Welcome to our Travel Journal -- Round The World 2004-2005 travel blog

The Kodokan main entrance -- for Samurai only, first time open in...

Through the main entrance

A traditional Tokognowa alcove -- the philosophy of Samurai on the scroll

Much of the writing the guide could not read -- it was...

The border pattern on the Tatami was unique to the Shogun

Tokugawa Yoshinibu had his hair cut and lived out his life peacefully...

I also visited the Mito aquarium at the shore - the largest...

This would be a sunfish - - do you know where his...

The Kodokan

On Friday, I left Darlene, and was hosted by a tour guide for one day. I had the opportunity to visit the Kodokan - a location in Mito, where the Samurai warriors learned to read, to write, to perform swordmanship, and to embody the philosophy of Samurai. The main entrance is the one which was only used by Samurai - others used less important entrances. This entrance had not been opened for 13 years, and it was open for the first time, on this day. There was not another guest visiting on the day we were there. The youngest son of the current Emperor will be visiting in early next month.

This place functioned as a University. It was very large, and the teacher's pictures were on the walls - including the writer of Dai Nippon Shi, the great history of Japan. The last Shogun, completing a dynasty of 270 years was from this Domain of Mito. He was an adopted son of the 14th Shogun. His name was Tokugawa Yoshinobu. In those times, if the Shogun had no son, he could adopt one - this last Shogun was an adopted son

History of Japanese house design

The rooms I saw are of the style we still see today in Tatami rooms. There are Tatami floors, walls of paper sliding doors, and the roof tiles of ceramic. In a traditional room, one wall has a Tokognoma alcove in which there is a scroll (Kakejiku) with philosophy, rule, poem, or motto of value to the occupant. In addition, there would be a 2-level shelf for the placement of decorative items. In this alcove, no other items of material or substance should be placed. Many private homes have such a room, today, and we were honored to sleep in that room in Masao's house, when we stayed with him. When people sit in this Tatami room, the main guest, important person sits with his back to the Kakejiku, and the host sits closest to the door.

In Japan, all entrances have been designed to face south, and all bathrooms are at the back of the house. Food preparation was, in the past, in a detached cabin. This design is to facilitate light at the entrance and darkness in the bathroom area. The urinal, toilet, and the washrooms were amazing for feudal times. They look similar to what we see today,

The 289 Lords from the domains lived in Edo (Tokyo) for one year, and in their domain for one year -- their official wife and first son were kept in Edo as hostages. When the Shogun was forced to give up his power, all Samurai warriors were forced to cut their hair and to wear western style clothes.

At one time, because of a history of drought, the head of the domain, Nari Akira, ordered the planting of plum trees to guarantee the harvest of food in the domain - to this day, the plum is seen as a sign of beauty in early spring, but it was originally planted to protect against starvation, in the event of drought. Today, their beauty is admired.

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