Kaijo Park is located on the site of Yamagata Castle, in Yamagata. Recently, strong efforts have been made to complete renovation of the castle. On the 100th anniversary of the founding of Yamagata City, the Ote gateway to the castle was renovated and is being exhibited twice a year.
In 1356, Shiba Kaneyori built defensive stockades, which became the foundations of Yamagata Castle. From 1592, Mogami Yoshiaki, his descendant, remodeled it over 13 years and completed the present castle's form. After he started ruling his territory of 570,000 goku (a unit of land that can produce enough rice for one person per year), 12 custodians took over from him.
The remaining stone walls and moats give an indication of the original castle. Within the castle grounds is a structure called Saisei-kan that shows a Western style different to the other buildings.
Now, the park is famous as a place to view cherry blossoms and enjoy hanami parties in spring.
Running from the moat of Hikone Castle to Kyobashi bridge there is a straight road that goes over the old Middle moats within the castle grounds.
This road reflects the tradition of this castle town, with its black latticed windows, wing walls, white walls and eaves. While the area has been carefully protected, the people's lives are not so visible, such as along the area known today as Old New Town, Yumekyobashi Castle Road.
Honmachi, in Hikone, where this street is located, became a castle town in 1603 at the same time as Hikone Castle was completed. The historical town has 6-meter-wide roads, giving a taste of the past.
In 1985, city planners commenced renovation of this road, realising its historical importance. In 1999, renovation and repairs were completed and the Honmachi area was reborn as Yumekyobashi Castle Road.
The road has been decorated with images of Hikone 'karuta' (local playing cards), which lend an extra tasteful element to the road as you walk along it.
The region around Hikita, Higashikagawa, Kagawa Prefecture, formerly a castle town, was where Hikita castle once stood.
Hikita Castle was built by Ikoma Chikamasa, a general who played an active part during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. Today, only the slight remains of the castle walls are evident at the site.
Hikita is known for its manufacturing of soy sauce. The Sano Family's Izutsuya store, the Okada Family's Kamebishiya store and the Kusaka Family's Daishoya store were run by three successful and wealthy merchant families who were called the Hikita Gosanke (Hikita's big three merchants). The estates of these three merchants and private houses from the Edo period still remain. Many kinds of stores can be seen within the renovated kyuu-Izutsu-yashiki. A Kamebishiya, situated to the north of the Izutsu-yashiki, stands out from the rest of the buildings with its tiled roof and red walls. By walking to the south of the town, the majestic gate to the estate of the Hikita family can be seen, and in front of that, is the old Hikita post office. Compared to the long row houses seen in the town, the post office is built in a Taisho modern style, with its distinct octagonal windows positioned in an orderly line.
The scenery and the distinct atmosphere created by the buildings of Hikita help communicate the history of the town without leaving anything behind.
The Kumagai family were influential and important merchants during the second half of the Edo period (early 19th century). Their old residence is in the town of Omori, Ota-shi, Shimane Prefecture. In those days, the residence was also used to receive officers of the daimyo (feudal lords) and junkenshi (ambassador/inspectors from the Shogun).
Because of severe deterioration of the house, it has been undergoing some renovation since December 2001.
The Kumagaike Family Residence has been designated an Important Cultural Property of Japan and is the largest existing residence of a wealthy merchant within a preserved residential area. The total area of the residence is about 1,500m2. The main building is a two-story wooden house of 30 rooms, with an area totaling about 265m2 (160 jyo). Within the compound, there are five warehouses for storing rice and other miscellany.
The building itself is astonishing, with elaborate interior decorations, such as 'fusuma' (sliding doors) with a cloud design called 'kumo-tatewaki-monyou'; and 'yoshido' (matchstick blinds), which let in cool, comfortable breezes in summer.
Around 3,300 articles have been donated to Ota-shi from Kumagaike. Many ancient pieces of literature have also been found on site and are being examined and analyzed.
Currently, the house is exhibiting many articles, which were actually used during that time, and which show the actual lifestyles of people at that time.
Nambu Sakiori is a weaving technique handed down in Nambu district, Aomori Pref. It was designated a prefectural Traditional Craft Product. In the Edo period (1603−1867), when the clothes were very precious, Sakiori weaving was developed as a kind of recycling technique by which outworn old cloth was torn into thread and weave it as a new cloth by a hand loom. This durable and warm cloth is characterized by the colorful and complex texture. The women living in the north land might have wished to bring bright colors into a dark and cold room. The Sakiori woven cloth was originally used for making coverlets for a kotatsu (heater-table) or obi (a sash belt), but now in the modern life it is also used for many daily items such as table cloth and bags.
“Wafuuya” sells goods and modern merchandise that have been reworked from used fabrics and materials such as kimono and obi-belts. Oranku-Koubou is a store in Osaka that started to sell online as “Wafuuya” and has been gaining in popularity all over the country.
The store sells bags as well as interior, home and kitchen-ware. There is a wide range of products that are not stereotypically “Japanese-style, and include maternity passbook cases and room shoes, too. Their modern and elegant designs recall the Taisho romantic style and also look back to the Showa period.
Wafuuya also remakes old kimonos that have passed from generation to generation. By bringing these back to life, it’s possible to create a fascinating and unique look.