Historical Heroes is a segment that looks at a famous figure and examines how they chose to live their life. Throughout history there have been plenty of brave men, and one of the best examples is Jewish freedom fighter, Mordechai Anielewicz. As the leader of the Jewish Fighting Organisation, Anielewicz was a key figure in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. This was a significant Jewish rebellion that took place during World War II. Anielewicz became a symbol of the resistance and he represented what happened when people fought back against the Holocaust.
When you think of Japan, certain images come to mind, like cherry blossoms, geisha and samurai. The role of men in Japanese society has been explored in many stories, so when a novel focuses on women, there’s something new to explore. This is the case with The Shogun’s Queen, written by Lesley Downer. The book is set during the 1850s, when Japan was starting to get in touch with the rest of the world and the western nations were muscling in. The protagonist is a young Japanese woman called Okatsu, who’s sent to the women’s palace of Edo Castle to marry the shogun and convince him to save Japan and its culture.
How does a legend begin? It’s a story that’s passed down from person to person. Over time, it becomes grander and more embellished until no one’s quite sure what’s true and what isn’t. But a legend lasts forever. The power of stories and how they shape history is one of the main themes explored in James Wilde’s Pendragon. The historical novel is set during the Roman occupation of Britain and lays the foundations for what will become the legend of King Arthur.
Japanese folklore is filled with spirits and mythical creatures, and one of the most well-known beings is the tengu. Tengu are an important part of Shinto and Buddhism and form part of the yokai. While they have been seen as demons, the importance of tengu have changed over time. Many people wear tengu masks and the image has been woven into popular culture. The Culture Tome is looking into the history of the tengu to see what they are and their significance to Japanese culture.
“Time is a river, a violent current of events, glimpsed once and already carried past us, and another follows and is gone.” – Marcus Aurelius
Choosing to live a good life can be harder than some people think, and everyone seems to have their own definition of what a ‘good life’ means. Is it about personal happiness? Is it about living for your family and making sure they are prosperous? Such questions have been asked for millennia and they’re popular topics for self-help books. Marcus Aurelius’ Mediations could very well be the first self-help book. The Roman Emperor was a very critical man and he questioned his own motives at a time when excess and decadence were the norm. Here is The Culture Tome’s review of the book.
Symbols are an importance part of any culture and there are many significant images in Japanese folklore. Spirits play a vital role and one of the most important is the kitsune, or fox spirit. Kitsunes are depicted as intelligent shapeshifters whose magical ability increases with age. They have the ability to be benevolent or malicious depending on the situation. Some stories portray them as guardians, while others depict them as tricksters. The ambiguity of the fox makes it an interesting symbol in Japanese folklore and The Culture Tome is looking into examining the fox’s importance to Japanese culture.
Japanese history is a rich tapestry of events, and it’s intriguing to read books that can capture it in a fictional sense. I recently picked up An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro has established himself as a talented storyteller and I was drawn to the novel because of my fascination with Japan. The book features a post WW2 Japan recovering from its scars and looking towards the future.