NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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妓王寺 Giou-ji Gioji Temple in Yasu

Jp En

Other than Gioji Temple in Oku-Sagano in Kyoto, there is a temple named Gioji in Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture. Yasu City is said to be where Gio and Ginyo in Tale of the Heike were born.

After her father’s death, Gio went to Kyoto and became a Shirabyoshi, a dancer that performed traditional Japanese dances dressed as a man. In time, Taira no Kiyomori, the ruler of the country, was captivated by her good looks and tenderness and they fell in love with each other.

Gio asked Kiyomori to construct a canal for the people in her home town, which was suffering from droughts. Thanks to the canal, this area recovered from a bad harvest and became one of the largest rice producing centers in the country. Local people named the canal the Gioi River in token of their thanks.

However, one day, Kiyomori was fascinated by another Shirabyoshi named Hotokegozen. Grieving over Kiyomori’s change of mind, Gio and her younger sister Ginyo and her mother became Buddhist nuns and returned to their home town. Hotokegozen, who knew this and became enlightened that the same thing could happen to her and the rising sun would set in due time, left Kiyomori and visited Gio to become a nun herself.

After their death, village people built Gioji Temple to express their gratitude to these nuns as well as to mourn for them. The statue of the four nuns stands quietly in the precinct.
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向泉寺 小松如来 Kousen-ji Komatsu-nyorai Kosenji Temple

Jp En

Kosenji Temple in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, is an historic temple pertaining to the Taira clan. In 1321, after the fall of the Taira clan, a descendant of Taira no Shigemori, known as Komatsu Naidaijin (Inner Minister), disguised himself as a mountain practitioner and came to this village, escaping from his enemies. He founded a temple named Komatsu-dera Temple, where he placed the statue of Amida Nyorai, which was his family’s guardian Buddha, and held memorial services for his deceased ancestors. Later, the temple was changed its name to Kosenji Temple.

The principal object of worship, the statue of Amida Nyorai, was presented to Shigemori by the temple in Auyung in present Ningbo City in China, and treasured as the guardian of the family. After it was enshrined at this temple, it has been named Komatsu Nyorai after Shigemori, and worshipped by local people.  

The temple possesses a lot of cultural properties such as the statue of Idatenjin, the Jizo statue carved by Kaikei and the 12 ancestral tablets including the one for Shigemori, which make us think of the rise and fall of the Taira clan, who once ruled the country.
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能面 俊寛 Noumen Shunkan Noh Mask Shunkan

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Shunkan is a Noh mask used in the play “Shunkan,” a story about a Buddhist priest Shunkan (1143-1179) written in the Tale of the Heike. The priest of the Shingon sect, Shunkan, and the two aristocrats, Fujiwara no Naritsune and Taira no Yasuyori were exiled to “Devil’s Island (Kikaigashima)” off the coast of Satsuma province, as punishment for a plot against the ruling Taira clan. As Fujiwara no Naritsune and Taira no Yasuyori were pardoned later because they made 1,000 wooden stupas and floated them into the sea, one of which drifted to the shore of Itsukushima Island in Aki province and attracted attention of Taira no Kiyomori. Shunkan, on the other hand, was accused of being the mastermind of the plot and left alone on the island. Shunkan was deeply depressed and fasted to death there. Zeami was moved by this tragedy and wrote the play “Shunkan.” The Shunkan mask expresses the great woe and despair.
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三十三間堂 Sanjyuusangen-dou Sanjuusangen-dou Temple

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Sanjuusangen-dou is a temple located in Higashiyama, Kyoto. The temple is officially known as Rengeouinhondou. It belongs to and is run by Myouhou-in Temple. Sanjuusangen-dou was destroyed by fire in 1249 and later rebuilt in 1266.
The temple was originally built by Taira no Kiyomori in 1165 by order of Emperor Goshirakawa inside the premises of Houjyuu-ji Temple complex which the Emperor also built and lived in.
Sanjuusangen-dou (designated as a National Treasure) is translated as “a hall with thirty three spaces” and, as the name suggests, the temple has 33 bays. The columns extend for a distance of 118 meters. In Edo period, the temple held an archery tournament known as “Tooshiya” under the eaves. Even now, the temple holds the National Archery Competition on January 15th every year at their archery range located on the west side of the temple, keeping the tradition alive.
One thousand one statues of Thousand Armed Kannon are arranged in a spectacular scene inside the temple enchanting visitors.
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厳島神社 社殿 Itsukushima-jinjya Shaden The Shaden of Itsukushima Shrine

Jp En

The shaden (the main hall) of Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima Pref. was built in the distinctive Shinden-zukuri architectural style that was typical to the Heian period (794-1192). The shrine was founded in 593 during the reign of Empress Suiko. Later in 1168, it was reconstructed into the present gorgeous building complex with the fund of Taira no Kiyomori, the ruler of the country. Although the buildings have been repaired and reconstructed many times, the original forms are preserved in a good state. The orange color of the wooden buildings with Japanese cypress bark roofs contrast beautifully with the green mountains and the blue sea. As the shrine is partially constructed over the sea, the shrine buildings connected with corridors are gradually washed by the water as the tide comes in the bay. Looking like a floating palace in the sea, the shrine gives a solemn impression to the viewers. The famous Otorii Gate is erected in the water in front of the shrine. It used to be the formal manner to go through the floating torii gate at high tide and visit the shrine.
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伏見稲荷 Fushimi-inari Fushimi Inari Taisha

Jp En

Fushimi Inari Taisha is the headquarters of all the Inari shrines dedicated to the Inari deity. It is located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto.

In 711, the Tai clan, a powerful family living in Fushimi, made a dedication to the Inari deity on an area of flat ground on Mitsuga Peak in Mt Inari; this is the origin of the Fushimi Inari shrine.

In the middle of the Heian period, when people visited it regularly, they were given the 'deity's cedar'. There remains a document saying that Taira Kiyomori came out into the field of the Hogen and Heiji Disturbance with a stick of cedar in the sleeve of his armor.

The Fushimi Inari shrine was almost destroyed in the Onin war in 1468. Although Japan was in social chaos for many years after the war, reconstruction of the shrine began in 1492, and a totally new shrine had been completed by 1499.
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厳島神社(世界遺産) Itsukushima-jinjya(Sekai-isan) Itsukushima Shrine (World Heritage site)

Jp En

Itsukushima Shrine, set against islands in the Setonai Sea, whose wooden buildings are in the bay, is a very rare construction even in Japan. In the 12th century, Taira Kiyomori a military commander in the Heian period made the basis of the glorious shrine seen now. This initial building was burned down and in 1421 rebuilt.  Subsequently leaders continued to rebuild and restore many times and Itsukushima came to be the shrine you can see now.

Itsukushima Shrine is under a very severe environmental situation for a wooden building, being in the corrosive sea, but it has been preserved eagerly by successive governments. It is a very rare building preserved in a very traditional style.

The architectural style of the shrine embodies the feeling in the Heian period, when Kiyomori built it, and you can see many graceful curving lines. Technically it also introduced the style of 'Shinden-Zukuri' which were residences of the aristocracy in the Heian period.  The shrine is harmonized between a mixture of unconventional ideas and established style, which is very remarkable in Japan.

In 1996, Itsukushima Shrine was designated as a World Heritage site.
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