The seven Gods of Fortune, or Seven Lucky Gods, are the seven Shinto deities, who are believed to bring good luck. Generally they are Ebisu, Daikokuten, Bishamonten, Benzaiten, Fukurokuju, Jurojin, and Hotei. Shojo and Inari, who were once included as the members, are now precluded from membership because they are not in human form, it is said. Neither six nor eight, the number “seven” is said to originate in a phrase in a Buddhist sutra “shichi-nan-sokumetsu, shichi-fuku-sokujou” (seven calamities immediately vanish, seven happiness immediately come), or “Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove” in China. Shichifukujin Meguri (the pilgrimage tour) is still very popular in Japan. It is believed that on New Year’s Day, if you put a picture of the Seven Lucky Gods on their ship, Takarabune (Treasure Ship), you will have a lucky hatsuyume (the first dream of the year).
The grave of Fujiwara no Sanekata Ason is in Medeshima-Shiote, Natori, Miyagi Prefecture. Fujiwara no Sanekata is known as a young Heian period nobleman who was good-looking and gracious. Also, he is known as the model of the character Hikari Genji in the classic 'The Tale of Genji'. Moreover, he is counted among the Thirty-six Poet Immortals.
In 955, he was banished for striking a rival poet, Fujiwara no Yukinari, on the head in front of the emperor. He received a royal command to travel to see the old ruins in several areas. In 998, he is said to have fallen from his horse and died.
Later, the poet Matsuo Basho visited this site and sang a song here. Nearby is a monument commemorating Basho's visit. The small grave of Fujiwara no Sanekata stands alone within the tranquil forest.
Kodaiji Temple, located at the foot of Mt. Higashiyama in Kyoto, is a Zen temple well-known as “the Temple of Hideyoshi and Nene.” Its full name is Kodai Jusho Zen-ji Temple, which was built in 1601 in memory of Hideyoshi Toyotomi by his wife, Nene (Kitano-mandokoro). She had decided to become a nun and moved to this temple, where she spent peaceful days until she died at the age of 76. Kaisan-do Hall, where the statues of her brother, Iesada Kinoshita and his wife are laid to rest, Otama-ya, where Nene was buried and the statues of Hideyoshi and Nene are worshipped together, Shigure-tei and Kasa-tei tea houses, Kangetu-dai (a kiosk to look at the moon) and the Main Gate are nationally designated historic sites or scenic beauty. Whenever you visit, you will find the glamour of the season; weeping cherry trees in spring, bamboo grove in summer, autumn leaves, and water mirrors in winter. This is the place where the relics of exquisite beauty of Kyoto are concentratedly put together.
Over 200 species of Japanese and foreign rare bamboo grow in Funaoka Bamboo Grove Park in Yazu-cho, Yazu-gun, Tottori Prefecture. It is one of the few full-scale bamboo gardens in the country. Surrounded with fresh scent and energy that is emitted from bamboo trees and soft green light seen through bamboo leaves, visitors can fully enjoy “bamboo bathing.”
Other than bamboo trees, the park has plenty of high spots including white, pink, mauve and cardinal red flowers of moss phloxes that cover the ground in spring and beautiful azalea flowers in early summer. Landscape that changes from season to season provides visitors with relaxation and refreshment. Evan families with children can spend enjoyable time because barbeque facilities, bungalows and camping site are arranged in the 7 ha. park ground.
The 31st Sacred Place on the 88 Shikoku Pilgrimage. In the Nara period, Emperor Shomu (reigned 724-749) had a dream that he was worshipping Monju Bosatsu (Bodhisattva) in Mount Wutai in China. He thought there must be a holy place that looked like Mount Wutai in Japan and ordered Priest Gyoki to make a search for it. In 724, Priest Gyoki found such a mountain, where he founded a temple and named it Godaisan (Japanese translation of Mt. Wutai) Chikurinji Temple. Later in the Heian period, Kobodaishi Kukai (774-835) visited the temple and designated it as a Sacred Place.
The present main hall called Monju-do (Bodhisattva Hall) was built during the Bunmei era (1469-1486). It is a one-story building in Irimora-zukuri style with a Kokera-buki (thin wooden shingles) roof. It enshrines the secret statue of Monju Bosatsu. Opposite the main hall stand Daishi-do Hall and the 32 m tall five-story pagoda painted in bright vermillion.
Located on top of the 115 m hill about 6 km away from the central part of Kochi City, the temple is also the most popular scenic spot in Kochi City. Visitors can command a fine view of the whole city and Urado Bay as well.
Furin is a small hanging bell that rings in the breeze. A tongue dangling in the center of the bell strikes the sides of the bell and creates a pleasant sound. Furin originates in “Sen-futaku,” which was suspended in the bamboo grove and used to tell fortunes in ancient China. It was introduced to Japan with Buddhism and called “Futaku,” whose sound was believed to get rid of evil. During the Kyoho era (1716-1735) of the Edo period, a glass furin was first made and became very popular among townspeople. Today there are many types of furin being made of a variety of materials and taking a variety of shapes, including glass-made Edo furin with lovely pictures, rugged Nanbu iron furin, Hibachi-furin (taking a shape of a traditional Japanese heater), unglazed clay bell, Sumi-furin made of combined pieces of charcoal. The cool sound of furin is one of the things that provide us with a feeling of summer.
Hisetsu-no-taki is located in Asari, Kihou-cho, Minamimuro, Mie Prefecture, and is 30m high and 12m wide.
In olden times, the waterfall was called the 'waterfall of the valley of bamboo' because of the thick bamboo forest in the valley where it falls. The name, Hisetsu-no-taki, derives from Yorinobu Tokugawa's poem written after seeing the waterfall:
Passing over many mountains the river is rich
The surroundings are all of a deep autumn color
One protruding rock being caressed by the water
When the wind blows
The scattering droplets dance like a snow swirl.
While being the easiest waterfall to reach in Kihou-cho, its wonderful surroundings make it seem as though it is a grand waterfall hidden deep inside the mountains.
Asazato Shrine is located to the east of the waterfall, and the stream that leads to the fall runs through the shrine's sacred grounds.
The sight of the water droplets scattering like a snow swirl as they strike the undulating and protruding rock-face gives the observer a subconscious sense of an ethereal, profound atmosphere that seems almost unreal.
Doi Bamboo Forest (Doi-chikurin) is located in Kodono-cho, Owase, Mie Prefecture. The forest was created by local millionaire Hachiroubei Doi, who had made a fortune in lumber.
Around 250 years ago, Hachiroubei imported several thousand moso bamboo trees from Kagoshima, then planted and cultivated them in a forest near his home. The warm yet rainy climate of Owase, and a time span of over 200 years, allowed the bamboo forest to grow to a height of 15m, covering more than 400m2. Among these are trees that have thickened to more than 30 centimeters in circumference.
At the entrance of the bamboo forest is a small museum called the 'House of Dolls'. This small house, built during the early Meiji period, was a country house for the Doi family, and currently displays a wide array of dolls collected from many different countries around the world.
The bamboo forest is silent except for the rustle of the leaves in the gentle winds, allowing the visitor to feel a sense of subtle and profound peace. Doi Bamboo Forest is a space for pure relaxation, and gives a pure Japanese sentiment to all visitors.