Gaijin on Getas Blog

Posts in the ‘Kyoto’ Category

Shinsengumi – Peace Keepers or Assassins?

Posted on August 20th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Modern-day romanticized version of the Shinsengumi

Modern-day romanticized version of the Shinsengumi

The late Edo Period and early Meiji Period (approximately 1855 to 1875) was a very chaotic time in Japan and Kyoto. In 1854, the Tokugawa Shogunate was accused by fuedal lords around Japan of caving in to demands from Commodore Perry to open the harbors to American whaling ships. This was seen as an act of weakness, and many people began to call for the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the reinstatement of the emperor of Japan as the supreme power of the land. Read the full post »

Tora Tora Tora (Tiger Tiger Tiger)

Posted on January 4th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Tora Tora Tora” (Tiger Tiger Tiger) is a Japanese party/drinking game played by Maiko with their clients. The game is another version of “Jyan ken pon” (the Japanese name for Rock, Paper, Scissors). The game is played between two players who start on opposite sides of a wall, or as in this case, a rice paper screen. The players sing a song while making hand gestures, and then assume one of three characters: a Samurai (Watonai) with a spear, an old woman with a cane or a tiger. The old woman wins over the Samurai, the Samurai wins over the tiger and the tiger wins over the old woman. Read the full post »

Musashi Miyamoto in Kyoto

Posted on October 19th, 2011 by Mike Roberts


Musashi Self Portrait

Musashi Self Portrait

Musashi Miyamoto (1584-1645) was Japan’s most famous and most skilled swordsman. It is thought he participated in at least 60 duels and was never defeated. In his book,  “The Book of Five Rings”, he set down his thoughts on swordplay, on winning and on spirituality. Along with The Art of War by Sun Tzu, The Book of Five Rings has long been regarded as an invaluable treatise on the strategy of winning. Musashi’s timeless advice on defeating an adversary, throwing an opponent off-guard, creating confusion, and other techniques for overpowering an assailant was addressed to the readers of earlier times on the battlefield, and now serves the modern reader in the battle of life. This book is an almost required read by Japanese businessmen, many of whom see themselves as modern-day Samurai waging war in the boardrooms of Japanese companies. He was also the founder of the Niten-ryū (Two Sword Style)  school of swordmanship. In this style two swords are used, one in each hand. He spent the last years of his life as a hermit living in a cave near Kumamoto on the island of Kumamoto, concentrating on his writing, art works and spirituality until his death in 1645. Read the full post »

Japanese Party/Drinking Game

Posted on September 17th, 2011 by Mike Roberts

This is a Japanese party/drinking game played by Maiko and Geiko (Geisha) with their clients at tea houses. The game is called Konpira, and the rules are very simple. The two players face each other and alternate touching the box or table between them. If the box is on the table when it is their turn, they must touch the box with a flat hand. If the box is not on the table when it is their turn, they must touch the table with a fist. Failure to do either means you lose the game. Sometimes when you lose, it means you will have to take a drink. Which means you will probably lose more games, which means you will have to drink more, which means, well you get the idea. Or the game can be played as an icebreaker between the Maiko/Geiko and their clients. Read the full post »