Nihonmatsu Castle is located in Kakunai, Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, and is counted as one of Japan's 100 best castles.
Construction of the castle was begun in the 21st year of the Ouei era (1414) by Mitsuyasu Hatayama (Nihonmatsu). Upon entering the Warring States period, the Nihonmatsu clan fought bitterly with Masamune Date. Masamune was outraged when the Nihonmatsu clan kidnapped his father after pretending to surrender. In revenge, Masamune annihilated the Nihonmatsu clan in the 4th year of the Tensho era. Since then, the rulers of Nihonmatsu Castle have changed numerous times over many generations.
Mitsushige Niwa greatly refurbished the castle in the 20th year of the Kannei era (1643), and resided there until the Meiji Restoration. During the Boshin Wars, Nihonmatsu Castle sided with the government, but was overrun in the 5th year of the Meiji period (1872) and eventually abandoned.
The castle grounds are currently the site of Kasumi-ga-jou Park, and the stone walls and structures remain. A Kansekimeihi monument stands at the entrance. The Nihonmatsu Castle was designated as a National Monument in 1935.
Located on the slope of Mt Oshitate (771.8m), Hyakusai Temple is one of the oldest temples in Kotosanzan and used to be known as Kudara Temple.
During the Heian period, Hyakusai Temple changed its principal belief to the Tendai school of Buddhism and began to flourish as a large temple. Back then, it used to have over 300 towers. However, because of wars most of them were burned down and now only the principal images and some main monuments are left.
When walking along the path from the main gate, plains can be seen beside the road. The path has an atmosphere similar to the approach to Ando castle. It is counted as one of Kotosanzan's temples, and many people are attracted to the subtle ambience of the temple.
The renowned Isame spring wells out at Kamo Temple in Samegai, Maibara, in Shiga Prefecture.
The spring is mentioned in the 'Kojiki' (Japan’s oldest extant chronicle) and the 'Nihon-shoki' (second-oldest book about the ancient history of Japan). It is said to be the holy water that washed away and cleansed the poison which had induced fever in Yamato-Takeru-no-mikoto (famous for slaying a violent deity at Mt Ibuki on his way back from the East). Legend has it that, in gratitude, Yamato-Takeru named the spring Isame-no-Shimizu.
The source of the spring is on Mt Ryozen and it is said that, as the water wells out and passes through the mountain rock and soil, the flavor as well as the mineral content of the water change.
Isame spring wells out from under a stone wall in the precinct of Kamo Temple to feed into a river which flows along the old 'nakasando' (road through the central mountains). The spring water of Isame, along with the nearby waters of the Saigyosui and the Jyuosui, has become an essential and indispensable source of water for the people of Samegai and can also be said to be 'oasis' water that relieves the tiredness and tension of travelers to this resort.
The famous spring water of Isame has been praised through the ages for its healing and soothing properties since time immemorial.
The ruins of the medieval Tsunomure Castle are sited on Mt Tsunomure (577m) in Kusu, Oita Prefecture. The castle was built by Mori Tomomichi in the Koan period (1280).
During Japan's period of civil war, Tsunomore held a key position between various states and was fortified by the people of Kusu. In the 14th year of the Tensei period (1586), the castle withstood an attack by Shimazu Yoshihiro.
Today, stone walling some 7m high and 100m long still remains. Moreover, excavation since 1993 has found traces of a watchtower and a gateway dating to the period of Mori Takamasa, who ruled from the castle in the Toyotomi period. There are also remains of another stone gateway and a stone building measuring 10m by 6m. In 2004, Tsunomure Castle Ruin was designated a national historic site.
Kakuzan Park, also known as Tsuyama castle ruins, is situated in the center of Tsuyama district in Okayama Prefecture. Mori Tadamasa, the founder of the Tsuyama clan, established Tsuyama castle in 1616.
It took Mori Tadamasa 13 years to construct the modern-style castle on the plains here. The castle used to have a five-storey keep and over 60 turrets. However, the castle was abandoned in 1873. Nowadays, the princely stonewalls and the turrets, restored in 2005, soar again within the premises.
Kakuzan Park was selected as one of Japan's top 100 spots to view cherry blossoms. It is also known as the best cherry blossom-viewing spot in western Japan. Over 5000 cherry trees, including the Yoshino cherry, blossom each spring. The night view of the cherry blossom is also fantastic, and over 100 thousand tourists visit the park annually. Tourists are also attracted to other beautiful seasonal sights, such as spring wisteria and azalea, fall foliage and winter scenery.
The Hirogane family, the chief family of Onoro, accumulated enormous wealth from the Koizumi copper mine and from manufacturing sulfate iron in the Edo period. The Hirogane Mansion is a large house built in the Kyowa/Bunka era (around 1800) by the 2nd head of the Hirogane family, Motoharu.
The magnificent Sakura-Mon stonewalls measure up to those of a castle and reflect the prestige of the Hirogane family in those days. Outstanding views of can be enjoyed because, like a castle, the mansion is sited on a hillside. In spring, the blossoming cherry trees give it the dignity of a mountain castle.
In addition to the two-story main house, there are three warehouses, the Sakura-Mon, and a terrace house within the spacious grounds. Moreover, the pleasing sound of the Suikinkutsu can be heard in the garden.
In recent years, Hirogane Mansion has became famous as the location of Seishi Yokomizo's 'Yatsubaka-Mura'. Visitors can visualise film star Kiyoshi Atsumi acting here.