Asian Culture Enthusiast

Historian Marius Jansen put Fukuzawa on a pedestal in The Making of Modern Japan, “Beyond the voyage of 1860 and the time of his death in 1901 Fukuzawa earned recognition as nineteenth-century Japan’s foremost modernizer. Founder of Keio, destined to become Japan’s first private university, commentator on cultural and public matters in a never-ending series of essays and books, his influence permeated every aspect of Meiji life.”

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Latest Historical Biographies Articles by Carmen Sterba

A Driving Force in the Moderization of Japan: Fukuzawa Yukichi – 29-Jun-12

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Asian Culture Enthusiast

Historical ninja were mostly samurai who doubled as spies from the 15th to 17th centuries. Ninja as fantasy characters now appeal to all generations.

How historical are ninja? They are more apt to appear in old samurai movies, manga and anime, than in history books. There were ninja who came from Iga and Koga, but not all ninja were from those areas of Japan. There were also female ninja called kunoichi, but the historical ones were likely more scarce than kunoichi in anime. One of the most important facts about real ninja is that most were samurai, who doubled as spies. Non-samurai, who had been paid as informants, were not considered ninja.

Ninja Gather Enemy Intelligence

On the Ninja Museum website developed in Iga is the following explanation about ninja: “Most people imagine that ninjas flew through the sky and disappeared, like Superman, waving ninja swords around, sneaking into the…

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The Urge To Wander

Built by a dutiful son for his retired parents, the Yuyuan is a 400 year old classical Chinese garden in the midst of the urban jungle that is modern Shanghai. Located in the heart of the old town in Puxi, not far from the bund, it is high on every tourist itinerary.

Not surprisingly therefore – unless you get there right after it opens – it is far from the “garden of Peace and Happiness” that it’s name suggests. It is beautiful nevertheless and incorporates all the aspects of Chinese landscape design and is well worth a wander.

A must do – according to most guidebooks and travel forums – just as you exit the garden, is to sample the iconic soup filled steamed dumplings at Nan Xiang Xialongbao Mantou.

Not the best we had in Shanghai (certainly not half as good as the ones from Ding Tai Fung or the pan…

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百物語怪談会 Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai

Sourced and translated from Mizuki Shigeru’s Hyakumonogatari, Kaii Yokai Densho Database, Japanese Wikipedia, Yokai Jiten, Nihon Kokugo Dai-ten, and Other Sources

To learn much more about Japanese Ghosts, check out my book Yurei: The Japanese Ghost

Late at night, a sublimely beautiful woman walks the street alone. As she passes by the light of a paper lantern, you notice something about her shadow—it is not human. Cast by the flickering light of the paper lantern is the clear shape of a cat.

She is a bakeneko.

What is a Bakeneko?

Bakeneko has been rendered in English in a variety of ways. Monster cat. Ghost cat. But the most accurate translation would be “Changing Cat,” as that is the defining characteristic of bakeneko.

The word bakeneko (化け猫) consist of two kanji; “Bake-“(化け) means to change form, to transform. The kanji is often used with yokai, and indeed a general term for…

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