In Japan, the number of female visitors to shogun castles, samurai battle re-enactments and history bookstores has recently increased. Observers attribute this to the rise of the "history girls" — a new urban subculture that some believe signals a kind of empowerment for female Japanese hobbyists.
One of the more public faces of the history girls, or reki-jo, is a fashion model named Anne. She's the daughter of actor Ken Watanabe, and she goes by one name. She's carved out a niche for herself writing and speaking about history and history buffs.
Reki-jo all have their favorite historical periods and characters. Speaking in a Tokyo cafe, Anne says hers is the Shinsengumi, the elite swordsmen of Japan's last shogun, or military ruler.
"The Shinsengumi is popular among Japanese girls because its members are all young, in their teens to early 30s," Anne says. "They changed Japan. The interesting part of their era is that we can see some photos of them, so we can imagine them better and feel closer to them. This history gives courage to young people today."