Akeno Kannondo Hall in Yanagisawa Akeno in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, is a hall housing Juichimen Kanzeon (Kannon with 11 faces). The hall and the Kanzeon statue are designated as tangible cultural properties of the city.
It is said that the hall was originally one of the structures composing a temple founded by Priest Gyoki in 732. The principal object of worship, the statue of Juichimen Kanzeon, is said to have been carved by Gyoki himself in the manner called “Itto-Sanrei (three bows for one carving).” The temple was known as the 13th temple of Suruga Ikkoku 30 Holy Places and the 15th Holy Place of Yokomichi Pilgrimage. Presently, the hall is administered by Kodaiji Temple, a temple of the Shingon sect, in the same town.
The present hall is said to have been reconstructed in 1637 under the supervision of Hidari Jingoro, a sculptor and carpenter in the Edo period. The picture of a dragon is drawn on the ceiling in Chinese style, while the front wall has a picture of a heavenly maiden.
In the precinct are the Kaya tree (Torreya nucifera (Linn.) Sieb. et Zucc), 9 m in circumference at the height of eye and the Nagi tree (Podocarpus nagi Zoll. et Moritzi), 3.72 m in circumference at the height of eye, both of which are designated natural monuments of the city.
Jokanji Temple in Matsuzaki Town in Shizuoka Prefecture is a temple belonging to the Honganji denomination of Jodoshinhsu. The principal object of worship is Amida Nyorai. It was founded by the priest Joshin during the Einin era (1293-1299).
The temple had declined since it was burned down in a big fire during the Genroku era (1688-1703) and was revived by the 13th resident priest, Honda Shokan. Jokanji Temple has been famous for its divine power to get rid of evils and bring happiness.
Jokanji Temple is also famous as the place where Chohachi Irie, a plaster artisan in the Meiji period (1868-1912) is buried. Although most of his representative plaster works in Tokyo were lost by Great Kanto Earthquake and fires caused by air raids on Tokyo, some 20 excellent works including Happo-nirami-no-ryu (the Dragon Glaring in Eight Directions) and Hiten (the Heavenly Maiden) are preserved in the main hall of the temple, which is open to the public as Chohachi Memorial Museum. The bronze bust of Chohachi and the stone monument are elected in the precinct.
Tofukuji Temple in Nishiizu Town in Shizuoka Prefecture is a temple of the Rinzai sect. The principal object of worship is Amida Nyorai. It was founded during the Tenpuku era (1233-1234) and originally called Tenpukuji Temple. It was relocated, however, to the present place during the Kagen era (1303-1305) and renamed Tofukuji Temple.
The temple is famous for the frescos of 500 Rakan (Buddha’s disciples) painted on the ceiling of the main hall. The frescos were painted by Toshimitsu Tamura, a Buddhist painter of the Taisho period (1912-1926), who was known as a deep drinker. It is said that it took him 4 years and 8 months to finish the work.
With the dragon in the center, the heavenly maiden at every corner and 500 Rakan surrounding them, this pictorial diagram of the heavenly world is really magnificent. The plastered ceiling and walls give the three dimensional effect to the marvelously colorful paintings.
Shingyoin Temple in the center of Hino Town in Shiga Prefecture is a temple of Jodo sect of Buddhism. It was the family temple of the Gamo clan, which ruled Gamo county from the Muromachi to the end of the Warring States periods (1336-1573).
The temple originates in a small hall built in Komikado Castle in 1349 by Gamo Takahide to enshrine Amida Nyorai. In the later periods, the hall was relocated with the relocation of the clan’s main castle; from Komikado Castle to Otowa and Nakano Castles. When Nakano Castle was abolished after the Battle of Sekigahara, it was relocated again to the present place, where Gamo Sadahide spent his retirement days.
The main hall was constructed in 1739 and it is a prefecturally designated cultural property. The temple also possesses the statue of Kannon carved by the priest Den Eshin. The ceiling of the main hall is decorated with the Japanese painting of a raging dragon painted by Takada Keiho (1674-1755), an artist painter of Kano School from Hino Town.
Dogashima is a scenic spot in the western Isu Peninsula. Facing Suruga Bay, its beautiful coastline is compared to Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture, one of Japan’s Three Finest Views, and it is called “Matsushima in Izu.” Visitors can fully enjoy its dramatic stone formations created by forces of nature.
The highlight of the sightseeing in Dogashima is Tensodo (Skylight Cave) on Kameshima Island in the close offing of the boat pier. The erosion of waves made a tunnel in the rock. The ceiling of the tunnel is open, and it is just like a skylight. The cave is nationally designated as a Natural Monument.
The three islands (Zojima, Nakanoshima and Takashima) in the offing of the coast are generically called “Sanshiro Island.” At low tide, a 30 meter wide natural stone bridge emerges and connects the islands with the mainland shore so that people can walk to the islands. This stone bar is called a “tombolo” and is prefecturally designated as a Natural Monument.
On the hill near the coast is Orchid Resort Dogashima with an area of 9 hectare. Visitors can enjoy various species of orchids of the season both in the greenhouses and in the open air garden.
En no Ozunu is the founder of Shugendou which teaches how to gain mystic powers through ascetic practices in the mountains and, by unifying with nature, to reach Sokushin Joubutsu, attaining enlightenment in one’s present form. As the initiator who first organized the Japanese spiritual doctrine, En no Ozunu has stood out with his enormous influence that still continues today.
He was born in 634 at the foot of Katsuragi Mountain in present day Gose City, Nara Prefecture. He possessed unique talents since childhood teaching himself to carve Buddha statues and learning how to write Sanskrit characters. At the age of seventeen, he left his family home and began spiritual practice in Katsuragi Mountain.
Legend says he spent time with a sennin, a legendary immortal hermit, even chastising Buddha and deities, and became a man of strength who had a demon as his follower. When his supernatural powers became known to the Imperial Court, the Emperor, frightened by his power, ordered him exiled to Izu Ooshima Island.
In his late life, he traveled throughout Japan and visited a number of sacred mountains. Reportedly most of mountains considered sacred mountains today were founded by him. At the age of sixty seven, he passed away while smiling, surrounded by many disciples in Tenjyouga-dake Mountain.
Gion Yasaka Shrine in Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine, which is widely known as “Gion-sama” in the area. Though its origin is not clear, it is said that it was founded in 804 by Sakanoue Tamuramaro.
The shrine had been left desolated for a long time until 940, when it was restored by Fujiwara no Hidesato, who was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Defense of the North and put down the rebellion of Taira no Masakado. The shrine buildings were, however, destroyed by battle fires in the later periods.
It was in 1601 when the shrine was at last restored again by Date Masamune. Since then, it was worshipped as the guardian god of Shida County (present-day Osaki City). During the Edo period (1603-1868), it was revered by the successive domain lords as Ichinomiya (the highest-ranked shrine) among Japan’s three important Gion shrines. The decorative paintings on the ceiling of the main hall were painted during this period.
The annual festival is held in July every year, when the shrine is crowded with people who come to enjoy seeing the mikoshi (portable shrine) parade and the daimyo’s procession.
You will feel the honorable history of the shrine from the solemn atmosphere of the precinct.
Yagura was a weapons storage house in old-day Japan, and yagura with high ceiling was used as a watch tower, which was called monomi (lookout) yagura.
The residence of the Masuda family, who acted as Eitaigaro (the first rank feudatories) of the domain, used to be located in San-no-maru (the 3rd castle) area of Hagi Castle. It was a one-storied house in Irimoya-zukuri style, standing on the stone wall of 1.8 m tall. It functioned as the watch tower to check the visitors going through the Somon Gate.
The Masuda family’s residence was one of “yagura nagaya (a tenement house with the watch tower),” which were constructed at every Somon Gate of the castle. Today, this is the only existing yagura nagaya in this town. Elaborate decorative techniques such as ridge tiles, embellishment of gable pediments and lattice windows can be seen.
The area around the residence is designated as a preservation district for historic site, where many nagaya-mon (the gate of yagura nagaya) remain and create an atmosphere of old-fashioned castle town.