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Mike's Japan


"I’m having trouble with this crossword."
He shows her a newspaper.
"Perhaps you could help."
The young woman looks at the paper and sees that he has written on it in big black
letters.
The man in the middle is dead. Get out with me at the next station and we’ll
call the police.
15 Japanese Castles
My wife's special interest is print making and she never loses an opportunity to
visit a craft centre specialising in paper making or woodblock printing. I write
historical novels and I like to visit castles. Japan has lots. A few are original.
Most are reproductions on old sites.
Despite being on opposite sides of the world. Japan and Europe have much in
common. Both derive their culture from ancient civilisations: Rome in Europe's case
and China in the case of Japan.
Rome and China were unified states run by bureaucrats and protected by national
armies. Medieval Europe and Japan were feudal and that's why they have a lot of
castles. There was no central authority in the old days. Power lay in the hands of
feudal lords who controlled vast stretches of territory. They went to war with one
another and paid lip service to kings and emperors.
The lords had castles and their troops were armed with the latest weapons.
Technological skills were similar on both sides of the world but building practices were
different. Earthquakes are common in Japan a nd stone castles, like those in Europe,
would soon be shaken down.
The solution was to build in wood and place the castle on a high stone platform
made from irregular blocks that would (hopefully) settle back into their original
positions after a big shake. My picture is of Kunamoto Castle. The main tower is 30-
metres high which gives an idea of its massive scale.
The building is a 1960s reconstruction on the original stone platform. The exterior
was made using authentic materials and methods. The interior was constructed using
modern materials and houses a museum.
An adjacent building was completed recently and is a faithful copy of the original. It
houses the great hall and associated chambers. The magnificent decorations, shown
 
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