To paraphrase Forest Gump, Wikipedia is like a box of chocolates and you never know what kind of cherry cordial juiciness you’re going to pull out of it. The other day, I thought it would be interesting to search on the term “secret doors,” which brought me to “secret passages” and a page of amazing, imagination-sparking mythological and historical vignettes.
Secret Passages and the Byakkotai
One bit of history I hadn’t heard before was the tale of the Byakkotai, or White Tiger Force. They were a military unit of just over 300 teenagers, the sons of samurai. The group was formed during Japan’s Boshin War between Emperor Meiji and the Shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu.
During a battle, 20 of the Byakkotai were cut off from the rest of their unit. They used a secret passage (hence the connection to this post) in order to exit Aizuwakamatsu Castle.
When the boys left the tunnel, fire and smoke obscured the town, so they mistakenly believed the castle had fallen and that their lord and families had been slain. As a result, they committed Seppuku (ritual suicide) there on the hillside.
Bonus Trivia: Benito Mussolini was an admirer of the loyalty that the Byakkotai youths showed their lord, so he donated a column from Pompeii that was erected and still stands by the graves on Iimori Hill.
The secret passage of Bran Castle in Romania (at right) connects the 1st and 3rd floors. The Castle is reputedly on sale for $80,000,000 US Dollars. Time share, anyone?
Secrets and murky things buried in the deep—these are what all good stories are made of and history is so very full of them. Do you have a favorite story or vignette from history? If so, leave a comment below and let us know about it.