, which, for a world that revolves around networking and being “accessible to all”, ironically emphasises it’s faults when it comes down to all-around inclusiveness.

In recognition of this issue, Kyoto-based Dokidoki Co., Ltd. – the company behind live streaming audio app Dabel – has stepped up to the task of creating an audio metaverse platform that is intended to break down the boundaries currently felt in the digital realm.
Presently in the beta testing stage, this new audio metaverse platform is called Cubemint.

Dokidoki Co., Ltd. claims that Cubemint came into being thanks to the users of their live streaming audio app Dabel. Through surveying, the company detected that many of these users are visually impaired or sensitive to visual stimuli, and developed an app and basis for a metaverse platform that is not affected by these barriers, instead overcoming them and successfully creating a digital social world that is accessible to all.

CEO and founder Takahito Iguchi explains; “One of the biggest challenges the Metaverse is currently facing is inclusiveness and accessibility. Considering this, we aim to make Cubemint an audio metaverse space that everyone can access, and ultimately eliminate …continue reading

    

World heritage site Nijo Castle in Kyoto lights up in Ukrainian flag colors to pray for peace

Source: grapee.jp

An expression of solidarity and prayer for peace

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kyoto, a sister city of Kyiv, lit up the World Heritage site of 二条城 Nijō Castle in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag on the evening of March 4th, 2022.

The lights will be turned on from sunset to 10 p.m. until March 15th, 2022, as an expression of solidarity with Ukraine and to wish for peace.


Nijo Castle: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Built in 1603, Nijo is the former Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Period. As one of the best surviving examples of feudal-era Japan castle palace architecture, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

For more information, visit their official English website here.

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10 Things NOT To Do When You Eat Sushi In Japan | Sushi Etiquette

Sushi Salmon

Sushi Etiquette – Do you remember the first time you were introduced to sushi? Those bright and colourful rice rolls filled with all of your favorited ingredients, made fresh daily and super affordable at that?

By now, almost every country around the world will have a sushi joint selling anything from crunchy rolls of prawn tempura to delectable pieces of salmon nigiri. Most places will offer you a small portion of wasabi and soy sauce to top or dip your sushi in before you take a bite.

The moment we said that, we know you’re imagining that moment of inhaling the smell of sushi before you pop it into your mouth. It’s the small window of anticipation that anyone who’s ever eaten sushi will recognise!

As one of the most popular foods globally, sushi is a staple for anyone’s diet!

However, did you know that there is such a thing as sushi etiquette?

You may have grown up simply picking up your sushi with your chopsticks and dipping it into a small plate of soy sauce mixed with wasabi before taking a bite.

However, when you’re eating it in Japan, there is a list of etiquette norms for consuming this delicate dish that stems from hundreds of years of food culture. Some of them you may be aware of, such as never mixing the pickled ginger and sushi together, but others might be completely unheard of, such as eating the sushi rolls only after sashimi has been consumed.

We’ll take you through 10 things not to do when you eat sushi in Japan. Read this ahead of entering a sushi restaurant before you accidentally commit a faux pas in front of a seasoned Japanese sushi chef and you have no idea why he’s watching you in horror!

1. Never put your wasabi directly into your soy sauce

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Mom’s sushi for her one year old is so good looking adults want a bite

Source: grapee.jp

No matter how many fans a household has of sushi, it’s not quite a suitable meal to share with a baby. Fortunately for Japanese Twitter user and father Koharu no Papa (@springpapa1), his wife is quite creative and considerate in the kitchen.

To celebrate the one year birthday of their daughter, his wife put together a special menu of sushi with ingredients safe for the baby to enjoy, and the pictures he shared of it have charmed many on Twitter.

Because sushi doesn’t actually require raw fish or meat (the only requirements are shari, sushi rice, and neta, a topping), this in itself isn’t so surprising, but the skill and attention to detail with which she recreated actual restaurant sushi with substitute ingredients is incredible!

Source: @springpapa1
Source: @springpapa1

As you can see, without knowing the ingredients you might think you’d been served a gourmet sushi dinner with no changes. Koharu no Papa provided a list of the substituted toppings and ingredients his wife used when artistically arranging the sushi.

Top row, left to right:

Uni (eel)-substituted with kabocha pumpkin.

Shirasu (whitebait)-no substitute.

Tamago (egg)-no substitute.

Tuna-no substitute.

Bottom row, left to right:

Ika (squid)-substituted with daikon radish.

Maguro (tuna)-substituted with tomato.

Salmon-substituted with carrot.

Wasabi-substituted with edamame paste.

The sushi for our baby my wife made is just too adorable, so I’d like you to take a look!

奥さんが作った赤ちゃん寿司が可愛すぎるから見てほしいですっ🍣 pic.twitter.com/P7BlAGW1eV

— こはるのpapa 1y (@springpapa1) February 28, 2022

Koharu no Papa added that his wife cut the nori seaweed used on the gunkan maki sushi pieces so that it would be easier for the baby to eat. Many left impressed comments, saying the creative sushi looked just like the real deal, and that they would have no problem picking it up …continue reading

    

Yakuza Facts – 10 Things You Probably Did NOT Know About Japanese Mafia

Yakuza Facts Japanese Mafia 7

Many people are probably intrigued by the idea of the Yakuza, also known as the Japanese mafia. In a country where rules are golden, subservience is rewarded, and violence is highly censored, it’s hard to imagine that its underground (and even above ground!) scenes are rife with gangster activity.

But it seems that it’s because of these social customs that the Yakuza are thriving and are as populated as ever. It’s relatively known that the Yakuza value obedience and control their organisation through strict ordinance.

Whilst the Japanese mafia have a bad social reputation in Japan and people often go out of their way to dissociate with them, they’re actually a lot more active in society than most people know.

We’ve collated some of the most interesting facts about the Yakuza that you will be gobsmacked to know!

1. There is an entrance exam to join the Yamaguchi-Gumi

We’re starting off this list with the most unbelievable fact: there is actually a 12-page exam to join the Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest Yakuza syndicate across Japan!

As of the time of writing, there are more than 100,000 members within the Yakuza. This includes Japanese as well as international members who are split up across many Yakuza organizations.

The Yamaguchi-gumi are amongst the most well-known organisations in Japan. When the government introduced laws to counter organised gangster activity, the Yamaguchi-gumi then responded by creating a 12-page exam that candidates needed to pass to join.

Yes, this is a written test that people actually need to study for!

The purpose of the exam is to ensure that all future members are aware of the current laws, and thus will be knowledgeable on how to make it work in their …continue reading