NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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松崎町 厳島神社 Matsuzaki-chou Itsukushima-jinja Itsukushima Shrine in Matsuzaki

Jp En

Itsukushima Shrine in Ena in Matsuzaki Town, Shizuoka Prefecture, is faithfully worshipped by local people, being popularly called “Benten-san.” The enshrined deity is Ichikishimahime no Mikoto, a deity of water, which was traditionally fused with Benzaiten, one of the Seven Gods of Fortune.

The shrine is atop the 100 stone steps directly starting from the beach in the cape called Kyotaijima (Giant Sea-beam Island) or Benten-jima (Benten Island), which is located to the north of Matsuzaki Beach.

It is said that the shrine is founded in 1525 and the door of the main hall is opened once every 60 years. The last time it was opened was in 1992. The annual festival is held on April 3 every year.

The colony of oak trees (Quercus phillyraeoides A.Gray) in Kyotaijima Cape is designated as a natural monument by the town.
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観音寺と神恵院 Kanonji-to-Shinkeiin Jin’nein and Kannonji Temples

Jp En

Kannonji City in Kagawa Prefecture uniquely has two Holy Sites of Shikoku in one premise; Jin’nein Temple (the 68th) and Kannonji Temple (the 69th). These temples were originally a part of Kotohiki (Harp Play) Hachimangu Shrine founded in 703 by Priest Nissho, who had received a divine message from Hachiman Daimyojin with the tune of Japanese harp heard from a boat on the sea. Jin’nein was also built at this time as an attached temple to the shrine.

In the Daido era (806-809), Kobo Daishi enshrined Amida Buddha、which was Honjibutsu (Buddhist counterpart of the deity of the shrine) and designated the shrine as the 68th of the 88 Holy Sites of Shikoku. Then he carved Sho Kanzeon Bosatsu (Sacred Form of Kannon) and built the formal seven buildings of a temple in the nearby mountain, and named it Kannonji Temple, which was designated as the 69th.

Later in the Meiji period (1868-1912), when temples and shrines were separated according to the Shinbutsu Bunri policy of the national government, Honjibutsu Amida Buddha of Kotohiki Hachimangu Shrine was removed to Nishi-Kondo Hall of Kannonji Temple, which became the main hall of Jin’nein Temple; hereby two temples has been located in the same premise since then. Jin’nein temple is up the stone steps from Kannonji Temple.
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青木村 日吉神社 Aoki-mura Hiyoshi-jinja Hiyoshi Shrine in Aoki Village

Jp En

Hiyoshi Shrine in Aoki Village in Nagano Prefecture is considered to have been founded during the Nanbokucho period (1336-1392). Its very unique architectural style was highly evaluated and it was designated as a Prefectural Treasure in 1990.

Honden (the main hall) is built in the 5-bay wide flowing style without front entrance steps leading to the door of the sanctum. It has a copper gable roof, having a long extended front slope with a flowing curve covering the veranda. It is characterized by the long shape from side to side, and uniquely the building has only one door in the middle. It used to be painted in bright vermillion, but now all the paint has come off and the wood building material has revealed its natural color, which creates a sedate atmosphere.
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安土城跡 Azuchi-jou-ato Azuchi Castle Ruins

Jp En

Azuchi Castle at the foot of Azuchiyama, a 199 meter hill, on the shores of Lake Biwa in Omi Province (present-day Shiga Prefecture) was the primary castle of Oda Nobunaga, a major daimyo in the Warring States period (1493-1573). The Azuchi-Momoyama Period of Japanese history takes its name from this castle. Azuchi Castle took three years to build, between 1576 and 1579, under the supervision of Niwa Nagahide, a retainer of Nobunaga.

As Oda Nobunaga’s best expression of his power and influence on Japan, the castle had the magnificent donjon and many other gorgeous structures. Unfortunately, the castle existed for only three years for Oda Nobunaga died in 1582, when being betrayed and attacked by one of his retainers, Akechi Mitsuhide. After his death, the castle was burnt down for unknown reason.

All that remains of the castle today is the stone base. Deep stone walls, a lot of cornerstones, stone images of Buddha used for lining the paths and the remaining Nio-mon gate; all tells us of the grand vision conceived by Nobunaga. The castle ruins site is nationally designated as a Special Historic Site, where repairwork was given to stone steps and excavations and researches have been made on the donjon and the main castle.
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旧金毘羅大芝居(金丸座) Kyu-konpiraooshibai(kanamaru-za) The Old Konpira Oshibai Kabuki Theater (Kanamaruza)

Jp En

To the south of the famous 365 stone steps that lead to the Daimon Gate of Kotohira-gu Shrine in Kotohira-cho, Kagawa Prefecture stands the Old Konpira Oshibai Kabuki Theater, which is popularly called “Kanamaruza.” As the oldest existing Kabuki theater in Japan, it was designated as a national Important Cultural Property in 1970 and moved to the present place in 1976, when it was restored to the original form with a large amount of funds including government subsidy.

Since its original construction in the Tenpo era (1830-1843), Konpira Oshibai Kabuki plays at Kanamaruza Theater were enthusiastically seen by pilgrims to the Kotohira-gu Shrine, for entertainment was extremely scarce in those days. The theater was comparable in size to those in big cities such as Edo, Osaka and Kyoto. It is said that all the nationally famous actors were eager to perform at Kanamaruza, which proves that Kotohira was prosperous as a gateway town.

The Shikoku Konpira Oshibai has been performed at Kanamaruza since 1985, and the revival of the Kabuki performance has attracted a great deal of interest from all over the country. When no performances are held, the inside facilities of the theater are open to sightseers.
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金刀比羅宮 Kotohiraguu Kotohira-guu Shrine

Jp En

     Konhira-guu is a shrine built halfway up Zouzui-zan Mountain in Kotohira-cho, Nakatado-gun, Kagawa Prefecture.
     Like Oise-mairi, which was a pilgrimage to Ise Shrine and a popular leisure time activity among common people during the Edo period,  Konhira-mairi also drew many visitors from all over the nation.
     Konhira-guu Shrine is worshiped as a deity of shipping and seafarers and dedicated to Oomononushino-kami.
     Konhira-guu was recognized as a shrine in 1010 following the restoration of its main building and torii by Fujiwara Saneaki by order of the emperor.  The shrine was known as Konhira-daigongen prior to the Meiji period.
     In the middle of the path to the shrine stands a grand gate built by Matsudaira Yorishige, an elder brother of Mito Mitsukuni and the first lord of the Takamatsu Clan.  After the gate there is a stone stairway with 365 steps leading up to the shrine.
     Inside the shrine is Asahino-yashiro, made from Keyaki trees which has Dou-gawarabuki tiles and a Nisou-irimoya style roof. The building is a designated Important Cultural Property. After passing Yashiro visitors arrive at the imposing main shrine.
Konhira-guu is one of the most famous sites in Shikoku.
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こんぴら参道 Konpirasandou The Front Approach of Kotohira-gu Shrine

Jp En

A long and steep approach way continues from JR Kotohira Station to the Main Sanctuary of Kotohira-gu Shrine halfway up Mt. Zozusan in Kotohira-cho, Kagawa Prefecture.

Since the Edo period (1603-1868) up to the present time, the pilgrimage to Kotohira-gu Shrine, or familiarly called Konpira-san, has been a pleasure for Japanese people as well as that to Ise Shrine. Lined with souvenir shops and eating houses, the approach way to the shrine is always bustling with visitors. To the south of the stone steps stands the Old Konpira Oshibai Kabuki Theater “Kanamaruza,” where pilgrims to the Kotohira-gu Shrine enjoyed kabuki plays in the days when entertainment was extremely scarce.

The approach way has the famous 365 stone steps to the Daimon Gate and further 421 stone steps to the Main Sanctuary. Passing through the Daimon Gate and climbing up further, you will at last get to a grand shrine building. But don’t make haste. It’s not the Main Shrine yet. It is a sub-shrine, Asahi-sha, which is famous for the episode that once Mori no Ishimatsu, a famous yakuza of the Edo period, mistook it for the Main Shrine and dedicated the sword that he was entrusted by his boss. There area many historic buildings including the Main Shrine a little further ahead of it.
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叡福寺 Eifukuji Eifukuji Temple

Jp En

Eifukuji Temple is known as the site of the kofun (tomb) of Prince Shotoku. It is one of the New Saigoku Pilgrimage of 33 Temples, which was newly selected based on Prince Shotoku’s idea of “harmony” as a priority over all other virtues. In 724, after the death of the prince, the emperor Shomu ordered to build a temple to repose the soul of Prince Shotoku. The temple was burned down by the attack of Nobunaga Oda during the Warring States period, but it was rebuilt by Hideyoshi Toyotomi. If you go up the stone steps, you will see the South Gate. Walk through the gate, and then you will see the houtou (a treasure pagoda), the main hall, and the Shoryo-den (a memorial hall of Prince Shotoku) on your left. In the back of the precinct is the Prince Shotoku’s tomb. Shoryo-den is a designated Important Cultural Property. The principal image worshipped inside is said to be Prince Shotoku’s life-size statue when he was 16. It is said to have been placed in the ancient Imperial Palace in Kyoto but donated to this temple by the emperor Gotoba in 1187. Around the temple there are a lot of places associated with Prince Shotoku. You will be impressed by the length of the history all through which people have paid respect for the Prince.
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