Hearths, Tables, and Samurai Welcome Feasts

My newest Hiro Hattori novel, BETRAYAL AT IGA, features a welcome feast gone horribly wrong. In medieval Japan (and in traditional homes to this day) the tables looked quite different from the ones in Western homes. While Europeans used waist-high tables and sat in elevated chairs, Japanese tables looked like this: People knelt (or sometimes sat cross-legged) on cushions placed directly on the floor. In poorer homes, or on occasions when formal tables were not used, families ate while sitting or kneeling around the irori, a sunken hearth with a bed of fine dirt or sand upon which fires were kindled. The irori was also used to heat the

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