Mononofu is an old term for a samurai warrior. It is also a brand name created by a man who loves history. The Mononofu brand expresses the uninhibited and innovative spirit of the Sengoku period or the Warring State period.
Hideki Tanaka, the creator of the brand, boldly joins two seemingly contrary elements: the promotion of modern art and the reproduction of traditional craftwork. Mr. Tanaka, who first saw a collection of unusual kabuto helmets for warriors at the National Museum, was struck by their appearance and this sparked the idea of incorporating their design into a new indie T-shirt business.
Since each of Monofuku’s T-shirts is an expression of the unique creativity and aesthetic sense of its artist, Mr. Tanaka sees parallels in the creation process of both his T-shirts and the kabuto helmets. He believes that, if the samurai warriors were alive today, they would embrace modern designs and materials in their expressions of beauty.
Mt. Himetsugi in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture is a mountain with an altitude of 1433 m above sea level. This mountain is on the route of Tokai Shizen Hodo (the Tokai Nature Path) and is the highest peak on the trail from Aonohara in Tsukui-cho through the mountains of Yakeyama and Kibigarayama to Inukoe Pass.
It is said that the name “Hime-tsugi” is derived from the story that once upon a time a daughter of a samurai, Oyamade Hachizaemon, who had fought on the Takeda forces and was defeated in the Battle of Tenmokusan, escaped from the soldiers of the Nobunaga and Ieyasu’s forces and committed suicide by stabbing a dagger into the throat in this mountain. Since then people called this mountain “Hime-tsuki (literally meaning “stabbing of a highborn girl”), which has been corrupted into “Himetsugi.”
The summit of Mt. Himetsugi has a bright and refreshing atmosphere, where you can command a fine view of Mt. Fuji and Lake Miyagase. The larch forest of this mountain is selected as one of Kanagawa’s 50 Excellent Forests. It provides hikers with fresh green in spring through summer and crimson foliage in fall.
Ichigoyama Castle is located at the eastern peak of Mt. Ushibuse (491 m) in Yoshii-cho, Gunma Pref. It is said that the castle was built in the late Muromachi period (1336-1573) as an attached castle of Hirai Castle, which was resided by the Uesugi clan. Located at the top of such a high peak, the castle is thought to have been used as a base to send smoke signals during the Warring States period (1493-1573). The castle fell in 1563 by the attack of Takeda Shingen. It is presumed that several outer compounds separated by dry moats were constructed but there are almost no ruins remaining now. The area was arranged into Ushibuseyama Natural Park to provide citizens with recreation and relaxation. On the castle ruin stands a three-story mock donjon with a commercial museum of Yoshii-cho on the 1st floor, a historical museum on the 2nd floor, and an observatory on the 3rd floor, from which visitors can command a 360°panoramic view.
This mountain castle is one of the largest in Gunma Pref. It was built some time in the late Muromachi period or the Warring States period. It was first resided by the Obata clan, a retainer of the Uesugi clan, the Kanto Kanrei (the responsible head of the shogun’s executive office in the Kanto region), but after his lord, Uesugi Norimasa, who was attacked by the Hojo clan of Odawara, left Hirai Castle (Fujioka City, Gunma Pref.) in 1552, the Obata clan served for Takeda Shingen as his retainer. In the Battle of Nagashino in 1575, the Obata clan joined Takeda’s cavalry as its leading force. After the Takeda clan was destroyed, the Obata clan served for Oda Nobunaga and expanded its territory. In the Siege of Odawara in 1590, the Obata clan fought to protect Odawara Castle and was defeated by the allied forces of daimyo on Hideyoshi’s side, which led to the dismantlement of Kunimine Castle. The castle area of Kunimine Castle is as huge as 2.5 km from north to south and 2 km from east to west. Time-taking restoration work was given to the residential structures. The remains of castle compounds, vertical moats and front approach are also well preserved.
Inukoeji located in Yamakita-cho, Ashigara-Kami-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture, is a mountain pass at an altitude of 1,050 m. This scenic spot has provided a comfort stop for trekkers since old times.
In the Warring States period (1493-1573), Takeda Shingen in Kai province (present-day Yamanashi Prefecture) extended powers over the area around Tanzawa Mountains. The name of this pass, Inu-koe-ji, meaning “the path that dogs go over” is derived from the legend pertaining to their attacks on the Hojo clan in Odawara. Legend has it that whenever the Takeda forces headed for Odawara, they took this trail with their army dogs leading the steep and dangerous way.
You can command a panoramic view of the west part of Tanzawa Mountains and Mt. Fuji from Inukoeji Pass, which is selected one of the Kanagawa 50 Scenic Places. This tranquil mountain pass is a resting spot for the hikers climbing Mt. Hinokiboramaru and Mt. Omuroyama. Wonderful autumn foliage can be enjoyed in fall.
Shinshoin Temple located in Dai-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo is a Soto sect temple worshipping Shakamuni Nyorai. As one of Hachioji Shichifukujin (the Seven Lucky Deities), it also worships Hotei-son.
The temple is deeply related to Matsuhime, a sixth daughter of Takeda Shingen. Matsuhime was born in 1561. At the age of seven, she was engaged to eleven-year-old Oda Nobutada, a son of Oda Nobunaga. But later, when the Takeda clan and the Oda clan got hostile to each other, the engagement was broken off. When the Oda forces invaded into the territory of Takeda clan in 1582, Matsuhime took refuge to Hachioji, where she visited the priest, Tozan Shunetsu at Shingenji Temple and became a nun with a Buddhist name of Shinsho. It is said that Shinshoin Temple originates in a hermitage where the nun Shinsho lived and spent the rest of her life as a Buddhist.
In the precinct is the nun Shinsho’s grave, which is a city’s designated Historic Site. There are also the wooden model ships used in Hideyoshi’s Korean invasion displayed in the precinct. The temple is thronged with visitors when the ground cherry market is held in July every year.
Haruna Shrine in Harunasan-cho, Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture is a historic shrine located in Mt. Haruna. The enshrined deities are Homusubi no Kami and Haniyamahime no Kami. It is one of the Six Shrines in Kozuke province (present-day Gunma Prefecture). It is said that the shrine was founded during the reign of the 2nd emperor Suizei (reigned 581-549 B.C.) and the shrine building was built in 586.
As the god of rainfall and the holy place for mountain practitioners, it has been visited by a lot of worshippers since the ancient times. From the Nanbokucho Period (1336-1392) onward, it had been affiliated with Ueno Kaneiji Temple in Edo, but according to the separation of Buddhism and Shinto during the Meiji period, the Buddhist colors were discontinued and it was restored to the original shrine.
With a national Natural Monument “Yatate Cedar Tree,” at which Takeda Shingen shot an arrow to pray for his victory and the huge Misugata-Iwa Rock behind the main hall, the precinct is filled with solemn atmosphere.
The six buildings including Honden (the main hall), Haiden (the oratory) and Heiden (the votive offerings hall) are designated as national Important Cultural Properties, and an iron lantern, the Sangaku (Japanese methematical votive tablet) of the Seki school and the documents concerning the shrine are designated as prefectural Important Cultural Properties.
Taba Gorge is located in the upstream of the Taba River running through Tabayama-mura, Kita-Tsuru-gun, Yamanashi Prefecture. As the headstream of the Tama River, the gorge prides itself on plentiful water. There are a lot of scenic spots such as the continuing strange rocks along the rapid stream of Nametoro and Oiranbuchi (Oiran Abyss), which is pertaining to a tragic legend in the Warring States period (1493-1573).
Legend has it that once there was a gold mine near the gorge, which had been the financial source for the Takeda clan. However, when the Takeda forces were defeated by the Oda and Tokugawa allied forces in 1575, they closed the gold mine to keep it secret. To prevent the secret from getting out through the prostitutes working in the mine, they ordered the young girls to dance on the hanging bridge and killed them by cutting the suspending ivy while they were dancing. Oiran Abyss is now a famous psychic spot.
There are no walking trails arranged along the gorge, so visitors will view it from the observatories and the tea houses on the national road, Route 411. The whole mountains and water surface are dyed with crimson foliage in early fall. In the vicinity are Nomekoi-yu Bath House of Tabayama Hot Springs and the 247 m slide, which is the longest in the country. Here, in Taba Gorge, adults and children can spend a magnificent day all together.