I have, for at least a few years, been one of the chief contributors to the Samurai Archives Samurai Wiki, a site which aims to be a more extensive, or at least more reliable, source on pre-modern & early modern Japanese history than Wikipedia. The wiki is but one aspect of the Samurai-Archives project, headed by Mr. C.E. West, which includes also the most active samurai history forums that I’m aware of, and a homepage with links to many interesting articles and useful resources. The Archives also have a presence on Twitter and Facebook, a podcast I’ve quite enjoyed being involved in, and CafePress and Amazon Stores, where your purchases of samurai goods help to support, as well, the server maintenance and other minor costs of keeping the Archives going.
They’ve been on my Links bars on the right for quite some time, but I figure it’s about time that I mention the Archives a bit more directly, here in an actual blog post.
Editing the Wiki is great fun, in general, and a great tool for helping me learn about Japanese history through the process of doing the research necessary to write the articles. In recent weeks, I’ve become a lot more active in adding to it based on whatever I am reading anyway for my own “formal” research (read: thesis work).
I get a lot out of it by doing the writing, but of course I also want to think that I’m providing a service in some way, i.e. that anyone is reading it. Our Shogun might have access to some kind of Stats page, but I have no real way of knowing how many Views the Wiki ever gets, let alone how many Views any individual article gets. It’s easy to think that the Wiki doesn’t get very many views at all. Especially since I’m more or less the only one who ever contributes anything there (which is not to belittle the valuable efforts of our Shogun and a handful of other contributors who did a lot of work in the past), it can often feel like a ghost town, complete with virtual tumbleweeds.
I have added a Widget over there on the right which draws from the Recent Changes RSS Feed. Most of the time, it’ll just show year articles, or other things to which I (or someone else) has made small changes. But, nevertheless, it gives an indication of what’s new, or what’s being worked on. I hope that you will take a look, and see what we have over there. The Wiki is, of course, a work in progress, and there are very few, if any, articles that can really be considered to be in a state of completion. But, this represents a start, and a place where more and more will be added, and polished, gradually becoming more and more the most extensive or most useful (and already, ostensibly, more reliable) resource for samurai history on the web.
Some articles I’ve created recently:
*Ryûkyû Shobun, describing the 1870s abolition of the Ryûkyû Kingdom and annexation of its territory as Okinawa Prefecture
*Taiwan Incident of 1871 and Taiwan Expedition of 1874, two events which led to the Ryûkyû Shobun
*Tael – a unit of currency used widely in trade between Western powers and China in the early modern period
*Yosa Buson – a major painter and poet of the Edo period
*Currency – a very rough, and very incomplete start at describing the history of Japanese currency and attempting to pin down values and typical prices/costs. In other words, how much is a gold ryô?
I also recently created, or expanded, articles on the cities of Edo, Osaka, and Kyoto. While one of the Wiki’s key strengths is its nearly 1200 articles on individual samurai, many of whom are too obscure to find anything much, or anything reliably accurate, if anything at all, on Wikipedia, it is difficult for a contributor to want to leap into such intimidatingly large/broad topics as these. Which is why there is still no article for “Samurai”. So, these city articles represent a start. I hope at some point (maybe next summer) to take the time to create a nice, long, thorough wiki article on kabuki.
You can keep up with the most recent changes by following this RSS Feed, or take a look at the list of Newest Pages. And, please, feel free to get involved on the Forum, listening to the Podcast, and if you have any questions or comments, share them here, or on the Forums, or via Twitter… We would love to hear them.