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Must Have Souvenirs from Japan!

Japan is a beautiful country with many different and unique sites that a visitor is bound to encounter. When traveling to Japan, many intriguing objects are seen which represent the diversity of the nation and the many regions that are found in the country. It is important to carry some of these fantastic gifts as souvenirs as they carry many memories that a traveler may want to remember about the country. Items such as the kimono which is a traditional garment; T-shaped and straight lined which is worn in such a way that the hem falls over the ankles is an important souvenir. The garment is usually wrapped around the body and secured using a sash known as ‘obi’ in the Japanese language. The garment is commonly worn with traditional footwear such as geta and split toe socks.

A visitor to Japan can also bring back home items like the origami paper or Ukiyoe prints. Japan also offers a wide array of traditional tea pots and tea sets such as Macha which can be used in the brewing of green tea. These pots and sets come in varying sizes and shapes and carry a unique and elegant design. Most of them are decorated with scenes from Japanese village life or other Japanese characters. Lunch boxes which are usually separated to cater for the different food items that an individual may wish to carry are also available for use as souvenirs. They come in different ranges with choices for children available as well as other elegant designs. Japanese knives can also be another attractive souvenir to carry from the country as the trade of knife making has been perfected in Japan since the times of the samurai to date. These knives can come in the form of metal or ceramics.

A souvenir that one can only find in Japan is none other than that of fake foodPlastic display food, as it is also known, is intricately designed and crafted from skilled workers in the country that makes the food look more appetizing than the real thing! haha… Definitely a peculiar souvenir you can purchase in the country, I highly recommend you to visit Gifu to experience one of their fake food making workshops if you have time on your way from Tokyo to Kyoto. There’s truly nothing better than crafting your own fake food, if I must say so myself.

So I hope this gives you an idea about what to expect when you make your voyage to the Land of the Rising Sun. I’m sure it will be an experience that you will never forget!

Masamune Date

The One-Eyed Dragon – Masamune Date

Going back in time some 400+ years, who was Masamune Date in Japan’s Sengoku era? Why was he revered so much among his peers? What special characteristics did he inhibit that made him the important historical figure that he is today?

Masamune Date’s presence was an intimidating back then as it still is to this day. Relationships formerly honored were set aside as he attempted to conquer all the neighboring lands including those which were controlled by his kin in Dawa and Mutsu provinces during Japan’s Sengoku period. This brought a flare up with the Hatakeyama clan who were traditional rivals. The leader of Hatakeyama clan, Yoshitsugu tried to make peace with Masamune on a number of occasions however his advances were ignored. He even approached Terumune to try and convince him to reign in on his son. Terumune arranged for a dinner where the two rival clan heads dined amicably. Later, Terumune disclosed to Yoshitsugu that his son was out of his control. In an act of desperation that had never been heard of, the lord of the Hatakeyama clan kidnapped Terumune at sword point and attempted to take him back with them. When word of what had happened reached Masamune as he was hunting, he immediately followed Yoshitsugu and when he caught up with him, as per his father’s instructions which were to open fire even at the cost of his father’s life, he killed everyone in the entourage. However, he did not stop there as he hunted and killed members of the family that had kidnapped his father. His mother Yoshihime in the meantime continued to pressure him to leave his throne to his younger brother Kojiro. Masamune consequently killed his own brother to stop the struggle for power.

In 1590, Hideyoshi seized Odawara castle and compelled the daimyos to pay homage to him. At first, Masamune refused but he had no choice as Hideyoshi was the overall ruler of Japan. He was given the Iwatesa castle and the surrounding lands. He turned this domain into a major political and economic center. After Hideyoshi’s death, at the advice of his trusted retainer Kojuro, he supported Tokugawa Ieyasu. He was rewarded for his support with the lordship of the profitable Sendai domain. Being a major power in Japan, Masamune was viewed with suspicion. Hideyoshi reduced the size of his domain but Tokugawa Ieyasu later increased it though he was suspicious of Masamune and his policies. Despite the suspicion, Masamune served both of them loyally for most part. Masamune tolerated Christianity and even saved a padre from execution. He established relations with the pope and allowed missionaries to practice their religion and win converts. Masamune, an outstanding tactician is a hero in Japan and his fame spreads as that of a legendary warrior and leader. He is an iconic figure made famous by his missing eye and is often called the ‘One-eyed dragon. He is also a character in a number of Japanese period dramas.

Quite a revolutionary, Masamune Date is portrayed quite heavily in the Sendai region of Japan to this day. If your travels take you to this part of the country, be sure to brush up on your history of this great leader before you depart.