Rare hand-colored photos of Japanese samurai in the late 1800s

Mashable (by Alex Q. Arbuckle):

The military-nobility caste known as samurai — roughly meaning “those who serve” — emerged in medieval Japan as provincial warriors, and rose to control the country in the 12th century.

As the enforcement arm of the ruling shogunate, the samurai were elevated to a position of privilege. They followed a code of honor called bushido, informed by Confucianism and Zen Buddhism. Bushido emphasized martial fearlessness, discipline and loyalty, as well as general kindness.

These photos, made in the years after Japan finally opened its ports to international trade, capture samurai in their final days. With the 1868 Meiji Restoration and the end of feudalism, carrying swords was prohibited to all but the new national armed forces.

The samurai class was dissolved, but bushido survived as the national moral code of the new Japan.

1900

c. 1865

c. 1865

Two samurai in firefighter dress.

c. 1864

1867

c. 1867

1867

1877

c. 1880

c. 1880

1882

1890

1885

1870

c. 1865

1867

1867

c. 1865

c. 1860

Six professional ninja jobs being offered by Japanese tourism board, women and foreigners welcome

NS 0

RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

Japan is looking for a few good shinobi.

If you’re feeling sad because you weren’t chosen as one of the two samurai being recruited  in Aichi Prefecture this month, cheer up! It turns out there’s now another opportunity to become a professional sword-wielding warrior, as Aichi’s tourism board is now looking to employ six new ninja.

Similar to Aichi’s samurai-themed Nagoya Hospitality Generals Brigade, the Hattori Hanzo Ninja Squad, which also operates under the name Hattori Hanzo and the Ninjas, is a Nagoya-based group that makes live appearances to promote tourism to the Aichi area and Japan in general to both domestic and overseas travelers. As a ninja, your work tasks will include putting on awesome martial arts stage shows and instructing kids in proper shuriken throwing technique.

At 180,000 yen a month, the Hattori Hanzo Ninja Squad starting salary is identical to that of the Nagoya Hospitality Generals Brigade. The Ninja Squad also looks to be an equal opportunity employer. Not only does the group include kunoichi (female ninja)…

NS 2

NS 3

…the applications seem to be open to non-Japanese would-be ninja as well, as evidenced by the fact that the Ninja Squad has made its recruitment information available in English as well.

A high degree of athleticism and acrobatic talent are of course prerequisites for the job, as are these seemingly contradictory, yet in this case totally justified, personality traits:

● A desire to be in the spotlight, even though you’re a stealthy ninja
● A fondness for talking with others, even though you’re wearing a mask and hood
● A kind heart, even though you’re carrying a sword

If you meet all those criteria, and you think you’d look good in black, applications can be found here, and will be accepted until March 22.

 

Champion figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu to make on-screen acting debut as samurai lord

Tono top

RocketNews 24:

Olympic gold medalist, Yuzuru Hanyu will be making his screen debut as a samurai lord in the Edo period!

Figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu captured the nation’s collective heart when he won the gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Now, Japan’s sweetheart is set to captivate audiences on the big screen as he makes his very first acting appearance in the movie Tono, Risoku de Gozaru (which roughly translates to “The Interest Please, My Lord”).

The movie is set approximately 250 years ago in the Edo period, during which the Tokugawa Shogunate ruled Japan. The film’s plot centers around nine ordinary inhabitants of a post station town and their efforts to save the townspeople from the burden of the heavy taxes imposed on them by the local government.

▼ Here’s the title of the movie, set against the picture of a Edo Period coin in the background.

Tono 2

In the movie, Hanyu plays Date Shigemura, the lord of the Sendai Domain, who is apparently sympathetic to the plight of the people under his rule. According to the information that has been released, Hanyu’s role isn’t a huge one but is nonetheless a symbolically key figure in the story. Hanyu, who himself is from Sendai, the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture, reportedly was quite happy to play an actual historical figure from his birthplace, especially as the story is considered to be based loosely on true events.

 

Hanyu filmed his scenes last summer, and in commenting on his first acting experience said that it was a bit difficult to act with spoken lines and accompanying movements, which is  quite different from what he is used to in figure skating. He admits he was quite nervous while filming but enjoyed seeing the process of movie making first hand and meeting so many talented actors. He also said that he was pleasantly surprised to learn of this touching story involving Date, whom he tried his best to portray convincingly with both authority and kindness. Hanyu also added that he hopes the acting experience will add to his depth as a skating performer, not just in competitions but in exhibitions and shows as well.

 

Even fellow actors in the movie were apparently surprised by Hanyu’s appearance, as Sadao Abe, who plays the protagonist, was reported saying that he was stunned to learn that Hanyu would be cast in the film, adding that he was impressed with how the famous skater handled his acting duties.

The movie is scheduled for release in theaters across Japan on May 14. We have a feeling that the film just might attract a whole new audience of people desperately wanting to see the prince of ice on the big screen!

Lightsaber kendo video brings Star Wars’ Japanese influences full-circle

We’ve heard a lot about Star Wars director George Lucas’ admiration for Akira Kurosawa movies and the samurai inspiration that spawned Darth Vader’s costume and helmet for the series.
Here we can see how the Japanese martial art of kendo, influenced the many lightsaber duels throughout the series.

Reveal your inner fashion samurai with traditional clothes for the modern world

shizukuya 17

RocketNews 24 (by KK Miller):

For their 10th anniversary, Wazigen Shizukuya is providing gorgeous modern hakama and yukata styles for all the men.

Hakama, yukata and kimono may be the traditional clothing of Japan, but there’s no reason that you can’t wear and enjoy them every day. Wazigen Shizukuya opened its doors in 2005 with the goal of combining original, innovative styles with traditional Japanese men’s clothing for the modern world. Whether it is a casual weekend outfit, something to wear to work or clothes for a formal occasion, Shizukuya has just the look for you.

Since this year marks their 10th anniversary, they are offering a limited special collection of hakama and yukata arranged in 10 beautiful and striking styles. Even on mannequins, the outfits display a classy, timeless appeal that anyone could envision themselves wearing next Monday morning.

▼Style 1 : Leather Hakama, “Godzilla Leather”. These pants look just like the kaiju’s skin.

shizukuya 1

▼ Leather Hakama, “Orochi Leather”. An outfit you just can’t look away from, either out of fear or because it’s so gaudy.

shizukuya 2

▼ Style 2: Feel the Wind, Tayori”. This sytle is simple, refined and elegant and all wrapped in a garment light enough to feel the wind and the sun.

shizukuya 3

▼ Feel the Wind, “Kairoh”. The mix of various geometric shapes, colors and paisley designs give the impression of the Silk Road.

shizukuya 4

▼ Feel the Wind, “Kage E”. The vivid green undershirt paired with the see-thru black shirt evokes memories of kage-e or “shadow pictures”.

shizukuya 5

▼ Style 3: Yukata, “Nazca”. Decorated with ancient Peru drawings, this yukata is a brilliant mix of ancient times with simplicity and elegance.

shizukuya 6

▼ Yukata, “Asura”. The silhouette of the powerful demigod is a bold feature on this simple, two-toned yukata.

shizukuya 7

▼ Style 4: Openwork Mantle, “Kaiko”. The colors and weave create the impression of a silkworm emerging from its cocoon.

shizukuya 8

▼ Openwork Mantle, “Kaheroh”. This piece is designed after mayflies and their brief and fleeting lives.

shizukuya 9

▼ Openwork Mantle, “Hotaru”. This is the manliest of the mantles and would look dashing with Japanese wear or a Western suit.

shizukuya 10

▼ Style 5: Casino Royale, “Specter”. Perfect for those long fall nights, it has patterns straight out of the beginning of a James Bond movie.

shizukuya 11

▼ Casino Royale, “Beautiful Targets”. The countless pure white threads and argyle patterned pants accentuate this gorgeous outfit.

shizukuya 12

▼ Casino Royale, “For Your Eyes Only”. The contrast of bold red and brown leaves a passionate impression.

shizukuya 13

▼ Casino Royale, “Never Say Never Again”. The showy yet tasteful arrangement of colors creates a look that says “license to kill”.

shizukuya 14

▼ Style 6: Wazi-Hasode, “Tomorrow Never Die”. An extension to  the 5th style of clothing, this look will guarantee you have everyone’s attention no matter where you are. Perhaps it’s not a great spy outfit…

shizukuya 15

▼ Wazi-Hasode, “Erased License”. Whether paired with hakama or a suit, people won’t be able to keep their eyes off you.

shizukuya 16

Wazigen Shizukuya promises to reveal four more styles before the end of the year, but judging by what they’ve come up with so far, their new outfits are going to pair sophistication with traditional clothing in a fine, stylish design. For those of you who know nothing about traditional Japanese clothing, why not just let Wazigen Shizukuya choose your next outfit? You’ll quickly be known as the “samurai” of your group of friends when you start dressing in these fantastic options.

Source: Japaaan Magazine

ASICS GEL-Lyte EVO “Samurai” Pack

The latest modernized takes on the beloved GEL-Lyte III are fit for the dojo thanks to ASICS’s upcoming release of the GEL-Lyte EVO “Samurai” pack. Looking to the military nobility of early-modern Japan for inspiration, the pack sees a trio of colorways with tonal armor-esque uppers as speckling and gradients decorate the design’s dual-density midsole.

Complete with the EVO’s signature four-piece tooling, the trio of “Samurai” executions are due out October 16 at ASICS stockists in the UK.

How to Forge the Hattori Hanzo Katana from ‘Kill Bill’

Given the gravitas that the katana wielded by Uma Thurman’s Black Mamba character in the cult Kill Bill franchise was afforded, it is no surprise that the weapon — forged in the films by the legendary Japanese blacksmith Hattori Hanzo — still captures the imagination of blade enthusiasts worldwide.

In the Man at Arms: Reforged YouTube series, Baltimore Knife and Sword enlisted the help of master armorer and engraver Ilya Alekseyev, accompanied by a five-man swordsmithing crew, to recreate the awe-inspiring blade by which no small number of baddies met a gruesome end in Quentin Tarantino’s epic.

Watch the video above and explore the rest of the series here.

A robot and Japanese sword master square off in the Yaskawa Bushido Project

In a matchup you do not come across everyday, a programmed Motoman-MH24 industrial robot and five time world record holder, samurai master Machii Isao face off to determine the better sword wielder. Commissioned by Yaskawa Electric Corporation, the robot’s manufacturer, the video depicts the advancement of technical engineering, coupled with the incredible skill of Isao.

Check out the amazing footage by hitting play on the video above.

Tourist in Japan snaps a photo of the sea, his daughter, and maybe a ghost

RocketNews 24/Yahoo News:

Kanagawa Prefecture has some of the most popular beaches in Japan, especially along the section of the coast known as Shonan. A magnet for both locals and day trippers from Tokyo, when the sun is shining you’ll find a cross section of Japanese society in and around the water, including surfers, partying college students, couples, and families,

This photo of a four-year-old girl on a beach in Zushi, Japan, seems innocent until you look closely behind her legs and back. A closer look appears to reveal a mysterious pair of boots and part of a blue shirt peeking out from behind her.

The photo, which was uploaded to Reddit by a friend of the girl’s father, is making the rounds on Internet. Many are speculating the photo shows a Samurai ghost because the beach the girl and her dad were on was across a samurai graveyard.

I took a few pictures, and when I was looking through them at night, I noticed what appeared to be a pair of boots behind her in one of the photos,” he said. “I took several of her in the same spot, but only one had the boots.“”My daughter thinks the whole thing is just so funny,” Martin Springall, who took the photo, told ABC News today. “She thinks it’s a ghost, but not a scary ghost — a nice one.”

Springall said the photo was taken on July 6, 2014 during a weekend trip to the beach. He added his family now lives in Toronto, Canada, but had been living in Tokyo at the time.

Springall said he freaked out, and he later showed the photo to his friend Brian Publicover during a camping trip in Japan in August.

Publicover put it up on Reddit’s “Ghosts” subreddit, and theories poured in.

Some thought it could be the ghost of a World War II sailor,” Springall said.

He added the photo is “completely legitimate” and not retouched in any way.

My daughter is really shy, and she wouldn’t have taken a picture if there was someone standing behind her, which I would have definitely noticed,” Springall said.

GP 3

GP 4

GP 5

Of course, we’d like to point to the fact that these mysterious leg-free photos are all also taken at a different angle, something that’s pretty easy to see by comparing the direction of the line in the sand that can be seen in the background.

GP 8

Not only is the “ghost photo” taken at a different angle, it’s also a different distance from the irregularly shaped outcropping that’s directly behind the girl in the picture that’s getting all the attention, so it’s possible that those “legs” are really just “rocks.”

Still, the rumors of supernatural activity persist, in part thanks to Obiaruf’s claim that “I know there are very old samurai tombs nearby,” although he hasn’t offered any specifics as to just whose tomb he’s talking about. For that matter, at the risk of flaunting our first-hand knowledge of the country, Japan doesn’t really do stand-alone tombs. Gravestones, sure, but those are usually inside temples, not stand-alone monuments by the sea. Whole structures to house the dead, meanwhile, are very few and far between, and not really something you’ll find in the part of Japan where Zushi is located.

Sith lord or samurai lord? Darth Vader becomes decorative “gogatsu ningyo” doll for Boys’ Day in Japan

DV 0

RocketNews 24:

A long, long time ago, in a country far, far away, Yoshitoku Taiko made its first doll. Founded in 1711, the company’s history goes back to a time when Japan was ruled by a shogun, and the country sealed off from the rest of the world.

More than three centuries later, Yoshitoku Taiko is still in business, but Japan is now part of the global community. That’s why the company’s latest offerings are two exquisitely crafted dolls of Darth Vader in samurai armor.

In Japan, it’s customary to celebrate May 5, known as either Boys’ Day or Children’s Day, by decorating the home with a doll dressed in a suit of armor. Known as gogatsu ningyo, or “May dolls,” the figures are supposed to represent parents’ desires that their sons grow up to be strong and wise, like the samurai warriors they’re modeled after.

DV 1

▼ Simpler displays feature just the helmet.

DV 2

Speaking of samurai, it’s been said that Japanese armor was a major inspiration for the iconic design of Star Wars’ Darth Vader. There are definitely similarities, such as the way Lord Vader’s helmet covers the back of the neck, or the face plate he wears that resembles those samurai often went into battle equipped with. So, seeing as how there’s a new Star Wars movie coming out in December, Yoshitoku Taiko decided to make an addition to their traditional line of May dolls fashioned after historical figures such as Date Masamune, Uesugi Kenshin, and Sanada Yukimura, with these Darth Vader gogatsu ningyo.

DV 3

DV 4

DV 5

Or, if the whole suit of armor is a bit much, you could opt for this Vader helmet set.

DV 6

DV 7

DV 8

There’s also Yoshitoku Taiko’s Darth Vader bushi ningyo, or warrior doll, which forgoes the volcanic backdrop.

▼ And yes, of course the katana scabbard is red.

DV 12

While the noble Jedi knights might seem like more appropriate symbols for the virtues of bushido, they don’t wear armor. So Yoshitoku Taiko’s other Star Wars creation doesn’t draw from Luke or Obi-Wan, but the Imperial Stormtroopers.

DV 13

All of these items are currently sold out, despite prices ranging from 140,400 yen (US$1,180) for the Darth Vader bushi ningyo all the way up to 356,400 yen for the full gogatsu ningyo Vader set. But hey, as any collector will tell you, high-grade Star Wars figurines don’t come cheap, and if and when Yoshitoku Taiko does restock the items on its website, you can be sure they’ll be selling out quickly once again.