Ikegami Honmonji Temple located in Ikegami, Ota-ku, Tokyo is a Daihonzan (major head temple) of the Nichiren sect. In 1282, Priest Nichiren, who has suffered from a disease, dropped in at Ikegami Munenaka’s residence in the village of Senzoku (present-day Ikegami) in Musashi province on his way from his home temple in Minobu to a spa in Hitachi province (present-day Ibaraki Pref.). He stayed here for 20 days and passed away. Ikegami Munenka dedicated his premises to Nichiren’s temple, where one of Nichiren’s disciples, Nichiro, established Honmonji Temple.
The five-story pagoda, a nationally designated Important Cultural Property, was constructed in 1607 and survived the air raids in the World War II. It still gives a magnificent impression from season to season. Shoto-en Garden in the north of the precinct is a historic site, where Saigo Takamori and Katsu Kaishu had a conference on the surrender of Edo Castle.
Motegi Castle was built in 1197 by Hatta Tomoie, a younger brother of Utsunomiya Munetsuna, the second generation head of the Utsunomiya clan. Tomoie, setting his base at this castle, announced himself as the founder of the Motegi clan. The Motegi clan served for Ashikaga Takauji and later for Kamakura Kubo (the governor-general of Kamakura, which was handed to the direct descendant of Takauji). In the Battle of Yuuki in 1440, the castle was attacked by Haruoumaru and Anoumaru, the bereaved sons of ex-Kamakura Kubo, who had been driven to death by the Ashikaga Shogunate. The castle was attacked by the Satake clan, the governor of Hitachi province (present-day Ibaraki Pref.) in 1556, and this time the Motegi clan was defeated and acknowledged fealty to the Satake clan. In 1585, the castle was surrendered again by the attack of the Hojo clan, but Motegi Haruyoshi, the 18th generation head of the clan, regained the castle. However, he moved his bases to Ogawa Castle in Hitachi province, and the castle was resided by the Suda clan, a retainer of the Satake clan. Now the castle ruin is arranged into a park, where citizens visit for recreation and relaxation, and enjoy cherry blossoms and azalea in spring, tender green in summer, lycoric flowers and crimson foliage in fall.
The Kuji River with a total length of 527 m is a river classified as Class a river by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The area along the river is 1,490 square meters. The name “Kuji” comes from the place name of Kuji-gun through which it flows. According to an ancient local record “Hitachi Fudoki,” when the emperor of the time saw a small hill in the south and thought it resembled a whale, he named this place “Kuji (coming from kujira meaning a whale).” Along this river, there are a lot of nice places for walking and other aquatic sports and activities. It also provided high quality water to the surrounding towns and cities. With many prefectural parks arranged along the river, this area is visited by a lot of tourists all through the year.
Osugi Festival is held in October every year at Osugi Shrine, which is worshipped by local people as the shrine of Anba-sama and Tengu. This festival is known for the music of Anba-bayashi, composed of the sounds of Japanese traditional gongs, drums and flutes, to which the dancers rhythmically dance around the floats dragged by the people in happi-gowns. Anba-bayashi is designated as a National Selective Intangible Folk Cultural Property. The festival dates back to the reign of the fourth Shogun, Ietsuna (1651-1680), when smallpox prevailed in this area. The villagers prayed for the cease of the epidemic by marching around the village carrying the mask of Tengu, which was the guardian deity of the village shrine. According to an old regional record, Hitachi Fudoki, the place where Osugi Shrine is located used to be called “Anba,” which was on the peninsula protruding out of the huge inner sea including present-day Lake Kasumigaura (Nishi-ura and Kita-ura), the Tone River, Inba-numa Pond, and Tega-numa Pond. At the tip of the peninsula stands a huge Japanese cedar tree, which has been called “Anba-sama” and worshipped by the local people as the guardian deity.
Hizen Kashima Castle was the residence of Kashima Nabeshima family (Kashima Clan with 20,000 koku), a branch clan of Nabeshima Clan in Saga region. Since its establishment in 1610, Kashima Clan had occupied Tsunehiro Castle, which was located in low-lying land and often damaged by flooding. In 1806, the permission to build a new castle was given by the Shogunate at last and Kashima Castle was constructed at the present place. Later in 1878 most structures of the castle were destroyed and burned down during the Saga rebellion. At the present, there remain only two gates of the Otemon and the Akamon. The Akamon is a gate painted in vermillion, built in kirizuma style (with a gable roof) with sangawarabuki (with base tiles), which is now used as the school gate of Kashima Prefectural High School. The Otemon gate is in kirizuma style with hongawarkawarabuki (with formal tiles), which was originally painted in black but now in red. Time went by and now the castle ruin is maintained as a park named Asahigaoka Park, which is famous for cherry blossoms. There are 5000 cherry trees, the largest number in the prefecture. You can enjoy the sight of lit-up cherry blossoms at night. The park is always full of visitors in spring.
Yuki-tsumugi manufactured in and around Yuki City, Ibaragi Pref. is the oldest and most expensive tsumugi (the high-class silk fabrics) in Japan. It was designated as the important intangible cultural heritage in 1956. Its history dates back to the Nara period (710−794). In the Kamakura period it was called Hitachi-tsumugi but it changed the name when the craft received the patronage of the local lord of Yuki. The name of Yuki tsumugi became very popular all through the country when the warriors in the Edo period favored its fine-striped tsumugi. The craft was developed in the modern era and the highest quality of tsumugi was possible due to the progress in **. Yuki tsumugi is light and warm. As you wear it longer, it will more rightly fit in your body. The making of it is divided into many procedures but from its simple appearance we can’t imagine that ingenious master skills are hidden behind it.