Hama Rikyu Garden, or Hama Rikyu Onshi Teien, located in Chuo-ku, Tokyo is a public garden designated as the Special Place of Scenic Beauty and the Special Historic Site. The garden was originally a villa built by Matsudaira Tsunashige, a grandson of Ieyasu, in 1654. Then it became a villa of the Shogun Tokugawa family and had been reformed many times during the Edo period. After the Meiji Restoration, it became a detached palace of royal families and officially named Hamarikyu (a detached palace on the coast). With the end of the World War II, it was opened as a public park managed by Tokyo Metropolitan government.
This garden is a typical Daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) garden in the Edo period with a tidal pond (Shioiri-no-Ike) and two wild-duck hunting sites (Kamoba). On the left side past the entrance stands a 300-year-old black pine tree, which is the largest pine tree inside Tokyo. Its dignified shape with thick branches extending low is really impressive. Moving on forward, you will get to a peony garden and the field of flowers, which is covered with 300,000 stocks of rape blossoms in spring and cosmea in fall. There are also a lot of cherry trees, which are lit up for night for cherry blossom viewers at night. Full of flowers and greenery enjoyable in every season, Hamarikyu Garden is an oasis of Tokyo Metropolis.
Sakuramotobo Temple located in Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Nara Pref. is a Shugendo temple founded in the late 7th century by Emperor Tenchi, who had became a priest and Buddhism at Hinoo Imperial Villa in Yoshino when young. Legend has it that one day he was dreaming of a cherry blossoms in full bloom, and then when he woke up and found a cherry trees really blossoming in winter. After his enthronement, he founded a temple where the cherry tree stood giving it a name of Sakuramotobo (a temple under the cherry tree) and invited Hinoo no Kakujo, a senior apprentice of En no Gyoja, as the resident priest.
The main object of worship is En no Gyoja Jinben Daibosatsu (the deified En no Gyoja, the founder of Shugendo) and the statues of Shaka Nyorai and Jizo Bosatsu. Originally the temple was located near Kinpusenji Temple and was the largest tacchu temple (attached temple) of Kinpusenji. Sakuramotobo Temple is one of the three temples that comprise Kinpusen Syugen Honshu. It was also the largest of all the Omine Gojiin Temples until the Meiji period. As the pantheon of Yamabushi culture, the temple is known for possessing a large number of treasures. It was once abolished by the Haibutsu Kishaku (abolition of Buddhism) movement in the Meiji period but was revived later.
Tachibanadera located in Asuka-mura, Takaichi-gun, Nara Pref. is a temple of Tendai Sect. Its formal name is “Butto-zan Jogu Oin Bodaiji Temple.” The name “Tachibana (mandarin orange tree)” is said to have come from the story that Emperor Suinin sent Tajima-mori to Hitachi province (present Ibaraki Pre.) to fetch the everlasting fruit of the mandarin orange tree. He brought some back and planted at this place. The temple site was where Emperor Yomei’s detached palace, Tachibana Palace was located and Prince Shotoku was born. It is one of 7 temples founded by Prince Shotoku. The main object of worship is the statue of Prince Shotoku Shomangyo Kosan-zo, which is said to express the image of Prince Shotoku at the age of 35. This is the oldest extant image of Prince Shotoku in Japan. In the precinct is the stone called “Nimen-seki,” on which the faces of good and evil are carved back to back, It is known as one of the strange stones in Nara Pref.
Genkyuen Garden is adjacent to Hikone Castle located in Konki-cho, Hikone City, Shiga Pref. is a Chisen-kaiyu-styled (wet garden with a promenade) Japanese garden constructed by order of the 4th domain lord of Hikone Clan, Naooki Ii, in 1677. The garden is between the inner moat and the middle moat, the water of which is poured from Lake Biwa. It was modeled after the detached palace of Emperor Hsuan Tsung (685-762) of China's Tang Dynasty replacing “Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers” with “Eight Viwes of Ohmi (present Shiga Pref.).” Using the national treasure of donjon as the borrowed landscape, four islands and nine bridges are constructed at the complex-shaped central pond and the atmospherical kiosks of Rinchikaku, Oshodai, and Hakkeitei are arranged on the side of the pond. Visitors can enjoy the landscape that changes by seasons. It is especially wonderful to view autumn leaves in the gorgeous atmosphere of Daimyo’s garden. Genkyu Garden together with its adjacent Rakurakuen buildings was nationally designated as Places of Scenic Beauty in 1951.
Minase Shrine is an old historic shrine located in Osaka Pref. It enshrines the three emperors of Gotoba, Tsuchimikado, and Juntoku. The shrine originates in Mieido (an image hall) that was built by Nobunari Fujiwara and his son Chikanari at the vacant lot of the emperor Gotoba’s beloved palace of Minase in 1240. The present main hall was reconstructed during the Kanei era (1624−1643) with the timber that had been used for Naishidokoro of Kyoto Imperial Palace. Its Shin-mon (holy gate) is one of Osaka Prefecture’s Important Cultural Properties. Two of the shrine collection, the Statue of the Emperor Gotoba and his original handwriting of okibumi (the last testament), are designated as National treasures. The water springing out in the precinct is called “Rikyu-no-mizu (water of the imperial villa).” This is the only one spring water in Osaka that is selected as one of “Japan’s 100 Fine Water” by the Ministry of Environment. In the precinct of the shrine there is also a tea house in Shoin-zukuri style of the early Edo period.
Located in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, Jonangu Shrine is known as “hou-yoke no Taisha” that means the grand shrine to purify the disastrous directions. The time of its establishment is unknown. It is said that when Emperor Kanmu relocated the capital to Kyoto, he built this shrine to guard the south part of the capital as well as urakimon (the southeast part or the opposite of the northwest that is called kimon, the ominous direction) of Toba Rikyu Palace. Since then people have worshipped the deities at this shrine as those who purify disastrous places. Even today a lot of people all over the country visit this shrine before they start a construction work or move to a new house. Not only one-day prayer, you can also ask the Grand Priest to offer a prayer in your stead to attain your desire for successive 7 days, 15 days, 1 month and so on. On the New Year’s Day, the ceremonies such as “Harae Kagura (kagura dance for purification)” and “Chouna Hajime (the start of taking a hand ax to the holy wood, praying for the safety in construction works of the year)” are held with solemnity.