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October 16 2012

Remembering the Dog Shogun's days - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Issen Yoshoku Restaurant, Gion, Kyoto

After dozens of cities visited, I never saw a stray dog in Japan… But it wasn’t always like this: during the time of shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, stray dogs were roaming freely in Edo and their numbers reached an all-time high after 1690, when the shogun issued a series of laws known as the Edicts on Compassion for Living Things.

These strange laws were conceived especially to protect the dogs, establishing harsh punishments for those caught hurting animals and deportation or even death penalty if the animal was killed. Tokugawa Tsunayoshi believed that because he was born in the Year of the Dog, he was responsible to protect the dogs… and, of course, the result was that Edo became filthy and dangerous, while the shogun became known as Inu-Kubō, the “Dog Shogun"…

This strange piece of Japanese history came into my mind while looking at this funny group of statues, displayed in front of the Issen Yoshoku Restaurant from Gion, Kyoto…

July 03 2012

The Shogun's will from the Yomeimon Gate -  via A Japan Photo per Day -

Yomeimon Gate, Toshougu Shrine, Nikko

There are more than 500 sculptures on the Yomeimon Gate from the Toshougu Shrine in Nikko, some representing imaginary animals, others illustrating old legends.

For me, the most interesting of them is the group of over 20 sculptures titled “Children and Ieyasu", representing children playing. Searching for their meaning, I learned that the group represents an artistic representation of the will of the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, his desire for a future peaceful society: “Go for the right way and build a foundation of peace”.

Here is one of these sculptures, titled “A child tries to break the snowman down. Another child starts crying"…

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