Thursday, January 13, 2011

Byakkotai part 3 Nisshinkan


1. Never disobey a superior.
2. Always bow in presence of a superior.
3. Never act as a coward.
4.  Never eat outside.
5.Never engage in a conversation with a women.
(Some of the rules students had to respect)


After visiting the memorial site on Iimori hill we headed for the castle. We quickly walked around the ground and took pictures of the cherry blossom. The rain was still pouring. We then made our way to Nisshinkan Samurai School. The school attended by the Byakkotai (white tiger brigades).

Just as we pulled in, the rain stopped. What a relief! We made our way inside the school. First off was a movie explaining the historical background:

The Nisshinkan school was founded by Genko Tanaka in 1803. During his lifetime he introduced wide scale political changes to the clan. His personal motto was "The Aizu clan's prosperity depends on educating its people." So he started the Nisshinkan school on the west side of Tsurugajo Castle. It was a school set up to educate the boys of the samurai rank retainers from the age of 10. The boys studied confucianism, mathematics, astronomy, and medical science using Japanese sources and information gathered from the Dutch. They also had to train in the martial arts, archery, spear-throwing, shooting, horse-riding and swimming. The school had its own swimming pool and observatory and it is said to have been in the top 3 out of 300 such clan schools in Japan at that time. (Visit this web site for more information)

The school was used to film the most recent movie about Byakkotai. You can watch here a preview. Unfortunately I must say that other than the historical aspect, this 4 hours long movie has very little to go for. The acting and the special effect are especially horrible.

Then we walked the grounds and explored all the building.  We didn't have much time before closing. We had to hurry. But before leaving, we painted our very own Akabeko!

Akabeko (赤べこ Akabeko, red cow) is a traditional toy from the Aizu region of Japan. The toy is made from two pieces of papier-mâché-covered wood, shaped and painted to look like a red cow or ox. When the toy is moved, the head thus bobs up and down and side to side. Aizu legend claims that the toys are based on a real cow that lived in the 9th century and showed its devotion to Buddha by willing its soul away or by refusing to leave the site of a temple it had helped to construct. Akabeko has become one of Fukushima Prefecture's most famous crafts and a symbol of the Aizu region.

 Before departing the wonderful city of Aizu, we stopped for lunch. Konnyaku, fish and meat grilled over fire, covered by a yuzu-miso sauce.

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