The Samurai Archives
Origin of the Samurai Archives
Starting sometime in late 1999, the Samurai Archives Japanese history page was developed by C.E. West and F.W. Seal. R. Noelle, a friend of West's, was trying his hand at running a web server over his cable internet connection from his apartment, and offered to host a website. West, remembering the utter lack of useful internet sources on Japanese history during his thesis on Oda Nobunaga in 1997, thought that a Japanese history website would be a neat idea. At the time, Seal was more interested in WWII history, and declined for a time, but soon came around, diving in with a vengeance, as Japanese history was a long time interest of his. Seal wrote the bulk of the original biographies, much of this work done during the year 2000. The first handful of slim biographies that were uploaded to the website were taken from notes originally researched by C.E. West during the summer of 1998 during slow periods at work while he was working for Maui Divers in Honolulu, HI. Most of this initial research came from Warrior Rule in Japan by Marius Jensen.
The Original Plan
The website itself was not planned out per se - the unconscious intent was to just keep putting up information until there was just so much there, it would meld into a cohesive whole. That never really happened, and it eventually became more of a "Sengoku History" page, rather than an all encompassing Japanese history page. The somewhat naive assumption was that as the page grew, interest would grow as well, and we would find contributors eager to help build the page - in essence, the original thought was the same concept of a Wiki, however, at that time the software didn't exist, or if it did, we were not aware of it. Unfortunately, this concept never really came to fruition until the "Guest Articles" section was christened with the first article, Kawari Kabuto and the Great Warlords of the "Sengoku" by Augie Rodriguez in October, 2000. The section name was later changed to "Featured Articles" in mid 2002, and at this time articles by F.W.Seal were moved there from the "Culture" and "General History" sections, to give it a more integrated feel to the rest of the website. Even then, it wasn't until the addition of the Samurai Wiki in August of 2006 that the true potential and intent of this website could be reached.
The Samurai Archives has been through a few URLs over the years. The original URL was essentially an IP address followed by ~kitsuno while it was hosted on R. Noelle's home server.
The First URL
A few months after the initial IP address URL, the URL was changed to http://www.techjapanese.com/~samurai/index.html. TechJapanese.com was R. Noelle's original website, which is no longer in use. At this time, it was still on his home server, and any time there was a power outage, the site would go down until he turned his computer back on.
The Big Crash
Because the traffic was getting to be too much, the website was moved from R. Noelle's home computer server to a free online host at http://samurai.bigsitecity.com/  sometime in 2000. It was hosted there until the host server mysteriously crashed without warning in late July or early August of 2001. Because some images were not backed up, there was some irretrievable losses, including some clan kamon and genealogy images. Other lost images were fortunately saved by some forum members who had saved them to thier computer. Repeated attempts to contact the host (bigsitecity.com) got us nowhere, but since it was a free hosting site, there was not much we could do, so we moved yet again.
Angelfire to Samurai-Archives.com
The next URL was http://www.angelfire.com/realm/kitsuno01/. The Samurai Archives stayed there until the domain name "samurai-archives.com" was purchased in June, 2002. West arbitrarily opted for the hyphen, and went with .com because he felt it gave it a more official feel than .net or .org. The new website was set up with the hosting company called Hostway in early December, 2002.
The website stayed with Hostway until August, 2006, when the size of the Samurai Archives and amount of traffic warranted a move away from Hostway to a far more competitive company, with approximately 18 times more available webspace, better features, and more reasonable prices.
The Title Banners
So far, only 3 title banners have been used on the Samurai Archives Japanese history page. The Background photo on the original banner is of Ginkakuji, taken by C.West.
The image on the second banner is from a still of a battle scene in the NHK Taiga Drama "Hideyoshi", from the late 1990's starring Takenaka Naoto as Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The third banner was a more simple and straightforward style, including the Japanese kanji for "Samurai". Currently the title of the page is in text, without an image.
After the webpage was established and things progressed, C.E. West decided to create a forum, hoping to attract people to the concept of the webpage.
The First Forum
On Christmas day, 1999, at approximately 10AM PST, the Samurai History forum was founded at Delphi Forums. The forum slowly caught on, attracting people from other Delphi forums.
By the time the new Samurai Archives Citadel forum replaced it in 2006, the Delphi forum was fully entrenched and established as a major Japanese history forum on the internet with over 30,000 posts.
Although things started out solid, with very high quality discussions, sometime in late 2000 or very early 2001, a flame war errupted over multiple inane topics, including the inappropriateness of people in the USA selling T-shirts with clan Kamon on them, the "inability" of westerners to "understand" the Japanese or Japanese history, and theories about the possibility of intermarriage between related families within the line of Japanese emperors. The war was spurred and aggravated by two particularly bellicose forum goers, and in the resulting explosion most of the members were lost. Few remain today who remember the heady and wild early days of the forum. Most current members joined in 2001 or later.
Unfortunately the forum strings related to the warfare of 2000 were eliminated, and thus lost to history.
In an attempt to give people another option for dialogue and discussion, the Samurai History Yahoo Group was created in September, 2000. The theory here was that some people might prefer an email group rather than a forum to communicate, so it was decided to create a yahoo group to supplement the Delphi forum. The Yahoo group has proven over the years to attract a larger pool of members, however the conversations tends to ebb and flow, with long periods of "down time" interspersed with periods of intense activity. An example of this was the time surrounding the release of the Tom Cruise movie The Last Samurai. For a period of three months average posts to the list went from about 100 per month to over 400 per month.
Samurai Archives Citadel
In 2006, the Samurai History Delphi forum was permanently replaced by the new Samurai Archives Citadel. Over the years there had been numerous complaints about the difficulty and lack of features of the Delphi forum (however, it was also felt that this "difficulty of use" helped keep out the more disruptive elements who didn't want to take the time and trouble to sign up and interface with the Delphi forum), and so after an offer from forum member Kryo to implement and host a new, modernized forum, the Citadel went online approximately May 4th, 2006. The new forum added features such as "ranks", post counts, and "avatars" that were not available on the delphi forum.
Samurai Archives Japanese History Forum
By 2015, the software for the Samurai Archives Citadel had become so outdated it would have required a major update to continue maintaining it as a viable forum. Additionally, all major email clients (in particular Gmail, Yahoo mail, and Hotmail) consistently rejected all forum activation emails as spam. Because of this no new members were easily able to create an account on the forum from about 2011 onwards. Because the forum was housed on the Samurai Archives server, all responsibility for its maintenance fell to the webmaster. It became untenable, so on march 4th, 2015 the forum was retired in favor of a forum hosted by Zetaboards. The subdomain forums.samurai-archives.com now redirects there, and the Samurai Archives Citadel forum can be found at forumarchive.samurai-archives.com.
History of the Sections of the Samurai Archives
The original sections of the Samurai Archives for the most part included Famous Samurai, and various timelines of the major periods of Japanese history. Early on, each timeline had its own link to the index page. Only later, during a major consolodation of the index page, would each time period be removed from the home page and added to an inclusive Timelines link.
The "famous Samurai" section was originally (and always) meant to encompass Samurai from all periods of Japanese history, but as time went on, this section (along with the rest of the page) became more and more "Sengoku-centric" due mostly to the interest and specialization of the creators of the page. In point of fact, there was very little added from any other period of japanese history outside of the 14th and 16th centuries.
History of the Samurai Archives index page format
The original format for the index page of the Samurai Archives was created to simulate a Japanese hanging wall scroll.
- The exact date the website first went online is lost to the mists of history; the first verifiable date is September 2nd, 1999
- The TechJapanese website as logged on the Internet Archive
- The Bigsitecity website as logged on the Internet Archive
- Further research shows that what had actually happened was that the domain name bigsitecity.com expired at this time and was not renewed by the original holder.
- It seems that bigsitecity.com, if it still exists, is now mainly a host for prolific spammers. (see this Wikipedia article for details)
- The Angelfire website as logged on the Internet Archive
- All flame war related posts were deleted by the moderators in an effort to end further conflict and return the forum to some semblance of normalcy. This decision would come back to haunt them nearly six months later, when C. West and F. Seal ran into both of the agitators on a (now defunct) Delphi Japanese culture forum, and the two agitators yet again began hurling accusations.
- The name "Citadel" was inspired by the castle citadels from the computer game Shogun Total War.
- The "famous Samurai" link on the homepage was directed to the Samurai category on this Wiki in October, 2006.
- The "Sources" page was eventually removed from the index page because many of the sources were unfortunately not tracked.
- This had the added benefit of being a simple way to organize the page, as the creator, C. West, was essentially learning HMTL by working on the page.
- Uboat.net as archived on the Internet Archive, May '02