Ganjoji Temple in Gamo Town in Shiga Prefecture is a historic temple pertaining to Prince Shotoku. It was one of Ganjojuji temples, which were established in 46 places all over the country to fulfill Prince Shotoku’s wishes to bring stability to the nation. It was originally a Tendai-sect temple, but was converted to the Soto sect in 1625 when the temple was restored by the Zen priest Sanei Honshu.
It is the 26th temple of Gamo Kannon Holy Sites, the 9th of Shaka 32 Zensatsu (Zen Temples) and the 24th of the 27 Meisatsu (Fine Temples) in Omi-Koto.
The principal image is a secret Buddha, which is open to the public once every 33 years. It is said that the face was modeled after Prince Shotoku’s mother.
In the Kannon-do Hall, what is believed to be a mermaid mummy is enshrined. According to an old story, the mermaid fell in love with a beautiful nun and visited the temple every day, disguising himself as a young man. A lot of stone art objects made in the Middle Ages are preserved in the main hall.
Naruko lacquer ware is a traditional handicraft in Naruko Onsen, Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. It is a nationally designated Traditional Craft Product. During the Kanei era (1624-1643) in the Edo period, the lord of the Iwadeyama domain, Date Toshichika, dispatched a lacquerer, Murata Uhei, and a makie craftsman, Kikuta Sanzo, to Kyoto to develop their skills in order to promote the local lacquering industry. Naruko lacquer ware has been handed down by their descendents up to the present day.
The traditional lacquering techniques include kijiro-nuri, which enhances the beautiful grains of the wood, fuki-urusi finishing, and ryumon-nuri, which produces a marbling effect. Each product has limpid beauty brought out by these traditional techniques. As lacquer is applied and rubbed down repeatedly many times to create a thick surface, Naruko lacquer ware is durable for a long-term daily use.
Niigata lacquer ware is a traditional handicraft in the cities of Niigata and Kamo in Niigata Prefecture. It is a nationally designated Traditional Craft Product. As a port used by Kitamae ships in the Edo period (1603-1868), various cultures were brought into this town both by land and sea, which contributed to the development of various craft techniques in this area.
It is said that the making of lacquer ware in Niigata started during the Genna era (1615-1624). In 1638, an authorized specialist area for selling lacquered goods was established under the name of “Wan-dana (bowl store)” in present-day Furumachi-dori Shichibancho.
Niigata lacquer ware is characterized by a number of different styles, which have been developed since the Meiji period (1868-1912). These techniques include take-nuri, which simulates the appearance of bamboo, contrived by Kyuhei Yoshida, kinma-nuri using gold leaf by Heikichi Meguro, isokusa-nuri (expressing sea-grass), hana-nuri (lacquering without grinding), nishiki-nuri (with patterns of gold) and ishime-nuri (with stone-like appearance). Among them, the solid and elegant take-nuri style is the most famous as the original lacquering techniqeu of Niigata lacquer ware.
Akizuki-jou, or Akizuki Castle, was once located in Akizuki-cho, Asakura, Fukuoka Prefecture.
The origin of the castle dates back to 1203 when Harada Tanekatsu built a mountain castle in Mt. Koshouzan (856m above sea level) and his residential castle at the foot of the mountain. He changed his name to Akizuki Tanezane and the residential castle was occupied by generations of the Akizuki family.
In 1587, faced by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s massive army surrounding the mountain castle, Akizuki Tanezane surrendered to Hideyoshi and the mountain castle was abandoned.
In 1924, Kuroda Nagaoki, who was granted the land of Akizuki, transferred the residential castle to the old mountain castle and made extensive renovations. The ruins we see today are from this castle, in which successive lords of Akizuki family of Kuroda Clan resided until Meiji Period.
The castle’s main gate, Kuromon, is still remaining and the area is known for its fall foliage.
The ruins of Akizuki Castle is a historical site dating from Kamakura Period.
Akeno Kannondo Hall in Yanagisawa Akeno in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, is a hall housing Juichimen Kanzeon (Kannon with 11 faces). The hall and the Kanzeon statue are designated as tangible cultural properties of the city.
It is said that the hall was originally one of the structures composing a temple founded by Priest Gyoki in 732. The principal object of worship, the statue of Juichimen Kanzeon, is said to have been carved by Gyoki himself in the manner called “Itto-Sanrei (three bows for one carving).” The temple was known as the 13th temple of Suruga Ikkoku 30 Holy Places and the 15th Holy Place of Yokomichi Pilgrimage. Presently, the hall is administered by Kodaiji Temple, a temple of the Shingon sect, in the same town.
The present hall is said to have been reconstructed in 1637 under the supervision of Hidari Jingoro, a sculptor and carpenter in the Edo period. The picture of a dragon is drawn on the ceiling in Chinese style, while the front wall has a picture of a heavenly maiden.
In the precinct are the Kaya tree (Torreya nucifera (Linn.) Sieb. et Zucc), 9 m in circumference at the height of eye and the Nagi tree (Podocarpus nagi Zoll. et Moritzi), 3.72 m in circumference at the height of eye, both of which are designated natural monuments of the city.
Zogan (or inlay) is a metalwork technique which involves engraving the surface of a metal sheet and then inserting different materials into it.
Nisshu-Sukashi Zogan was highly influenced by the Higo Zogan method, which was started in 1632 by Matashichi Hayashi. He was an artisan who worked under Tadatoshi Hosokawa, the head of the Kumamoto Clan. He mostly used the zogan to decorate rifles and sword guards.
In zogan making, a metal sheet is prepared by casting or hammering it. A design which can be as small as 0.3mm, is then engraved into it. Gold is inlayed and the work is then further engraved. The intricacy of this process is so fine that it is almost the ultimate in what a person can produce by hand. The finished zogans are treasured because of their elegant patterns and rare beauty.
Nisshu-sukashi Zogans are still created today in the Nobeoka region. Because of the intricacy of the process, however, only a handful of them can be made each year. This adds to the value of these rare and beautiful craftworks.
Gogatsu Nobori are banners that are put up on “Boy’s Day” - May 5th along with Koinobori, Kabuto helmets and Gogatsu Dolls. This is done to celebrate the boy and to pray for his success and prosperity in the future. The custom is still preserved in many local areas, each of which displays its own unique banner.
Nobeoka Gogatsu Nobori are one of this type of banner and they have been produced since the Kan’ei period, nearly 400 years ago. They are made in the Kyushu region, with a dye technique called Tsutsubiki Tezome which is rarely used in the region.
At first, rough sketches are drawn on high quality cotton fabric and the sketches are then hemmed with rice paste. The painting is done in an elaborate way, using traditional techniques and 20 different colors.
The motif of the drawings varies from The Genpei War, heroic warriors, Kintaro (from a popular children’s tale) or a venerable sage. On completion, the banners, with their unique color and tone, are solemn and imposing. They have been designated as a traditional craft by the Miyazaki Prefecture.
Manno-ike Pond in Manno-cho, Nakatadotsu-gun, Kagawa Prefecture is the largest irrigation pond in Japan. It has the maximum water storage volume of 1,540 tons. It has been called by its nickname “Manno Taro.”
It is said that the pond was constructed in the Daido era (701-704) by the lord of Sanuki province, Michimori Ason. It can be said that the history of Manno-ike Pond is that of its repair works.
In 818, it was destroyed by a flood for the first time and left abandoned until in 821, when Kobo Daishi was sent as the construction supervisor by the emperor of the time. It is well-known that Kobo Daishi repaired and expanded the pond in only 3 months.
However, the pond was repeatedly destroyed by floods in the later periods. In 1625, Nishijima Hachibei, an expert civil engineer and a retainer of the province lord, took up a repair work and completed it in 1631. Still in the later periods, the pond had been destroyed by flood or earthquakes several times and had been repaired by the efforts of many people. It was lastly repaired to the present form in 1942.