Kazan Shrine located at the ruins site of Demaru (the outermost compound) of Tahara Castle in Tahara City, Aichi Prefecture is a shrine enshrining Watanabe Kazan, a Japanese painter, scholar and the senior councilor of the Tahara domain in the late Edo period (1603-1868).
The local people planned to build a shrine to honor Kazan’s virtuousness in 1941; however, as it was during World War II, they could not commence the construction. In 1946, they bought a temporary pavilion used for a shrine in Inasa Town in Shizuoka Prefecture and founded Kazan Shrine at the present site. The shrine pavilion was destroyed by Ise Bay Typhoon in 1959 and reconstructed later.
Born at Kamiyashiki (the main resident) of the Tahara domain in Edo in 1793, he first served the domain lord’s little son at the age of eight. He started to learn Confucianism of Mencius and Zhu Xi at the age of 13 and became a great scholar in Confucianism as well as Rangaku (Western learning), from which it is believed that the one who visits this shrine will be able to improve his /her learning ability.
On the memorial day of Kazan on October 11, the annual festival is held at this shrine. The memorial service is held in front of Kazan’s grave located in Johoji Temple in the city and the Shinto ritual is performed at Kazan Shrine. Kazan’s portrait is drawn on the Ema-plates provided at the shrine.
Toridejuku was a post station on the Mito Road in the Edo period (1603-1868). In1687, the residence of the Someno family, Nanushi (village officer) of Toridejuku, was designated as honjin (the inn for the nobility and daimyo) by the Mito Tokugawa clan. The original building was burned down by fire in 1794 and the existing main building was built in the next year.
It is a large-scale private house in Yosemune-zukuri style, with 19 m wide and 13.3 m deep. The bargeboard on the Irimoya-styled roof (hip-and-gable roof) over the wooden step at the entrance hall gives a dignified impression. The inside of the residence was divided into two sections; the honjin section for lodging and the private section. As did the formal honjin, the honjin section had Jodan-no ma, which was the special room for the nobility and daimyo, and the suite of three rooms.
In the garden stands a stone monument inscribed with a poem written by Tokugawa Nariaki, the 9th lord of the Mito domain, in 1840, when he was on a boat going down the Tone River on his way back to Mito. The stone monument was later presented to the Someno family from the Mito domain, which shows the close connection between the Mito Tokugawa clan and the Someno family.
Kami-Kawasaki washi paper is a traditional handicraft in Kami-kawasaki, Nihonmatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture. It is designated as a prefecture’s Important Intangible Cultural Property.
The making of this paper dates back more than 1,000 years to the era reigned by Emperor Reizei (967-969). During the Heian period (794-1192), the paper from Kami-Kawasaki was highly valued by nobles as “the paper from the Deep North.” It is said that “Mayumi-gami,” which was praised by the famous female writers, Murasaki Shikibu and Seisho Nagon, was made in this town.
In the Edo period, the Niwa clan, the lord of the Nihonmatsu domain, promoted washi making and gave the town a license to produce paper, which led to the development of the present handmade washi paper industry.
Locally grown paper mulberry and tororo-aoi (the forming aid made from the roots of the tororo plant) are used as materials. Kami-Kawasaki washi paper has been made in the same processes and techniques of manufacture as was written in the Kamisuki Chohoki (the handbook of paper making) written in 1798.
Tanabu Festival held on August 18 to 20 in Mutsu City in Aomori Prefecture is the largest summer festival in the Shimokita region. It serves as the annual festival of Tanabu Shrine, designated as the shrine housing the head guardian god of the region in the Edo period (1603-1868). The festival is prefecturally designated as an intangible folk cultural peroperty.
The origin of the festival is unknown; however, as Tanabu Festival is referred to in the travel diary written in 1793 by Masumi Sugae, a natural historian in the Edo period, it is believed that the festival began in much earlier eras.
The five floats lacquered in black and gorgeously decorated in the style of Gion Festival in Kyoto are brought from five sub-towns of Tanabe Town for the parade through the city. The floats have two stories; the deity of each sub-town is enshrined on the upper story, while the Ohayashi musicians called “Noriko (men who ride on)” are playing elegant Gion-bayashi on the lower story.
The highlight of the festival is “Goshawakare (the farewell parting of the five floats),” which takes place at 11 P.M. on the night of August 20. The five floats leave the shrine for the main crossroad of the town, where float-pullers and spectators are entertained with sake in a barrel and promise to hold the festival again in the following year; then they return to their own neighborhood.
The deer dance and the sword dance are traditional folk performing arts handed down in Izumi-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. The sword dance was introduced to this area in 1649 and the deer dance in 1792. The two dances have been handed down as one set of performing art.
Originally, both of the dances were performed to pray for the repose of ancestors’ souls, but later the deer dance has come to be danced for prevention of natural disasters and a rich harvest and the sword dance for driving away evils and bringing peace and stability to their land.
Several features of the old Shugendo religious style can be found in costumes, ohayashi music, dancing, chanting and movements of these dances. It is said that many of the similar dances spreading in the southern part of Iwate Prefecture and the northern part of Miyagi Prefecture have their origins in these dances. A lot of same features can be also seen in the deer dance handed down in Uwajima City in Ehime Prefecture, which was introduced by Date Hidemune, who was transferred to the Uwajima domain in 1615.
Kiryu Tenmangu Shrine in Tenjin-cho, Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture is a historic shrine founded during the reign of Emperor Keiko (reigned 71-130) as Isobe Myojin Shrine. The enshrined deities are Amenohohi no Mikoto and Sugawara no Michizane. Later in the Kan'o era (around 1350), it was relocated to the present place, where the deity of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto was transferred, and renamed Kiryu Tenmangu Shrine. The shrine thrived during the Edo period (1603-1868), when it was designated as the oratory of the Tokugawa family and the textile fair was regularly held in the precinct.
The shrine building was constructed in 1793. As is called “the shrine on the rock,” its Honden (the main hall) and Heiden (the votive offerings hall) stand on the rock stratum. All the main buildings of the shrine (Honden, Heiden and Haiden) are collectively designated as a prefectural Important Cultural Property “Shaden (shrine buildings) of Kiryu Tenmangu” in that the best techniques in architecture decoration of the time were gathered in those buildings.
Saifukuji Temple in Kariya City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect. It is a historic temple founded by Kobo Daishi Kukai. The principal object of worship is Amida Nyorai. It is the 2nd temple of the Mikawa 3 Kobo Holy Temples.
It is said that Kobo Daishi carved the three self-portrait statues and founded three temples in this area in 822. The statue housed at Saifukuji Temple is popularly called “Miokuri (Seeing-Off) Kobo Daishi.”
During the Kansei era (1460-1463), Saifukuji Temple and the adjacent Unryoin Temple were destroyed by fire, after which the two temples were left unrestored and the principal images were placed in Kusayoshi-do Hall in the vicinity. In 1595, the priest Denshi Tekko restored the temple, which was named Unryoin Saifukuji Temple.
The present main hall was constructed in 1789. Beautifully trimmed pine trees surround the hall and the front approach. Next to the main gate stands a small hall housing Daikokuten, the god of happiness.
Nio Dragon Festival is a traditional event held every August in Nio Town in Mitoyo City, Kagawa Prefecture. It originates in a dragon parade to pray for rain about 200 years ago. Blocked by the mountains in the southern side, the area had been suffered from little rain and water shortage since the ancient times.
In 1799, taking an advice from a priest of a nearby temple, the villagers made a huge straw dragon with bamboo frames and walked through the village in hope for rain. The event was discontinued for some time but revived by the hands of local volunteers in 1988 and has been held every year since then.
This huge dragon, about 35 meters in length and over 3 tons in weight, is carried by 150 men. With participants chanting, “So-re, tatsu ni mizu abuse! (Heave ho! Shower the dragon with water!),” the dragon goes through the town, soaked with water thrown by people along the street.