30 votes
Accepted

Why did Japanese samurai disembowel themselves?

The usual explanation is that Japanese culture believed the soul resides in the abdomen. Since the ritual of seppuku or harakiri is usually meant to provide an honourable death, cutting open the ...
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  • 95.8k
19 votes

Why didn't the steppe bow spread further?

The questions (answered separately below): So why wasn't the rest of the world, the world off the steppe, using it? I mean, maybe it didn't reach the classical world until the Huns brought it there,...
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  • 6,195
18 votes
Accepted

Why did the offices of Shogun and Emperor never merge?

There were several reasons why this could not or would not happen. 1. Shoguns were appointed officers of the state Although one might describe the Shogunate as hereditary (in the same sense that the ...
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  • 95.8k
16 votes
Accepted

Why was East Asia more religiously tolerant than Europe in medieval time?

It's the same reason why Europe was more religiously tolerant in Roman times (except to Christians). Namely, a lack of religious exclusiveness in their native beliefs. When Buddhism was transmitted ...
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14 votes
Accepted

When would the Japanese have been able to recognize their archipelago?

Realistically speaking a reasonably knowledgeable Japanese person would've been able to spot Japan on a world map, based on the islands' relative position to Korea and China. This is probably true ...
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12 votes
Accepted

When did private fighting become a capital offense in Japan?

You are referring to the medieval Japanese legal doctrine of kenka ryō sebai (喧嘩両成敗), literally, in quarrels, punish both sides. The prescribed punishment varied, but use of the death penalty indeed ...
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11 votes
Accepted

What is the meaning of this samurai crest?

That appears to be a maru-ni-mitsu-kashiwa (丸に三つ柏) crest, also known as a maru-ni-makino-kashiwa (丸に牧野柏). It is an encircled, three-leafed version of the kashiwa crest designs, one of the Big Ten ...
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  • 95.8k
11 votes

What are the historical equivalents of cooperative storytelling like modern role-playing games?

This is only a partial answer (by challenging the frame) but way too long for a comment ... I believe that there will be no clear answer because wargaming and RPGs influenced each other in ways that ...
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  • 16k
9 votes

What is a "barso"? (ref. Richard Cocks' diaries)

The meaning of "barso" is clearer than its origin. Samuli Kaislaniemi analyzed it in his PhD thesis Reconstructing Merchant Multilingualism : Lexical Studies of Early English East India ...
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7 votes
Accepted

Are fiefdoms near the Capital assigned to trusted allies or the opposite, and why?

It would be incorrect to say, ' ... China and Japan used a completely opposite rationale in assigning the fiefdoms and were both well chosen for the country'. It did happen this way but for the ...
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  • 6,195
6 votes
Accepted

How was Takeda defeated at the Battle of Nagashino?

The Takeda attack destroyed the first palisades, but was unable to break through much further. Their army ended up smashing themselves against the second line. I can see how that could be described as ...
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6 votes
Accepted

What killed Takeda Shingen?

It's most likely illness. Takeda Shingen's death has been reported as pulmonary tuberculosis in the Buke Jiki, 武家事紀, and as throat or stomach cancer in the Kōyō Gunkan 甲陽軍鑑. There's a theory that he ...
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  • 95.8k
6 votes

Are fiefdoms near the Capital assigned to trusted allies or the opposite, and why?

China is a large country with even larger borders. Enemies are likely to come from far away, and they are likely to be people that are "unlike" you. So you want your "last line of defense," nearest ...
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  • 103k
5 votes

Why didn't Japan expand into Ezo?

I think your presumption that Japanese power through military force was not employed in Ezo during Edo is wrong. You may read about Sakushin's revolt and it's suppression in 1669. UPDATE: 9-18-...
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5 votes
Accepted

What kind of political institutions existed in Sakai, Japan in the 500s and 600s AD?

Sakai did not exist as a geopolitical entity in your specified timeframe. Therefore, in one sense the "kind of political institution" that existed in 5th-6th century Sakai was of the non-existent ...
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4 votes

Were crossbows used by the Japanese?

The O-Yumi, a large crossbow essentially acting as a siege weapon was used, but the typical crossbow itself was eschewed; the samurai did not like the crossbows as much as their Yumi, which were also ...
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4 votes

Was the Korean King Chungnyeol instrumental in persuading Kublai Khan to invade Japan?

Before I begin to answer your question a little information is required to set the appropriate background of discussion. In 1259 the Koreans, the Goreyo at the time, capitulated to the Mongolian ...
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3 votes

Are fiefdoms near the Capital assigned to trusted allies or the opposite, and why?

TL;DR Chinese and Japanese feudal lords are very different in origin. The King of Zhou is tied to his subjects over trust and ritualistic relationships and had to assume most subjects are trustworthy, ...
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  • 454
3 votes

Map of Osaka Castle circa late 1600s

There are several images of the layout on the Japanese Wikipedia page for Osaka Castle: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%A4%A7%E5%9D%82%E5%9F%8E. In the grouping of three images on the right, the top ...
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  • 31
3 votes
Accepted

Outdoors Survival Knowledge for Samurai?

As a rule, no. Samurai, by definition, were servants of their lord. The word samurai means to attend or to serve. If you are "surviving", meaning living off by yourself in the woods somewhere, you are ...
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  • 37.2k
3 votes

Why didn't Japanese infantrymen and samurai use shields?

Given there is an accepted answer, and (I believe) there remains some misconception in answers provided here, I hope to clarify a few points about the usage of defensive shields in Japanese warfare ...
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  • 6,195
2 votes

Why didn't Japanese infantrymen and samurai use shields?

Pole arms/spears were the favored weapon on a true battlefield for 95% of cultures. Knight, samurai, Greeks, etc. The Romans are a bit of an exception in that the pilim wasn't their primary. But a ...
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2 votes

Was Nobunaga the founder of 3 lines of riflemen formation?

It's probably fair to say that Nobunaga was the founder of the three line formation in Japan. That is, it's quite possible that he discovered it independently of European commanders. That's more ...
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  • 103k
2 votes

Katabami mon (Japanese crests of wood sorrel) Crest family identity

I looked at other requests for family mons (as suggested by the help section) and found this excellent lengthy discussion on Family crests with lots of links and description. This answer led me to the ...
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2 votes

Can someone give me the history on this Japanese Crest symbol

[Note: this became an answer because it was far too long to post as comments. It doesn't really answer the question, but will hopefully put OP or someone else on the right track.] Some google image ...
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2 votes

How common were fires in pre-Edo Japan?

Fire was as common in pre-Edo (i.e., Nara, Heian, & Kamakura) Japan as after as the architectural basis for construction did not change on the large scale—though it seems that not as many studies ...
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