Posts tagged japanese history

Ye Olde Samurai Sauna

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


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.


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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Pretty, pretty sword boys~

A lot of my friends are obsessed with Touken Ranbu.


I don’t understand about it much except that it’s something about “Collecting personified swords and battle against evil”. Naturally nobody really cares much about the game’s “plot” or “play”. They’re in it for the sword boys. It’s like Hetalia all over again, except… these are famous tachi and katana and wakizashi and tantou throughout Japanese history.

I don’t have any particular interest in swords myself, except for those tied to warlords I’m interested about because stories surrounding the sword can give me more insight to the lords. So this could be good a springboard for more research for me.

The only swords that I know of are Akechi and Nobunaga’s because they were referenced in Samurai Warriors, and only Nobunaga’s one showed up in this one. Heshikiri Hasebe, a sword forged by Hasebe Kunishige:

He rather looks like a strange pastor, maybe because of Nobunaga’s connection to the Jesuit missionaries?

Named “Heshikiri” (pressure-cutter) because supposedly the sword was sharp enough to cut through a cupboard or desk just by applying slight pressure and not using actual physical strength. As the story goes, Nobunaga was angry at his tea servant Kannai, and chased the poor servant with the sword. Kannai tried to hide under a desk (or behind a cupboard), but Nobunaga found him and slashed him straight through the object he’s hiding in.

… yeah, see? That kind of story is interesting to me. I don’t give a darn about the sword itself. The length, the curvature, and whatever other stuff sword afficionados might take note of… Not my thing. I do sometimes take note of the smith’s name or the school he’s from, but yeah…

Also, there’s one sword that I’m particularly fond of because of its macabre name, but it didn’t show up in Touken Ranbu so I tried designing a human form for the sword:

It was fun, both designing the guy and editing the screenshot to make a fake “sword get” screenshot for him, hahah.

The name’s Okadagiri Yoshifusa, made by swordsmith Yoshifusa of the Fukuoka Ichimonji school. It was one of Nobunaga’s swords that was later inherited by his son Nobukatsu. The name “Okadagiri” was given because Nobukatsu used the sword to slay his retainer Okada. As Okada had been trying to broker peace between Nobukatsu and Hideyoshi, this slaying eventually led to the Battle of Komaki-Nagakute.

Heshikiri may also have been named in a servant-slaying incident, but at least the name wasn’t so blatant D:
If we didn’t know better, “pressure-cutter” could mean anything at all!

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The Honnoji Incident places

While in Kyoto last time, I failed to locate the Honnoji landmarks and it aggravated me to no end.

Now I’m armed with maps and IF I ever have a chance to go there again, I will make sure to visit them properly goshdarnit.

Honnoji incident map

This map was based on the pre-existing Japanese maps I saw online and the notes in the Shinchou-Ko ki. Because it’s not like there are anything left to see there anymore it doesn’t actually matter XD

But some folks still think that the present-day Myokakuji is THE Myokakuji that Nobunaga’s son had stayed in during the incident, and that’s not right. So, you know, just in case. The present-day Myokakuji is, like, a few miles north from this area, so if Nobutada really had stayed there it makes no sense for him to run down to Nijo and fight. He might as well just run out of Kyoto altogether and not die.

Ack, if my annotations aren’t clear, Nijo is the one with Manga Museum. Myokakuji is the one next to it. Depending on which map you look at the area of Myokakuji is either the circled area, the dotted area, or BOTH.

Honnoji incident map 2

The Honnoji landmarks are a bit tricky to find, but… one of them is located in front of an office/building. One of the blogs I saw suggested that if anyone’s trying to look for it, it might be better to look for the building instead: [京都市立堀川高校本能学舎].  I tried Google-mapping it, but I can’t find that place either, so… er… You’ll just have to loo around and try.

The Nijo castle landmark is supposedly somewhere in the area of the Manga Museum. Do not mistake this for the “Old Nijo” that was built for shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki (there’s actually more than one Nijo around here). But if you want to see the Old Nijo anyway, this landmark is located in Heian Jogakuin University [平安女学院大学入学センター]

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