The dramatic arc of Saigo Takamori's life, from his humble origins as a lowly samurai, to national leadership, to his death as a rebel le...
Jared D.'s insight:
This book looks like an interesting read because it is about how the era that was created in Samurai William comes to an end. It is what the movie of the same title with Tom cruise is based on and I loved that movie so I think it would be a good read.
This website helps tourists plan trips to Japan by providing them with historical, cultural, and geographic information. In it's history for the 1600-1800's known as the Edo Period, it explains Tokugawa Ieyasu's rise to power and how he instituted laws that kept feudal lords in check for 260 years. One of which, the required the lords to travel to Edo with a large train of samurai created many towns and inns along the highways for their journeys. Also, in the 1630's Japan began its isolationism and only got a view of the outside world from the dutch and english settlements in Nagasaki. It also has some of the cuisine and traditional dishes of Japan including, Sukiyaki, Sushi, tempura, Shashimi, kaiseki ryori, yakitori, shabu-shabu, soba and udon. Melons are given as gifts when visiting someone in the hospital. Codd is a popular fish in the region where Samurai Adams was located. Nagasaki's cuisine has been changed by the western trading posts that were located there throughout Japan's isolation and features the largest consumption of poultry in Japan.
With all the adventure, derring-do, and bloodcurdling battle scenes of his earlier book, Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, acclaimed historian Giles Mi...
Jared D.'s insight:
The book starts off with some of the previous adventures of the world and how they attempted to reach Japan back in the 1500's. Then it focuses on Fernao Mendez Pinto's trip to Japan and meeting with the emperor who he helps and becomes trusted by as a source of information on the rest of the world. After that the story follows the main character William Adams voyage to the spice islands that ends up going to Japan in search of supplies. Once their, Adams eventually becomes a trusted advisor and interpreter for Ieyasu, the future Shogun of Japan. Adams is stuck in Japan for a long time and becomes great friends with Ieyasu, gaining power in their government and also being awarded a large estate near Hemi, Japan. Adams works with Ieyasu to overthrow the Jesuits who have gained power in Japan and for most of the book, this is the major conflict. Then another ship for england finally arrives to create a trading factory in Japan. Adams helps all westerners who come to Japan to obtain trading rights from Ieyasu and teaches the englishman Japanese etiquette and customs. The ship's captain, Saris, returns to england to report his success in setting up a factory, leaving Richard Cocks and six other men to build and trade in Hirado. The book then follows the problems that Cocks and Adams face as they try to maintain trade with Japan through its wars, dutch merchants, Catholics, Christian cleansings, and terrible stock to sell. The next major problem is that Saris so much wanted to convince parliament to trade in Japan that he told them that Broadcloth and tin were in high demand there even though its cheap and no one uses it in Japan, so the first shipment of goods to sell at the factory werent sellable. Then Ieyasu finally dies from old age giving power to his son. Adams and Cocks then have to struggle to maintain their trade rights that were solely placed on Ieyasu and Adams' friendship. The book ends after Adams dies of old age.
This encyclopedia excerpt details the events of the Battle of Sekigahara, an important battle in the history of Japan where General Tokugawa Ieyasu overthrows the child emperor and becomes the Shogun. Ieyasu fights against a western alliance under Ishida Mitsunari. It was a confusing battle and no one really knew who won at first, but the Western Alliance was full of distrust and their plan to flank Ieyasu's army came to late and one of the lord defected to Ieyasu's side during the battle. Tokugawa Ieyasu became the millitary master of Japan and reduced his opponent's domains "by 2,215,000 koku (a volumn measurement, based on rice productivity, used to rate the various domains) and confiscated ninety other domains with a total productive capacity of 4,300,000 koku for redistribution to his supporters" (Sekigahara)
This article gives a biographical information on Tokugawa Ieyasu, the shogun that William Adams befriends in the the book "Samurai William". It gives more insight into how he came to power and how Adams helped him. Ieyasu was allied to Nobunaga who started the unification of Japan in 1568. After Nobunaga's death in 1582 one of his generals, Hideyoshi attacked and killed his assassin and took Nobunaga's roll in unifying Japan under himself. Hideyoshi tried to move Ieyasu far from the center of power but instead put him in control of the richest land in the country giving him lots of money power. When Hideyoshi died, his infant son became in the seat of power and was looked after by a set of daimyos including Ieyasu. The daimyos contended for power and Ieyasu headed one of the two alliances who clashed in 1600 at Sekigahara. Ieyasu won the battle and became the ruler of Japan. At around the same time english and dutch traders arrived in Japan including William Adams. Ieyasu was very excited to trade with them and became good friends with William Adams making him his retainer and giving him trade rights and land in Japan. This caused trouble with the Catholic Portuguese and Spanish that were in Japan driving Ieyasu to ban Christianity, an edict that was followed ferociously by his son Hidetada after Ieyasu's death. Finally before his death, Ieyasu personally laid seige to Osaka Castle killing Hideyori and sealing the Tokugawa rule for the next 2 centuries.
In 1543 Tokugawa Ieyasu is born. He is born to the samurai class but is given to the ruling feudal lord as a hostage. He is trained, raised, and educated as a samurai their and is treated quite well. All of Japan is under civil war, factions defect in the middle of battles. At the same time, traders and missionaries from Portuagal, Spain, and England arive in Japan for the first time, bringing their goods, religion, and culture to Japan. Ieyasu rises to be his own independent daimyo after his master's death and climbs the ranks to be the most powerful of all the daimyo. The only problem is that Hideyoshi, the last emperor, has made Ieyasu pledge his life to protect his son Hideyori till he comes of age to rule. The other daimyos are threatened by Ieyasu's power so they battle at Sekigahara which Ieyasu wins thorough the chaos of the dense fog. Out of this victory Ieyasu is named the Shogun of Japan. He still has the problem of Hideyori having the right to rule so after he is full grown in 1614, he attacks Osaka Castle. He sends a peace treaty sealed in his blood to Hideyori which he accepts. However, Ieyasu fills the motes of Osaka Castle and attacks anyways slaughtering everyone and setting fire to the castle. Hideyori commits Seppuku and Tokugawa Ieyasu's reign is now safe for the next 200 years.
This excerpt from an encyclopedia details the tradition of Chugen in modern Japan. Chugen is a traditional midsummer period of gift-giving where subordinates will give a gift to their superiors. Gifts range from the $10 to $50 range and can include preserves, cakes, cooking essentials like soy sauce or tea. Bosses also give out bonuses at this time worth about one months salary. This tradition happens again near December and New Year's as Seibo.
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