There’s a really interesting and factual discussion on the background and changing story of the ‘Samurai’, which doesn’t often fit with the image we have nowadays. People often ask about the castle in Matsumoto (and how come it’s still there!). Understanding what the Samurai were and how they ‘fit in’ to Japan’s overall history goes a little way to getting the bigger picture.
The programme was broadcast on Dec. 24th on the “In Our Time” show, BBC Radio 4. You’ll find a link here http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/inourtime_20091224.shtml which you can listen to online or download, but as time passes you may have to look in the archive under ‘history’. You will also find the podcast on iTunes.
One aspect the programme touches on is the importance of local lords making a procession to/from Edo. Just south of here is one of the key toll/postal roads, “Nakasendo” and the fascinating villages that dot its course. My own favourite is Naraijuku. Worth a visit any time of year.
Happy listening, and a Happy New Year!