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Samurai Culture

The age of the samurai opened in Japan just as England’s Richard I (a.k.a. Richard Lionheart) began his third crusade in the 1190s. Fortunately, over the years as the times changed from the Edo Period (when the Kaga Domain and the Maeda Clan were second only to the Tokugawa Shogunate) to the Meiji Period, then to the Taisho Era and the Heisei Era, Ishikawa Prefecture was spared from the ravages of war. As a result, Ishikawa has retained many old aspects of the samurai or warrior culture which flourish still even today.

en_samurai02The most representative symbol of the samurai culture is Kanazawa Castle Park, which is located right in the heart of Kanazawa. In 1546, when the Warring States Period was about to end, Lord Toshiie Maeda entered the castle, and for about 300 years, the Maeda Clan shaped the foundation of the Kaga Domain. Besides this castle, there are many other remaining facilities from the feudal period that show how samurai used to live.


en_samurai01One of those is the Nagamachi Samurai Residence District, which is a neighborhood where Maeda Clan retainers used to live. You can visit the Nomura House, where a mid-level ranking samurai used to live, as well as the Ashigaru (Foot Soldier) Shiryokan Museum, where you can see the modest lifestyle of low-ranking foot soldiers and glimpse the kind of work they used to do. In this district you can see the lifestyle of samurai of various ranks during the feudal period. In addition to that, you can see full-body armor and weaponry and many other samurai artifacts belonging to the head retainer of the Maeda Clan, the Honda family, at the Honda Zohinkan Museum.


en_samurai03There is also Myoryuji Temple, commonly known as Ninja Temple. In the Edo Period, the Maeda Clan was the second wealthiest clan behind the Tokugawa Clan, and thus was always carefully watched by the Shogunate. Groups of temples located just outside of the perimeter of the castle town, were placed strategically to help intercept enemies in the event that the Maeda Clan and the Shogunate went to war. Among these temples is Ninja Temple, which was built defensively against outside invaders by implementing a series of clever devices, such as pit holes and hidden staircases for the feudal lord to hide in. It has a very complicated and intricate design, and as a result is often called Ninja Temple.


Consider taking the “Searching for Samurai Route” as you tour around the prefecture. (Link)