Numata Castle was located in Numata City, Gunma Pref. It is said to have been built by Bankisai Akiyasu, the 12th generation head of the Numata clan. The castle was called Kurauchi Castle in those days. As it stands at the strategic spot on the way to Kanto region, a lot of battles to capture this castle were fought among warring lords such as the Uesugi clan of Echigo region (present-day Niigata Pref.), the Hojo clan of Odawara, and the Takeda clan of Kai province (present-day Yamanashi Pref.). In the Edo period, this area came under control of the Sanada clan. Sanada Yukinobu started its modification work in 1597, and in several years it was modified into an early modern-styled castle with the five-story donjon, Ninomaru (the second castle), Sannomaru (the third castle), and the stone walls, which were rear for Kanto region. At the present time, only a part of stone walls and moats remains, which remind us of the ancient times. In spring, a 400-year-old cherry tree called “Goten-zakura (palace cherry tree)” is in full bloom. It looks as if it were talking of rise and fall of the castle.
This mountain castle is one of the largest in Gunma Pref. It was built some time in the late Muromachi period or the Warring States period. It was first resided by the Obata clan, a retainer of the Uesugi clan, the Kanto Kanrei (the responsible head of the shogun’s executive office in the Kanto region), but after his lord, Uesugi Norimasa, who was attacked by the Hojo clan of Odawara, left Hirai Castle (Fujioka City, Gunma Pref.) in 1552, the Obata clan served for Takeda Shingen as his retainer. In the Battle of Nagashino in 1575, the Obata clan joined Takeda’s cavalry as its leading force. After the Takeda clan was destroyed, the Obata clan served for Oda Nobunaga and expanded its territory. In the Siege of Odawara in 1590, the Obata clan fought to protect Odawara Castle and was defeated by the allied forces of daimyo on Hideyoshi’s side, which led to the dismantlement of Kunimine Castle. The castle area of Kunimine Castle is as huge as 2.5 km from north to south and 2 km from east to west. Time-taking restoration work was given to the residential structures. The remains of castle compounds, vertical moats and front approach are also well preserved.
Gion Castle was resided by the Oyama clan, which gained prosperity in the area around present-day Oyama City, Tochigi Pref. from the time of Genpei War (1180-1185) through the end of the Warring States period (the late 16th century). The time of its construction is unknown, but it is referred to in the historical record written in the 14th century. The name “Gion” is said to have been derived from the name of the shrine, Gion-sha (present-day Suga Shrine), which was worshipped as the guard of the castle. The Oyama clan moved to this castle in the early Warring States period (the 15th century). The castle was an important base for the clan to fight battles in the Kanto region. Assigned as the governor of Shimotsuke province (present-day Tochigi Pref.), the Oyama clan wielded power in this region; however the clan was involved in the conflict with the Hojo clan and was finally destroyed by the Hojo clan in the Warring States period. In 1619, when Honda Masazumi, the castellan at the time, was promoted to the domain lord of Utsunomiya province, Gion Castle was dismantled. At the present time, the castle ruin is improved into a park and provides citizens with the place of recreation and relaxation. It is also known as a cherry blossom viewing spot.
Kongozanmaiin Temple in Mt. Koya in Wakayama Prefecture is the Bakkaku-Honzan (extra-status cathedral) of the Shingon sect. The principal object of worship is Aizen Myoo. It is the 11th of the 18 Holy Places of Butto-koji (Old Temples with Pagodas) and the 17th Holy Place of Saigoku Aizen Myoo Pilgrimage. .
The temple was founded in 1211 as Zenjoin Temple by the plea of Hojo Masako to hold memorial services for her husband, Minamoto no Yoritomo. In 1223, when Masako died with the Buddhist name of Zenjo Nyojitsu, the temple changed its name to the present name.
Tahoto pagoda was constructed by the order of Masako and under the supervision of the Zen monk Kakuchi. It is a 14.9 m tall pagoda with Japanese cypress-bark roof. The first story is not very tall and the second story has the stability. It is the second oldest Tahoto pagoda and counted as one of the three finest Tahoto pagodas in Japan. It is designated as a National Treasure.
The pagoda houses the statue of Gochi Nyorai, which is a nationally designated Important Cultural Property.
Okiku Inari Shrine in Shinmachi, Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture is a shrine with legends associated with a fox. In the battle of Kannagawa in 1582, the Hojo clan won a victory after a white fox appeared, which they appreciated and founded an Inari shrine at this place.
Another legend has it that, during the Horeki era (1751-1763), a girl named Okiku was working in Daikoku-ya, an inn in Ochiai-shinmachi-juku post town. She was a very beautiful and amiable girl but fell ill and was confined to her bed in a small hut behind the shrine for three years. One night, the spirit of Inari stood at the head of her bed. After this, Okiku got over form her illness by a miracle, which she appreciated and devoted herself to the service of the shrine. Thereby people began to call the shrine Okiku Inari.
Nawa Shrine in Daisen-cho, Saihaku-gun, Tottori Prefecture was built by Ikeda Mitsunaka, the lord of the Tottori domain, in the late 17th century to enshrine Nawa Nagatoshi and his 42 kin men. Nawa Nagatoshi fought for Emperor Go-Daigo, who had been exiled to Oki Island by the Hojo clan, Regent of the Kamakura Shogunate. After the emperor’s forces defeated the Kamakura forces, he was enfeoffed with Hoki province (present-day Tottori Prefecture). Later in the Northern and Southern Courts period (1336-1392), he again sided with Emperor Go-Daigo and fought with The Ashikaga forces. He was defeated and killed in the battle of Ichijo-Omiya in Kyoto in 1336.
The shrine was relocated to the present place in 1883. The southern side of the shrine is arranged into Nawa Park, where about 300 cherry trees bloom in spring. The cherry blossoms together with Mt. Daisen and Mt. Senjosan in the mist create fantastic landscape.
Minowa Castle located in Minowa-cho, Takasaki City, Gunma Pref. is one of the largest medieval castles in the prefecture. The castle was built in 1526 (during the Warring States period) by Nagano Narihisa, a powerful clan in Nagano Village in Kozuke province (present-day Gunma Pref.). The Nagano clan had long served as a powerful retainer of the Uesugi clan, the Kanto Kanrei (the responsible head of the shogun’s executive office in the Kanto region). Nagano Narihisa served for Uesugi Norimasa as his right-hand man and supported him to his last breath. He also expanded his power by making kin relationship and exerting leadership and become the most powerful clan in the western part of Kozuke province. Later his son Narimori resided in the castle, but in 1566 it was attacked by Takeda Shingen and the Nagano clan was brought to extinction. Since then the castle was resided by the retainers of the Takeda clan, the retainers of Oda Nobunaga, and the Hojo clan. Finally, the castle was given to Ii Naomasa, one of the four powerful retainers of Tokugawa Ieyasu, in 1590, but its 72 years of history ended in 1598, when Naomasa moved to Takasaki Castle. The castle area covers as large as 47 ha, where stone walls, earthworks and dry moats now remain.
The origin of Maebashi Castle was Mayabashi Castle built in 1534 by Nagano Katatada, a clansman of the Nagano clan, who was the castellan of Minowa Castle. A lot of battles to capture this castle were fought among vital warlords from the Warring States period through the Edo period. In 1551, when the Uesugi clan was defeated by the Hojo clan, Kozuke province (present-day Gunma Pref.) came under the control of the Hojo clan and so did Mayabashi Castle. Later in 1560, Uesugi Kenshin, who had watched his time to restore his power, attacked this castle and seized it. Since then the castle was resided by a lot of castellans including the Takeda clan in Kai province (present-day Yamanashi Pref.), Oda Nobunaga, the Hojo clan, the Hiraiwa clan, and the Sakai clan. In 1601, when Sakai Shigetada modified it into an early modern-styled castle, he changed its name to Maebashi Castle. Since then 9 generations of the Sakai clan resided in the castle for 150 years, but in 1749 the Sakai clan was feoffed the Himeji domain and, instead, the Matsudaira clan, who was feoffed the Maebashi domain with 170,000 koku, resided here till the Meiji Restoration.