Japan and Japanese Culture

It’s helpful to understand the context under which the Bujinkan martial arts developed and continue to thrive. These articles about Japan and Japanese culture are not only an interesting compendium of facts and ideas, but they also provide some insights into the Japanese way of thinking.


Every culture has their unique foods, and Japan is no exception. Here are a few that I found the most intriguing. Anyone try one of these dishes? Please share your experience, and especially if you know somewhere in the city that serves these unique Japanese dishes, maybe a Dojo outing is in order.

The Power of the Eel

What’s your favorite edible fish? Ask Americans and you will get around the same standard five: Tuna, Salmon, Catfish, Bass, Swordfish maybe even Talapia. Ask the same question in Japan and you can almost be sure that Eel will be high on the list.

Shogi: Japanese Chess

Shogi is known outside of Japan as “Japanese chess.” The rules of Shogi are actually very similar to that of Chess. The name Shogi is translated as Shô, meaning “general” and Gi, meaning “board game.” Sometime in the 10th to 12th centuries, the game of chess made its way to Japan where it became many…

A Short History of the Yen

When we make our annual treks to Japan, one of the small things that requires some getting used to is the Japanese money. Because it’s easiest to equate one yen being about equal to one penny, it’s not so difficult to keep track of how much money you have. For first-timers, getting used to the…

Nagasaki: Gateway to the World

For most Americans, Nagasaki  is known only as the second city on which the U.S. dropped an atom bomb to help end World War II. Even in this respect, Nagasaki is less well known compared to Hiroshima. But Nagasaki played a vital role in Japan’s development during the era of Tokugawa peace, serving as a…


The forcible opening of Japan by U.S. Commodore Perry in 1853 had immediate and severe repercussions in Japanese politics. The Tokugawa shogunate, whose power was already on the wane, came under extreme and fierce criticism for being unable to defend Japan against the foreigners, who had imposed such unfavorable treaty terms on the country. A…

Grand Shrine at Ise

In Japanese culture, one of the holiest sites in Japan is the Grand Shrine at Ise, located in Mie Prefecture (located east of Kyoto). There is some debate about how old the shrine actually is. Some believe it was first constructed by Japan’s first Emperor, Temmu, in 692 A.D, who took an already sacred Shinto…

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