Japan

The Strange Origin of the Kappa: Japanese Water Imp

Many supernatural creatures are depicted in Japanese art and literature.  Some seem realistic and might actually exist, since there have been witness sightings, while others are clearly composite creatures.  Still others might have been created by storytellers to explain seemingly inexplicable phenomena.  Such creatures include yuki-onna (snow women), who lure young men out of their beds at night and into the mountains where they freeze to death, and kitsune (foxes) which are thought to be shape shifters, often assuming the form of beautiful young women.  Even today in northern Japan, some...Read more

A Dark Time for the Samurai and the Trouble with the Feudal Japanese Caste System

In Japanese jidai-geki (period) films, especially those made under the military government, samurai warriors are presented as the ideal warriors who were motivated solely by honor and loyalty, preferring to fight to the death rather than admit defeat. The true samurai warriors were not only well-trained in the art of warfare, they were also highly learned in literature and poetry. The idea of the samurai became the embodiment of the philosophical ideal of Japan and attracted global admiration for their nobility.

However, the samurai experienced a dark period beginning in...Read more