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5 Habits Hurting Your Japanese

Take a Bow

by John Dinkel

The Biggest Pitfall


As Host of the Manga Sensei Podcast, People that are learning Japanese, or any other language, often fall into bad habits unknowingly. These bad habits can hurt your language learning. After years of hard experience, teaching language and learning two (Japanese and Korean) I have fallen into enough pitfalls to know my way around the major ones. In my years of experience, there are 5 main pitfalls and problems that beginning language learners should know about in order to avoid.


Not having a clear purpose

The word in Japanese for ‘purpose’ is 目的 (Mokuteki) which is written by using the kanji (characters) for ‘Eye’ and ‘Target.’ Your language learning should be just that, your eye centered on the target. Often, people lose the reason for which they are studying. The overarching goal for why they are learning the language is key to making sure you don’t give up. Moreover, it keeps you from wandering into things that would otherwise hinder your language learning; there is no reason to learn medical terminology if your Mokuteki is to do sales or speak fluently. While there is something to be said about ‘fleshing out’ one’s language ability, straying too far from your language goal will often do more harm than good. Make sure you are doing those things that will help achieve your language learning purpose, rather than studying something that may be really cool or just interesting. 


Jumping ahead of yourself

Before you study Kanji you should know your Hiragana and Katakana, Before you learn to read the newspaper you should most likely learn basic conversation, and you should know the basic structure of the language before you begin writing prose. It is often very frustrating to keep studying and growing one step at a time when you feel like you could just take on the world. However, I wouldn’t recommend being a patent translator or acquisitions and mergers interpreter after only a year of study. When you jump ahead of your current language capability you grow. But when you jump too far into the deep end you can actually do more harm than good. Making sure you are doing things in the right order is a struggle and a challenge, but knowing when something is only going to mess up your later acquisition is an important skill. 

Not setting measurable goals

People often get discouraged when they don’t achieve the results that they want right away. That or people set astronomically high language goals and don’t clearly define what that means. I cannot count how many times I have had someone tell me they are going to be conversational at Japanese in one year. This is a completely doable and seemingly sound goal, but what even does it mean to be ‘conversational?’ Do you want to be able to talk about everything or just about your weekend? Heck, I have been speaking Japanese now for almost 8 years and I still cannot talk about cars, computers, or the tea ceremony. Then again, I don’t really care too. That falls outside of my preview as a conversationalist. Setting goals are best done on the SMARTER system in my opinion. 


  1. Specific: You know exactly what you are trying to accomplish.
  2. Measurable: How many vocabulary words, grammar points, and Kanji do I need to know?
  3. Attainable: See Point 2
  4. Relevant: See Point 1
  5. Time-bound: By When, how often, and for how long are you going to study?
  6. Evaluated: reporting back to yourself how effective you were after the specific and measure time.
  7. Recorded: literally written down, somewhat where you can preferably see the goal. 


Abusing Dictionaries  

We currently live in a microwave generation, where supposedly everything can be done with google translate. While there are a number of useful Japanese and English language apps, dictionaries and resources, people often rely too much on these tools. When you literally google every single word in an article, you may be relying too much on your digital memory. Instead, try front-loading, which is a process of pounding your brain with vocabulary words in attempts to memorize large quantities. That and using mnemonics, which may be a little better short-term crutch, as it actually helps you memorize the new words. 


Trying to be perfect

This is the biggest mistake someone can make in my opinion. Unfortunately, this is something that the university system inherently tries to promote. Being free to make mistakes and actually try to write, read, or speak a language is foundational to the development of an individual’s linguistic capacity. It is through mistakes that we learn a language. Experiences, memories of failures, and allowing ourselves to fail are the important things someone can do to learn a language. Literally, the only way someone is going to do, is by letting them do. 


Why is it that when a child is learning how to speak we allow them to speak, and then correct them without persecution, but when an adult is learning a language, failure is rewarded with having to lower their grade? In today’s language learning society, we are so obsessed with perfection we get lost in the thick of thin things. I have met people who have passed the JLPT, or have a degree, yet cannot string together a well-executed paragraph or idea in that target language. This is the epitome of the current method’s idea of ‘perfection.’ 


When I worked as an interpreter, I met many other wonderful linguists. I often asked for tips and tricks from the more senior and obviously talented individuals. I asked them what separated them from the other people who were learning the language at the same time. Their response was almost uniform. Every single one of them imitated native speakers and put themselves out there to be corrected by them. If you want to really master a language, do that. It is only by embracing mistakes that fluency can be obtained. Learning Japanese or any other language, falling into bad habits is often part of the process. Being able to recognize the pitfalls and either avoid them or get out of them is what really separates the good from the amazing.  


Want to learn more Japanese? Check out our daily Japanese Learning Podcast! 

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Tanabata – You Didn’t Miss It Yet

Tanabata; You Haven’t Missed It Yet

By Jessica Hutchison



One of the biggest festivals of the year is Tanabata (七夕). This one is celebrated all over the country during the months of July and August. Traditionally, it was held on the seventh day of the seventh month, but calendars are all messed up from what they used to be. Most places now interpret the date to be closer to August 7th and celebrate it then.Summer is a season of festivals in Japan. Every region has its own, and there are even a few the entire country celebrates. From firework festivals, to Gion Matsuri (祇園祭)itself, there’s a lot of parties you can go to, if you do a little bit of research into the area you visit. Of course, there are festivals all throughout the year, but the more popular ones seem to happen when the weather is a bit nicer.So if you had your hopes set on celebrating Tanabata, and you think you missed it, you actually didn’t! And if you don’t know what Tanabata is, stick around and you can learn about one of Japan’s traditional festivals. 


The Story of Tanabata

Like all old stories, the story behind Tanabata has many variations. But there’s a lot of things everyone can agree on. Basically, the story is about two star lovers. Not like “All Star” sports people. The characters are literally stars in the sky. Orihime was the daughter of the guy in charge of the sky, and she was really good at weaving cloth (her name is “Weaving Princess” so that skill set follows). She was so busy with her weaving that she became worried she would never get married. Her father ended up introducing her to Hikoboshi (“Star Boy”) (彦星) who was a cow herder. The two fell in love and got married. As most newlyweds, they were really distracted and in love, so they kind of let their responsibilities go. Orihime (織姫) wasn’t doing much weaving and Hikoboshi let his cows roam wherever. As punishment, they were separated by the Amanogawa (“River of Heaven” or the Milky Way)(天の河). They are allowed to meet once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month. And that is what Tanabata celebrates. 

How Tanabata is Celebrated

Tanabata has a pretty typical festival vibe to it, with a few distinct features. Like most matsuri, you’ll see ladies walking around in traditional yukata 浴衣, or summer kimono, and the streets will be filled with all sorts of colorful decorations. The main thing with Tanabata is that people will write wishes on colorful pieces of paper, then tie them to bamboo. Sometimes they even try to make their writing more poetic in the spirit of the festival. Every region celebrates Tanabata a little differently, but Sendai is the place to go for Tanabata. The festival in Sendai is famous throughout Japan, and usually takes place from August 6-8. If you are in the area and looking for something fun to do, definitely check it out! It’s one of the more colorful and exciting festivals you can go to. 


Japanese Festivals in General

Overall, Japanese festivals are a blast, and if you get the chance you should definitely go to one. Like Hanami, it’s one of the times you get to see a lot of the local people relax, socialize, and just have fun. There’s food and games everywhere, and it’s super easy to make new friends. The different regional festivals are definitely something to look into as well. You can find super unique ones like the Yuki Matsuri (Snow Festival) up in Sapporo, or the Awa Odori (Fool’s Dance/阿波踊り) in Tokushima(徳島). You can also go to more generic ones that are held at different times depending on the city, such as firework and harvest festivals. Just because they are generic, doesn’t mean they aren’t super fun. The relaxed atmosphere of festivals can be really nice for foreigners. It’s totally okay to try on a yukata and go walking around to see the different stands and decorations. People were actually really excited when I wore a yukata to a matsuri, so don’t be afraid to try it! 


Have fun playing the games (my favorite is Kingyo Sukui) and meet some new people. Also, before you go, try to do a bit of research so you can really appreciate what the festival is about. You can find a lot of explanations online, and I found that locals where more than happy to explain the traditions behind the smaller, local festivals. So if you’re in Japan during a matsuri, check it out! And have fun with it! Matsuri are one of my favorite things about summer in Japan. If you’d like to learn more about some fun Japanese traditions, check out my Hanami 花見 article. Also, if you want to keep improving your Japanese, be sure to tune in to our daily podcast.  

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Hanami (花見) – Flower Viewing

By Jessica Hutchison


One of the most recognized symbols of Japan is the cherry blossom (Sakura 桜). You can find cherry trees all over Japan, generally lined up along paths and rivers. During most of the year, you may wonder why there are only cherry trees planted on these paths, but when spring comes around, it’s pretty obvious.


In Japan, Sakura are the symbol of spring. It isn’t really considered spring until they bloom; despite having many other domestic flowers that also bloom in spring. Sakura are a Big Deal and are seen as something unique to Japan. The Japanese love celebrating things that are special to their country.


Following the Sakura

If you’re in Japan during the spring, you can’t miss them. The news literally follows the Sakura as they bloom from Okinawa on up, usually starting in late March and continuing through April. Each region’s Sakura are unique and beloved by locals. In Okinawa, they are known for being really pink. But when I saw them in Hyogo prefecture, they were almost completely white.

Sakura are considered to be quintessentially Japanese, so naturally, there is a lot of tradition and culture concerning them. The most popular—and fun—is the tradition of hanami (花見) or “flower viewing.”


This is exactly what it sounds like. A group of family, friends, or coworkers get together and go see the flowers. Sakura only bloom for about two weeks before they fall, so it’s a pretty busy week in the areas where the flowers bloom.


People bring blankets and picnics, sit under the trees and have a party. Generally, alcohol is involved. What better way to enjoy nature than totally wasted, right? Overall, it’s a pretty fun and lively experience, and it’s one of the biggest parties the country has all year. Seriously, it’s probably only outshined by New Year’s.


There are a lot of popular places to go see the Sakuracastles and famous parks being at the top of the list most of the time. If you’re visiting during this time, you can easily find lists of the top places to view Sakura, or you can just ask locals when you get there. If you want to go to a more popular place, you should know that a lot of people will go out really early to claim a spot. It’s like those small-town parades in the U.S. where people leave lawn chairs on the side of the road. If you want a spot, you’d better go early.


However, you can enjoy the cherry blossoms without clamoring for a spot in a big park. Sakura are planted everywhere in Japan.


When I was there in April, I didn’t live close to a big city (the closest was Kobe and it was over two hours away). But even though I was in the country, there was still a nice river path with Sakura planted along it.


It was a quiet area, and I only ever saw a couple of people sitting under the trees to eat lunch. I even stopped one day and ate bentos under the trees. It wasn’t as much of a party as the bigger areas tend to be, but it was still nice to sit and enjoy the flowers.


A Japanese Tradition

Learning about this tradition might seem a bit new to a lot of you. Why would anyone want to go outside just to look at flowers?


Japanese people have always had a profound respect and interest in nature. This is another Shinto thing, and it has become ingrained in their culture. According to Shinto, everything has kami (神) or “spirit” in it. Rivers, mountains, trees, and everything else in nature is basically sacred. It’s important to respect and appreciate the world around us, and the spirits that reside in everything.


Taking a minute to sit outside and just enjoy being in nature is something I think all of us can learn to appreciate, if we don’t already. The tradition of hanami allows people to be outside, enjoy nature, and enjoy the company of people they care about.


Sakura’s Place in Japanese Culture

Cherry blossoms, in particular, have a special place in Japanese culture. I’ve already talked about how they are inherently Japanese, which is a lot of their appeal. But they also hold a lot of symbolic meaning in Japanese culture.


Sakura are mentioned constantly in classical texts (such as the Tale of Genji), classic poetry, and pretty much every genre of Japanese literature and media up to the present day. Sakura are used to represent not only spring, new life, beauty, and grace, but also impermanence, loss, and death.


The Beauty of Impermanence

The thing is, the blossoms bloom and they are beautiful. But after a few short days, they start to fall. Japanese people consistently find beauty in impermanence. Seeing the cherry blossoms is one thing, but it gives the experience more depth and meaning when you know they will be gone in a week.


This idea of impermanence is very popular in Japanese media and has been since literally the oldest Japanese stories. If you look at the Tale of Genji, which is, of course, our go-to when it comes to classic literature, Genji can be easily compared to Sakura. He is beautiful and wonderful, but he dies very young (and like 15 chapters before the book ends). His life is fleeting, but everyone enjoys being around him while he is alive. He doesn’t even actually die in the book. It happens in between chapters. But the point is that he was impermanent, despite his perfection.


This idea is also seen in modern Japanese media. Have you ever seen a Japanese movie with a happy ending? That’s because the normal Western “happily ever after” doesn’t really satisfy a Japanese audience. They want it more open, or even kind of sad. They want to see impermanence and loss reflected in the story.


And that’s why they love Sakura so much. The flowers are absolutely stunning and completely temporary. Hanami is a big deal, because you have to go out and do it, or you will miss the experience completely.


So when you are in Japan during these months, don’t miss it. Whether you want to go party it up in some awesome park in Tokyo, or wander the quiet river paths of a tiny town, go out and see the cherry blossoms. If you aren’t in Japan, take a moment to step outside and enjoy a bit of nature. Maybe it’s blisteringly hot. Maybe it’s snowing or raining. Whatever it is, I’m sure you’ll be able to find something to appreciate about it.


If you’d like to learn more about Japanese culture, check out my article on Kawaii Culture. You can also check out our daily podcast to learn more about Japanese culture and how to improve your Japanese.


Photos Courtesy: Skyseeker, Yokohama Sakura, Toshihiro Oimatsu, Chery Blossoms,

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Kawaii Culture


By Jessica Hutchison


As you start to learn more about Japan and its modern culture, you will probably run into one word a lot: kawaii.


Chances are since you’re on the internet, you’ve already heard this word. Maybe even in real life you’ve seen a gaggle of middle school girls in animal-themed hoodies walking around and pointing at things saying “Kawaii desuuuu~” (emphasis on the “u” sound). I know I have.


But what does kawaii mean? And more importantly, why does it come up so much with modern Japanese culture?


Kawaii Culture

The actual word kawaii (可愛い) means cute. This is not to be confused with kowai (怖い) or kawaisou (かわいそう) which mean very different things”scary” and “pitiful” respectively.


Since about the 70s, the idea of cuteness has become so popular in Japan, an entire culture has been developed around the idea. This is known by scholars (yes, real scholars) as “Kawaii Culture.” The basic idea is that cute things are attractive and desirable. Everyone wants to look, act, and be cute. And everything around you can and will be cute.


You’ll hear a lot of Japanese people coo this word about pretty much anything. I even had some Japanese friends tell me that my given name was very kawaii, which surprised me as “Jessica” is probably one of the most common American names ever. Also, I’m not sure how a name can be cute, but they thought it was.


There’s a lot of different ways to be kawaii, so I’ll break them down for you by category.


Writing and Texting

As far as I can tell, this is kind of how Kawaii Culture started. Girls started writing in big bubbly letters to try and come across as more cute.


Honestly, we do this in America as well. Remember in middle school when every girl would have the exact same super bubbly handwriting? Most of us got past that phase because it’s hard to read when all the letters look like circles.


Japanese girls today will usually try to keep their handwriting cute. It works though. They have the most adorable handwriting. And it certainly gives off a young, feminine vibe when you read it.


This idea of cute writing has also extended into texting. The biggest example of this is emoticons. (‐^▽^‐)


When you text in Japan, you have to use emoticons. You have to. If you don’t, people will think you’re mad at them. (´;Д;`)


There are literally thousands of different emoticons you can use, and your phone will come preloaded with a ton of them. If you add a Japanese keyboard on your English phone, it may even automatically give you some too. Mine did. (◎0◎)꒳ᵒ꒳ᵎᵎᵎ


The key here is learning what the different faces mean. I try not to use them unless I can tell exactly what vibe they are giving off. There are some good online databases to show you different types and the emotions they portray, so if you wanna use emoticons, get looking. ╭( ・ㅂ・)و



This is probably what comes to mind when most people think of Kawaii Culture. You might think of different fashion styles such as Harajuku or Lolita. While those certainly do fall under the category of Kawaii Culture, it’s a bit more widespread than that.


Most Japanese girls try to dress cute. Oversized sweaters, shapeless dresses, cute bows, and ribbons are all common in everyday Japanese fashion for girls. From what I could see in Japan, most girls tried to look cute before looking sexy. Sure, they would show a lot of leg, but they would usually pair tights or leggings with really oversized sweaters or shirts.


I loved shopping for accessories in Japan because of Kawaii Culture. They always had really cute hair clips with bows on them. I kind of felt like a five-year-old when I wore them, but a really cute five-year-old. A lot of high school girls go for fun, colorful hair clips. That’s probably because they have to wear uniforms, and hair accessories are an easy way to express yourself when your wardrobe options are minimal.


An interesting thing in Japan is that men aren’t really afraid of having cute things too. I saw so many men with pink phones. It’s kind of a little thing, but can you think of a guy in America having a pink phone? It doesn’t really happen here, yet it was totally normal there. They wanted cute pink phones too. I also saw a lot of guys carrying around purses. Not “man purses,” I’m talking legitimate Gucci purses, definitely designed for women. Kawaii culture is definitely more female-oriented, but men have their place there too.


Speech and Mannerisms

This is a pretty stereotypical category of Kawaii Culture. A lot of girls will talk and act in a cute way. This usually means talking in higher voices (though some of them just have high voices) and using different language patterns to show how adorable they are.


Girls will often use different mannerisms with their body language too. One I noticed was that girls tend to turn their feet in when standing. While an American woman might take a stronger standing position, her feet turned out and maybe her hip popped, Japanese girls don’t do that. Standing with your feet in is a bit more vulnerable-looking, and it looks cuter. I’m not sure if it was subconscious for the girls I observed in Japan, or if girls just want to be cute so they stand like that.



When you go shopping in Japan, you’ll notice there’s a lot of cute things you can buy. Lots of notebooks and phone cases will have flowers or animals on them (mine has cats on it right now). You’ll find a lot of pinks and pastels with ribbons or lace on them. You can see this on office supplies, kitchenware, home decor, pretty much anything you want to buy. I even got a coin purse shaped like a bear.


Another thing you may notice while out shopping is the vast amount of adorable characters. You can often get entire sets of kitchenware or office supplies with a specific character on everything. The characters are designed to be cute and sellable and are often animals like cats or bears (Hello Kitty, Doraemon, and Rilakkuma). Disney and Studio Ghibli are also cute, so you will see a lot of those characters around too.


Folklore and Culture

Shopping isn’t the only place you’ll find characters. Every town in Japan has its own mascot (My favorite is the one for the Osaka Airport. It’s so cute.) and you’ll usually see it in the train station or around town. You can also see characters as decals on trains or set up in front of shops to draw people in.


My favorite example of this was when I went to Gobo in Wakayama Prefecture. In the train station, there was a picture of an adorable little girl dressed in traditional Japanese clothes. Later, we were biking around and we ran into this truly terrifying old statue of a woman (she had black paint running from her eyes in the worst way). I asked who the woman was and my friend informed me it was the town’s character. This horrific statue was meant to be the same girl as the one in the train station. I realized that if they could somehow make that statue into some sort of cute character, they could do it to anything.


And boy did they. A lot of Japanese folklore has been made cute by Kawaii Culture. A good story about this is when I learned about kappa. A kappa is a river demon that drowns children and eats their intestines. Sounds adorable, right? I didn’t think so either. But I kept seeing really cute depictions of Kappa everywhere. So I finally asked my Japanese friend if kappa were cute or scary. She answered without hesitation that they were cute. And that’s because Japan has managed to portray even a river demon as an adorable character.



So the moral of this story is that everything can and will be cute in Japan. From your clothes to your name, you can be absolutely adorable, even if you are a terrifying river demon. And that is Kawaii Culture.


This is a really fun part of modern Japanese culture, and it’s one of my favorite things to bring into my own life. But you don’t need to walk around in an animal hoodie and call everything “Kawaii~” to enjoy this part of Japanese life.


One of my favorite things to use is Japanese emoticons. They also make your texting more exciting. I also like using cute stationary when I send letters, just because it’s more interesting to get a letter covered in cute pictures of ducks. You can get yourself a fun phone case and maybe some colorful pens to use at school or work.


Just because you’re an adult (or a man), doesn’t mean you have to avoid cute things. The Japanese certainly don’t.


If you want to learn more about modern Japanese culture, check out my articles on Japanese holidays or learn why Japanese people wear masks. You can also learn more about adjectives like kawaii and how to use them while speaking Japanese by checking out our daily podcast.


Have fun learning more about Japan, and stay kawaii~! (^ _ ^)/



Photo Courtesy: Gordon Cheung,

Blog Posts

Sun’s Out, Shogun’s Out

himeji castle
Himeji Castle, Wei-Te Wang courtesy

By Jessica Hutchison


By now, hopefully, you have read my article about Samurai and Western misconceptions we have about them. Samurai are very popular and super interesting. There’s no way I could cover everything cool about samurai in that one article.

So here we are. Talking about samurai, again.

But we’re going to focus on one samurai in particular: the shogun.

You’ve probably heard of the shogun before. He’s basically the top dog of the samurai. He’s in also in charge of Japan. How does that work when there’s an emperor? Fear not. I am here to explain.

How The Shogun Got His Street Cred

It’s important to note that the shogun was really only in charge of Japan while the samurai were around. That means the shogun has a 700-year history (12th to 19th centuries) while the emperor has been around for thousands of years.

The time of the shogun may have been short (if you can call 700 years short), but he definitely had some solid credibility.

Basically, there was a really big war at the end of the 12th century called the Gempei War. There were disagreements over who should take the throne, and the Minamoto Clan was victorious over the Taira Clan. The Minamoto Clan was stationed in Kamakura (pretty far away from the current capital because that’s where the Taira were), and as thanks for saving the throne, the Minamoto leader was given the title of “shogun.” This was Yoritomo, the first shogun, and he set up his military government in Kamakura.

The word shogun can roughly be translated to “War Commander” or “Military Leader.” And that’s exactly what he was. Samurai had a hierarchical system. Normal, everyday samurai would report to superior officers, who would eventually report to daimyō (provincial lords), who would then report to the shogun.

Even though the emperor was still around, the real power was with the shogun.

But an important part to becoming a shogun was being endorsed by the emperor. Yoritomo obviously managed to do that, as did his successors. Even though there were big shifts in power that led to the capital moving and the shogunate changing—such as when the Ashikaga Shogunate took power after overthrowing the Kamakura Shogunate—the new shogun still had imperial endorsement. One major time this did not happen was with Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi, as mentioned in my samurai article, was one of the three unifiers of Japan. In the late 16th Century, he had pretty much pulled the whole country together and tried to become the shogun. He was denied by the emperor on the grounds that he was a commoner (which was true). Although many expected him to be given the title, he never was a shogun.

When Tokugawa Ieyasu took control after Hideyoshi’s death, he was endorsed by the emperor and began the Tokugawa Shogunate. The shogun may have had all the real political power, but no one could become a shogun without a go-ahead from the emperor. It’s an interesting balance of power.

Why The Shogun Was Only Top Dog For a Little Bit?

The government ran by the shogunate (called the bakufu) was well-known for being increasingly strict. This became very apparent during the Tokugawa Shogunate, as many things were censored and controlled by the government.

On top of that, Leyasu had made some enemies when he came to power. After all the fighting settled down, he decided to divide up the land into domains and assign lords (daimyō) to look over each one. The more he liked them, the closer to the capital (Edo, or Tokyo) he put them. That meant his enemies were basically banished to the far ends of the country.


To add insult to injury, he set up a system known as alternate attendance. This meant daimyō had to keep a permanent residence in the capital. Their primary wife and heir would stay in the capital, and they would alternate living one year in the capital and one year in their domain. If a daimyō lived close to the capital, this wasn’t really a problem. But if you lived in the far reaches of Kyushu, this was very expensive for maintenance and travel. Needless to say, there were a lot of unhappy daimyō who already didn’t like the Tokugawa Shogunate.

These unhappy guys all banded together, forming a group with the slogan “sonnō jōi” or “revere the emperor, expel the barbarian.” Their main idea was to overthrow the shogun and reestablish the emperor as the guy in charge. As for the barbarian part, this was all happening when America started to push for Japan to end its “Closed Country” policy. The Americans were the barbarians if you didn’t catch that. The shogun had started leaning towards opening the country, and these guys did not like that.

There was a lot of fighting, and the rebels won. The shogun was overthrown, the samurai class abolished, and the emperor was reinstated as the supreme ruler of Japan.

Eventually, they decided to let the barbarians in. They made a Prussian-style constitution, so they must have had some contact.

The Shogun Today

There is no shogun today. There hasn’t been one since 1868. But he was still very important to Japanese history. In order to understand why Japan made the political decisions it did during this time period, it’s important to understand that it was lead by a military government. You can also see the influence of the shogunate in more modern history, especially during the early 1900s, when Japan was almost constantly at war. Although nationalism certainly played a role in Japanese imperialism during this time, you can see the influence of samurai culture and loyalty in the everyday soldiers that fought in these wars.

Even though the time of the shogun is over, his influence has carried into modern Japan. Maybe less so, nowadays. But it will probably always be there, as it is distinctly Japanese, and they love stuff like that. A lot of people get the shogun and emperor mixed up. Hopefully, this clarified the role of the shogun a bit.

If you would like to learn more about the emperor, check out my article about him. Or, you can delve deeper into samurai culture and check out my article “Everything You Know About Samurai is Probably Wrong.”