It shows the form of putting 士, a small broadax on top of a 口 prayer or benediction receptacle. Dr. Shirakawa’s Kanji research has first proved that 口 does not mean the human mouth but a ‘norito’ prayer receptacle already fifty years ago. As can also be understood from the character form 王, which shows the head part of a broadax, one generally thought that extraordinary spiritual power resides in weapons like a broadax. What regards the putting of something on the ‘norito’ prayer receptacle, it is similar to the character 悟 (吾) which shows a double lid. Here, however, it is the small broadax, symbol of the warrior class, which was an action widely spread among people to further enhance the effect of prayer. Therefore, it generally is used for benedictions, including also military affairs.
Although there is praying and requesting from God also in monotheism, there is no ‘auspicious’ - ‘inauspicious’ judgment like in Oriental religions when praying and asking for inquiring the chance of realization of a prayer. In Japan, it is usual to draw a ‘omikuji: written fortune oracle,’ at a shrine, in monotheism, however, this is absolutely unthinkable. Such a religious view letting people reflect on their lives by judgment in terms of auspiciousness and inauspiciousness shows that originally there is a basic Oriental tradition of being clear and definite about personal prayers. In this respect, there is no room for the thesis of an original ambiguity of Japanese or East Asian culture as often propounded by Japanese and non-Japanese authors.
Akitsugu Amata was born in 1927 as the son of Amata Sadayoshi, the swordsmith in the village of Honda (present-day Shin-hatta) in Niigata Prefecture.
In 1997, Akitsugu Amata was designated as a Living National Treasure for his work as a master swordmaker. Akitsugu recalls his father as an 'innate master swordmaker'. Sadayoshi passed away when he was only 38. Akitsugu was just 10. Akitsugu wanted to carry on his father's work so, after graduating from primary school, he entered a training school in Tokyo.
Since then, he has committed his whole life to swordmaking. When Akitsugu was 33, he was taken ill and took 8 years to recover. But his spirit for swordmaking helped him.
After all these struggles, at the age of 41, he won the 'Masamune' prize in the 'New Katana Sword Exhibition', a contest which is considered to be a stepping-stone for master swordmakers. It was the first occasion that people recognized his talent and effort.
Today, he is still searching for iron sand around Japan and also pursuing his intense study of katana swords.
Matsumae Castle is the most recently established castle in Japan. It is also called Fukuyama Castle and was completed in 1854.
Designed by Ichikawa Ichigaku, a resourceful military man, the architecture has three parts: main, secondary and third buildings. On the southeast side of the main building, there is a three-storied keep tower. In the third building, 7 cannons are set facing the sea. Also, there were 9 other cannons outside the castle facing the ocean. From these facts, we can see that the castle was secure from attack from the ocean side.
After only 13 years, it was destroyed following the collapse of the Matsumae clan. In 1960, the remaining sections of the castle were restored. Now, the keep tower is used as a museum, where weapons and objects from the castle, as well as pictures such as 'Sakura-sita Bijin-zu', are exhibited.
The Hishi Turret was built to guard the front and back gates of Kanazawa Castle. 'Yagura', the word here for turret, can also mean 'arrow storage', like an armory, although the turret was used more as a guard tower.
Rising from a 11.7m-high stone wall, the Hishi Turret itself is close to 17m high, giving the whole structure an intimidating total height of 30m.
The name Hishi (Diamond) Turret, is derived from the diamond shape of the horizontal plane surface of the turret. The inner angles of the diamond's four corners are 80 degrees and 100 degrees respectively. The 100 or so wooden internal beams and pillars are likewise all diamond-shaped, hinting at the advanced skill required to construct the building. The structure connecting the Hishi Turret and the Hashizume Turret is the Gojikken Armory.