NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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ねはん像 Nehan-zou Statue of the Reclining Buddha

Jp En

Koutou Temple, where this statue of the reclining Buddha reposes, was built for the Arima clan in 1558 (Eiroku). However, the temple was moved to Shimabara when Shimabara Castle was constructed, and became the temple of the Matsukura Family.

The present temple was rebuilt in 1790 (Kansei 2), and there is a painting of the reclining Buddha, which was dedicated as a celebration of the reconstruction. Today's statue of the reclining Buddha was made in 1957 (Showa 32), after the painting's dedication.

The reclining Buddha is 8.6m long from head to toe, and 2.12m high. 'Nehan' is the Japanese word for Nirvana and refers to a spiritual state where the fire of worldly desire has disappeared and wisdom has been accomplished. It is also used as an expression for the dying Buddha (Buddha entering into parnirvana), which is known as the 'reclining Buddha'.

The statue of the reclining Buddha portrays Buddha preaching to his pupils on his deathbed under the paired sal trees of Kusinara, which was near his hometown.
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三春城 Miharu-jyo Miharu Castle

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The remains of Miharu Castle stand on Mt Ooshida near the town of Miharu in Tamura-gun, Fukushima Prefecture. The castle was established by Lord Yoshiaki Tamura of the Tamura clan and constructed from the Kamakura period to the Nanboku-chou period.

The Tamura clan eventually became one of the servant clans to a larger more powerful clan, but in 1590, after the Ouu-shioki, they changed to serve the Masamune Date and moved to Sendai. Soon after, the castle became the property of clan lords such as Ujisato Gamou, Kagekatsu Uesugi and Yoshiaki Katou.

In 1645, Toshitsue Akita became the castle lord for 10 thousand cubic meters of rice, and the Akita clan ruled until the Meiji Restoration. The castle was abandoned in the 4th year of the Meiji period (1871) due to the abolition of the domain system.

Today, the castle site is famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms. Many public institutions stand near the castle remains, and the area functions as a center of the town of Miharu. Miharu Castle reveals the sorrows and weaknesses of those who were pawns in the inevitable flow of history.
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小高城 Odaka-jyo Odaka Castle

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Odaka Castle is a hirayama-style castle located in Odaka, Minami-soma, Fukushima Prefecture.

Due to the fact that the castle stood on the towhead of the Kodaka River, it was also named the Red Plum Mountain Floating Castle, and is also a natural fortress.

Odaka Castle was also the living quarters of the Soma clan but when this began is uncertain. In the 3rd year of the Genko era (1323), Shigetane Soma moved to Oota from Shimosanokuni, but later moved to Odaka Castle. In the 3rd year of the Kenbu era (1336), Mitsutane Soma refurbished the castle and the castle became the headquarters of the Soma clan. The clan held a powerful position inside the Northern Court during the Nanboku-cho period, and also fought bitterly against Masamune Date during the Sengoku period, and managed to survive.

Odaka Castle was abandoned during the 16th year of the Keicho Era (1611) when Toneshige Soma moved to a different castle. Currently Odaka Shrine stands where the castle keep used to be, and the Soma Wild Horse Chase Festival is a sight to see.

Odaka Castle looks no more like it used to, but it is an important castle with a place in history over many generations.
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山形 松山城 Yamagata Matsuyama-jyo Yamagata Matsuyama Castle

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The Matsuyama Castle of Yamagata once stood in Shinyashiki, Sakata, in Yamagata Prefecture, and was built on the flat lands at the western foot of the Dewa Highlands. It was built mainly to be used as a fortress during the second half of the Edo period.

In 1647, Tadatsune, third son of the Sakai family, parceled out about 3607.8 m3 of the mountain, and made a mansion for his family to live in. In 1779, the accomplishments of Tadayoshi the Third as a wakadoshiyori (assistant) were acknowledged and he was granted 901.95m3 of land and permission to build a castle. Tadayoshi started to build the castle in 1781, and completed it 7 years later as Matsuyama Castle.

Later on, during the Boshin war, the Sakai family joined forces with the Bakugun (troops who supported the revival of the abolished shogunate), but in 1867, they were forced to surrender and give up the castle, which consequently fell into disuse.

Currently, the site remains have become known as Matsuyama Historic Park. Parts of the castle remain around the park, such as the otemon gate called the Tamonzakura, which is a prefectural designated cultural asset. The Matsuyama Castle in Yamagata is a relatively modern castle that sheds light on the culture of the Edo period.
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寒河江城 Sagae-jyo Sagae Castle

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Sagae Castle is located in Marunouchi, Sagae, in Yamagata Prefecture.

The site of the castle was originally the residence that Chikahiro, legitimate son of Oue Hiromoto, built in Sagae during the Kamakura period. His descendant, Oue Tokiuji, improved and renovated the residence into a castle, known as Sagae Castle, which even had three moats.

In 1584, the Oue family lost in a battle against Mogami Yoshiaki, and were completely annihilated. Following the battle, Sagae Hizen became lord of the castle, but after the death of Yoshiaki, Hizen killed himself and Sagae Castle was abandoned.

Currently, the old castle land has become the grounds of the Sagae Elementary School. Most of the remains of the castle have been lost, due to residential development in the area. The only thing remaining of the castle are the moats, which are missing the west side.

Sagae Castle holds the memories of the local powerful clan, the Oue Family.
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向羽黒山城 Mukaihaguroyama-jyo Mukaihaguroyama Castle

Jp En

The remains of Mukaihaguroyama Castle are located in Aizumisato in Fukushima Prefecture.

In 1561, the lord of Kuroyama Castle, Ashina Moriuji, started to build Mukaihaguroyama Castle as his retirement castle, taking seven years to complete.

Back in those days, Ashina Moriuji was also famous for uniting all of Aizu. In the east during 1550, Moriuji joined forces with Tamura Takaki, lord of the Miharu Castle, and attacked Asaka-gun, allowing them to become influential in the Sendo region.

Meanwhile, the Satake Family managed to attack and overtake the Nango region. In time, these two groups became enemies. In 1574, Moriuji abandoned Mukaihaguroyama Castle following the death of his eldest son, Shishi Morioki, and returned to Kuroyama Castle. Afterwards, the Ashina Family gradually weakened, and were annihilated by the Date Family.

Currently, the whole mountain where the ruins of the castle remain has been established as the Hakuho Mountain Park. Mukaihaguroyama Castle is an ancient castle which recalls the great accomplishments of the Ashina Family.
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高天彦神社 Takamahiko-jinjya Takamahiko Shrine

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Takamahiko Shrine is located on the hillside of Mt Kongo of Gose in Nara Prefecture. It enshrines the deity Takamisubi no Mikoto (also called Takamahiko no Kami), which is known as the ancient god of the Katsuragi clan.

Mt Shirakumonomine (694m) is worshiped as a sacred mountain. In legend, it is a place where gods descend.

Beside the pathway to the shrine, there are many gigantic cedars that give the atmosphere of old Japan. One of the trees along the pathway is named Oshukubai Tree after a story about a priest. The priest was grieving over the death of a young child, when a falconine flew onto the tree and sang a song for the priest. In spring the tree bursts into beautiful bloom.
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仙台城 Sendai-jyou Sendai Castle

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Sendai Castle is located on Mt Aoba in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. Constructed in 1601, the castle is also known as Aoba Castle. Date Masamune established the castle during the Keicho years. For 270 years it was the home of the Date family and the Sendai clan's seat of government. Due to its inconvenient setting on a mountain, the Date family moved from Sendai Castle to Wakabayashi-yakata.

Sendai Castle is constructed in a circular enclosure system with Hon-no-maru in the center and Ni-no-maru, Higashi-no-maru and San-no-maru on the outer sides. The buildings are protected by Hirose River, and to the south by Ryu-no-guchi Valley.

After crossing Hirose bridge and climbing the gentle hill, one sees the ruins of the Ote Gate, which was said to resemble a reconstruction of Hizen Nagoya Castle. Ote Gate was destroyed by war, but today the restored gate and fortress give a a feel of the old atmosphere of the castle in former times.
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