Japanese Culture

Japanese Mythology & Folklore: Yokai - Ao nyōbō

Blue Lady


TRANSLATION: blue lady
ALTERNATE NAMES: ao onna (blue woman)
HABITAT: abandoned villas, mansions, and ruins
DIET: spoiled and rotten leftover food; otherwise humans

APPEARANCE: In the empty, abandoned mansions of bygone years, there is sometimes more than spider webs and cockroaches living in the shadows. Often, large and dangerous yokai take up residence in these manses, longing for a return to wealth and grace. One of these is the ao nyōbō, an ogreish spirit of poverty and misfortune. She takes the appearance of an ancient court noblewoman. Her body is draped in the elaborate many-layered kimonos of older eras, though they are now tattered and moth-ridden. She wears the white face of ancient courtiers, with high painted eyebrows and blackened teeth. Her body is aged and wrinkled from years of waiting in musty old ruins, and her beauty has long left her.

BEHAVIOR: Ao nyōbō inhabit the empty, abandoned homes of ruined families and fallen nobles. They wait in the house, constantly applying their makeup, fixing their hair, and adjusting their image in anticipation for the arrival of some guest who never shows up –perhaps a lover who has lost interest, or a husband who has abandoned his wife. Should any trespassers visit a home inhabited by an ao nyōbō, she devours them, and then goes back to waiting vainly.

ORIGIN: Nyōbō were the court ladies of old Japan – the paragons of youth, beauty, education, and refinement. They served in the palaces of high ranking families until they themselves were married off to a worthy suitor. After being married off, they spent their days in their own private residences, patiently waiting for their husbands to come home each night, or for secret lovers to show up during the day. Ao, the color blue, refers not to the aonyōbō’s skin color, but actually implies immaturity or inexperience (just as green implies the same in English). Ao nyōbō’s name refers to low-ranking women of the old imperial court who, no matter how hard they worked, couldn’t seem to catch a husband or elevate themselves to escape from poverty (the “ugly stepsisters” of ancient Japan). Originally used an insulting term for unsuccessful court ladies, it is a fitting term for this particular yokai.

Japanese Mythology & Folklore: Yokai - Ao bōzu

Blue Monk


TRANSLATION: blue monk
HABITAT: wheat and barley fields, uninhabited homes, lonely roads
DIET: varies from region to region; commonly children

APPEARANCE: Ao bōzu are generally depicted as large, one-eyed, blue-skinned priests with a strong connection to magic. However, local accounts vary greatly in details such as size, number of eyes, and habitat. In Okayama, they are described as two-eyed giants who take up residence in abandoned or uninhabited homes. In other stories, they appear in wheat fields, or on dark, lonely roads.

INTERACTIONS: In Shizuoka, ao bōzu are said to appear on spring evenings at sunset in the wheat and barley fields. The transition from night to day is a popular theme in the tradition of in-yō sorcery. Further, the still blue-green leaves of the young barley also have powerful connections to in-yō. Children who go running and playing through the fields in the evening might be snatched up and taken away by an ao bōzu. Thus, good children must go straight home after school and not go tramping through the fields!

In Kagawa, ao bōzu appear late at night to young women and ask them, “Would you like to hang by your neck?” If the woman says no, the ao bōzu disappears without a word. However, if she ignores him or says nothing, he attacks her with lightning speed, knocks her out, and hangs her by the neck.

In Yamaguchi, they are considered minor deities. They appear before humans on the road and challenge them to sumo matches. Because Yamaguchi’s ao bōzu are only as big as children, many a person has foolishly accepted the challenge, only to find himself flung to the ground with god-like strength and potentially lethal speed.

ORIGIN: Very little is known about this yokai. Toriyama Sekien was the first to record the ao bōzu, and his illustration came with not a single word of description other than its name. From its name, we can glean a little bit of information; the word ao means blue or green, and can denote immaturity and inexperience. (Another well-known yokai — ao-nyōbō — uses this color in a similar manner.) As the original illustration was black-and-white, it may even be that this yokai was never intended to be colored blue or green, but rather just as a mockery of what Toriyama Sekien saw as a corrupt and unskilled priesthood. Nonetheless, thanks to its name, it is usually depicted in a sickly shade of ao.

The fact that ao bōzu has only one eye and is revered as a minor god in some places draws a strong parallel with another yokai, the hitotsume-kozō. Because of his similarity, there are theories suggesting a connection to the ancient spirit worship of old Japan. In these shamanistic proto-religions, one-eyed monsters often originated as fallen mountain gods and bringers of evil, sent to do the bidding of larger deities. They could be kept at bay with woven baskets, or other objects with many holes, which the monsters would view as hundreds of eyes and avoid, either out of fear or jealousy.

Because there are so many different accounts, and because there are so many different kinds of nasty priest yokai, it’s impossible to tell which, if any, is the real ao bōzu, and which are variations of other kinds of yokai.

Japanese Mythology & Folklore: Yokai - Ao andon

Blue Lantern of Fear


TRANSLATION: blue lantern
HABITAT: parlors and living rooms; appears during ghost story telling parties
DIET: fear

APPEARANCE: During the Edo period, a popular summertime activity among the aristocratic classes was to gather and tell ghost stories, hoping the chill of fear would stave off the intense midsummer heat. These ghost story telling parties were called hyakumonogatari kaidankai – a gathering of one hundred ghost stories. During these gatherings, one hundred candles would be lit and placed inside of blue paper lanterns, called andon, in order to create an eerie atmosphere suitable for storytelling. Throughout the night, guests would take turns telling progressively scarier stories about yokai, demons, ghosts, and other strange things. After each story, one candle would be snuffed out, until finally only the hundredth candle remained, its dim blue light casting long, creepy shadows, struggling to fill the dark room.

According to superstition, as the final candle was snuffed, a real ghost would appear out of the darkness to attack the participants, created out of the heightened emotional state and fears of guests. This ghost was called the ao andon.

The ao andon is the incarnation of mass human terror, formed out of the built-up fears of large groups of people. This fear takes the appearance of a demonic woman with long black hair, blue skin, blackened teeth, sharp claws, and horns. It wears a white or blue kimono, and glows with an eerie blue light.

BEHAVIOR: The ao andon appears at the end of the gathering, when all of the lanterns have been snuffed out. It emerges from the smoke of the final candle and attacks the guests. What exactly it does is a mystery; whether it slaughters all of the participants in a brutal finale inspired by the preceding tales, or simply jumps out to give one last shock before the guests return home has never been recorded. The reason for this is that by the time the ninety-ninth ghost story had been told, the guests were usually too frightened to tell the final story, and the parties usually concluded at that point, before the ao andon could appear.

ORIGIN: As the old proverb says (in both English and Japanese): speak of the devil, and the devil shall appear. It was feared that merely talking about ghosts and spirits for long enough would cause them to materialize for real.

Japanese Mythology & Folklore: Yokai - Amikiri

Net Cutter


TRANSLATION: net cutter
HABITAT: villages and towns, particularly fishing villages
DIET: unknown

APPEARANCE: Amikiri are small, crustacean-like yokai which resemble shrimp or lobsters. They have a long body, a red, segmented shell, a bird-like beak, and two scissor-like claws on their forearms. They fly through the air as a fish swims in water, and are quite shy, rarely appearing before humans.

BEHAVIOR: Amikiri don’t interact with humans very much, except for one particular activity which is the reason that they are called “net cutters.” For some strange reason, amikiri love to cut nets, whether it be a fishing net, a screen door or window, or a kaya — a Japanese hanging mosquito net. While they are not directly harmful, this mischief is not entirely benign either: the life of a fisherman is tough, and a fisherman whose nets have been shredded by an amikiri could find his livelihood ruined.

ORIGIN: It’s unclear where amikiri come from, although they bear a very strong resemblance both in name and shape to an arthropod-like yokai called kamikiri. Stories about amikiri are rare, and their name and shape may actually be a pun; the word ami means net in Japanese, but it also is the name of a type of tiny shrimp.

LEGENDS: A story from Yamagata prefecture tells of a fisherman who one day found that his fishing net had been shredded to the point of worthlessness. He suspected the work of an amikiri. The next day, he took special care to hide his nets at his home where they could not be found by any wandering yokai. That night, however, the amikiri snuck into his room while he slept and cut up the kaya covering his bed. The man woke up with his entire body covered in painful, itchy mosquito bites.

Japanese Mythology & Folklore: Yokai - Ame onna

Rain Woman


TRANSLATION: rain woman
HABITAT: dark streets and alleys; formerly clouds and holy mountains
DIET: unknown; possibly rain, or children

APPEARANCE: Ame onna are a class of yokai that appear on rainy days and nights. They summon rain wherever they go, and are often blamed for kidnapping and spiriting children away. They appear as depraved, haggish women, soaked with rainwater, often licking the rain off of their hands and arms like wild animals.

BEHAVIOR: Ame onna are related to minor rain deities. However, unlike the gods, ame onna are not benevolent. Though the rains they bring might save a village in drought or bring fortune to farmers, ame onna have another purpose in mind: they wander the villages on rainy nights looking for newborn babies. If they should find a child born that night, they snatch it and carry it off into the darkness, spiriting it away to turn it into another ame onna.

Mothers who have their babies snatched away in this manner are sometimes known to transform into ame onna themselves out of grief and despair. Having lost their minds, these transformed women roam the streets at night with large sacks hoping to replace what was stolen from them while they were still human. They sneak into houses where crying children can be heard, and steal them away from their homes into the night.

ORIGIN: The first ame onna go back to the ancient folk religions of Japan and China, where the rains were said to be brought by benevolent gods and goddesses who live as clouds by morning and as rain by night, forever traveling between heaven and earth. Legend has it that somehow, some of these rain-bringing goddesses became corrupted and gradually evolved into evil yokai, abandoning their divinity to live among mortals and prey upon them.

Japanese Culture: Meiji Revolution

The Boshin War

The Meiji Revolution, or the Boshin War, came at the end of the Edo Period as the collapsing Tokugawa Shogunate and its allies struggled to maintain control over Japan in the face of a movement to restore authority to the Emperor and the imperial government.

Following the Treaty of Kanagawa and the end of Sakoku, the Tokugawa Shogunate, which had ruled Japan since the end of the Sengoku Jidai in 1603, began to wane in power and influence. The Bakufu's willingness to give in to foreign demands at the hands of Commodore Perry (USN) had painted the Shogunate as weak in the eyes of the Daimyo.

Soon, the isolationist policies of the Shogunate began to fall apart. Local lords began to re-arm their armies and opposition to the Tokugawa Clan became more and more vocal. The Shogunate faced both internal and external opposition and hostility. This opposition soon organized into a movement called the Sonno Joi ("Revere the Emperor, expel the barbarians.").

The reigning Emperor Komei agreed with the sentiments of the Sonno Joi movement. Soon, he would break with centuries of imperial tradition and begin playing a much more active role in politics and matters of state. In 1863, this resulted in an imperial edict to "expel the barbarians" in which the Emperor ordered a firm stance be taken against foreign influence and unequal trade agreements, such as those imposed by Commodore Perry.

The Shogunate had no intention of enforcing the Emperor's will in these matters. Still, this did not stop the edict resulting in increased violence and attacks against the Shogunate and foreigners. The most notable of which was the death of an English trader, Charles Lennox Richardson, for whose death the Shogunate paid an indemnity of one hundred thousand British pounds.

These actions were not without consequence. The attacks on foreigners led to several successful retaliations by foreign powers. And, in an effort to overthrow the Shogunate, the forces of the Choshu Clan, together with ronin, raised the Hamaguri Rebellion in an effort to capture the imperial court at Kyoto. These rebel forces were repelled by Shogunate forces under the command of Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the soon-to-be Shogun.

Initial resistance among the Choshu and imperial court subsided. But, over the next year, the Tokugawa Shogunate would prove unable to reassert total control over the country or its Daimyo.

Soon the Choshu Clan would know a coup d'etat that would restore power to those within the clan, vehemently opposed to Tokugawa rule. The Shogunate would announce its intention to put down the rebels, but this only led to the Choshu allying with the Satsuma. Soon, Japan would, once again, known civil war and a massive shift in power.

On November 9, 1867, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the reigning Shogun, announced that he would "put his prerogatives at the Emperor's disposal." Ten days later, he would resign as Shogun, ending the Tokugawa Shogunate.

It was Tokugawa Yoshinobu's hope that by ending the crumbling Shogunate and yielding authority to Emperor Komei's son, Emperor Meiji, the Tokugawa Clan would be preserved and allowed to participate in Japan's future government.

Initially the imperial court saw fit to continue to allow Tokugawa influence and collaboration under the concept of a "just government". But on January 3, 1868, Satsuma and Choshu forces would seize the imperial palace in Kyoto. They demanded that the title of Shogun be abolished and ordered the confiscation of Tokugawa lands. The assembly gave way to these demands, as did Tokugawa Yoshinobu.

But Tokugawa Yoshinobu would not remain idle, despite his initial agreement. On January 24, he prepared an attack on Kyoto. This decision was prompted by a series of arsons in Edo, aimed against the Tokugawa.

On January 27, 1868, Shogunate forces marched on Kyoto, attacking the occupying Satsuma and Choshu forces. Despite a force of 15,000, the majority of the Shogunate's forces were medieval Samurai, with only a handful of French-trained modern forces. Among the Shogunate Samurai were the famed Shinsengumi. Still yet, despite being outnumbered 3:1, the Satsuma and Choshu forces possessed modern arms, artillery, and a few Gatling guns.

After an inconclusive start, on the second day the imperial court named Ninnajinoyima Yoshiaki Command In Chief of the Satsuma and Choshu forces, making them an official imperial army. In addition, local Daimyo, formerly loyal to the Shogunate, began to defect to the side of the imperial forces. This would further tilt the battle in favor of the imperial forces.

On February 7, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, disheartened by the power of the imperial forces and the defections of his former allies, fled Osaka and withdrew to Edo. Seeing his retreat, Shogunate forces became demoralized and soon retreated.

Thus began the Meiji Revolution. Several more battles would ensue. The imperial forces continued on to Edo, winning the Battle of Koshu-Katsunuma and eventually surrounding Edo in May 1868. This would end in an unconditional surrender by the Shogunate. What forces that deigned to resist were defeated at the Battle of Ueno on July 4, 1868.

Following Tokugawa Yoshinobu's surrender, most of Japan recognized the Emperor's right to rule and the imperial victory. Still yet, domains in the north continued to resist. The domains of Sendai, Yonezawa, Aizu, Shonai, and Nagaoka, with a total of 50,000 troops, formed the Northern Coalition.

Imperial troops pressed north, in response, and suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Nagaoka at the Battle of Hokuetsu. Despite this, the Nagaoka castle fell on May 19, 1868. Imperial forces would continue to progress, defeating the Shinsengumi at the Battle of Bonari Pass, which allowed for an attack on Aizu-Wakamatsu Castle in the Battle of Aizu in October 1868.

The Northern Coalition fell apart. Following their defeat, remnants of the Coalition and their navy fled to Hokkaido where they would attempt to establish a separate state: the Republic of Ezo.

The Imperial navy pursued the remnants and reached the harbor of Miyako on March 20, 1869. There they met with Ezo warships, led by Shinsengumi commander Hijikata Toshizo. Despite a surprise attack by the Ezo forces, the battle ended in victory for the Imperial navy, due, in part, to poor weather conditions and use of Gatling guns to defeat Samurai boarding parties.

Soon, the Imperial forces would consolidate their hold on the mainland of Japan. In April 1869, an Imperial fleet carrying 7,000 infantry set sail for Ezo, leading to the Battle of Hakodate. Imperial forces swiftly captured Hakodate Bay, causing Ezo's French advisers to flee to France. With defeat looming, the Ezo forces were convinced to surrender and did so on May 18, 1869. As of June 27, 1869, the Ezo Republic was no more.

Imperial forces soon after totally unified Japan, quelling what little resistance was left.

The Meiji Revolution, today, is often referred to as the "bloodless revolution", with the Meiji Revolution and Meiji Restoration often being confused and considered the same series of events. But the Boshin War (Meiji Revolution) clearly shows the events leading up to the Restoration to be quite bloody.

Over 120,000 troops were mobilized during the Meiji Revolution with roughly 3,500 casualties resulting from open hostilities and many more from terrorist attacks.

The Shogunate had been brought to a bloody end and feudal Japan was no more, in any capacity. The Meiji government would soon begin a "Restoration" to reform the government, modernize Japan, and restore power to the imperial court.

Japanese Mythology & Folklore: Yokai - Amefuri kozō

Rainfall Priest Boy


TRANSLATION: rainfall priest boy
HABITAT: found throughout Japan; appears during rainy weather
DIET: omnivorous

APPEARANCE: Amefuri kozō resemble young boys. They wear children’s kimonos, wooden clogs, and wide-brimmed straw hats or umbrellas on their heads. They are not particularly cute, and have pudgy, upturned noses.

BEHAVIOR: Despite their childish appearance, amefuri kozō are charged with the very important task of causing rainfall. Wherever they go, they cause clouds to form and rain to come down. In ancient China, amefuri kozō were thought to be the servants of the god of rainfall, who is known as Ushi in Japanese.

INTERACTIONS: Amefuri kozō are shy and rarely interact directly with people. However, they enjoy stealing people’s umbrellas and wearing them as hats. They then cause rain showers to fall upon their victims.

ORIGIN: Amefuri kozō became widely known thanks to the printing boom during the Edo period. They were common characters in the cheap, pocket-sized publications sold by street vendors known as kibyōshi, or yellow covers. Kibyōshi were satirical comics, heavy on illustrations, depicting urban life with easy-to-read prose. Amefuri kozō and other priest boy yōkai became popular in these adult-oriented comic books. People enjoyed their grotesque, silly, yet somewhat cute appearance.

LEGENDS: Rain that falls while the sun is out is known in Japan as kitsune no yomeiri—fox weddings. Kitsune (fox yōkai) hold their weddings during sun showers. Before getting married, kitsune will say a prayer to the amefuri kozō for rain on their wedding day.

Japanese Mythology & Folklore: Yokai - Aka shita

Red Tongue


TRANSLATION: red tongue
ALTERNATE NAMES: aka-kuchi (red mouth)
HABITAT: rice fields and farming villages; commonly found in Tsugaru
DIET: unknown

APPEARANCE: Aka shita is a mysterious spirit which takes the form of a dark cloud with sharp claws and a hairy, bestial face. Its most prominent feature and namesake is its long, bright red tongue and mouth. It appears during the summer months, when rain and water are most valuable to ensure a successful growing season. Only the shape of its hairy, monstrous face and long, bestial claws are known. The rest of its body is perpetually hidden inside of the dark, black clouds in which it lives.

BEHAVIOR: Aka shita are agents of bad luck and evil, and are primarily known as punishers in water disputes. Because plenty of water is essential for keeping rice paddies flooded, Japan’s farmlands are interlaced with an intricate series of interconnected aqueducts and canals meant to deliver water to all of the farmers equally. In times of drought, however, a wicked farmer may open up the sluice gates and drain his neighbor’s water into his own field. Such a serious crime can cost a family its livelihood, and such criminals usually face the violent wrath of their neighbors. Water thieves who never get caught may think they’ve gotten away with their crime, but it is to these farmers that the aka shita comes, draining the water out of their fields and snatching them up with its long red tongue.

Japanese Mythology & Folklore: Yokai - Akaname

Filth Licker



TRANSLATION: filth licker
HABITAT: dirty baths, filthy toilets, abandoned homes
DIET: slime, mold, scum, hair, human waste, etc.

APPEARANCE: Akaname is a small, goblin-like yokai which inhabits only the dirtiest homes and public baths. It is about the size of a child or a small adult, though it generally appears much smaller due to its hunching posture. It has a mop of greasy, slimy hair on top of its head. Its body is naked, its skin greasy like its hair. Akaname come in many colors and varieties, ranging from a dark mottled green reminiscent of mold, to the ruddy pink color of bedsores. They come in both one-eyed and two-eyed varieties, and can have anywhere from one to five fingers and toes. All akaname have an extremely long, sticky tongue with which they lap up the slime, grease, hair, and other filth found in bath houses and behind toilets.

BEHAVIOR: Like cockroaches, rats, lice, and other pests, akaname detest clean, well-kept homes, and only appear where the owners show a complete lack of sanitary discipline. They are shy and stay clear of humans, scattering in the light like cockroaches. They can spread disease, however, so it is a good idea to keep bathrooms and houses clean enough that akaname do not wish to settle down.

Japanese Culture: Sakoku

Isolated Japan

Implemented by the Tokugawa Shogunate during the Edo Period, Sakoku ("locked country") was the foreign relations policy of Japan from 1633 to the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Under the Sakoku, no foreigner could enter Japan, and no Japanese citizen could leave Japan under penalty of death.

The term "Sakoku" originates from the manuscript Sakoku-ron written by Japanese astronomer Shizuki Tadao. Shizuki created the term whilst translating the works of German traveler Engelbert Kaempfer concerning Japan.

Despite the strict rules on foreign relations and commerce imposed by the Sakoku policies, Japan was not entirely cut off from the outside world during the Edo Period. Any foreign trade or influence was handled at Nagasaki. For example, the only permitted European influence was the Dutch factory at Dejima in Nagasaki. The exceptions to this was trade with the Ainu people, handled to the Matsumae Domain in Hokkaido and trade with the Ryukyu Kingdom which took place in Satsuma Domain, located in modern-day Kagoshima Prefecture. Apart from these direct commercial contracts, the only foreign trade conducted was via trading missions directly to the Shogun in Edo (modern-day Tokyo).

Oddly enough, trade actually prospered during the Edo Period, despite being restricted to certain ports. Despite expelling various traders, such as the Portugese, the Shogun simultaneously strengthened relations and trade agreements with the Dutch and Korea, in order to ensure that the volume of trade did not suffer. This has led to some historians referring to this period not as Sakoku but, rather, as Kaikin meaning "maritime prohibitions" as opposed to "locked country".

Conventionally, it is regarded and accepted that the Shogunate's reasoning for enacting various Sakoku policies during the Edo period was to limit foreign influence on Japanese culture, society, religion, and political systems. In particular, the influence of Spain and Portugal were perceived as a threat to the stability of the Shogunate, especially due to the increasing number of Catholic converts in southern Japan.

The strengthening of Sakoku policies in the 17th century was primarily an effort not only to preserve social peace and harmony, but to ensure and maintain the supremacy of the Tokugawa over other Daimyo which might pose a threat to the Shogunate.

Christianity, and the colonial powers most associated with it, were regarded as a genuine threat to the Tokugawa Bakufu. Even the Empress, Empress Meisho, worried about a European threat to Japanese sovereignty in light of the colonization of the "New World" by European powers.

In response to this, and as a direct result of the Shimabara Rebellion, an uprising of 40,000, mostly Christian, peasants, the Shogunate expelled missionaries from the country and outlawed the practice of Christianity on penalty of death.

Liberalizing challenges to Sakoku policies did come from the Japanese elite within the 18th century, but ultimately amounted to nothing. The end of Sakoku would not come until 1852, when American President Fillmore ordered United States Navy Commodore Matthew Perry to take a fleet of warships to Japan in order to forcibly open Japanese ports to American trade.

Commodore Perry arrived with four warships at the mouth of Edo Bay on July 8, 1853. He refused Japanese demands that he continue to Nagasaki, the port designated for foreign relations. Commodore Perry, instead, insisted that he be allowed to land and deliver a letter from the United States government or he would press on to Edo and raze the city to the ground. His demands were met and he landed at nearby Kurihama.

Perry's letter created great controversy within the highest levels of the Shogunate. The Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyoshi, died days after Commodore Perry's departure, leaving his sickly son, Tokugawa Iesada, in charge of Japan. Due to his poor health and inability to lead, effective leadership was left in the hands of the Council of Elders led by Abe Masahiro. The Council felt that they would be, currently, unable to resist American demands by military force. Seeking legitimacy to their decision making, the Council polled the Daimyo for opinions. This led to an unintended portrayal of the Tokugawa Shogunate as weak and indecisive.

Commodore Perry would return on February 13, 1854 with a larger force of eight warships. He demanded that a treaty be signed between the United States and Japan, and that his fleet would not leave until such a treaty had be reached. Negotiations began on March 8th and Japan gave in to nearly all of Perry's demands. Thus, the Treaty of Kanagawa was created, effectively ending Sakoku.

The Treaty had far-reaching consequences for the Tokugawa Shogunate, notably the re-armament of many domains, posing a military threat to the regime. Debate over foreign policy and popular outrage over perceived appeasement to the foreign powers was a catalyst for the Sonno Joi movement and a shift in political power from Edo back to the Imperial Court in Kyoto.

The end of Sakoku would mark the beginning of the decline of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Soon, Japan would know revolution and civil war, once again.