Saturday, June 30, 2012

Did You Know There Are Female Samurai Too?

This week went by really fast. Emily didn't say anything last week, but I strained some back muscles last week and a week later, it's finally feeling better! Guess I should stop throwing kids around at school. :) Anyways, with my back pretty much back to normal, we had a fun weekend doing some more exploring with our buddies, the Nugents. Here are some pictures of our weekend adventure.
We went to the Aizu Clan school (Samurai school) and this is what was waiting at the entrance. It had a sign next to it that read, "This lion protects this school and prays for world peace.It is made of marble. It gives wisdom, power, and protection to worshipers." Looks like Miss America isn't the only one praying for world peace. 

This was the south gate into the school. There were 3 different gates. The east and west gates were for students, and the south was for the important people. Naturally, we entered in through the south gate.

Upon entering the south gate, you can walk through another smaller gate that gives you a view of  a shrine and a courtyard. The weather was awesome and it's starting to even get hot.

We thought it would make a nice picture standing on the bridge, what do you think?

In the shrine area, there was a statue of Confucius. Everything in the room was pretty ornate. The Nugents said that we haven't seen ornate until we go to Niko. So we are going there in two weeks... The weekend just before we leave Japan. Anyways, apparently one of the things Samurais studied was religion, mainly Shintoism and Confucianism. Some of the other things that Samurai studied were reading and writing, etiquette, how to build castles, lots of history, and how to use a variety of weapons. Only males were allowed into Samurai schools all across Japan and were admitted when a boy reached 10. There were two ways to be admitted into the school. One, they were the first son of a famous Samurai lord. Or two, they performed really well in school.

This was in the shrine area. I just thought it was a really cool pot.

They had an observatory kind of place that overlooked the school and the surrounding area. It was a pretty big size. The thing I really enjoyed about the school versus the mansion place we visited last week was that we got to go inside the buildings. 

The mountain back there is Mount Bandai. It's the one we skied down back in March. So much fun!
So while we were touring the place, one of the workers asked if we wanted to hear some stories about the school. In his stories, we learned that only males were allowed into samurai schools. However, there were many women that learned on their own and became samurai. There was a pretty big war called the Boshin War in the 1800's here in Aizu. Even though the female samurai fought along side the male samurai, they still lost. The school was burned and the castle was overtaken. The government reconstructed the school back in 1987. Close to where the school was rebuilt, there was a large statue. We called it the Mary statue; don't know too much about it.
It's a little hard to tell, but it's a statue of a lady with a baby. I'm not sure about the history of it, but it is part of the Buddhist religion. Although we didn't take the time to go inside it, you can climb a series of stairs. Apparently there are a few lookout windows as you climb.
After seeing all those fun things, we went out to eat at a place called Maruyama. One of the cool things about the place (although there are lots of other places that let you do it) was to grind sesame seeds and then add in a special sauce. You can make the sauce to your liking.

This was the lunch special. The tonkatsu, hire katsu, and ebi fry was pretty standard. However, it was all you can eat cabbage and rice, so I was a very happy camper. 
Anyways, I hope that you enjoyed the pictures. We are excited for the other things we have going on in the next few weeks before we depart. Hope you are enjoying spring as much as we are. Much love!

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