Hie Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. The enshrined deoty is Oyamakui-no-kami, the god of Mount Hie in Shiga prefecture. It is said that when Ota Dokan constructed Edo Castle in 1478, he erected a Sanno-Hie Shrine in the compound for a guardian deity of the castle. When Tokugawa Ieyasu was enfeoffed with Edo (present-day Tokyo), he relocated it to the grounds of Edo Castle, and worshipped the deity as the protector of Edo. The citizens of Edo also had strong faith in Hie Shrine as the founding god of their town. In 1607, when Ieyasu’s son, Tokugawa Hidetada, planned to make improvement on the castle, he moved the shrine out, so the people of Edo could worship there.
Sanno Festival held in June every year is one of the three great festivals of Edo; the others are Kanda Festival at Kanda Shrine in Chuo-ku and Fukagawa Hachiman Festival at Tomioka Hachiman Shrine in Fukagawa in Koto-ku. In the Edo period (1603-1868), Sanno Festival and Kanda Festival were also called “Tenka Matsuri,” which means the Shogun’s Festival, because the festivals were protected by the Tokugawa Shogunate and the festival processions were allowed to enter the grounds of Edo Castle for the Shogun to view them.
The high-spiritted Edokko (natives to Edo) would have said, “Sanno Festival is too refined, isn’t it?” Any way, why don’t you try experiencing one of these great festivals of Edo, if you have time?
Nokami Hachimangu Shrine is an old and distinguished shrine located in Kimino-cho, Kaiso-gun, Wakayama Pref. It is said that the shrine dates back to the period during the reign of Emperor Kinmei (around A.D. 550). It is one of the 3 largest Hachiman shrines in Japan. As a branch shrine of Iwashimizu Shrine in Kyoto, Nokami Shrine has been worshipped by people for a long time. The shrine is also known for a lot of nationally designated cultural properties including the Main Hall built in the Azuchi Momoyama period (1568-1598), the Main Hall of Takeuchi Shrine (one of the branch shrines), and a sword. Brilliant vermillion of the Main Hall reminds us of its ancient flourishing times. At the autumn festival held on Sunday in the middle of October every year, flamboyant Shishimai dance (lion dance) is dedicated to the god and a lot of local people come to enjoy the festival.
Saito Family Garden is located in Maeyachi in Ishinomaki City in the northwestern part of the Ishinomaki Plain in Miyagi Prefecture is a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty. This Japanese style garden was built in the late Meiji period (1868-1912) by Zenemon Saito, the 9th head of the Saito family, one of the three most prominent and wealthiest farming families in northern Japan throughout the middle and modern ages. It is highly evaluated as a distinctive modern garden.
The flat garden and pond are laid out around the Japanese-styled houses, Seiraku-tei and Muichi-an, against the backdrop of the slopes of hills. At the foot of the hill is a deep cave called Hosenkutsu, from which water springs out to feed the pond.
The late-Jomon earthen wares excavated from the Takaragamine Ruins site are exhibited in Takaragamine Museum, a Japanese-styled house with a thatched roof located in the garden.
The garden and the museum were closed to the public in March, 2008.
Tachineputa Festival is held from August 4 to 8 every year in Goshogawara City in Aomori Prefecture. This traditional festival had been discontinued until about 80 years ago and was revived in 1998. Together with the Neputa festivals held in the cities of Aomori and Hirosaki, it is counted as one of the three big Neputa festivals in Aomori Prefecture.
The Neputa festival in Goshogawara was started by wealthy merchants in the towns during the middle of the Meiji period (1868-1912). It featured the parade of gigantic Neputa floats. However, in the Taisho period (1912-1926), the Neputa floats had to be diminished in size due to the spread of the electric cables. With their miniaturization, the popularity of Neputa also declined.
In 1993, the old design drawings of the floats were discovered, and the Tachineputa Reproduction Association was established. Today, they are restored to the original size of more than 20 meters in height, which is as tall as a seven-story building.
The magnificent parade of these colorful and gigantic floats goes through the streets of the city with the valiant shout of “Yattemare!” which astounds spectators.
Yagoro-don Festival held on November 3 every year serves as an annual autumn festival of Iwagawa Hachiman Shrine in Oshumi Town in Soo City, Kagoshima Prefecture. It is a gallant festival that represents the southern part of Kyushu and counted as one of the three largest festivals in Kagoshima Prefecture.
The highlight of the festival is the Hamakudari parade of Yagoro-don, a 4.85 meter tall giant with goggle eyes and strong eyebrows. Wearying long and short swords on his waist, the giant goes through the town in hope of a rich harvest. There are many theories about its origin. Some say that he is modeled after Takenouchi Sukune, a legendary hero who served six generations of the emperors. Others say that he was the head of the Hayato clan, who ruled the ancient Kyushu. It is believed that if you touch things pertaining to Yagoro-don, you will be in sound health for one year.
Chochin Lantern Festival is an annual festival held at Kashima Shrine, the headquarters of all the shrines in the Shirakawa region. The festival is held once every two years; only in the odd number year in the Heisei period (1989-present). Together with Yahiko Lantern Festival at Yahiko Shrine in Niigata Prefecture and Isshiki Grand Chochin Festival at Suwa Shrine in Aichi Prefecture, it is counted as one of the three largest chochin lantern festivals in Japan.
The present form of the festival was established in the Edo period, when Honda Tadayoshi, the lord of the Shirakawa domain, dedicated a portable shrine. The festival includes the parade of mikoshi and floats accompanied by people carrying big chochin lanterns. As is called “the ceremonial festival,” it hands down formal procedures of the Edo-period warrior class.
However, there is more than ceremony of course. The parade of thousands of chochin lanterns, which looks like a long brilliant light belt, creates a magnificent atmosphere. When the huge chochin lantern, which leads each of the 23 arrays carrying its own mikoshi, is raised high and pulled down repeatedly, a big applause is evoked among the spectators. As the festival with a history of 400 years, it is the pride of people living in the Shirakawa region.
Kozuke Sanpi is the generic name of the three stone monuments erected in the areas around Takasaki City in the ancient times. Yamanoue-hi and Kanaizawa-no-hi are in Yamana-machi in Takasaki City and Tago-no-hi is in Yoshii-machi in Tano-gun. They are nationally designated as Special Historic Sites.
Yamanoue-hi Monument is considered to have been erected in 681 and to be the epitaph of Yamanoue Kofun located next to the monument. It is Japan’s oldest epitaph.
Kanaizawa-no-hi Monument was erected in 726. It is written in the clerical script and reads that some descendants of the management officer of the Imperial agricultural land in Takada in Kozuke province (present-day Gunma Prefecture) formed a Buddhist group and were praying to Buddha for their parents’ safty and ancestors’ souls.
Tago-no-hi Monument erected in 711 is considered to be one of Japan’s Three Old Monuments. It is thought to be the memorial stone that celebrated the establishment of Tago County, but there are several other opinions about its interpretation. Calling it “Hitsuji-sama,” local people had worshipped it as the tomb of Hitsiji Tayu, a legendary hero of the county.
Kozuke Sanpi monuments are precious historic sites, by which the political situations of the time can be inferred.
Nobeoka Daishi Festival is held in April every year in the area centered around Imayama in Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture. It is the biggest spring event in the northern part of the prefecture and counted as one of the three largest spring festivals in Kyushu.
At the top of Mt. Imayama stands a statue of Kobo Daishi Kukai, which was erected in 1957. With a height of 17 meters and a weight of 11 tons, it is the largest statue of Kobo Daishi in Japan. Familiarly called “Odai’ssan,” Kobo Daishi has been respected by the people in Nobeoka as well as by the people all over the country. The festival is held for three days around March 21 on Lunar Calendar to commemorate the anniversary of his death and give gratitude to him.
The main event is the daimyo’s procession held on the final day. 1,700 citizens including Mayor participate in the parade wearing samurai’s or princesses’ costumes and walk through the city, dancing various local dances.