It was one week ago, January 28th, that I attended my first, official college course since 2001. I am reluctant to admit that I was unprepared. The entire experience completely overwhelmed me physically and mentally. My first day of school greeted me with well over 200 pages of assigned reading to be finished by Wednesday. My classes didn't exactly ease me into this transition of being a full time student. I was thrust into it head first. I spent every free moment of my day reading (and taking notes) on this mountain of homework that I was given. Mixed in with that was the responsibility to find suitable daycare for my children and celebrating my daughter's fourth birthday (twice). I had every intention going into last week to put up a blog, but my hopes were dashed upon the rocks.
|Darth Oda, Lord of the Sith|
Unifier of Sengoku Period Japan
The most demanding class I'm taking is also the most exciting to me. It is a look at Japanese history starting at 1800 up to present day. The bulk of all the reading assignments come from this course, but the content is extremely fascinating to me. When I was a student back in 1999-2001, I was a Japanese language and culture major, but I never got around to taking any history classes in the short time I attended. That means I have a basic level knowledge of much of this history, but I've never actually read about most of it in depth. I find that I still have a sincere interest in the Japanese people and their history. Although the class is focused on the year 1800 and beyond, I decided to do a bit of extra reading about the events leading up to the Tokugawa Shogunate which was in place in 1800. I wanted to read what the history text had to say about Sengoku jidai - the Warring States period of Japan.
During this time there is over a hundred years of civil war until the eventual unification of Japan by Tokugawa Ieyasu (building off of his predecessors' and allies' efforts) which ushered in 200 years of peace and prosperity for the country. As I was reading through all the information about Japan's most turbulent time, fraught with constant military campaigns between rival warlords, I realized that I was pretty familiar with most of the major players and events, despite never having touched a history textbook on the subject. The Sengoku jidai is arguably one of the most popular events in Japanese history and it is retold over and over in film, anime and video games. It's through these literary mediums that I learned so much about this time period.
|In Sengoku Japan, Pokémon catch you.|
|This is how I like to picture Myamoto Musashi in 1612.|
Shogun: Total War was given to me as a gift from my father in 2000 when I was a student of Japanese in college originally. The gift was important because it marked the end of a long-standing grudge my father was holding against me regarding giving me computer software and hardware. It was also touching because it was an unspoken support and acknowledgement of my interest in Japan, and given to me on a medium I'm sure he knew I would enjoy - video games. I've said before that I'm a complete "noob" when it comes to the real-time simulated battles of the "Total War" series, but despite that this game was my first foray into real historical simulation in Japanese history, incidentally simulating the Sengoku jidai. I soon learned that if I pushed "Auto-Resolve" through the actual battles (which almost defeats the purpose of the meat and potatoes portion of the game) I could focus on what I was much better at - the strategic overlay of troops and logistics. Not unlike the "Civilization" series, Shogun: Total War allowed me to build up my infrastructures, train troops and march them into my rivals' domains to unify Japan under my banner.
|Did I mention my favorite board game is Risk?|
Here's a few other games that got me swept up in Japanese (samurai) history: