Go-ishi or Go stones are black and white stones used for “Go”, a Japanese traditional board game that originated in China. Hyuga Clam Go Stones are Go stones produced in the Hyuga region, made from clamshells.
Prior to the Meiji period, stones, wood, and gems were generally used to make Go stones.
In the beginning of the Meiji period, Go-ishi makers in Oosaka began to use clams for Go stones in the Kuwana region of Mikawa. Due to vigorous production, however, clams in the region became scarce and Go-ishi makers had to look elsewhere for supplies.
Eventually Go-ishi makers found an abundant source of good clams in the Hyuga region and, as a result, all go-ishi makers in Oosaka started using them.
Around 1908, Seikichi Harada, who was from the Hyuga region and who had been trained as a Go-ishi maker in Oosaka, decided to go back to his home town where he and his workmate, Eijirou Ogawa, began producing Go stones. Due to their tireless efforts, Go-ishi making increased and it became one of the most important local businesses.
Hyuga is now the production center of clamshell Go stones in Japan. Its Go-ishi making techniques, mastered over the years, are highly regarded even outside of Japan.
Hyuga Clam Go Stones are the highest quality of Go-ishi in every respect, due to their fine texture, color, gloss and shape.
Hie Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. The enshrined deoty is Oyamakui-no-kami, the god of Mount Hie in Shiga prefecture. It is said that when Ota Dokan constructed Edo Castle in 1478, he erected a Sanno-Hie Shrine in the compound for a guardian deity of the castle. When Tokugawa Ieyasu was enfeoffed with Edo (present-day Tokyo), he relocated it to the grounds of Edo Castle, and worshipped the deity as the protector of Edo. The citizens of Edo also had strong faith in Hie Shrine as the founding god of their town. In 1607, when Ieyasu’s son, Tokugawa Hidetada, planned to make improvement on the castle, he moved the shrine out, so the people of Edo could worship there.
Sanno Festival held in June every year is one of the three great festivals of Edo; the others are Kanda Festival at Kanda Shrine in Chuo-ku and Fukagawa Hachiman Festival at Tomioka Hachiman Shrine in Fukagawa in Koto-ku. In the Edo period (1603-1868), Sanno Festival and Kanda Festival were also called “Tenka Matsuri,” which means the Shogun’s Festival, because the festivals were protected by the Tokugawa Shogunate and the festival processions were allowed to enter the grounds of Edo Castle for the Shogun to view them.
The high-spiritted Edokko (natives to Edo) would have said, “Sanno Festival is too refined, isn’t it?” Any way, why don’t you try experiencing one of these great festivals of Edo, if you have time?
Yukura Shrine is located in Yukawa-cho, Hakodate City, Hokkaido. The enshrined deities are Oanamuchi no Mikoto and Sukunahikona no Kami. The shrine is said to have been founded in 1617.
In 1653, Matsumae Takahiro, the little son of Matsumae Ujihiro, the lord of the Matsumae domain, was suffering from a serious illness. His mother, Seiryoin, got a revelation in a dream telling her to put her son in the hot spring in the precinct of this shrine. When she did as she was told, Takahiro completely recovered from his illness. In the next year, the Matsumae clan constructed the main hall and dedicated some treasures including a golden statue of Yakushi Nyorai and a bronze-made Waniguchi (a metal gong) in token of their gratitude.
The shrine is also believed to be the guardian of the hot spring town of Yukawa. To the left of the main hall stands a stone monument inscribed with the words “the Birthplace of Yukawa Hot Spring” and its history. Covered with huge ginkgo trees and other greenwood, there is a tranquil atmosphere in the precinct.
Hokkaido Jingu Shrine located in Miyagaoka, Chuo-ku, Sapporo City is one of the major shrines in Hokkaido. The enshrined deities are Okunitama no Kami, Onamuchi no Kami, Sukunahikona no Kami and Emperor Meiji. It was founded in 1869, when the Meiji government decided to set on the development of the land in Hokkaido and they enshrined the three deities to guard the land. In 1871, the name of this new shrine was decided as Sapporo Shrine and the construction of the buildings started. Since then the shrine has been worshipped as the guardian god of Hokkaido as well as the family god of the people living in this island. In 1964, Emperor Meiji was enshrined together and it changed the name to Hokkaido Jingu Shrine.
The precinct is known as a cherry blossom viewing spot. On the annual festival day in June, mikoshi and floats with ohayashi musicians parade in the city. The shrine is selected as “the New Ichinomiya Shrine of Ezo Province (literally meaning “a modern version of the first shrine of Ezo province)” by a civilian shrine pilgrimage group named Zenkoku Ichinomiya-Kai.
Nakatsu Bansho-en is a wonderful daimyo garden located on the beach at the river mouth of the Kanakura River, which runs through Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture. It was built in 1688 by the 2nd lord of the Marugame domain, Kyogoku Takatoyo as a villa called “Nakatsu Bekkan”
There are about 1,500 pine trees including a 600-yea-old large stone pine. With 8 islets respectively named “Sail,” “Goose,” “Snow,” “Rain,” “Mist on a Fine Day,” “Moon,” and “the Evening Glow” set out in the pond, this strolling garden was constructed to emulate the Eight Fine Views in Omi (present-day Shiga Prefecture), which was the hometown of the Kyogoku family.
There are the main house and the tea house by the pond. In the garden are also Marugame Museum, where paintings of the Barbizon School and Japanese-style paintings are exhibited, Porcelain Center of the 13th century pottery works, and Hiina Doll House, where hina-dolls, combs and Japanese hair pins are displayed.
Chasen is one of the utensils of the Japanese tea ceremony. It is a bamboo whisk to mix matcha with hot water evenly in a bowl and make it foamy. There are about 120 kinds of chasen with variety of shapes, materials and the number of ears at the head. Which chasen to select depends on a school of tea ceremony or a tea master’s preference. Basically there are two kinds of chasen; Kazuho, which has thin and sparse ear at the head, is used for usucha (thin tea), while Araho, which has thick and dense ear at the head, is used for koicha (thin tea). To use a chasen in a formal manner, one holds a chawan (tea bowl) with the non-dominant hand and holds a bamboo handle of chasen with a thumb, the index finger and the middle finger of the dominant hand. Here, we can see emphasis on the formal beauty that is in common with calligraphy. Chasen is an indispensable tool for Japanese tea ceremony culture.
Kakinomoto Shrine in Kakinomoto, Katsuragi City, Nara Pref. is one of the sessha shrines (attached shrines) of Kakinomoto Honsha Shrine in Masuda City, Shimane Pref. It enshrines Kakinomoto Hitomaro, a poet in Manyoshu. As one of the legends concerning Kakinomoto Hitomaro found all over Japan, it is said that he was born here in Kakinomoto village. It is also said that he died in Iwami province (present-day Shimane Pref.) and later in 770, his body was reburied here. Kakinomoto Hitomaro was a poet and aristocrat of the Nara period (701-794). With the sophisticated poetry style, he is said to be the greatest lyric poet in Manyoshu and was counted as one of the 36 great poets in Japan in the later period. His grave located to the left of the main hall was built in the Edo period.
The temple next to the shrine is an attached temple, Keigenji Temple, which is called Kakinomoto-dera. The wooden statue of Kakinomoto Hitomaro curved by Buddhist archbishop Sinzei is placed in the main hall but it is not open to public.
Kakinomoto Shrine in Nara is a historic shrine pertaining to the great poet in ancient Japan.
Rokutanji Temple located at the foot of Mt. Nijo in Taishi-cho, Minami-Kawachi-gun, Osaka Pref. is the oldest rock-cut temple in Japan. In the Nara period (710-794), the temple was created by carving natural tuff rock bed. At the center of the precinct stands a 13-story stone pagoda. The sitting images of Nyorai Sanzon-butsu (Nyorai Triad) are carved in line on the rock in the alcove hollowed in the eastern cliff. The head and chest of the Nyorai on the left have already been weathered away. Although a lot of rock-cut temples ruins are found in the Asian continent, they are rare in Japan. Rokutanji Temple ruin is one of those rare rock cave temple of Japan’s ancient Buddhism.