Japan’s History

japan

Japan has long been considered as a powerful nation. From the ancient period until the modern times, the country had shown to the world its uniqueness through its rich culture and advancements in technology.

Historical records would show that it was around 12,000 BC when human development was noted in the Japanese archipelago. Also, the earliest mention of Japan was on the short information provided in the Twenty-Four Histories way back in the 1st century AD.
The country went through many periods starting from the ancient times to the classical up to the modern era. These include the Nara and Heian periods, Kamakura, Muromachi, Azuchi-Momoyama,
Edo, Meiji, Taisho and Early Showa and the Postwar or Heisei period.

Early Beginnings

Nara was established as the first permanent capital of Japan in 710. It became the center of culture, religion and Buddhist art.

In the year 1550, hundreds of domains or local units were already in existence. Each was under the control of a lord or daimyo in Japanese and had its own so-called samurai warriors.
By 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu became the leader of Japan, a generous man who distributed land to his supporters. He also established his bakufu or feudal government in Edo which is now Tokyo. Tokugawa’s reign was considered peaceful and prosperous. [Read more…]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe is the 57th and current Prime Minister of Japan. Shinzo Abe is known for Japan’s many firsts, he was the first Prime Minister of Japan to be born after the Second World War. He is also Japan’s youngest post-war prime minister when he served for a year in 2006 when he was elected by a special session in September. However, due to health reasons, he resigned in 2007. In 2012, Abe was re-elected onto the position, gaining a landslide victory, who is the first Prime Minister to return to the office since 1948.

He started his political career in 1982 when he pursued a number of government positions. He became executive assistant to the Minister of Foreign affairs. He also worked as a private secretary to the chairperson of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Japan, where in he is now the president of. He also worked as the private secretary of LDP’s secretary-general. His successful political career is his destiny, Abe actually came from a politically powerful and prominent family. His grandfather, Kan Abe, and his father, Shintaro Abe, are both politicians. His mother is the daughter of the prime minister of Japan from 1957 and 1960, Nobusuke Kishi.

He started his electorate position in 1993, when he was elected as a member of the House of Representatives. From then on, he was elected seven consecutive times. From 2000 to 2002, he held the position of the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary. In 2003, he became the Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party. In 2005 he became the Chief Cabinet Secretary. And in 2012 he became the president of the Liberal Democratic Party but he also became the Prime minister of Japan.

He is now known for his Abenomics, which is a fiscal policy draft prepared by the government with aims of discontinuing deflation. Since Abe sat down in his position, Japan as experienced an increase in the Gross Domestic Product or GDP of Japan. The fiscal policy draft has said that this is an indication that they have started to overcome the continuous state of deflation in the country. It has also claimed that the Bank of Japan has accomplished its target of reaching the inflation rate of 2%. There is also a promise in the decline of unemployment. Japanese firms that have battled with unemployment by lying off many employees to reduce expenses have finally started to re-hire former employees and even implement an increase in their salaries. Though many are still doubtful, it is sure that Abe can fulfil his promises and help Japan back up on its feet. A lot of people are speculative about the relationship between the Abenomics and the Japanese economy, but since the term of Shinzo Abe is not yet over there is yet to see if it will really boost Japan’s economy.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Photo by theepochtimes

Dragon Ball’s San Goku

Dragon Ball is a Japanese Manga series that follows the story of an unusual boy journeying around the world to accomplish his missions. This boy is the protagonist named Goku and he had a characteristic that separated him from all the people of the world – his monkey tail. Unknowingly, this boy, originally named Kakarot, is an alien from the Saiyan race who was sent to Earth when he was a baby with a mission to destroy it. However, this plan fails for his memory was altered and he has completely forgotten his mission as he grows up. The Saiyan’s are aggressive people from a warrior race somewhere at the far reaches of the Universe. They are naturally born with tails which they learn to strengthen and use in battles. Their actual origins are unknown but the plot of the story surrounds on the fact that they have invaded Planet Plant and have taken this from the Tuffles, renaming it to Planet Vegetta in honour of their King.  The gravity on their planet is known to be 10 times that the Earth that they use to their advantage. When trained properly in these conditions, they become extremely strong and powerful compared to their enemies of different races. These people are known as violent and inhumane, where they invade different parts of the Universe for wealth and power. Thankfully, Goku is not one of them. Since he has forgotten his origins and was given a chance to live a different life, he has grown up into a pure-hearted person. Throughout Goku’s life, he trains to become the greatest warrior possible while using his amazing skills and strength to uphold peace in the world. When he was a young boy, he met Bulma who was on a quest to find seven orbs called Dragon Balls. It was known that the owner of these orbs, a dragon named Shenlong, will give the user one wish upon the completion of the Dragon balls. In this journey, Goku has made numerous friends and this is where he learned many of the things that he knows. The manga series has portrayed the growth of Goku into his adulthood and started from when he arrived on Earth. He soon married Chi-chi and they had a son named Gohan and Goten. Later on Goku will become the grandfather of Pan and Goku Jr. Goku is probably one of the most famous Anime and Manga characters in the world. Even today, after almost more than a decade of the Manga’s release, many people still haven’t forgotten the Super Saiyan.

Goku in Dragon ball

Goku in Dragon ball

Photo by dragonball wiki

Yayoi Kusama and her Polka Dotted legacy

This remarkable woman is not only an artist but also a writer. She has worked with a variety of media and has been made famous by her mind-blowing themes, patterns and concepts. Her trade mark includes varying sizes of polka dots, which many critics have claimed to be a reflection of the works of her mind. Some may call it eccentric but that strangeness has been famous all over the world as a source of wonder and intrigue.

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

In 1948, she started studying Nihonga painting. However, she felt limited by the traditional Japanese style and started out looking beyond her horizons to seek what is there for her outside Japan. She left for the United States in 1957 and spent decades of life building up her fame and her career amidst American and European artists. Soon in 1973, she went back to Japan and started to explore the possibilities of introducing her art to her fellow Japanese artists. However, she soon started having psychiatric problems and after just a few years she admitted herself to psychiatric care. This dilemma never stopped her from being the great artist that she is and still continued producing arts of various media.

Her works have been made in different kinds of media. She has created works that include painting, drawing, sculpture, performance art, fashion, literature and even film. But a great majority of her masterpieces are paintings and sculptures. She actually has an influential status being one of the most famous Japanese artists that have spread their art to the booming city of New York. Due to this influential status she has become one of the famous icons of Avant-Garde. She is even believed to have provided some inspiration for great artists such as Andy Warhol who introduced what is now known as pop art.

Among her most famous works that gained her international recognition are Narcissus Garden, Infinity Nets Yellow, Ascension of Polka Dots and Repetitive Vision.  She has been dubbed to be the most original, incredible and imaginative visionaries of contemporary art. Her works of art have been exhibited in many countries all over the world. These include her solo exhibition in Gagosian Gallery in New York, Los Angeles and Rome. She also displayed her works in famous galleries in London. Of course, she has a great number of solo exhibitions in Japan, which includes KUSAMATRIX in 2004 which gathered about 520,000 viewers.   Today, even at 85 years old, she still continues to influence contemporary art with her daring and interesting pieces.

Image by visionaryartistrymag

Soichiro Honda and his Automotive Dreams

Soichiro Honda did not start out rich and did not grow up in an extremely wealthy family. He was born in a small village near Mout Fuji in 1906. His father was a blacksmith that had a small bicycle repair business while his mother was a weaver. He spent his entire childhood helping out his father in their bicycle repair business. Because of a very difficult life, even if he did not have any formal education, he tried his luck in Tokyo and looked for work. After a long journey of finding a new job, he obtained apprenticeship at a garage where he stayed for about six years and worked as a car mechanic.

He sure has talent and innovation. Unlike other children, he thought outside the box. As a child, he was intelligent but was not interested in learning formal education. He did not want his parents to get a hold of his grade report card, since his grades were not that colourful. However, he was faced with a dilemma because these report cards have to be returned with the parents’ seal as an indication that it has been received. What he did was something a normal student might not ever think of doing. He used a rubber bicycle pedal cover to forge his family seal.  It was a sign that his intelligence can get him somewhere. He was naturally curious and loved everything that dealt with engines and cars.

At the young age of 22, six years after working for a small garage, he went back home and started his own auto repair business in 1928. After almost a decade, Honda founded Tokai Seiki that produced piston rings for Toyota, then a famous car manufacturer. However, everything that he built was destroyed by the Second World war. Not losing hope, he sold whatever he can salvage to Toyota and used this in 1946 to establish the Honda Technical Research Institute. After only two years, he started building a motorized bicycle, which is now known as a motorcycle. In 1959, Honda opened their new dealership to the United States.

Honda’s stream of success has rooted from his undeniably champion attitudes. He has a never ending enthusiasm for hard work. He always find the need to improvise and come up with innovative, never before heard ideas. What the most important is that he had a never ending love and passion for machinery. This interest and passion has lead him to a burst of new ideas and novelty.

Honda riding the First motorcycle

Honda riding the First motorcycle

Photo by Influx

Kenshin Himura, the Battosai

This man is the character of the famous manga Samurai X that became famous in the early 2000s and became widely known all over the world. He is among the legendary hitokiri of the Meiji Revolution and was dubbed, in the fictional Samurai X manga universe as the Battosai. What does a Hitokiri mean? Being a hitokiri means that a person is a sword drawing human slayer and the word Battosai is the nickname that Himura obtained for being the most notorious human slayers in existence. The actual name of the original manga was Rurouni Kenshin while the anime adaptation is titled Samurai X. The plot basically surrounds the main character and how, despite his horrifying image and his nickname, he vowed to never kill again. The plot continues when the Battosai arrives in Tokyo and resides at the Kamiya Dojo, as a start of his renewed life. But, adventures begin when his vow is challenged and tested as he pursues his fight for Japan’s peace. He did not find it difficult to start a new life, for his build and his appearance doesn’t really match his reputation. Despite his skill and talent as a swordsman, Kenshin has a small and slender build. He is very youthful and looks quite young for his age, his appearance does not reflect his monstrous past. Interestingly, his character is trademarked and distinguished by a cross-shaped scar on his left cheek. Due to his past of being a skilled assassin, he is actually a very talented swordsman with virtually unmatched skills. He is well known for his Hiten Misurugi-ryu style, which is a fictional sword art that gives him superhuman speed and reflexes. However, when he vowed to never kill again, Kenshin had to resort to finding ways on how to modify his acquired skills. He had to maintain the speed and the reflexes but avoid creating lethal harm to his opponents. Because of this, he intends to use his Sakabato, or a reverse-edge sword. There are actually real life Sakabato that are used during the same era as kenshin. The most interesting fact about Kenshin Himura is the reason why he suddenly shifted from being a infamous assassin to becoming a soft-spoken and life loving character that he is in the manga and film. Yukishiro Tomoe is Kenshin Himura’s first love. Interestingly, Tomoe betrayed her comrades in an attempt to protect the young Battosai. However, due to the traps of the enemies, Tomoe was killed by Kenshin’s own hand. His guilt created that major change in his persona that pushed him to vow to never kill again.

Kenshin Himura, Hitokiri Battosai

Kenshin Himura, Hitokiri Battosai

Photo by Archive.foolz.us

Ichiro Suzuki, the Japanese Yankee

This man is a Japanese born, professional baseball outfielder of the American Major League Baseball (also known as MLB) who plays for the New York Yankees. He used to play for Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball but tested his luck when he moved to the United States in 2001. Upon his arrival, he played for the Seattle Mariners for 11 seasons before being drafted by the New York Yankees. He is known for his impressive batting records, standing at the third place all-time in top-flight hits. The Japanese are very fond of Baseball and many children wants to be a famous baseball player when they grow up. One day, young Ichiro asked his father to let him join his first little league baseball team. However, it was not always fun and games. He and his father intensively train daily where in their routine involves completing the following – throwing 50 pitches, fielding 50 infield and outfield balls, and hitting 500 pitches. For his quick wit and talent, Ichiro was nicknamed Baz which translates to FAST in Japanese. He showed undeniable talent, plus his training, that it seems that a career in baseball is written in his stars. At the young age of 12, he had decided to pursue his career in professional baseball. This decision made his daily training sessions longer and more tiring. Ichiro started his professional career by joining the Pacific League in 1992 at the young age of 18. In this league his swing was nicknamed The Pendulum because it was unorthodox and goes against conventional hitting theory. His legs make a pendulum-like motion that shifts his weight forward as he swings the bat. His first two years in Pacific league was not all that promising, his coach and then manager takes him into the farm-system and does not recognize his abilities at all. Thankfully in 1993, a new manager arrived who played him every day at the second spot of the line-up. Soon enough, he was moved to the leadoff spot and set a record to be the first player in Japan to ever top 200 hits in a single season. Everyone wants to know his secret to success, which is the explanation for his wide fan-dom. Even though his surname is Suzuki, he uses Ichiro in his uniforms. His then manager has decided on this since surname is among the common surnames in Japan. They wanted him to have an identity in the field and would get him immediate recognition. He was embarrassed at first but eventually settled on it, since Pacific League he has used Ichiro in his uniforms.

Ichiro in his New York Yankee uniform

Ichiro in his New York Yankee uniform

Photo by wikipedia

Kohei Uchimura

Anybody who follows the Olympics has probably heard of the Kohei Uchimura who is Japanese gymnast, who has been named by many critics as one of the most talented gymnasts in the world. Despite his young age, he has won a series of world titles and has won numerous medals and recognition in the Olympics. He won five Olympic medals comprised of one gold and four silvers for all-around, team and floor exercises in the 2012 London Olympics. Other than that he has also one a total of 13 World medals for all-around, team, floor, high bar and parallel bar divisions. A record breaker, he is the first gymnast of all time to ever win all all-around titles in a single Olympic cycle. To top that off he also won world all-around titles for the past four consecutive years starting 2009. Uchimura was titled s the Gymnastics All-around Champion of the 2012 London Olympics. His intensity and high precision is, of course, not a natural born talent. Somehow, since he had the potential he had to develop this before he becomes a champion. Uchimura started training for gymnastics at the young age of three. He trained along his parents who were both competitive gymnasts at the time. All those that trained him and trained with him has seen great potential for the young boy. He was encouraged and soon left to train in Tokyo at the age of 15. During this time, he was trained by the gold medallist from the Athens, Naoya Tsukahara. The first time he competed in an international competition was in 2005 at the International Junior Competition. After only two years and a great number of successes abroad, Uchimura joined the Japan National Team in 2007. He started winning bronze medals, then silver medals. In 2008, he won his first World Championship Gold and was unbeatable for the next four years. However, not all of his battles are always a clean sweep. During the 2012 Olympics, he fell from the pommel horse upon dismount during the men’s team competition. They were not supposed to win any medal for that until the team appealed to reconsider the score since he still landed on his feet. With this revision in the scoring, they earned silver for the Men’s team competition.  Uchimura is still continuously training to attain the greatest goal for the upcoming Rio Olympics. The first of his goals is to qualify to join and the second, which probably is the most important, would be to win the gold in the team event.

Kohei Uchimura

Kohei Uchimura

Photo by hqdesktop

Sumo Wrestler Akebono Taro

Taro is an American born sumo wrestler that is famous for his very gigantic stature and build. To use this naturally given advantage, he began training for wrestling and was taken under the wing of the Hawaiian Sumo wrestler Takamiyama. He officially joined the Japanese sport, Sumo wrestling, when he was only about 19 years old in 1988. Any spectator and critic would know that his talent is not something to be taken lightly. He quickly rose up the rankings and after only two tournament championships, he gained a title nobody else had at the time. Only after about five years into the sport, he was the first non-Japanese born wrestler to ever rank Yokozuna, or the highest rank. There are different Sumo Wrestling ranks and ways on how to attain them, but he was really talented.

His rise to fame did not come easily, of course. Takamiyama, his coach, was initially concerned about his height and his legs. Even if his size and build seems to be made for the sport, he seems to be too tall for his weight division. Since his weight and his height are not in the perfect proportion, his long legs might become a disadvantage for him in the future. Soon enough he proved wrong all of these misjudgements against him.

Around 2000, Akebono suffered a severe injury that made him sit out many of his important competitions. He retired because of this, not wanting to work on getting back his fighting build. He did not go far off from his original sport since he worked as an Oyakata, or a Sumo coach after he retired. Sadly, his pay as a coach was not enough to sustain his family so he decided to change his direction a little bit and train as a professional wrestler for MMA or mixed martial arts.

In truth, he is not really Japanese by blood. His real name is Chad Rowan and his country of origin is Hawaii. But for the love of the sport and its origin country, he became a Japanese citizen in 1996. He gave up his American citizenship and even changed his name from Chad Rowan to Akebono Taro. Though he is now retired, he chose to stay in Japan to become coach in the Azumazeki Stable for a couple of years. Soon, he realized that he didn’t want to let go of his wrestling career, he joined the All Japan Pro wrestling promotion and is now a professional wrestler. He even won titles and belts such as the Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion, Unified World Tag Team Champion and All Asia Tag Team Champion.

Akebono Taro

Akebono Taro

Photo by Chijanfuji

 

Rei Kawakubo – A Fashion Icon

Unlike other fashion designers who have long histories, education and training on design, Rei Kawakobo had no formal training. In fact, she studied fine arts and literature in Keio University. When she graduated in 1967, she worked as a freelance stylist. It was because of this new experience that she taught herself how to put what she imagines onto paper and then real clothes. She is a self-taught fashion designer that dreamed of owning her own brand. This dream of hers came true when she established her own label and called it Comme Des Garçons. She opened her first shop in Tokyo, selling and making women’s clothes. It took her a few more years to include Men’s outfits in her design. The clothes that she made are fresh and original, her concept is something that the world have not yet seen. Soon enough, the world took notice and was immediately established as an aesthetic. Her vision caught fashionistas all over the world. To show how impressive her works are, they even caught the eyes of the art crowd and, the then very famous, chic bohemians.  Her works are not like normal everyday clothes, they are fashionably conservative that do not include a great variety of colours and are majorly made up of black, grey and white pieces. It represented uniqueness and individuality, for colour usually makes clothing a success. With such a limited colour palette, she showed the world how her pieces can be extravagant and sophisticated. Many of her designs are asymmetrical and look somewhat unfinished, but for the eyes of the fashion world this is a radical fashion revolution. In truth, many people consider her clothes not as garments but as works of art, she showed how her revolt against traditional hemlines and cuts can actually count as eccentrically beautiful. Her label, which translates to Like Boys, have shops not only in Japan but also in fashion districts in Paris. There have been numerous exhibitions of  variety of collections but those that really made an impression in the fashion industry was the 1997 spring-summer collection called “Lumps and Bumps” and the 2006 autumn-winter collection called “persona”. In an interview with The New Yorker in 2005, she can be seen with a personality of a mild-mannered, humble and timid person. She shared that she didn’t expect that her view of strong and beautiful will be a revolution against standard notions of beauty. She explained that the daringness of the garments that she made at first are all intended for recognition. She challenged the common notion of normal and conformity that soon enough her visions made its own unforgettable image in the fashion industry.

Rei Kawakubo

Rei Kawakubo

Photo by Vogue