Jubako lunch boxes come in various shapes such as cylindrical or hexagonal, but the most common is square.
Jubako are basically lunch boxes for food. They may have up to 5 layers. Officially, these layers represent the 4 seasons, so there are usually only 4 layers. Jubako may hold special food such as 'osechi' at New Year, or for hanami cherry-blossom-viewing picnics, or during athletic festivals.
It is believed that jubako developed from 'food baskets' ('shilong') introduced from China. However, there are references to lunch boxes in Muromachi-period documents, therefore, it could be said that jubako have a long history.
During the Edo period, jubako came to be used by common people, too, and their real manufacture began in 1610. Samurai and daimyo used them as lunch boxes during leisure outings, such as hunting expeditions. Later, they started to be lacquered and decorated. Even now, this traditional item is commonly used in Japan.
Shinpukuji Temple, or popularly called “Mikawa Yakushi,” located in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Tendai sect. The principal object of worship is Mizu-Yakushi, which is the sacred water in the well housed in the octagon-shaped small hall set up in the center of the main hall. As it is believed that the sacred water has the power to cure eye diseases and make people healthy, the water has been worshipped for 1,400 years until today.
The temple was founded in 594 by Mononobe no Masachi, the second son of Mononobe no Moriya. When he visited this village, he saw a mysterious light shining at the top of the mountain, where the temple is now located. Wondering what it was, he climbed up the mountain and found a shining spring. Then Yakushi Nyorai appeared from the spring, at which he was deeply moved and decided to build a temple here.
The temple was very prosperous in the Kamakura period (1192-1333), when it supervised 36 branch temples. At present, people from all over the country visit this temple to pray for good health and recovery from eye diseases.
At Anrakuji Temple, there is a three-storied octagonal pagoda among the pine trees lining the road from Mt. Ogami in Ueda Shinshu.
Anrakuji Temple is said to have been established in the early Heian period, but its history before the Kamakura period is vague. This pagoda is the oldest building in the temple complex of Anrakuji. In addition, it is the only existing octagonal pagoda in Japan and also a very rare example of a Zen three-storied pagoda.
The pagoda is 18.75m tall. Its Zen architectural features include the connections between the pillars and the radial baulks that decorate the impressive octagonal roof. Even the Buddhist altar is octagonal. There is a Dainichi-Nyorai statue, which is very rarely seen in a Zen structure. The pagoda looks four-storied but the lowest roof is, in fact, a line of eaves called 'mokoshi'.
In 1947, the pagoda and Nagano Castle were the first buildings in Nagano prefecture to be designated National Treasures.
Nanendou Hall (Southern Octagonal Hall) is a temple building within the Koufuku-ji Temple complex and is located in Nara City, Nara Prefecture. The hall was founded in 813 by Fujiwara Fuyutsugu in honor of his father, Fujiwara Uchimaro,. The hall is designated as a National Treasure by the Japanese government. Nanendou is one of an opposing pair of octagonal halls, the other being Hokuendou( Northern Octagonal Hall). The hall was damaged by fire and the present reconstruction dates back to the Edo period. Nanendou enshrines the main altar piece of Fukuukensaku-kannonbosatsu which stands 3.4 meters high and was made by Koukei, father of Unkei, a prominent sculptor. On the right side of the hall is a wisteria trellis which is designated as one of Nara’s Eight Great Views. The lantern at the center of the hall is relatively new having been created during the current Heisei period. It bears an inscription selected by Chin Shunshin, a popular writer of historical novels. Koufuku-ji has a busy, down-to-earth atmosphere and is constantly filled with visitors following West Japan’s 33 temple pilgrimage route (Koufukuji is the 9th temple on this route). Nanendou however is only open to the public once a year, on October 17.
Eisanji Temple overlooks the Yoshino River in Nara. It is an ancient temple that conserves the glory and eminence of the Tenpyo even today. It is said that the temple was built in 719 during the Nara period, by Muchimaro, the first-born child of Fujiwara no Fuhito.
The temple was originally called Sakiyamaji during the time that it was first constructed, but as it developed and became part of the Fujiwara family's Bondaiji temple, it was renamed Eisanji.
The main feature of the temple is without doubt the Hakakudo, which was designated as a national treasure. The Hakakudo, as one of the Endo of the Tenpyo period, is a very precious ruin on par with the Yumedono of Horyuji temple. It is said that the Hakakudo was built by Nakamaro, son of Muchimaro, in order to grieve for his father's bodai. The seated figure of the Yakushinyorai (master of healing) located within the temple is also designated as an important cultural property. Moreover, an inscription written in an Ononotou style can be seen on a bell (national treasure), which is acknowledged as one of Japan's three great bells, along with the bell of the Uji Byodoin.
Azalea and yamabuki blossom all over the grounds of the temple from the end of April to the beginning of May, creating a beautiful and vibrant scene.
Yumedono is the central construction of Toin (Eastern Precinct) at Horyuji Temple. This octagonal hall is said to have been founded in 739 by the priest Gyoshin to appease Prince Shotoku’s soul. Its beautiful octagonal shape, the doors placed on the four sides, and the tiled roof all remain as the building was originally built. It is said that the name “Yumedono (Dream Pavilion)” came from the story that Buddha appeared in this hall while Prince Shotoku was lost in his meditation. The main statue of Guze-Kannon is placed in the Zushi (miniature Buddhist shrine). This statue, which is typical to Asuka style, was carved from one piece of camphor wood using Ichiboku-zukuri technique (single-block carving) and gilded with Shippaku technique (in which gold foil is affixed to lacquer and then applied to statues). It is said to be the life-size statue of Prince Shotoku. Since it has been wrapped in white silk cloth as a hidden treasure, it is preserved in almost immaculate condition. In 1884 the white cloth was first removed by American Professor Fenollosa and Tenshin Okakura, a Japanese scholar in art, by which the existence of the statue became clear. At the present time, it is open to public only twice a year in spring and fall.
Haisei-den was built in 1942 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of the famous haiku poet Matsuo Basho. It is located in Iga City, Mie prefecture. The building has been designated as a Cultural Asset of Iga.
Haisei-den is in Ueno Park (the site of Iga Ueno Castle). The building has an unusual design: it is in the shape of Basho on one of his trips. A roof corresponds to his hat, the octagonal eaves to his sash, the pillars to his stick, and a wooden frame to his face. Inside, there is a life-sized statue in Iga ware of Basho seated.
Katsu Kawasaki, a councillor born in Mie, built this strange and magnificent building with money from his own pocket.
On October 12 every year, on the anniversary of Basho's death, a Basho Festival is held to honor his memory and achievements. Moreover, haiku and renku poems from all over Japan are dedicated to Basho's statue, and the statue is opened to the public on this day only.
This building expresses both the traveler and architecture at the same time. There is no similar example and Haisei-den is a masterpiece of unusual architectural art.
The region around Hikita, Higashikagawa, Kagawa Prefecture, formerly a castle town, was where Hikita castle once stood.
Hikita Castle was built by Ikoma Chikamasa, a general who played an active part during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. Today, only the slight remains of the castle walls are evident at the site.
Hikita is known for its manufacturing of soy sauce. The Sano Family's Izutsuya store, the Okada Family's Kamebishiya store and the Kusaka Family's Daishoya store were run by three successful and wealthy merchant families who were called the Hikita Gosanke (Hikita's big three merchants). The estates of these three merchants and private houses from the Edo period still remain. Many kinds of stores can be seen within the renovated kyuu-Izutsu-yashiki. A Kamebishiya, situated to the north of the Izutsu-yashiki, stands out from the rest of the buildings with its tiled roof and red walls. By walking to the south of the town, the majestic gate to the estate of the Hikita family can be seen, and in front of that, is the old Hikita post office. Compared to the long row houses seen in the town, the post office is built in a Taisho modern style, with its distinct octagonal windows positioned in an orderly line.
The scenery and the distinct atmosphere created by the buildings of Hikita help communicate the history of the town without leaving anything behind.