Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Emperor didn't sleep here.

Today is a National Holiday in Japan in celebration of the Emperor's birthday. Actually his correct title is "Tenno" which translates as "heavenly Sovereign", but when the Japanese came to translate the word into English they chose "emperor" as China had an emperor and Japan wasn't going to be outdone by the Chinese.

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The new government of Japan in 1868 had the task of molding a unified nation out of the many seperate domains that had existed up till then, and the chose the new emperor as the symbol of the new nation. Problem was that the vast majority of Japanese had no idea who or what the emperor was. Part of the solution they come up with was for the Meiji Emperor to travel the length and breadth of the country on a series of Grand Tours. Like much of the "Imperial traditions" that were invented around this time it was based on the traditions of European royalty.

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So all over Japan local authorities scrambled to build suitable accomadation for the Emperor.

Above is located in the grounds of Matsue castle and was built in 1903. Now it houses a local history museum, the Kyodokan.

The Emperor never did stay there.

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The Gobenden is now located underneath the castle hill in Hamada. It was constructed in 1907 in case the Meiji Emperor visited Hamada.
He didn't.
The Crown Prince Yoshihito, the future Emperor Taisho, did stay here for a couple of days however.

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On a related note, this is the Goseimon at Gakuen-ji temple. It's a gate that is only used by members of the imperial family. The current Crown Prince, Naruhito, used it a couple of years ago.

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