Showing posts with label Chiran. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chiran. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Chiran Samurai District

I wandered around the Samurai district in Chiran early in the morning before tourists had arrived. I recently posted on the gardens found in many of the former samurai residences. It is a Preservation District of Groups of Traditional Buildings, one of about 120 such districts around Japan, and I have come to enjoy most of the ones I have visited, though the better ones tend to be, like here in Chiran,  off the beaten track

Primarily one street, it is lined with well-constructed stone walls topped with impenetrable hedges. To get into any residence or garden you have to pass through a high-walled corridor that twists and tiurns at 90 degrees several times, a classic defensive arrangement found in many castles.

This was a semi-fortified village. The Shogunate decreed that each domain must only have one castle. This resulted in many castles being dismantled, and others moved. It was also decreed that all samurai must live within the castle town. Here in the distant lands of the Satsuma in southern Kyushu, this last law was ignored.

The Satsuma placed settlements of samurai throughout their domain, Chiran being just one. This was obviously a defensive measure by the Satsuma, but may also have been simple logistics, because the Satsuma had a high percentage of samurai. A figure of 10% is often considered the percentage of samurai in the Japanese population, but here in Satsuma the figure was above 20%.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Samurai Gardens of Chiran

At the start of day 35 of my first walk around the island of Kyushu I wandered around the former samurai district in Chiran, a small town  in the south of Kagoshima. Seven of the former samurai residences are open to the public, but none of the buildings can be entered. However they all have delightful gardens.

Most of the gardens are relatively small and usually incorporate the distant mountains as "borrowed scenery". The first photo is the garden at the Saigo Keiichiro residence. This second photo is at the Hirayama Ryoichi residence. Its garden is unusual in that it has no stone arrangements, and is primarily pruned hedges, including azalea. This type of garden was an Edo period innovation and is usually attributed to Kobori Enshu.

Obviously, all these residences belonged to fairly high ranking samurai. The above garden belonged to Sata Mifune. 6 of the 7 gardens are karesansui, dry gardens with no water.

This one belonged to Sata Tamiko, and the bottom photo belonged to Mori Shigemitsu. It is the only garden with a water feature, and I believe he was the most senior samurai of the district

Monday, April 20, 2020

Chiran Peace Museum

Hundreds of stone lanterns line the main road that leads towards the Chiran Peace Museum in Chiran, southern Kagoshima. Chiran was an airbase operating during WWII that was home to one of the "Special Attack Squadrons", known as kamikaze in English.

All the displays are to do with the kamikaze operations and it is heavily focussed on the pilots themselves. It is very much a place to memorialize them and revere them.

The grounds of the museum also includes a Shinto shrine and a Buddhist temple, both of which revere the dead pilots. Photography was not allowed inside the museum.

I was quite uncomfortable during my visit as there was a heavily nationalistic element to the place, and in my humble opinion nationalism is not connected with peace. Individuals sacrificing their lives for the state is an increasingly popular ideology, especially for the sociopaths who comprise the state.

There seems to be no mention of the indoctrination that caused the sacrifice of the pilots in an unwinnable war, nor that such tactics likely influenced the decision to drop the nuclear bombs.

Many of the "peace" museums in Japan focus almost exclusively on Japanese victims. A few that didn't have in recent years had their funding removed.