Saigyo-an located in Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Nara Pref. is a hermitage, where Saigyo supposedly spent three years. Saigyo (1118-1190) was a great poet in the Heian period and wrote poems for “Shin-Kokin-shu” and “Sanka-shu.” The wooden statue of Saigyo is placed inside the hut. Cherishing the memory of Saigyo, Matsuo Basho visited the hut and composed a poem in 1684. Two stone monuments respectively inscribed with a poem by Saigyo and Basho stand in front of this serene hermitage. Surrounded with cherry blossoms in spring and autumnal foliage in fall, the hermitage will impress you with the wabi-sabi aesthetic and inspire your poetic mind.
A clear water called “Koke-Shimizu” springs out in the vicinity. It is counted as one of 31 Fine Water in Yamato.
Hie Shrine in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, had been the head guardian shrine of 22 villages in the area before the Meiji period (1868-1912). The enshrined deities are Ooyamakui no Kami The guardian god of Mt. Hiei), Oomunachi no Kami and Ootoshigami. It is said that the shrine was founded by Fujiwara no Moromichi’s mother in 1100 in the clan’s manor, which was called “Ooka-sho” at that time.
Fujiwara no Moromichi was a head of the Fujiwara clan and served as Kampaku and Udaijin. Having come into colligion with the Tendai monks in Mt. Hiei, he ordered to attack them in 1095. As some monks were wounded in the battle and this aroused anger of the monks, he was placed a curse and died young in 1099. Thus his mother transferred the three dieties of Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Mt. Hiei to appease the anger of the deities of Mt. Hiei.
Traditionally, the school of Shinto which believes in the guardian deity of Mt. Hiei is called the Sanno (the King of Mountain) Shinto; hereby this shrine is also called “Sanno-sha”. The annual festival held for two days from September 23 every year is popularly called “Sanno-san” by the local people and enjoyed as the representative event of the city that tells of the coming of autumn.
The shrine is also famous for the collection of important old documents including Sanno Reikenki in Shihon-Chakushoku style (paper-based colored), which is a nationally designated Important Cultural Property. In the precinct is a stone monument inscribed with a poem by Matsuo Basho.
A group of stone statues of Kannon stand at the top of Mt. Niragamiyama (94 m) on the outskirts of the Numabe area in Murata Town, Miyagi Prefecture. Mt. Niragamiyama (literally meaning “Chive God Mountain”) was named so because yellow chives grew in the mountain in the old times. The mountain was a battleground during the war between the Northern Fujiwara clan and the forces of Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1189. It is also famous as the place where Matsuo Basho wrote a poem. At the top of the mountain is a stone monument inscribed with a poem written by Fujiwara no Sanekata, a poet in the middle of the Heian period (794-1192). From the observatory at the mountain top, you can command a panoramic view of the Zao Mountain Range and the Shiraishi River.
The 33 Kannon stone statues stand in two rows near the observatory. They were dedicated and erected by several local worshippers in 1846 by modeling after the Saigoku 33 Pilgrim Route. You will feel the contributors’ simple but faithful religious devotion from these old stone statues.
The Mutsukami-kaido Road connects Ichinoseki on the Oshu-kaido Road and the Dewa-kaido Road via Kurikoma, Ichihasama-Masaka and Iwadeyama. It is a nationally designated Historic Site. The road is well-known as the ancient route of the Oku no Hosomichi, which Basho Matsuo used on a Haiku journey coming back from Hiraizumi in 1686. Currently, this ancient route has been partly paved with stones and restored, but still remains quiet, surrounded with old trees. The name “Oku-no-hosomich (the narrow road to the deep north)” sounds just apposite. It reminds us of good old days.
Kameoka Hachiman Shrine is a historic shrine in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. It originates in the shrine founded in present Yanagawa in Date City, Fukushima Prefecture, during the Bunchi era (1185-1189) by Date Tomomune, the founder of the Date clan, by transferring the deity of Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura. Later in 1681, it was relocated to its present location by Date Tsunamura, the 4th lord of the Sendai domain.
All the shrine structures and votive offerings except the torii gate and the stone steps were burned down by the fire at Sendai Air Raid in 1945. The present shrine pavilions including Honden (the main hall), Haiden (the oratory) and Heiden (the offering hall) were built in 1965.
Only the torii gate and the long stone steps leading to the precinct still retain some remnants of what it used to be. At the foot of the stone steps are the vermillion painted bridge and a huge and old weeping cherry tree, which is a municipally designated protected tree. Going up the long old stone steps, which Matsuo Basho also climbed more than 300 years ago, you can’t help but think of the ancient people’s holy devotions and love for nature.
Toyoma Shrine at the top of Mt. Teraike Dobayama in Toyoma Town, Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine that has been worshipped by local people for nearly 1,000 years. The enshrined deities are Emperor Ojin and Takorihime no Mikoto.
It is said that the history of the shrine dates back to 1062, when Minamoto no Yoshiie transferred the deity from Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine in Kyoto to Mt. Hemuroyama (later called Hachimanzaki), where his father had offered a prayer for his victory before he fought with the forces of the Abe clan, which is known as “Zen Kunen no Eki” or Earlier Nine Years’ War (1051-1062).
Later during the Warring States period, the Kasai clan ruled this area and they faithfully revered the shrine as the guardian god of their family and the seven counties in their territory. In 1590, when the Kasai clan was destroyed, Date Munenao, who was enfeoffed with this area by Date Masamune and became the founder of the Toyoma Date clan, relocated the shrine from Hachimanzaki to the foot of Mt. Teraike Dobayama. Date Muranaga, the 6th lord of Toyoma, built a new shrine building at the top of the mountain and revered as the guardian god of his family. In 1846, it was renamed Toyoma Shrine.
In the precinct is the stone monument inscribed with a poem written by Matsuo Basho erected in 1770. In September every year, an annual festival is held, in which the gorgeous procession of mikoshi, floats and warriors is performed.
The grave of Fujiwara no Sanekata Ason is in Medeshima-Shiote, Natori, Miyagi Prefecture. Fujiwara no Sanekata is known as a young Heian period nobleman who was good-looking and gracious. Also, he is known as the model of the character Hikari Genji in the classic 'The Tale of Genji'. Moreover, he is counted among the Thirty-six Poet Immortals.
In 955, he was banished for striking a rival poet, Fujiwara no Yukinari, on the head in front of the emperor. He received a royal command to travel to see the old ruins in several areas. In 998, he is said to have fallen from his horse and died.
Later, the poet Matsuo Basho visited this site and sang a song here. Nearby is a monument commemorating Basho's visit. The small grave of Fujiwara no Sanekata stands alone within the tranquil forest.
Narumi-juku was the 40th of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road, which connected Edo (present-day Tokyo) and Kyoto in the Edo period (1603-1868). It was located in current Narumi-cho, Midori-ku, Nagoya City in Aichi Prefecture. Narumi-juku thrived on tie-dyed cotton fabric that was produced in Arimatsu located between Narumi-juku and the next post station, Chiryu-juku. Many shops selling tie-dyed cotton products stood along the road, which was depicted in Ando Hiroshige’s “The Fifty-three Post Stations of the Tokaido Road.”
In Seiganji Temple in the town stands the oldest stone monument in memory of the master poet, Matsuo Basho. The old battle field of Okehazama, where Oda Nobunaga established his reputation in the Warring States period (1493-1573), is located just past this town.
Having traveled about 350 km from Edo, a traveler in tie-dyed haori coat might have set out for the 13 km walk to the next Miya-juku post station, thinking of the remains of the warriors’ dreams as Basho did. This must have been a divine favor that only a traveler can enjoy.