Ganbou Rock is a 78-meter-high rock located near the town of Engaru in Noboribetsu county, Hokkaido and is designated as one of Hokkaido’s 100 Natural Spots.
There is an observation deck at the top of the rock, which is a 15-minute walk up.
This rock is the symbol of Engaru and is popularly known as ‘the rock that is the first place to receive the morning sun in this town’ or ‘the rock that is settled warmly in the evening sun’.
The name ‘Ganbou’ is derived from the Ainu word ‘Ingarushi’ (which means ‘the place with a fine view’). It is also known as an historic battlefield of the Ainu people. The view from the observation deck gives a marvelous 360-degree panoramic view.
Sun’s Hill Engaru Park, much loved by the town people, marks the starting point of the hike to the top.
Jugoya Festival (Moon Festival), or popularly called “Jugoya-san,” is held on around the 15th day of the 8th lunar month every year in Hyuga City, Miyazaki Prefecture. The whole city is wrapped in a festival mood with a lot of tourists from inside and outside the prefecture.
It is said that this festival originates in the festival of Tomitaka Hachimangu Shrine, which was founded by Nasu no Yoichi and Kudo Suketsune to bolster the morale of the soldiers of their troops, who had come to Kyushu in pursuit of the Heike warriors having escaped from the battle field at Dannoura. The enshrined deity at this shrine was transferred from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura at this time.
On the festival day, the parade of Mitate-zaiku, the flower floats and the dancing teams walk through the city. In the recent years, Hyuga Jugoya-daiko drum performance is added to the festival program, which further warms up the festival mood in the streets.
Kagi Manto in Kaifuku in Nishio City, Aichi Prefecture, is the O-Bon festival on August 14, in which giant bonfires are lit on mountainside. It is a historic festival, dating back 890 years and is designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Property of the city.
The festival originates in the memorial service, in which 108 torches were burned in dedication to the repose of the warrior monks who lost their lives in the battles between the Shingon and the Tendai sects of Buddhism from the Otoku to the Kanji eras (1084-1094) in the late Heian period.
108 torches called “Suzumi” are set on fire, forming a 200 meter line on the western side of Mt. Manto, where it is believed that the souls of warrior monks are enshrined. Seen from the foot of the mountain, the burning torches look a huge hook (“kagi” in Japanese); thereby it is called Kagi Manto, which literally means “the 10,000 torches in the shape of a hook.” The fire brightly burning against dark sky will lure you into the world of fantasy.
There is a pond named Hataorinuma in a quiet atmosphere of the rural suburb in Towa Town, Miyagi Prefecture. The pond was considered a holy place in the old times and neither people nor boat was allowed to get into the pond.
The area was ruled by Nishigori Shinzaemon in the late Azuchi-Momoyama period. He resided in Kosui Castle constructed on a flat hill to the southwest of the pond. In 1590, when the Kasai and Osaki clans rebelled against Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Shinzaemon fought on the side of the Kasai clan and was killed at Sanuma Castle during the battle with the Date clan.
To hear this and holding it disdain to be captured by the enemy, his wife, Nishiki-no-mae, set fire on the castle and walked into the pond and died. Later on fine and windless days, villagers heard the sound of weaving night and day and they began to say a person who heard the sound would suffer from bad luck. Thinking that the late Nishiki-no-mae, who was a good weaver, was weaving at her loom, villagers built a Benzaiten Hall on the side of the pond and prayed for her soul. Since then the sound stopped, it is said.
Today the tragic atmosphere has been completely wiped away and the pond is visited by anglers all through the year.
Yassa Festival is held on September 29 every year at Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine in Minakami-machi, Gunma Pref. The young men in loincloth run about in the precinct with each of them grabbing another man’s waist belt of the cloth, calling “Yassa, Mossa, Shinjuro!” After hustling and jostling or lying on the ground, they climb up the pillars of the main hall one after another to snatch away the big bell. It is said that if someone can successfully snatch away the bell, good crops of the year is promised. The origin of the festival is unknown but there are several stories about it. One story goes that once upon a time, when the village was damaged by a flood, young villagers saved the lives of victims by roping themselves together. Another story goes that about 400 years ago during the battle of Nagurumi Castle, A warrior named Shinjuro Oki directed the villagers to a safe place by having them grasp his koshi-himo belt. Yassa Festival is a simple but gallant festival with a history of 400 years.
Rinnai Chasi, or Tsururaie, was a fort built by the Ainu people in Bihoro-cho, Hokkaido. “Rinnai” means “a place with piled earth” in the Ainu language. The fort was located on the hill, which commands a view of advance guard forts of Enkaru Chasi, Pira Chasi and Een Chasi. The place is said to have been the sanctuary where the guardian god of the village resided. As the Ainu people believed that if a person could not finish making something before the New Year’s Day, he will be possessed by the evil spirit named “Wen-kamuy,” they never failed to complete the task within a year. The fact that they constructed such a large-scaled structure within a year without using any machines tells us what a large power the Bihoro Ainu had grabbed at that time. The fort was a huge building made of cracked andesite stones popularly called “Ainu concrete” sealed with kneaded clay. It is unknown whether it was a watch fort or a defensive fort against enemies.
The Old Jinya of the Nanbu domain is the ruins of a base camp located in Shiokubi-cho, Hakodate City, Hokkaido. It was constructed in 1799 by the Nanbu domain under the order of the Tokugawa Shogunate to reinforce the defenses of Hakodate. It was the main encampment that controlled sub-camps constructed in Muroran, Oshamanbe and Sunahara.
In 1821, when the Matsumae domain recovered its confiscated territory in Hokkaido, the base camps built by the Nanbu domain were dismantled. In 1855, when the Nanbu domain again received the order from the Shogunate to defend the areas in Hakodate including Cape Benten, they reconstructed their base camp. In 1868, with the advance of the soldiers who deserted the Tokugawa Shogunate, the Nanbu domain set fire on the base camps and abandoned the territories in Hokkaido.
The premise of the encampment was originally 16,200 sq m in area, but it was expanded to 36,000 sq m in the later eras. At the present time, only the stone walls and the monument erected by Iwate Nanbu Association remain in the ruins site.
Hachihikibaru Festival and Tsubakibara Festival are held in Ume Town, Saiki City, Oita Pref. in September every year. Hachihikibaru Festival is held at Yabashira Shrine and Tobinoo Shrine in Shigeoka District, while Tsubakibara Festival is at Takatoriya Shrine in Onoichi District. The traditional performing arts of Gaku (dancing), Shishi (lion), Haguma (white bear), and Tsue (walking stick) are dedicated to the gods. Among them, the most impressive is the Senzoku-gaku, which is prefecturally designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Property. This is a dance performance that originates in an ancient legend. In 1527, Koreharu Saiki, the castellan of Togamure Castle, was killed in the battle against Nagakage Usuki. Taking Nagakage’ words that he would turn a blind eye to women and children getting away, the vassals of Saiki Clan, who disguised themselves as women and were playing the musical instruments, successfully broke out the enemy line carrying their lord’s mementos. Today the dancers put on bamboo poles decorated with flower ornaments and banners, and dedicate a dance to the gods in hope of the repose of Koreharu’s soul and the next year’s bumper crops.