Little Bits of History

The Sun Rose

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 11, 2015


February 11, 660 BC: Japan is founded. Prior to this date, according to Japanese mythology, the Age of the Gods began with the creation of the Japanese islands by Izanagi and Izanami who stood on a golden bridge and with jeweled spears dipped into the ocean waters, bring forth the islands of Japan. The gods ruled all the islands they created until this date. Emperor Jimmu was a descendant of the sun goddess as well as of the storm god. He captured Yamato and used that as his center of power and ruled from there until 585 BC. Dates for all early emperors were accepted as sacrosanct during the reign of Emperor Kanmu (737-806). Before that time, all emperors before Ōjin were known as sumera no mikoto/ōkimi.

Jimmu was born on February 13, 711 BC which was the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar. He was said to have died on March 11, 585 BC at the age of 126 and ruled until his death. All dates given are according to the lunisolar traditional Japanese calendar. There are different versions of the myths and they disagree in details. The accepted stories are also not in agreement with even earlier versions which place three dynasties between the origins of Japan and the time of the writings. Jimmu’s dynasty became one long constant genealogy in both the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki versions of the creation of Japan.

Jimmu’s grave is said to be near Unebiyama in Kashihara. The veneration of Emperor Jimmu was important to the imperial cult established with the Meiji restoration. A new holiday called Kigensetsu or Era Day, was begun in 1872-73 and commemorated Jimmu’s rise to power. Between 1873 and 1945 an imperial envoy sent offerings each year to the site of Jimmu’s tomb. In 1890, Kashihara Shrine was established. During World War II, expansionist propaganda used Emperor Jimmu and his rise to power with many stone monuments relating to key events in his life erected around Japan. Today, the date is still celebrated as a national holiday.

Japan is an archipelago of 6,852 islands off the east coast of Asia. The four largest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku and together they contain about 97% of Japan’s land mass. The total area of Japan is 145,925 square miles, or slightly smaller than the state of Montana. There are about 126.5 million people living there with 98.5% of them Japanese (Korean and Chinese make up another percent). They are governed by a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with Emperor Akihito reigning since January 7, 1989. Prime minister is Shinzō Abe. Their current constitution has been in effect since May 3, 1947.

When you look at Japanese traditional architecture, you have to look at Japanese culture and its relationship with nature. You can actually live in a harmonious, close contact with nature – this very unique to Japan. – Tadao Ando

Japan, not only a mega-busy city that thrives on electronics and efficiency, actually has an almost sacred appreciation of nature. One must travel outside of Tokyo to truly experience the ‘old Japan’ and more importantly feel these aspects of Japanese culture. – Apolo Ohno

Maitake mushrooms are known in Japan as ‘the dancing mushroom.’ According to a Japanese legend, a group of Buddhist nuns and woodcutters met on a mountain trail, where they discovered a fruiting of maitake mushrooms emerging from the forest floor. Rejoicing at their discovery of this delicious mushroom, they danced to celebrate. – Paul Stamets

Japan is the most intoxicating place for me. In Kyoto, there’s an inn called the Tawaraya which is quite extraordinary. The Japanese culture fascinates me: the food, the dress, the manners and the traditions. It’s the travel experience that has moved me the most. – Roman Coppola

Also on this day: Pennsylvania Hospital – In 1752, the first hospital in the colonies opened.
Coal – In 1808, anthracite coal was first used to heat a home.
Jack Paar; Tonight Show – In 1960, Jack Paar walked off a live telecast of the Tonight Show.
Science Fiction – In 1938, television first showed a sci-fi film.
The King Duke – In 1873, King Amadeo I of Spain abdicated.

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