Sangasho Shrine located in Gokase-cho in the northwest part of Miyazaki Pref. in central Kyushu is a shrine famous for seasonal flowers. The shrine originates in the hokora (small shrine) at the top of Mt. Futagami, which is believed to be the place of Tenson Korin (the Sun goddess’ descent to earth). Later during the Shotai era (898-901) the hokora was moved to the foot of the mountain and Sangasho Shrine was founded. It enshrines the deities of Izanagi and Izanami. The shrine was rebuilt in 1571. The present Honden (main hall) built in 1817 is made of one zelkova tree and the excellent Nagare-zukuri style is employed there. Exquisite wood carvings by master craftsmen of the time are especially beautiful. From the middle of April through the end of May, when the annual spring is festival is held, 12,000 stocks of alpine roses burst out in the precinct. Camellia and weeping cherry blossoms are also splendid when they are in full bloom. The gallant Araodori Dance by male dancers in warrior costume is a nationally designated Important Intangible Cultural Property. It is dedicated to the deities of this shrine on the last Saturday of September every year.
Kenryuji Temple is in Wakuya Town in Miyagi Prefecture, known as a castle town at the foot of Wakuya Castle, where the Wakuya Date clan resided. It is said that the principal image of worship, the statue of Nyoirin Kanzeon, was carved by a Buddhist sculptor, Ankei.
In 1591, when Watari Shigemune became the ruler of the area, he invited the priest Ryogan of Myoshinji Temple in Kyoto and restored the deserted temple, naming it Endoji Temple. In 1671, upon the death of Date Muneshige, the 4th generation of the Wakuya Date clan, it was renamed the present name after his Buddhist name.
In the precinct is the mausoleum of Muneshige, Kenryubyo, built in 1673. Surrounded with white clay walls, the building is made of zelkova wood and has Kohai (a step canopy) and a copper roof in Hogyo-zukuri (a pyramid style). It is a prefecturally designated important cultural property. The mausoleums of the 5th and the 6th lords and the graves of other generations of head of the clan surround the Kenryubyo mausoleum.
Kenryuji is a temple of the Rinzai sect located in Wakuya Town in Miyagi Prefecture, known as a castle town at the foot of Wakuya Castle, where the Wakuya Date clan resided. The principal image of worship is Nyoirin Kanzeon.
In 1591, Watari Shigemune, the ruler of the area, restored the deserted temple and named it Endoji Temple. In 1671, when Date Aki Muneshige died, it was renamed the present name after his Buddhist name. Date Aki Muneshige was the 4th generation of the Wakuya Date clan and one of the central figures of Date Turbulence. The details of the incident are as follows.
In 1671, Aki complained to the Shogunate of the mismanagement of the Sendai domain under Date Hyobu Munekatsu, the guardian of the young lord, and Harada Kai, a magistrate. When all the Date retainers involved were summoned to the Tairo’s mansion for questioning, Harada Kai suddenly drew his sword and killed Aki. Harada was also killed moments after by the officials. In a trial held soon after the incident, it was decided that the Harada family was destroyed and Hyobu was punished, while Aki was judged to be a paragon of loyalty, and no action was taken against his family.
In the precinct is Otamaya (the Kenryubyo mausoleum) of Date Aki Muneshige, which is designated as an important cultural property by the prefecture. The mausoleum was built in 1673. It is a 3.6-meter square building made of zelkova wood and has Kohai (a step canopy). Together with a copper roof in Hogyo-zukuri (a pyramid style), it is a precious example of the architectural style of the time.
Kataoka Family Residence is an old residence in Uda, Nara Prefecture.
The residence is in a preserved area that includes 9 old houses that were probably made between 1619 and the early Meiji period. The thatched roof house was made in 1680 and the terraced house was made in 1832. The Oden was used to accommodate visitors and it is beautifully decorated.
In the garden, there are trees such as an 800-year-old zelkova tree and a gigantic weeping cherry.
Kataoka Family Residence is designated as an important cultural asset and visits are possible by advance reservation. The buildings are still used as residences, and retain the ambience of a former townscape.
Odawara lacquerware is a traditional craft from the Odawara district in Kanagawa prefecture.
Odawara lacquerware was first made in the mid-Muromachi period by painting on wood found in abundance on the nearby Hakone mountain range. Later, Hōjō Ujiyasu invited a craftsman to introduce the coloring technique. As a result, its technique was acknowledged and Odawara lacquerware started to develop.
In the mid-Edo period, Odawara lacquerware became available in the markets of the capital Edo, and its technique became established in cities and post stations near the main Hakone stations on the Tokaido Road.
Odawara lacquerware uses the natural feel of wood such as zelkova combined with lacquering techniques known as 'suriurushi' and 'kijironuri'.
The main Odawara lacquerware products are bowls, pots, plates and trays. In 1984, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry designated Odawara lacquerware as a traditional cultural asset.
The Kanba Falls Nature Park is located near Maniwa, in the northwest of Okayama Prefecture. Inside the park, the main waterfall is 110m high and 20m wide, and has such an abundant volume of water that the sound of it falling can be heard from the trail far from the waterfall itself. Kanba Falls is known as one of the greatest waterfalls in western Japan and is one of Japan's top 100 waterfalls.
The nature park is also the habitat of some 200 wild monkeys that can sometimes be seen by visitors. The valley near the waterfall is a beautiful wooded area, with deciduous trees such as katsura, zelkova, itaya-maple and inu-shide, as well as rarer trees such as the ke-guwa and iwa-shide. The park is beautiful in any season, but especially in the fresh-green season of spring and the red-foliage season of autumn. Every year, hundreds of tourist come to visit the waterfall.
Inami woodcarving is a traditional handicraft of Toyama prefecture. Both sides of the wood, which may be camphor, zelkova and paulownia, are carved in deep relief with landscapes, flowers, birds and people. The carving requires great skill and the artisans use more than 200 chisels.
In the mid-Edo period, when the main building of Zuisenji Temple (which had been destroyed by fire) was rebuilt, woodcarvers were invited from Kyoto to complete the work. The local Toyama people learned the skills of woodcarving from them, and this is said to be the origin of Inami woodcarving.
Until the late Edo period, carpenters did most of the work for temples. But, after the Meiji period, professional woodcarvers appeared, who created many of the public works we see today.
With the passage of time, Inami woodcarving has changed from rich temple carvings into interior wooden pieces for private homes, mainly to make transom windows.
Inami woodcarving was designated as a Traditional Handicraft by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in 1975.
Yamadera Nio Mon (Deva Kings) Gate is part of the Yamadera temple complex in Yamagata prefecture.
Yamadera is a branch temple of Enryaku-ji on Hieizan in Kyoto and was established by the priest Jikaku in 860. The official name of Yamadera is Mount Houshu Ryūshaku-ji.
Yamadera is famous for Matsuo Bashō's haiku
The cries of the cicadas
Sink into the rocks
It is believed that the Jyouden Osho, or 65th monk of Ryūshaku-ji, had the Nio Mon built. The graceful gate is made of zelkova wood. Looking up to it from the slope below, it appears to float in the sky.
The gate is flanked by statues of the Deva Kings. They are reputed to be the work of Hirai Genshichiro and were made to prevent people with wicked souls from entering the temple.