Ninomiya Sontoku: The Power of Curiosity & Passion

The power of passion and curiosity, a subject I always wanted to write about. Incidentally, the desire to do so, first emerged during my stint in Japan, quite some time ago. But having months of transition behind me and needing to lay out my future anew now, it resurfaced and I suddenly felt the urge to finally write it down. Long enough it has been sitting in the back of my head …

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Sontoku’s classic image emerging during the Meiji period. Him using every opportunity to read in the Teachings of Confucius (論語;ろんご and 大学;だいがく) while carrying firewood or working the fields. Although a sort of romanticized depiction of his and not an actuality, it is that image which remains in the hearts of the people.

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The unfulfilled Ambition of an Edo Police Chief Inspector

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「待っていたぞっ、火付盗賊改メ、長谷川平蔵じゃ!」・’I have been waiting for you! This is chief inspector of the arson and robbery department, Hasegawa Heizou – freeze!’, he proclaims in typical manner as he catches criminals red-handed on the crime scene. He wears his signature soldier helmet of authorized rank, the Jingasa (陣笠・じんがさ) and in his hand he thrusts out a short, metallic truncheon, called a Jitte (十手・じって, usually of metal with a hook on the side to ward off sword attacks). Nothing escapes his sharp sight and what he aimed for, he will not let of the hook again – watch out you villains out there!

After my first stint into Japanese history with the article about the Shimabara Rebellion, this article I like to devote to Hasegawa Nobutame (長谷川宣以・はせがわのぶため; 1745-1795), a historic figure of the same era, the Edo Period (江戸・えど; 1603-1868). The name Hasegawa Nobutame might not ring many bells because in Japan he is more commonly known by the name of Hasegawa Heizou (長谷川平蔵・はせがわへいぞう), or his alias Onihei (鬼平・おにへい).

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