Saie-Hiogi is a crescent folding fan with blades made of Japanese cypress wood. Hiogi fans were made in the Heian period (794-1192) as the accessory used by the nobility on formal occasions in the Imperial court. The number of blades differed according to the rank of the person who carried the fan. At the present time, there are only seven Hiogi fans remain; one at Atsuta Jingu Shrine, five at Itsukushima Shrine and one at Asuka Shrine in Kumano.
Gofun (powder made from oyster shells) solution is applied as the base coat onto slats of cypress wood threaded with silk. Then after applying mica, pieces of gold and silver leaf and foil are sprinkled on the surface, where colorful pictures are painted with Iwaenogu (mineral pigment).
The motifs of Kachofugetsu (flowers, birds, wind, and moon), noblemen and court ladies are painted in well-mellowed brush strokes. Saie-Hiogi fan was not only an implement but also a work of art that was like a picture scroll. The existing Saie-Hiogi fans are designated as either National Important Cultural Properties or National Treasures.
Yowara Shrine is located in Nango-cho, Minami-Naka-gun, Miyazaki Pref. The enshrined deity is Amaterasu Omikami (the sun goddess). With the apportioned spirit of the deity of Udo Jingu Shrine, it was established in 1658 by Ito Sukehisa, the lord of the Obi domain. The shrine was called Yowara-yama Daigongen and revered by the generations of the domain lord. Having been donated a huge territory, the shrine was flourished to be ranked with Udo Jingu Shrine in the eastern part of the domain.
Honden (the main hall) built in 1707 was originally in Hachiman-zukuri style but it was rebuilt into Gongen-zukuiri building in 1798. Honden is prefecturally designated as a tangible cultural property. Romon Gate and Shoro (the bell tower) are also designated as tangible cultural properties by the prefecture. The shrine used to be crowded with people from nearby villages, who offered prayers for good marriages and rich harvest. One of the prefecture’s famous folk song, Yowara Mairi, sings about this custom of visiting Yowara Shrine. Today the shrine is thronged with visitors on a New Year’s Day.
Muramatsu-san Kokuzo-do is a temple established by Priest Kukai in 807. Since then it had been under the protection of the successive domain lords of Satake clan for 500 years. In the Edo period, Tokugawa Ieyasu dedicated the land that produced 50 koku of rice to the temple. It was flourished under the protection of Tokugawa Mitsukuni. In back of the main hall is Muramatsu Daijingu Shrine, to which the deity of Ise Shrine was imparted during the reign of Emperor Kanmu (737-806). The shrine is famous for the custom of “Jusan Mairi,” in which 13-year-old boys and girls visit the shrine to pray for their future success of life. Kokuzo-do now belongs to Buzan School of Shingon Sect. Its main object of worship, the image of Kokuzo Bosatsu (Buddhist deity of wisdom and memory) is counted as one of 3 Finest Images of Kokuzo Bosatsu in Japan together with Asama Kokuzo-son in Ise and Yanaizu Kokuzo-son in Aizu. At the present time it is visited by a lot of people seeking for escaping evil spirits and success of life.
Gion Festival held on the third Saturday of July every year has been handed down in Usabe by the hand of the local people for about 300 years. The festival is run by all the people in the area including young people and directors of local community unions on a shift and the main supporters of the shrine. The highlight of the festival is the parade composed of Tenno-sama at the head, parasols, the big sward, and the float, which are followed by the Geza dancers and Geza-bayashi musicians. In 1998 the gorgeous float was completed by the hand of a master carpenter living in Tsuchiura City. The festival hands down the tradition of Geza performance and enforces the community unity. The festival is also called “Manju Gion” because there is a custom to treat visitors with steamed manju on this day.
Aya Odori is one of the traditional dances that are danced during Himeshima Bon Dance Festival, which is held from August 15 to the 17 every year. It is said that Bon festival originates in Nenbutsu Odori (a Buddhist dance chanting nenbutsu) in the Kamakura period (1192-1333). The dancing site called “Bon-tsubo” is set up at every village on the island, from which dancers start the dancing parade going throughout the island. The traditional dances include Kitsune-odori (fox dance), Saruman-dayu (female dance), and Zeni-daiko (dance with percussion), to which a newly created dance is added every year. Aya Odori is danced by pairs of young men and women living in Kitaura area. A man-dancer with a green bamboo logs called “Ayadake” in his hands and dances fiercely, while a woman-dancer dances elegantly.
Geta are one of Japan's traditional forms of footwear. Their origin dates back to the Nara or Heian periods. Especially after the Genroku period, when komageta were developed, and by the Edo period, they were being widely used.
In Edo, geta raised on two high struts ('ha'= teeth) were called ashida and those with low struts were geta. In Edo, geta for men were angular and those for women were roundish. In Kyoto or Osaka, high or low geta were called geta and had rounded shapes for either sex. In the Edo period, geta seem to have been tasteful footwear.
The thong to anchor the feet on geta is made from cloth: informal cloth, not formal.
For some time after the Meiji Restoration, geta were often worn with Western dress but, following the asphalting of roads, this form of footwear, along with Japanese cloth, lost their popularity.
In the last 10 years, both kimono and yukata have seen a revival in popularity, and so, too, have geta. Geta are currently changing in form, so that they are more comfortable to wear and do not hurt your feet.
Up to 60 percent of geta are produced in Matsunaga District, Fukuyama City, in Hiroshima prefecture.