Toridejuku was a post station on the Mito Road in the Edo period (1603-1868). In1687, the residence of the Someno family, Nanushi (village officer) of Toridejuku, was designated as honjin (the inn for the nobility and daimyo) by the Mito Tokugawa clan. The original building was burned down by fire in 1794 and the existing main building was built in the next year.
It is a large-scale private house in Yosemune-zukuri style, with 19 m wide and 13.3 m deep. The bargeboard on the Irimoya-styled roof (hip-and-gable roof) over the wooden step at the entrance hall gives a dignified impression. The inside of the residence was divided into two sections; the honjin section for lodging and the private section. As did the formal honjin, the honjin section had Jodan-no ma, which was the special room for the nobility and daimyo, and the suite of three rooms.
In the garden stands a stone monument inscribed with a poem written by Tokugawa Nariaki, the 9th lord of the Mito domain, in 1840, when he was on a boat going down the Tone River on his way back to Mito. The stone monument was later presented to the Someno family from the Mito domain, which shows the close connection between the Mito Tokugawa clan and the Someno family.
Yagumo Honjin is the former residence of the Kowata family, which was one of the wealthiest land owner families in Izumo province (present-day Shimane Prefecture). Carrying on a brewing industry, the family also served as O-Shoya (the officer that ruled Shoya of each village).
This grand building with a floor area of 2,640 m2 standing on 3,940 m2 land was constructed in 1733. In the Edo period, the residence was used as honjin (an inn for the nobility and daimyo), where the lord of the Matsue domain stayed when he made an inspection tour around the domain territory.
After World War II, the residence was open to public as a Japanese restaurant and inn, where guests can enjoy its gorgeous interior furnishings. Yagumo Honjin was nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property in 1969.
Kakinomoto Shrine in Kakinomoto, Katsuragi City, Nara Pref. is one of the sessha shrines (attached shrines) of Kakinomoto Honsha Shrine in Masuda City, Shimane Pref. It enshrines Kakinomoto Hitomaro, a poet in Manyoshu. As one of the legends concerning Kakinomoto Hitomaro found all over Japan, it is said that he was born here in Kakinomoto village. It is also said that he died in Iwami province (present-day Shimane Pref.) and later in 770, his body was reburied here. Kakinomoto Hitomaro was a poet and aristocrat of the Nara period (701-794). With the sophisticated poetry style, he is said to be the greatest lyric poet in Manyoshu and was counted as one of the 36 great poets in Japan in the later period. His grave located to the left of the main hall was built in the Edo period.
The temple next to the shrine is an attached temple, Keigenji Temple, which is called Kakinomoto-dera. The wooden statue of Kakinomoto Hitomaro curved by Buddhist archbishop Sinzei is placed in the main hall but it is not open to public.
Kakinomoto Shrine in Nara is a historic shrine pertaining to the great poet in ancient Japan.
Saigyo-an located in Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Nara Pref. is a hermitage, where Saigyo supposedly spent three years. Saigyo (1118-1190) was a great poet in the Heian period and wrote poems for “Shin-Kokin-shu” and “Sanka-shu.” The wooden statue of Saigyo is placed inside the hut. Cherishing the memory of Saigyo, Matsuo Basho visited the hut and composed a poem in 1684. Two stone monuments respectively inscribed with a poem by Saigyo and Basho stand in front of this serene hermitage. Surrounded with cherry blossoms in spring and autumnal foliage in fall, the hermitage will impress you with the wabi-sabi aesthetic and inspire your poetic mind.
A clear water called “Koke-Shimizu” springs out in the vicinity. It is counted as one of 31 Fine Water in Yamato.
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.
Heishoji Temple in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect. According to the temple record written in 1616, it was founded by Prince Shotoku (574-622); it later became a temple of the Tendai sect and named Dandokuzan Daihimitsuin Temple; and when Prince Hirakatsu (平勝), the 3rd son of Emperor Go-Daigo, visited this temple to pray for victory, the temple name was changed to Heishoji (平勝寺).
The principal object of worship is the treasured wooden statue of Kannon Bosatsu. It was carved with the Yosegi-zukuri (assembled wood) technique and the writing contained inside the statue shows that it was made in 1159. The display of this secret Buddha is held once every 17 years. It is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
Myogenji Temple located amidst of the residential district near Okazaki Station is the oldest training ashram of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in Mikawa province (present-day Aichi Prefecture).
There used to stand a castle at the place where the temple is located today. In 1235, Ando Nobuhira, the castellan who ruled Aomi county (present-day eastern part of Aichi Prefecture), invited Priest Shinran, who was on his way back to Kyoto, and listened to his preach in a small hall called “Taishi-do” in the castle area. Deeply moved by Shinran’s preaching, Nobuhira left secular life as a warrior and entered the priesthood. In 1258, he founded a temple and named it Myogenji (明眼寺).
In the late 16th century, Tokugawa Ieyasu stayed at this temple during the Ikko-Ikki battles because the temple had been worshipped by his father’s family, the Matsudaira clan. He presented the new kanji name (妙源寺) to the temple, allowing it to use the kanji “源,” which was the name of his ancestry family, the Minamoto clan.
Turning down a side street off the main road of Okazaki City, you will find a castle gate in Iyakumon-style. Go along the front approach until you get to the four-legged gate, beyond which you will find the precinct dotted with several temple structures including Taishido Hall, the main hall, the priest’s residential quarters and the bell tower.
Taishido Hall housing the statue of Prince Shotoku at age 16 is supposedly built in the middle of the Muromachi period (1336-1573). As there used to be a willow tree in front of the hall, it is popularly called “Yanagi-do (Willow Hall).”It is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
Kumano Hongusha Shrine in Takadate, Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a shrine associated with Kumano Worship. What is called Kumano Worship is the faith in Kumano Sanzan, a set of three Grand Shrines located in the southeastern part of the Kii Mountain Range in Wakayama Prefecture; Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha. It had spread all over the country in the late Heian period and onward.
Kumano Shrines have become located in various parts of Japan as Kumano Worship spread in the country; however, Natori is the only the place that has three Kumano Grand Shrines. It is said that in the late Heian period, a mountain practitioner visited an old shrine priestess in Natori and passed on a message from Kumano Gongen, the deity of Kumano Sanzan. To hear this, she decided to found the three Kumano Great shrines in Natori in 1123.
Comparing Mt. Takadate (Mt. Natori) to the Kumano Mountains, the Natori River to the Kumano River and Sendai Bay to the Kumanonada Sea, Natori Kumano Sanzan has become the largest-scaled sacred site of Kumano Worship in the Tohoku region.
Kumano Hongusha Shrine is located in the northernmost of the three shrines. Honden (the main hall) is a stately building with a Kokera-buki (thin wooden shingles) roof.
A Deer Dance, which is designated as an intangible cultural property of Natori City, has been handed down at this shrine. It is a traditional dance, in which dancers wear a deer head and carry the red and the yellow flags on their backs. The name of the shrine is written on the red flag, while the four-character idiom of kanji meaning “Hope for a rich harvest” is written on the yellow one.