侍 are without a doubt one of Japan's best known historical figures; the image of the proud warrior standing strong to his last breath is inseparable from almost any part of the nation's ancient history and culture. Like 忍者 (にんじゃ - ninja) though, it doesn't take long before the history ends and the fantasy begins. Let's try to keep the demons and magic swords to a minimum - the stories and legacies of some of Japan's most famous 侍 are amazing enough as they are.
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Thursday, December 15, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
The 丹波 region is an agricultural area north of 神戸 (こうべ - Kobe) on the eastern border of 兵庫 (ひょうご - Hyogo). It's probably the last thing you would imagine when thinking of Japan - compared to the bigger cities it's sparsely populated and forgoes the skyscrapers for sprawling rice paddies, ancient farmhouses and verdant hills. Don't let the lack of billboards and plasma screens put you off though - 丹波 has a rich cultural heritage and the farmland isn't just for show; the area is famous for its handmade crafts and fresh produce. If you feel you need a change of pace from rush-rush 大阪 (おおさか - Osaka) and 東京 (とうきょう - Tokyo), 丹波 may be just what the doctor ordered.