Nishiki-goi, developed from black carp, are ornamental, brightly colored carp. They were initially bred in the area of Nagaoka and Ojiya City in the Niigata Prefecture.
The earliest account of these carp was found in Nihonshoki, the second oldest book of Japanese history, in which it was said that Emperor Keiko (71~130) intentionally released carp to a pond. This is now regarded as a proof that carp were already bred by people at that time.
Nishiki-goi were born from mutated carp that were raised for food in Nagaoka and Ojiya City during Bunka Bunsei period (1804~1830).
The villagers noticed and became fascinated by these brightly colored carp and they started to breed them for ornamental purposes. Since then, carp have been developed in more than 80 colors and patterns.
Nishiki-goi, which, translated literally, means brocaded carp, was said to be so named after a remark by the head of the Nigata Prefectural Fishery Agency who, astonished with their beauty, exclaimed “ This is the very brocaded carp!”
Nishiki-goi can now be appreciated around the world which the Japanese people can take pride in.
Sanage Shrine in Toyota City, Aich Prefecture, is a historic shrine pertaining to the legends referred to in Kojiki (the Records of Ancient Matters) and Nihon Shoki (the Chronicles of Japan). It is said that the shrine was founded in 192 during the reign of Emperor Chuai, but it is not historically verified. The oldest existing record about the shrine says that the deity of this shrine was ranked Ju-goi-no-ge (the second rank of the fith class) in 851. The shrine was the 3rd largest shrine in the Mikawa province in the old times.
The enshrined deity is Ousu no Mikoto, who is a twin brother of Yamato Takeru no Mikoto. According to Nihon Shoki, when Emperor Keiko ordered Ousu no Mikoto to set out for the eastern land to put down the barbarians, he refused it. According to Kojiki, he was killed by his brother Yamato Takeru because he committed a lot of wrongful acts. However, the shrine record says that Ousu no Mikoto was bitten by a poisonous snake and dead in the mountain of Sanage, where he was buried. The shrine also enshrined a left-handed scythe because Ousu no Mikoto was a left-handed person.
The main shrine is located at the foot of Mt. Sanage, 629 m above sea level. Together with the east shrine in the east peak and the west shrine in the west peak, they were generically called Sanage Sanja (three shrines) Daimyojin. The dedication of “Bo-no-te,” a kind of the martial arts using a stick, is held in October every year.
Kashizaki Hoin Kagura is a traditional folk performing art handed down in Kashizaki in Monou Town, Ishinomaki City Miyagi Prefecture. It is designated as a prefecture’s folk cultural property.
Hoin Kagura was a genre of the traditional kagura dances performed by the Shugendo practitioners as a part of their ascetic training. Its artistic charm fascinated village people and it became a popular event at the festivals of local shrines when entertainment was scarce.
After the Meiji period, young village people began to perform the kagura dance themselves. As entertainment was still scarce, the dramatic element of Hoin Kagura attracted attention of villagers and it rapidly spread all over the country.
According to word of mouth, Kashizaki Hoin Kagura originates in the kagura performed at Kashima Shrine in Kami Town during the Horeki era (1751-1763). The repertoire includes mythical stories from Kojiki (the Records of Ancient Matters) and Nihon Shoki (the Chronicles of Japan). The music ensemble is composed only of one drummer and one Japanese flute player. The main feature is Himemai (literally meaning “princess dances”) performed by male dancers acting female roles. The elegant dancing of mythical goddess delights the spectators.
Suinin Tenno-ryo located in Amagatsuji Nishi-machi, Nara City, Nara Pref. is presumed to be the tomb of Emperor Suinin, who was the 11th emperor of Japan referred to in Kojiki and Nihonshoki. The formal name of the tomb is “Sugawara Fushimi Higashi Ryo Horai-yama Kofun.” Although different Chinese characters are used now, the name “Horai” originally derives from Mt. Horai, where sages enjoy eternal life. The town to the north of the tomb is also named “Horai-cho.”The tomb is a keyhole-shaped kofun (Imperial tomb) with a square front and round back. The total length is 227 m. Surrounded by the water moats, the hill of the kofun looks very beautiful. A small islet in the south is said to be the tomb of Tajima-mori, who the emperor sent to Hitachi province to fetch everlasting fruit. This is the place filled with mystery and wonder of Japan’s mythological ages.
Kashihara Jingu Shrine is located at the southeastern foot of Mt. Unebiyama in Kashihara City, Nara Pref. It was constructed in 1890 at the site of Unebi Kashihara-gu, where, according to Nihon Shoki (the Chronicles of Japan), Japan’s first emperor, Jinmu, is said to have acceded to the throne. The deities enshrined are Emperor and Empress Jinmu and his consort, Hime-Tatara-Isuzu-Hime no Mikoto. The precinct has an area of as much as 500,000 square meters. Emperor Jinmu’s Tomb and many other imperial tombs are located in the surrounding area. Shinka-den Hall, the Kashikodokoro (imperial sanctuary) of Kyoto Palace was relocated to this place and used as the Main Hall. The Inner Haiden Hall (a hall of oratory) is used for New Year’s visit and Kigen-sai Festival (the regnal day of Emperor Jinmu and the National Foundation Day set up by the Meiji government). On the day of Jinmu-sai Festival, which is held on April 4 every year, a lot of people come to see a large-scale parade of people including several groups in ancient costume going through the town and appreciate Noh, Kyogen, and Kuzuso (an ancient dance performed at Imperial court).
Onokoro-jima Shrine is known as the mythological site of the birth of Japan and is located in Enami Shimohada, Awaji City in Awaji Island, the most southerly city of Hyogo Prefecture.
Onokoro-jima Shrine enshrines two deities: Izanagi and Izanimi who appeared in the myth of the birth of Japan described in the oldest written works: Kojiki and Nihonshoki. According to the legend, in the age of gods, when these two deities stood across a floating bridge of heaven and started churning the sea below with a halberd, seawater dripping from the edge of the halberd formed into islands and created eights islands including Awaji Island.
In the grounds of the shrine stands a beautiful vermillion Torii gate which towers 21.7 meters high and is regarded as one of the Japanese Three Great Torii along with Heian-jinguu Shrine and Miyajima. A stone slab also stands in the grounds inscribed with a famous haiku by Hattori Fuusetsu, a subordinate of Matasuo Bashou:
Ume ichirin, ichirin hodono, atatakasa
(A single flower on a plum tree, I feel the warmth of spring.)
Onokoro-jima Shrine is recently enjoying a new popularity among young people who visit the shrine for romantic help.
Nagara Shrine lies at the crossroads between Nagara Pathway (east-west) and Mizukoshi Pathway (north-south), at the foot of Mt Katsuragi, Nara Prefecture.
Nagara Shrine is also called Hime-no-Miya and enshrines the deity Shitateru Hime No Mikoto. The age of the shrine is unknown but it is mentioned in the 'Engishiki Jinmyo Notebook. Also, dating to 680, the 'Nihonshoki' records that: 'Some horse will be bestowed to this shrine for archery'.
The main building of Nagara Shrine is designated as an important cultural asset of the prefecture. It is covered with Japanese 'kaya' and the patterns drawn on the ceilings are colorful. The area still has an ambience of old Nagara and it is a place where people can take a rest.
The renowned Isame spring wells out at Kamo Temple in Samegai, Maibara, in Shiga Prefecture.
The spring is mentioned in the 'Kojiki' (Japan’s oldest extant chronicle) and the 'Nihon-shoki' (second-oldest book about the ancient history of Japan). It is said to be the holy water that washed away and cleansed the poison which had induced fever in Yamato-Takeru-no-mikoto (famous for slaying a violent deity at Mt Ibuki on his way back from the East). Legend has it that, in gratitude, Yamato-Takeru named the spring Isame-no-Shimizu.
The source of the spring is on Mt Ryozen and it is said that, as the water wells out and passes through the mountain rock and soil, the flavor as well as the mineral content of the water change.
Isame spring wells out from under a stone wall in the precinct of Kamo Temple to feed into a river which flows along the old 'nakasando' (road through the central mountains). The spring water of Isame, along with the nearby waters of the Saigyosui and the Jyuosui, has become an essential and indispensable source of water for the people of Samegai and can also be said to be 'oasis' water that relieves the tiredness and tension of travelers to this resort.
The famous spring water of Isame has been praised through the ages for its healing and soothing properties since time immemorial.