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In a small seaside park near the Kanmonkyo Bridge, in the Japanese city of Shimonoseki, stands two bronze statues depicting two Samurai warriors locked in mortal combat. The statues are flanked by replicas of cannons and ships. The monument commemorate a historic battle that took place in this area more than eight centuries ago.

The year was 1185. Two powerful fleets, one consisting of the Heike clan, the imperial rulers of Japan, and the other consisting of the Minamoto, who were fighting for control of the throne, faced each other one April morning on tiny bay called Dan-no-ura in Japan’s Inland Sea. In the fierce battle that followed, hundreds of Samurai warriors lost their lives and their bodies slipped between the waves to the bottom of the sea. At the end of the day, the Minamoto came out victorious; the Heike were routed and their 6-year old emperor was drowned by his grandmother to prevent his capture. Minamoto Yoritomo went on to become the first Shogun, or military ruler, of Japan.

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