足利学校 Ashikaga Gakko

Ashikaga Gakko, meaning Ashikaga School is well-known as the oldest academic institution. It is located in Ashikaga city, Tochigi prefecture, about 70 km north of Tokyo and about 70 km south of Nikko. So, Ashikaga would come handy if you plan your trip further to Nikko.

There are controversies about the origin of it, but it is said to have been established ca. 832 in the Heian period by Ono no Takamura and restored in 1432 by Uesugi Norizane, the lord of Ashikaga.

In the 1500s more than 3000 students came to study Confucianism, Chinese Medicine and Divination. The famous library contains more than 12000 volumes ( mostly in Chinese ) and some of Japan’s oldest historical documents,

Missionary Francisco Xavier reported in 1549 the Ashikaga School as the largest and most famous university of Japan.

After the Meiji Restoration in the late 1800s the school was disestablished. After 1990 several wooden buildings including the former student living quarters, classrooms and the library were restored and today the school is under the direction of Ashikaga city board of education.

Now the Ashikaga Gakko has beautiful gardens and lovely, peaceful grounds to walk around.

Inside the school visitors can enjoy videos of the school’s history and challenge the School Kanji tests ( I did and found it pretty hard ) and join a program reading Analects of Confucius aloud.

In the Ashikaga Flower Park you will find 1000-square-meter gigantic wisteria trellises and a 80-meter-long wisteria tunnel.

Entrance Gate. The Kanjis mean 'School'

Entrance Gate. The Kanjis mean ‘School’

Statue of Confucius

Statue of Confucius

Garden area in the school area

Garden area in the school area

Confucius statues

Confucius statues

Students brooding over the challenging Kanji Teasts

Students brooding over the challenging Kanji Tests

The school seen from the street
The school seen from the street



礎石夏目の墓 The grave of Sōseki Natsume in Zōshigaya Cemetery

One of the greatest writers in the modern japanese literature is Sōseki Natsume (1867 to 1916). He lived in the Meiji period (1868 to 1912) and was one of the first japanese novelists to depict the clashes between japanese and western culture.

Among his most outstanding works are I am a cat, Botchan and Kokoro.

Before Natsume Sōseki himself was buried in Zōshigaya Cemetery, he selected the cemetery as the final resting place for the friend of the Sensei in the novel Kokoro (1914)

(雑司ヶ谷霊園, Zōshigaya Reien

Zōshigaya Cemetery

Zōshigaya Cemetery

Zōshigaya Cemetery is a public cemetery in Minami-Ikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo.

As I recently had been reading Kokoro and recalled the parts where Sensei mentioned about visiting his friend’s K  grave ( he committed suicide) 

and knowing that the author himself got buried there two years after completing the novel I had the strong wish to visit that grave in Zōshigaya Cemetery.

With the help of some locals and some efforts to decipher the cemetry plot signposts I managed to find Sōseki Natsume’s grave.

The plot number is 1-14-1-3.


Approach everything rationally, and you become harsh. Pole along in the stream of emotions, and you will be swept away by the current. Give free rein to your desires, and you become uncomfortably confined. It is not a very agreeable place to live, this world of ours.

The Three-Cornered World

Edo-Tokyo Museum 江戸東京博物 2012年08月30日

The Nakamura-za Kabuki theater 中村座 歌舞伎

The Nakamura-za Kabuki theater in Tokyo

The Nakamura-za Kabuki theater in Tokyo

The art of kabuki, a type of stylized Japanese dance-drama, is a fascinating reflection of Japanese culture. Although it started out as a type of dance, kabuki eventually evolved into a full-blown type of theater, where its performers wear elaborate costumes and apply elaborate makeup to tell a dramatic story.

Kabuki originated in 1603 when a woman named Izumo no Okuni began performing a special new style of dance that she had created. Kabuki caught on almost instantly. Women began learning kabuki dances and performing them for audiences. Kabuki had a large impact socially as well. The dances themselves were very suggestive and, even though it didn’t start out that way, many prostitutes began learning the dances so they could attract customers. The performances started attracting bad crowds. In 1629, the government stepped in and banned women from performing the dances.

Male dancers then took over. Known as wakashu, these men were typically young and effeminate. As such, prostitution wasn’t stopped as the men were just as available as the female dancers. In 1652, the government banned young males from dancing as well since it became very common for brawls to break out at performances over them.

Kabuki really came into its own during its “Golden Age” which lasted from 1673 to 1841. The dances really began to have a formal structure and kabuki theaters began to catch on. Unlike most plays, these lasted all day from sunrise to sunset. Many theaters were destroyed again during World War II and the forces occupying the country banned kabuki. The ban only lasted until 1947, but the damage had already been done. As Japan tried to rebuild itself after the war, it began rejecting its “old ways” and kabuki was almost abandoned. However, a director began producing plays that revitalized kabuki and it remains popular today.

The male dancer hero known as wakashu 若衆

The male dancer hero known as wakashu 若衆

Female hero and the bad one...

Female hero and the bad one…


三縁山増上寺 San’en-zan Zōjō-ji

This gallery contains 3 photos.

2012年 08月 29日 東京 Sangedatsu Gate (三解脱門 Sangedatsu Mon), 1622, Important Cultural Property: The temple’s only original structure to survive the Second World War. “San” (三) means “three”, and “Gedatsu” (解脱) means “Moksha“. If someone passes through the gate, he … Continue reading

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Morning View at Nihonbashi 歌川 広重 「日本橋 朝の景」

The repeating picture in the background represents a noted Ukiyo-e woodcut print from the famous Edo Artist Hiroshige Utamaro.

It is named “Morning View at Nihonbashi”from the series Fifty-three Stations on the Tokaido.

This is an especially appropriate design for the starting point of the Tokaido: it shows the procession of a daimyo (feudal lord) coming over the bridge in the stillness of early morning. At the left is a group of fish-sellers from the nearby fish-market. In former times Nihonbashi was considered the hub of the country, and all distances in Japan were measured from it. Today the bridge still exists (in a modern reconstruction), but the fish-market has been moved.

Hello Japan lovers 今日は!

Soon my dream is going to come true. After many years of studying the japanese culture and language I am going to spend a month in Tokyo. The main purpose of the trip is to practise and activate my language skills during a university project. Before, during and after the academic activities I will take time to explore Tokio alone and with company.

Of course I am excited and wondering how much will my theoretical knowledge support me or mislead me. A part of this blog I will write in japanese. So all japanese learners and lovers watch out and don’t hesitate to correct or comment my writing.

With the help of a friend today I got a ticket for a Sumo show. I really look forward to that.