Interesting historical facts about Japan you never know
Japan is a unique country with a very colorful and distinctive history, bordering Korea, Russia, and China. The country has interesting special facts that are intriguing.
The Asian country, in addition to the well-known facts about the failed attempts of the Mongol invasion due to the strongest typhoons, and about the 250-year Edo period, when Japan was in self-isolation, without communicating with other countries, there is a lot of exciting things in the history of this country.
The Japanese have not eaten meat for a long time
In the middle of the seventh century, Emperor Tenmu, following the Buddhist precepts prohibiting the taking of life, issued a decree banning meat consumption. Violation of it was punishable by death, and he acted for over 1,200 years. Communication with Christian missionaries led to the fact that in the 16th century, the ban was lifted, and the Japanese began to eat meat again. It cannot be said that all residents welcomed its abolition, especially the monks.
Women’s Kabuki Theater
Everyone knows the Japanese Kabuki dance theatre, whose troupe consists exclusively of men. But there was a time when Kabuki was his complete opposite – purely feminine. Kabuki was founded by the famous dancer Izumo no Okuni, who often performs in men’s clothing. Her theatre became immensely popular, but the Japanese government considered the girls’ performances indecent. And one of the scandals that happened during the performance served as a pretext to ban them from performing. And since 1629, the Kabuki theatre has become what everyone knows now.
The surrender of Japan could not have taken place
In August 1945, Japan surrendered, as Emperor Hirohito announced on a nationwide radio broadcast. This statement was recorded at night, a few hours before the broadcast. A group of military men led by Major Kenji Hatanaka, who did not want to surrender, broke into the palace and, knowing about the record, decided to destroy it. But the tape was secretly removed from the palace, and they could not find it. Hatanaka tried to use the nearest radio station to broadcast his statement, but he failed, and he shot himself.
Checking swords for bystanders
It was considered a great shame in the Middle Ages if a samurai could not defeat an opponent with one blow. Therefore, samurai necessarily tested their weapons, especially new ones, before using them in battle. Usually, the bodies of criminals or corpses were used for this. But sometimes, they resorted to another method, called “Tsujigiri” (murder at the crossroads), when the victims were bystanders encountered at night at the crossroads. At first, such cases were sporadic but gradually developed into a serious problem, and in 1602 the Tsujigiri was banned by the Japanese authorities.
Spooky trophies of Japanese soldiers
Under the legendary commander Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Japan twice attacked Korea in the last decade of the 16th century. These incursions were very bloody; the death toll of Koreans reached up to a million. At first, the Japanese brought home the severed heads of their opponents as trophies, but this was very inconvenient. And then, instead of heads, they began to get severed ears and noses. And there are a lot of such terrible trophies in Japan, of which they even began to create horrific tomb monuments that could contain tens of thousands of such awards.
Hara-kiri as atonement
At the end of the war, Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi, hoping to turn the tide, organized squads of kamikaze pilots to destroy Allied aircraft and ships. Having become the ideological father of the kamikaze, Onishi believed that such a tactic would sow panic and force the Americans to end the war. About 4,000 lives of young pilots were sacrificed to his ghostly hope, but Onishi, according to him, was ready for much more sacrifices. But after the surrender of Japan, Onishi suddenly realized all the senselessness and cruelty of his idea with the kamikaze. As atonement, he committed hara-kiri the day after the surrender, apologizing in his suicide note to the souls of the pilots who died through his fault, as well as to their families.
The first Japanese to accept Christianity is a criminal
The 35-year-old samurai criminal Anjiro, who killed his opponent during a fight, first hid in the port of Kagoshima in Japan and then fled abroad to Malacca. There he was baptized, taking Paulo de Santa Fe and travelling to Japan with the Christian missionary Francis Xavier. However, the mission was unsuccessful, and they soon parted ways. And if Francisco was later even canonized, then Anjiro died as a pirate, and they gradually forgot about him.
In Japan, the slave trade was abolished
One of the consequences of the first contacts of Western countries with Japan was the slave trade. In the 1540s, the Portuguese bought up the Japanese as slaves with great profit for themselves. As a result, this trade acquired such proportions that Portuguese slaves could even own the Japanese. Under the influence of Christian missionaries, the king of Portugal imposed a ban on the enslavement of the Japanese, promulgating a corresponding law, but the Portuguese colonists ignored this ban. The military leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi was outraged by such activities, and in 1587 he managed to impose a ban on the slave trade in Japan.
Japanese schoolgirls worked as nurses
At the end of the war, nearly 100,000 civilians died in bloody battles in Okinawa, which lasted for three months, including 200 local schoolgirls, who were called upon to work as nurses during the fighting. Initially, they worked in a military hospital, but with the intensification of bombing, they were transferred to the very hell. And despite the increasing advantage of the allies’ forces, they were forbidden to surrender. Some of the girls died by blowing themselves up with a grenade, others during the battle.
Japanese tried to create an atomic bomb during World War II
A group of Japanese physicists in the spring of 1941 began to develop their nuclear weapons. However, they failed to achieve success within the framework of this program. Although they possessed all the necessary knowledge, they greatly lacked resources. And it is not known where the wheel of war would have turned if they had succeeded.