Sengan-en: Stately Home and Gardens of the Shimazu Clan


Power and Prestige During the Edo period (1604-1868), the 18th head of the Shimazu family, Iehisa constructed Kagoshima Castle and annexed the Ryukyu Islands, establishing trade with China and making Satsuma one of the wealthiest domains in Japan. During the peace of the Edo period cultural pursuits flourished, and the 19th head of the family, […]

Ajikan Meditation: The Fast Track to Enlightenment

Ajikan meditation

Ajikan – Meditation on the Syllable “A” Ajikan is a meditation method taken from the Shingon school of esoteric Buddhism that the founder of Jigen-ryu Togo Chui found useful to achieve the right mindset for practicing swordsmanship. The idea is to break through the barrier separating us from the external world and to become one […]

Kirishima Shrine: Private Worship in the Inner Sanctum

kirishima shrine

Japan’s Creation Myth Kirishima Shrine is among the most important and revered shrines in Japan. Both Ninigi-no-Mikoto and his wife Konohanasakuya-hime are enshrined in Kirishima Jingu. A towering 800-year-old cedar tree rises above the shrine complex and the bright vermillion colour of the main shrine building stands out against the surrounding greenery of the forest […]

Private Museum: Symbolism, Meaning and the Swords of the Samurai

samurai armour

Soul of the Samurai The sword represented the embodiment of the samurai’s soul, his status in society, and his beliefs and philosophy. The scabbard in which it rested and the fittings encasing the razor sharp blade were decorated with motifs from nature, plants and animals with deep and special meanings. Masterfully crafted artworks, the sword […]

Satsuma-ware Pottery: Constancy, Change and the Art of the Samurai

Satsuma ware

Chin Jukan Kiln Satsuma-ware pottery is one of Japan’s most famous exports to the world. Meet the 15th generation Chin Jukan at his kiln and explore the aesthetic changes that Satsuma ware pottery has seen through the ages from the simple plain white tea ware used by the samurai, and the highly decorated art pieces […]

Satsuma Biwa: Music of the Samurai

Satsuma Biwa

Satsuma Biwa Satsuma Biwa is a stringed instrument resembling a lute that was used to accompany narrative storytelling. The samurai of Satsuma were unusual in that they played instruments, something not normally associated with the warrior class. For over 500 years the Satsuma Biwa was used as an educational tool to teach moral behaviour and […]

Jigen-ryu: Secret Swordsmanship of the Samurai


Jigen-ryu Swordsmanship Jigen-ryu is a style of swordsmanship unique to Kagoshima founded by a samurai named Togo Tobei Bizen no Kami Chui (1561-1643). Even today Jigen-ryu has a profound effect on the mentality and culture of Kagoshima. Jigen-ryu has been passed down unchanged from father to one son over the past 400 years to the […]