Sword of one of Japan’s last samurai discovered in house in America

TOKYO — Born in 1830, Yoshida Shoin was part of Japan’s last generation of samurai. While that distinction carries with it a certain tragically romantic feel, the truth is that Shoin himself wanted to bring an end to the feudal mode of government in which Japan was ruled by the samurai class. Growing up during […]

Saitō Hajime-The Japanese Samurai of Last Edo Period

Saitō Hajime (斎藤 一, February 18, 1844 – September 28, 1915) was a Japanese samurai of the late Edo period, who most famously served as the captain of the third unit of the Shinsengumi. He was one of the few core members who survived the numerous wars of the Bakumatsu period. Early years Saitō was […]


When you watch Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, which is set in 16th-century Japan, you are not exactly inundated with the stunning power of female warriors brandishing katanas—it’s a bit of a ソーセージ-fest, but such women did exist. These warriors, known as onna bugeisha, find their earliest precursor in Empress Jingū, who in 200 A.D. led […]

Is This Famous Samurai Sword Missing In America?

From appearances on the big screen to glass-enclosed shrines in art museums, almost everyone today is familiar with the gleaming, curved blade of a majestic samurai sword. In the fierce world of weaponry, the samurai sword holds a place of honor as the pinnacle of craftsmanship, blending functionality and beauty to create something like a […]

Bushido: Soseki, ‘Star Wars’ and the samurai

In September 1912, Gen. Maresuke Nogi — a hero of the Russo-Japanese War — committed ritual suicide. His sensational death took place on the day of Emperor Meiji’s funeral, making it an act of junshi (following one’s lord in death) and a high-water mark for the samurai code in the modern era. Was Nogi’s death […]

The Amazing Story of Yasuke: The Forgotten African Samurai

Samurai are among the most enduring symbols of Japanese cultural heritage, thus unsurprisingly, most samurai were Japanese. There are, however, examples of non-Japanese who became samurai as well. The most famous western example is the English sailor William Adams (1564-1620) who came to Japan in 1600 and was able to rise through the ranks to […]

The 36 Gates of Edo Castle

Edo (Yedo) Castle, constructed in 1457, transformed Tokyo (then called Edo) from a small fishing village into an urban center for trade, culture, and politics. Edo Castle became the official residence of the Tokugawa shogun who ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867. Upon the shogun’s arrival in 1603, the castle was in shambles, requiring an extensive 40 year reconstruction project. The […]

A Guide To The Real-Life Figures In Nioh

  Nioh takes a lot of liberty with its historical setting but still maintains a large cast of famous warlords, samurai, explorers and ninja. Every one of them has a story. Here’s a quick primer on what history tells us about these individuals.Works of historical fiction have always fascinated me, and Nioh is set during […]

The elaborate armor of the Yokohagido type – early to mid-Edo period: 17th-18th century

The techniques used by Japanese armorers evolved through the centuries. Made for war, armor protected the samurai who wore it, adorning and honoring those who fought and died in combat. Many materials were required to produce a Japanese armor that was as beautiful as it was functional. Iron, leather, brocade and precious and semi-precious metals were […]

Catholic Church Beatifies First Japanese Samurai Warlord

In a historical first, the Catholic Church has beatified a Japanese samurai warlord who died in exile after refusing to renounce his Christian faith. As an official envoy of Pope Francis, Cardinal Angelo Amato presided over the ceremony for Justo Takayama Ukon Tuesday in Osaka, Japan, with some 12,000 people in attendance. As a lead-up […]