Travel Leisure

How To Learn About Black History When Visiting Japan

One of the oldest nations in the world, Japan has plenty to see and do. Depending on what time of year, visitors are prone to encounter incredible festivals, delicious foods, and natural beauty both in the city and the countryside. 

Over time, Black culture has continued to flourish in Asia. In Japan, stories of Black samurais, hip-hop-influenced artwork, and new developments created by Black expats are adding more flavor to the country’s rich history. Here are a few ways to learn about Black history and culture when visiting Japan.

Honor Yasuke Black Samurai At Honno-ji Temple

temple in Japan
Photo credit: Belle Co

The legacy of Black warriors in Japan exists far beyond the Afro-Samurai animation. In fact, travelers visiting Japan can go visit the temple where a Black samurai lived and fought. Yasuke was a Black samurai in the 1500s who served and fought for an affluent warlord named Oda Nobunaga. 

Upon meeting Yasuke, the Japanese warlord thought he was a god. Yasuke fought for Nobunaga until the warlord was killed at the Honno-ji Temple. Today, travelers can visit the main hall of the temple to pay respects to Nobunaga and Yasuke.

Grab Sweet Treats From Kyle’s Good Finds

man in a kitchen
Photo credit: Gustavo Fring

For a taste of home, travelers should check out Kyle’s Good Finds. This Black-owned business is described as a “homemade American bakery.” Kyle moved to Japan over 30 years ago. Now the Black expat serves delicious pumpkin apple bread and applesauce spice cakes on a quaint corner for locals and tourists. If you find yourself there around the holiday season, Kyle also serves dinner bento boxes full of Black American Thanksgiving favorites.

Explore Japan’s Secret Graffiti Culture 

wall art in Japan
Photo credit: Ryutaro Tsukata

Graffiti culture didn’t arrive in Japan until much later than in Western culture. The art form is still illegal throughout the country. However, influenced by Hip Hop, urban art can still be found in pockets across Tokyo.

It’s worth doing a self-guided tour to explore Japan’s secret graffiti culture. Be sure to check out the giant flying Astroboy near the JR Rail and the Japanese comic book mural on the side of SakuraTei Restaurant. If you have extra time, stop by the Harajuku Zombie located at Bonobo Nightclub. 

Get A Cut At Shop Brooklyn Japan

young boy getting haircut
Photo credit: RDNE Stock project

Barbershops have always been a staple in Black history. It’s the place where deals are made, the laughs are large, and anyone can stop by for a fresh cut. For those feeling a bit homesick for Black culture while in Japan, stop by Shop Brooklyn Japan. The owner, Tamru Grant, moved to Japan over a decade ago. Now, his barber shop provides the dopest cuts in Shibuya. As soon as you step through the door, visitors are instantly teleported to NYC. With all the vibes, good energy, and cultural swag, Shop Brooklyn Japan keeps Black barber culture alive and thriving in Asia. 

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