Japan in the Edo period was exceedingly peaceful.
The life of a samurai is no fun.
For all intents and purposes, shudo was the world's first form of gay marriage.
Did I mention that I was writing a samurai novel in English? One of the main characters in the novel is Yasuke, an African slave brought to Japan by European missionaries who granted the status of samurai by Lord Oda Nobunaga upon entering his service. He is the only recorded black samurai in history. In … Continue reading Yasuke, the Black Samurai
There should be a word for "a true story that nobody can believe". I've experienced a few, one of them directly related to writing. It was in 1975 in Cleveland Heights. I was 12 years old and my then best friend and I would get together in his room in the attic and write stories … Continue reading Plagiarism Phobia
Over dinner last night, my son told me a funny story. It was the story of the Monet exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. La Japonaise is a painting by Claude Monet of his wife Camille ‘in Japanese costume’ and a blonde wig. The Museum commissioned an authentic replica of the kimono that … Continue reading La Japonaise
If you are a published writer, no matter how crappy you are, people will automatically assume that you know Faulkner by heart. Even if you specialize in YA novels, you will be expected to have intelligent opinions on Proust and Joyce. Of course all writers are supposed to be able to quote at least a few … Continue reading Read, Read, Read
Between the years 1639 to 1854, Japan was in what Western historians call "a state of self-imposed isolation". From the Japanese point of view, it was a period when foreigners were not allowed in the country. Subtle difference. One of the main reasons Japan closed its doors to foreign countries was the behavior of Christian missionaries. … Continue reading The Amakusa Rebellion 1637
A man I know, a reputable lawyer in Japan, was renovating his ancestral home when a samurai sword was discovered in the space above the ceiling. Shortly after WWII, when the Americans occupied Japan, samurai swords were banned and the Americans were wantonly confiscating and destroying them. Many precious heirlooms were hidden in walls and … Continue reading The Fate of the Sword
Toshiro Mifune was an aerial photographer for the Japanese Imperial Army, where he saw numerous eighteen-year-old conscripts fly off on kamikaze missions, an experience that gave him a lifelong hatred of the war. Later in his career, when he was typecast as an Imperial military officer, he was asked in an interview what he personally … Continue reading Kurosawa’s Samurais