Ye Olde Samurai Sauna

I first saw a samurai in sauna in the manga Tenkaichi! by Pink Aomata.

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The poor flustered heroine serving as Nobunaga’s attendant in male disguise, LOL

I thought that was weird, but it’s a romance manga with time-travelling involved, and some weird bunny telling the heroine to change history and save Nobunaga from Honnoji, so… I ignored it. The premise is so zany that I just can’t be bothered to worry about this kind of detail.

Later on I stumbled into Aomata’s blog, and she seemed to be a really big history enthusiast (she and her husband bought the DIY Azuchi castle set and it makes me boil with frustration and utter envy) and is well-read about things, but still. Knowing history doesn’t necessarily mean sticking straight to it when writing fiction.

Then I encountered a sauna scene AGAIN, this time in a manga called Daireokuten Maou Nobunaga (didn’t catch the mangaka’s name this time):

So I thought, damn, I need to find out more about samurai sauna. Is it a bandwagon like the epic scene of Matsunaga Hisahide blowing himself up by stuffing the kettle Hiragumo with gunpowder and lighting it up? That was an exaggeration, but it was partially based on truth (Hisahide did destroy the Hiragumo), so… the random sauna scenes must have a reason for it. It’s definitely not fanservice, after all. Is it ritualistic? Leisurely?

The only clue I have to it is the term listed in Tenkaichi: Yudono no Tomo. Unfortunately, even with the name and kanji provided, I can’t find anything about it. The closest thing I managed to find was a Japanese dictionary entry for O-yudono (御湯殿). Even so, it wasn’t helpful because it was talking about the emperor’s bathrooms, even if it did include steam baths.

Then somehow I managed to locate a research paper titled “Washing off the Dust: Baths and Bathing in Late Medieval Japan” by Lee Butler. It mentioned that Hideyoshi owned a steam bath in his Jurakudai palace.

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Hideyoshi’s steam bath, Oukakudai, currently located in Nishi-Honganji

That’s a lead. So I started looking around for that.

And then, BOOM! This article turned up. An archaeological team has excavated a steam bath in the ruins of Nobunaga’s Nijo mansion. It looks like it was not so different from modern day sauna in function. You entertain guests and socialize in them, so it’s pretty much just regular past-time activity.

Now to see if I can find the proper steps for using a sauna. Manga is hardly the best reference, but both scenes featured attendants accompanying Nobunaga in the steam bath. What were they supposed to be doing? Wiping off the lord? Just as conversation partner? If there had been more people using the steam baths, would there be more attendants?

Also, the article about Nobunaga’s Nijo steam bath mentioned that it has “nearly-identical structure” to Hideyoshi’s one. I’m not sure if it means the style of architecture is similar, or if the arrangements  and placements of the rooms/walls/etc are nigh-identical. According to this post, Hideyoshi once had a residence next to Nijo, so perhaps the one at Jurakudai had been inspired by Nobunaga’s one? Interesting.

 

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The Dragon’s Pearl

Wyrmflight

In pictures of Asian dragons, you often see the dragon holding or chasing after a round object covered in flames. Is this some strange draconic sport? Not at all.

From ancient times, dragons in Asia were associated with nature and particularly the weather. In the oldest depictions, the dragon is holding the sun — a red, flaming ball. As time passed, artists started to show the sun as white rather than red, which is actually more accurate if you’ve ever looked at the sun. (But don’t look too long; you can damage your vision.) Legend then said that the dragon was seeking the Night Shining Pearl. This pearl is what we see most often in Asian art.

The pearl itself has strong meaning in Asian folklore. Both Taoism and Buddhism use pearls as symbols of wisdom or enlightenment. Buddhism particularly depicts the pearl in the center of a lotus blossom as…

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How to make a mouth-watering Japanese beef bowl in just five minutes 【RocketKitchen】

SoraNews24

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The beef bowl is essentially Japan’s equivalent to the American hamburger. Offered by inexpensive restaurants across the nation, the beef bowl, or gyudon, as it’s called in Japanese, is a tasty, hot meal that’ll give you all the protein and carbs you’re craving without costing you much money or time.

But while you’re usually never far from a beef bowl joint in Japan, what if you live in a town or country that doesn’t have a Yoshinoya, Matsuya, or, most tragically of all, a mouth-watering Sukiya? No problem, because with this amazingly simple recipe, you can make your own Japanese-style beef bowl in just five minutes!

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The Wise Scarecrow of Japan and the origin of Scarecrow Festivals, Rituals and Legends

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Shibuya’s Hachiko statue gets a snow family for a short time

SoraNews24

The tragic yet sweet story of faithful dog Hachiko is infamous in Japan and many parts of the world. One dog’s unflinching love and dedication inspired a statue to be erected in his honor outside Shibuya Station where the real Hachiko once stood.

With a second helping of snow dumped over Tokyo in the late hours of Fundoshi Day, someone took it upon themselves to offer Hachiko with a companion.

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Three years of character bento: A single mom’s quest to connect with her cheeky teen【Pt. 1】

SoraNews24

ttkk kaori blog, iyagarase bento harassment, kyaraben charaben

A decade ago, when blogger and single mom Kaori used to work nights at an izakaya (Japanese-style pub) and didn’t have time to spend with her two little girls, they would leave letters by her pillow, telling her about a fight they had with a friend or how school was that day. Fast forward a few years, though, and her cute younger daughter became your regular moody, demanding teenager.

So what did this amusing mom decide to do? Kaori chose to annoy her second-born every day with something she hates: character bento! See mom yearn for a Starbucks, remind her girl to throw out empty bottles, and moan about making bento while hung over—all with the help of an X-Acto knife, some nori seaweed, and dollops of ingenuity.

While it’s impossible to showcase the entirety of her achievements in one article, here’s a “highlights version” that ultimately reveals a…

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Tutorial: Creating EPUB or Mobi files of Graphic Novels or Manga

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