Actions, Not Words

As I continue watching the Japanese historical drama The Thirteen Lords of Kamakura, I am struck by how much a scoundrel the lead character, Minamoto no Yoritomo (based on the real historical figure), is. By episode twelve, he’s tossed out his first wife, sleeping around behind the back of his pregnant second wife’s, and hasContinue reading “Actions, Not Words”

Letters and Swords

While watching the movie Top Gun on Netflix,1 I got to thinking about how different cultures view the “ideal man”, or “ideal person”. This reminded me of a Japanese yojijukugo phrase 文武両道 (bunbu ryōdō). Breaking it down, the phrase means: 文 – letters, literacy or cultural refinement 武 – martial prowess, or martial warfare (alsoContinue reading “Letters and Swords”

When It Turns Out Your Heritage Isn’t Really Your Heritage

This is pretty small beans compared to other things going on in the world, but recently my sister let me know an interesting historical detail about my paternal grandfather and what it means for our Scottish heritage, and sense of identity in general. My dad’s wife has been an avid genealogist ever since she decidedContinue reading “When It Turns Out Your Heritage Isn’t Really Your Heritage”

The Rise and Fall of the Heike

Near the end of the twelfth century in Japan, after decades of political meddling by the Fujiwara clan in Imperial court politics, an upstart samurai warlord named Taira no Kiyomori took control of his clan, the Heike (平家),1 in 1159. In 1179 he had become so powerful that he seized control of the capitol inContinue reading “The Rise and Fall of the Heike”

Japanese Samurai Armor in D&D

As I recently wrote, translating Dungeons and Dragons as a game into another medieval cultural setting can be a challenge. As someone who writes independent adventure modules for a Japanese-inspired setting on DMS Guild, I appreciate this point a lot. Nowhere is this more so a challenge than armor. Originally, when I first made thisContinue reading “Japanese Samurai Armor in D&D”

The Thirteen Lords of Kamakura

Since the kids were very young, the family and I subscribe to Terebi Japan, a cable channel that allows us to watch Japanese TV. The cable channel mostly shows TV from the public channel, NHK (roughly analogous to the BBC), and not other content, but it does allow us to watch Japanese TV legitimately andContinue reading “The Thirteen Lords of Kamakura”

Buddhism and the Parthian Empire

Speaking of the Parthians, let’s talk about Buddhism. As mentioned in the previous post, the Parthians primary religion was Zoroastrianism, a fascinating subject by itself. However, they were quite tolerant of other religions and faiths, including the Greek colonists, Babylonians and their venerable pantheon, but also faiths that arose in the eastern parts of theContinue reading “Buddhism and the Parthian Empire”