Interesting Facts About Japan

Level: B1

Activity: Reading

Grammar: Mixed Tenses

If you are not a Japanese, you do not know much about the history of Japan. Most people know about the slave trade from Africa to America. There was also slavery in Japan. Slavery began in Japan in the third century. Only in the 16th century politicians put an end to it. The slave trade between Portugal and Japan was wide spread. Portugal traded slaves from Japan. In 1571 the King of Portugal officially banned Japanese slaves. There were too many slaves in Europe. Europeans feared it was was bad for the country, because the slaves could put people off converting to Catholicism.

In the Japanese language there is a word “crossroads killing”. There is no such a word in other languages.This word was used for a practice of real crossroads killing. Those killings happened rarely. Samurais practiced crossroads killing in an effort to test the sharpness of their blade. They simply murdered someone at a crossroads.

A samurai wanted to know if their sword could kill a human with ease. If a sword was dull, it was shameful, so it needed to be sharp, and ideally sharp enough to kill an enemy with one single slice. Most victims were unlucky peasants.

The Japanese do not eat a lot of meat. In the past meat on a Japanese menu was illegal. The prohibition on meat lasted about 1,200 years.

Japan abandoned meat in the 6th century when Buddhism was spreading in the country. It put an end to a tradition of hunting. The taboo against meat was powerful. Anyone who was caught eating beef was given 100 days of fasting.

Buddhists believe in reincarnation. Your ancestors could be reborn again as deer or cows, which could not be eaten, so no one wanted to be a part of that.Fish were never banned.

The Emperor celebrated the New Year in 1872 by eating beef, which was a necessary step in opening Japan to the West and adopting new habits.

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