NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/2/16


向羽黒山城 Mukaihaguroyama-jyo Mukaihaguroyama Castle

Jp En

The remains of Mukaihaguroyama Castle are located in Aizumisato in Fukushima Prefecture.

In 1561, the lord of Kuroyama Castle, Ashina Moriuji, started to build Mukaihaguroyama Castle as his retirement castle, taking seven years to complete.

Back in those days, Ashina Moriuji was also famous for uniting all of Aizu. In the east during 1550, Moriuji joined forces with Tamura Takaki, lord of the Miharu Castle, and attacked Asaka-gun, allowing them to become influential in the Sendo region.

Meanwhile, the Satake Family managed to attack and overtake the Nango region. In time, these two groups became enemies. In 1574, Moriuji abandoned Mukaihaguroyama Castle following the death of his eldest son, Shishi Morioki, and returned to Kuroyama Castle. Afterwards, the Ashina Family gradually weakened, and were annihilated by the Date Family.

Currently, the whole mountain where the ruins of the castle remain has been established as the Hakuho Mountain Park. Mukaihaguroyama Castle is an ancient castle which recalls the great accomplishments of the Ashina Family.
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2007/1/30


名越切通 Nagoe-kiridooshi Nagoe-kiridoshi

Jp En

The Nagoe-kiridoshi is an ancient passageway located between Kamakura and Zushi in Kanagawa Prefecture. Kamakura has many kiridoshi: man-made passageways for defensive purposes. The Nagoe-kiridoshi is one of the seven major kiridoshi in Kamakura, and reaches from Boso to Rokuura.

'Nagoe' means 'difficult pass', owing to the fact that the route involved some climbing.

An 'okirigishi', or man-made carved cliff, some 300m long, can also be found in the vicinity. Formerly a rock quarry, it was carved into a barricade with much labor, evidence that the Nagoe-kiridoshi was a vital defensive position.

After the Edo period, the Asaina-kiridoshi was turned into the central road for traffic and, in turn, the Nagoe-kiridoshi was forgotten. This is one of the reasons why it has kept its original form for many years. The Nagoe-kiridoshi is an ancient passageway that has been designated a National Monument, and which even now, retains its distinct historical atmosphere.
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朝夷奈切通 Asaina-kiridooshi Asaina-kiridoshi

Jp En

The Asaina-kiridoshi is an ancient passageway located between Junisho in Kamakura, and Kanazawa-gun in Yokohama, both in Kanagawa Prefecture. The passageway is designated a National Monument.

In Kamakura, there are many passageways for defensive purposes called kiridoshi. The Asaina-kiridoshi connects Kamakura with Kanazawa and Rokuura, and is said to be one of the seven greater kiridoshi in Kamakura.

The name Asaina-kiridoshi comes from Yoshihide Saburo Asaina who, during the 2nd year of the Ninji era (1241) and under the command of Masatoki Hojo, was said to have built the road in a single night.

The road was constructed during a time of dispute between the Hojo and Miura clans. The Hojo clan was in need of a road connecting with the Rokuura port, and leading to Boso without passing through the Miura Peninsula.

The Asaina-kiridoshi still retains its distinct historical atmosphere, and reminds those who walk on it of the culture and life of the Kamakura period.
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2007/1/25


鬼の城 Ki-no-jo Ki jo Castle

Jp En

Kijo Castle is a Korean-style fortress located on the 400m-high peak of Kijo. It is situated in what is today the Okayama Prefecture town of Sōja.

According to the 'History of Kijo', the castle is the origin of ogres, which appear in the legend of Momotaro. The castle is also believed to be the provenance of the same legend. There is a story that Ura, the prince of Baekje, came to Kibi and founded a country. Later he brewed up some mischief, and seized supplies as well as women and children to send to his country. As a result, people were terrified and named Kijo 'the castle of ogres'.

The fortress extends some 2.8km round on land of about 30 hectares. It is a perfect place for hiking, and from the peak, the whole country of Kibi can be seen.
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鬼の差し上げ岩 Onino-sashiageiwa Onino-sashiageiwa Rock

Jp En

There are several sites in the vicinity of Ki Jo Castle in Okayama Prefecture that are associated with the legend of Momotaro. Onino-sashiageiwa Rock is one of them.

In Kyuenji, located 3km away from Ki Jo Castle, are many granite rocks, each with a name. The most representative rock among them is Onino-sashiageiwa, which is 15m long, 5m wide and 5m thick. Usually visitors are astonished by its size. It is said that the name derives from the story that Ura, the legendary ogre, hoisted the rock up to make a shelter underneath. The crater in the rock was made when Ura lifted it. It is said that the name 'Kyuen' is derived from the shelter.
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熊野古道 Kumano-kodou The Ancient Road of Kumano

Jp En

The Ancient Road of Kumano is a beautiful stone-paved road in Higashi-Kishu, Mie Prefecture.

The Ancient Road of Kumano is one of the pilgrimage roads included in the World Heritage's 'Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range'. The road was made for pilgrims to visit the Three Shrines of Kumano, the Grand Shrine of Kumano Hongu, the Grand Shrine of Kumano Hayatama, and the Grand Shrine of Kumano Nachi.

In ancient times, the Kumano area was revered as a holy land where gods and goddesses dwelled, and also as a place of rebirth where the dead gather.

After the Shirakawa Emperor's royal visit to Kumano in 1090, more visitors came to the Three Shrines of Kumano. Visiting Kumano became so popular in the Edo period, that it was known as the 'Kumano ant pilgrimage'.

Due to the separation order of Shinto gods and Buddhist images after the Meiji Restoration, the number of shrines along the Ancient Road of Kumano dropped sharply. The custom of visiting Kumano almost disappeared.

The Ancient Road of Kumano still lives today in the region and is known as the road to Kumano and the place of Pure Land Buddhism and rebirth.
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野方遺跡 Nokata-iseki The Ruins of Nokata Village

Jp En

The ruins of Nokata (Nokata Iseki), in Nishi-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture, show the remains of a village dating from the end of the Yayoi period to the Kofun period. The village was located on a long, fan-shaped plateau, which has an altitude of 17m to 20m, and measures 600m from north to south, and 200m east to west.

During the Yayoi period, the village was surrounded by two moats of different sizes. Within the village were smaller 'kango' (a small village surrounded by a moat), with the bigger kango having as many as 10 dwellings. Within the smaller kango were above-ground warehouses, which stored foods such as grain.

By the Kofun Period, there were more than 300 dwellings here. The burial area was very obviously situated away from the residential area. Many artefacts were excavated from the kango, including earthenware, stone implements and ironware, along with a variety of clam shells and bones from animals, birds, and fish, such as shark, bream and sea bass. Also unearthed were stone coffins filled with mirrors, balls, swords, glass balls and beads.

Nokata Iseki is a great place for people to learn about and envision the daily life of people in ancient Japan, and to capture the history and atmosphere of the past.
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2007/1/23


椋本の大椋 Mukumotono-Oomuku The Giant Aphananthe Tree of Mukumoto

Jp En

The Giant Aphananthe of Mukumoto is located in Geinou-chou, Angei County, Mie Prefecture, and has been designated as a National Natural Monument. As old as 1500 years, the giant aphananthe tree is more than 18 meters high and has a trunk circumference of 8 meters. It is the largest tree in Japan after the Mikazuki-no-muku located in Hyogo Prefecture.

Long ago, there used to be a larger trunk on the northern face of the tree, but it was blown off in strong winds during the Meiji period. Because of this, the trunk is currently only half of what it used to be. The circumference of the trunk at that time is said to have been more than 14 meters.

During the reign of Emperor Saga (809~822), it is said that when Taizen Nozoe and his son, both subjects of the Sei-Taishogun (General) Sakanoue-no-Tamuramaro, were wandering along the Ise Road, they came upon this land, where they found a giant aphananthe tree. They dwelt here temporarily in a tea hut they built right under the tree.

The trunk, which has grown and thickened over many hundreds of years and has its own strong vitality, gives the observer a strong impression and a sense of a mysterious stately presence
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