Hello, my dear readers, whom I envision as having been chomping at the bit for me to get back to the blog. Welcome to the first Manzen Post, a new format I'm trying out. As you might have guessed, if you have been following the blog and noticed my absence this fall, I sometimes have a difficult time fitting Washoku Day into my busy schedule. This has really become a problem over the last several months as I remodeled a house, moved, started a new job, and took an online class. What is the saying? When it rains it pours? Apparently my motto is, when it rains I shall voluntarily chuck my umbrella in the garbage. I'm so very sorry that my blog sank to the bottom of my priority list, but I promise to make a more dedicated effort, now that I have a roof over my head and have settled into my new job.
So, what is a Manzen Post? Well, to put it succinctly, they are brief blurbs about subjects that I don't have enough material to write a full length post about. The idea came, as many of my ideas do, from my sister. In our daily lives, I will often mention something that I read about Japan or a new type of Japanese snack I encountered, or something of the kind. Her usual question is whether I will write a blog post on it, and my usual reply is that I can't really write a whole post about a whatever it is, because it's only a tiny random bit of information. However, as I am struggling to put out full length anything right now, a blurb on a random bit of information sounds pretty good. So, here it goes, my first shot at a Manzen Post. Manzen roughly translates to Random or Pointless, though that does not mean they shall be boring. In fact, I aim to make them quite diverting. Now, I shall stop rambling, and tell you about this very strange piece of information I just stumbled across.
People who know me well (you know who you are) are doubtless aware that one of my greatest passions in life (aside from Japan) is World War I. That is not to say that I have an unhealthy obsession with that dark and gruesome chapter of history, but that I have a very healthy interest in that dark and gruesome chapter of history. I find it fascinating how WWI is the exact end of the old world, and really the cause of its destruction. Life would be unrecognizable without it. If you're ever talking to me, and you're tired of participating in the conversation and wish instead to listen to a lecture, tell me that you don't understand what started Word War I. Feel free to let your mind wander as I excitedly talk nonstop about Gavrilo Princip, the irascible Kaiser Wilhelm, Moltke, and the Schlieffen Plan.
But what does all this have to do with Japan? Nothing really. Japan participated in WWI, but not in a very dramatic way. Japan comes into this story in an entirely random and unimportant way. I am absolutely fascinated by the royal families of this period, since many of them are the last of their great monarchies. My special interest is the Romanov family and their tragic end. But I was not reading about the Romanovs or Japan when I stumbled across this intersections of interests, but was in fact reading about the history of tattoos. This was where I found a passing reference to the Japanese dragon that Nicholas II of Russia had tattooed on his arm. Picture me doing a double-take.
Apparently the Tsar of Russia got this ink done when he was visiting Japan in 1891. Photographs from this era are grainy at the best of times, and royalty back then didn't generally hang around in t-shirts. However, the Romanovs did take many family pictures (it's one of the reasons why they're so tragically relatable). In a few of these pictures Nicholas II has his sleeves rolled up, and you can just spot a shadow of a dragon thereon.
Nicholas II wasn't alone. He might have gotten the idea from his cousin George V of England, who had gotten a dragon tattoo during his visit to Japan in 1881, when he was just the Duke of York. If you're thinking that this was a radical rebellious action from the young prince to piss off his old fashioned royal father, you would be wrong. Edward VII had several tattoos of his own, though he got his done in Jerusalem. In fact, Edward VII had instructed the tutor of George and his brother to take the boys to get tattoos from the master artist Hori Chiyo. After this, many wealthy young britons took the trip to Japan just to emulate the Duke of York. I one hundred percent think that this should be a mandatory experience for all royalty.
Another day, when I have more time, I shall write about the history of tattoos in Japan. It is a fascinating subject, but that is a job for another day. In the mean time I hope you enjoyed this random story. Manzen Posts will most likely be shorter than this when I don't have to explain where I've been or what even a Manzen Post is.
My question for you today is, do you have any tattoos? I have four myself. You can tell me all about them in the comment section below.
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