Sunday, 17 July 2011

Wine, women, and...

Samurai!? Something completely different today for a change.
View of the moon rising from our hotel
Just came back from a few days along the gorgeous Izu peninsula, where we could relax with good food and lodgings, washed down with a few bottles of fine wine.  A really great place to chill out.
It is always a good idea to pamper the Finance Minister from time to time- preferably before the next credit card bill comes in.
On the way back, and most likely of much more interest to wargamers, we stopped off at Odawara to visit the castle there.   Odawara-jo (castle) is a reconstruction of the massive structure which existed there and which was the home of the Hojo clan, until they were defeated and absorbed into Hideyoshi Toyotomi's growing empire.  
The Hojo on the march.
The Hojo used to control the area where I currently live, and in fact I live a few minutes by train from the site of an engagement fought between the Hojo and the Nitta; the Battle of Bubaigawara, which was fought in 1333.

Although a 20th C. reconstruction, Odawara Castle really is impressive and enough of the original foundations exist to make it worth the visit for those interested in such things.
(Click on any photo to enlarge)
close-up detail of roof ornamentation
Fortuitously there happened to an exhibition of samurai armour running at the time within the castle itself, so lots of great resources should I ever get that samurai army I keep thinking about.  
In Japanese of course, but loads of pictures in this museum guide!
Much of the armour was representative of the more "decadent" styles found from mid-to-late Edo times, but there was enough period armour and weaponry on display from the 16th Century, along with some interesting examples of "ammunition" armours for poorer samurai and ashigaru, to make it well worth an afternoon's browsing.
On the way back to the station, we also came across the tomb of two of the Hojo family, Hojo Ujimasa and Hojo Ujiteru, located in a small plot right in the middle of the bustle of Odawara city near the train station.  These gents paid the price for failure, and were forced to commit suicide after Toyotomi's victory.  As you can see, people still bring offerings of food and flowers, and light incense sticks in their memories.

My favourite castles in Japan (of those that I've had the chance to visit so far) remain Hirosaki-jo in Aomori prefecture, which is one of the few originals, and Shiroishi castle in Miyagi prefecture.  Shiroishi-jo is a reconstruction, but was built using original plans and building techniques.  

Still, I enjoyed our visit to Odawara, and on my return found myself taking a second and third look at David's excellent range of Kingsford Miniatures samurai!

click to enlarge

The above photo shows some really nice units of Kingsford's samurai in Vancouver wargamer Steve Knight's collection.  This was from a Korean War (1599) game I had in Vancouver earlier this month with the North Shore Gamers.  We were using an unpublished rule set called Daimyo, that have been used successfully for well over twenty years now.  David, the owner of Kingsford Miniatures, was there for the game but found himself commanding the Koreans that evening!
Samurai surge forward; the Korean commander is clearly not worried.  With me appointed as his Ming Chinese "Ally" general, you'd think he'd have cause to be!
Part of the Korean Horde: some excellently painted Perry Miniatures in the collection of  the other David there that evening; my old friend Dave Smith, who was hosting the game that night.  He also wrote the rules!
All the foregoing has absolutely nothing to do with Napoleonics,  but I hope that some people out there may find it interesting nevertheless.  Napoleonic diehards take heart- my next post is on that Black Powder Napoleonics game we played in Vancouver.  I just need to format the photos first.


Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

That's some really inspiring stuff and I'd love to visit that superb looking castle!


Itinerant said...

I've been thinking of Samurai rules - because I'm a sucker for punishment, I would probably stick with 6mm.

Funny just two days ago, I downloaded those rules you spoke of.

I need to finish a WWII project before I move to another era, but Samurai may be it.

DeanM said...

I was just surfing the 'net for Perry Koreans and saw this old post - wonderful looking figures and artifacts. I hope to run an Imjin War game using Hail Caesar! rules. Best, Dean