Tale of Ronin


An ink-style drawing of Kabuki and Kabukimono, gangs of flamboyantly dressed samurai, from Edo period Japan. The art depicts three samurai standing with a third as a larger visage hanging in the air.

Kabuki and Kabukimono: The Violent Birth of an Art Form

Kabuki is one of Japan’s most iconic forms of traditional performance art. It combines music, dance, and theater with elaborate costumes and sets. Today, kabuki is internationally acclaimed, but it originated as the art of the people during the 1600s. Between the late Warring States period and the early Edo Period, the kabukimono movement arose …

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The Purple Robe Incident: the Shogunate vs the Imperial Court

The Imperial Court of Japan lost most of its authority during the Warring States period. When Japan was unified under the Tokugawa Shogunate, the bakufu took steps to consolidate power. One threat it sought to address was the power of Buddhist temples. In 1627, the Emperor’s historical relationship with Buddhist temples brought the Imperial Court …

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An ink style digital artwork of multiple Japanese military men riding horses and holding their katana's above their heads. One notable man has a unique helmet that represents his role as the Shogun.

The Shogun: Japan’s Military Takeover

The word “Shogun” comes from the Japanese word “Seii Taishogun”, which roughly translates to “barbarian-quelling general”. These military dictators reigned over Japan from 1192 to 1868. Historically, the Shogun was legally under the control of the Emperor and had limited authority over the military forces in Japan. However, due to the increasingly feudal development of …

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An ink style digital artwork of a woman in robes standing in front of a Japanese style temple or building.

Miko: Japanese Shrine Maidens

A miko, also known as a shrine maiden, is a woman who serves the Shinto kami. Their origins date back to the prehistoric Jomon period (approximately 10,500 BCE-300 BCE) in Japan. The responsibilities and requirements to become a miko have gone through many changes over the years. However, their traditional red hakama, white kosode, and …

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Ink style artwork of a Japanese Shinto priest standing in robes with a hat, and holding a stick with paper attached to the end.

Harae: Japanese Purification Ritual

Harae is the general term for ritual purification in Shinto, which is one of the four essential elements of a Shinto ceremony. Harae rites have been practiced for centuries. The aim of harae rites is to purify pollution or wrongdoing (tsumi) and impurity (kegare) from the body. These encompass not only guilt but also negative …

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