Osaki Hachimangu Shrine in Yawata, Aoba-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine founded in 1607 by Date Masamune as the highest guardian god of the Sendai domain. The enshrined deities are Emperor Ojin and his parents Emperor Chuai and Empress Jingu.
As the oldest structure ever built in the Toshogu style known as Gongen-zukuri, which brings the culture of the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1598) to the present day, the shrine pavilion is designated as a National Treasure.
Nagatoko (the worshippers’ hall) is presumed to have been constructed a little later than the shrine pavilion. It is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property as the oldest Nagatoko-styled structure in the prefecture.
The hall is 9 bays wide and 3 bays deep with a thatched roof in the Irimoya-zukuri (hip and gabled) style. The entrance has a Karahafu (an undulating bargeboard)-styled roof.
As it has an aisle evenly separating the building, it is called Wari-Haiden (the split oratory). Compared to the gorgeous Honden (the shrine main pavilion), it gives a sober impression.
At Anrakuji Temple, there is a three-storied octagonal pagoda among the pine trees lining the road from Mt. Ogami in Ueda Shinshu.
Anrakuji Temple is said to have been established in the early Heian period, but its history before the Kamakura period is vague. This pagoda is the oldest building in the temple complex of Anrakuji. In addition, it is the only existing octagonal pagoda in Japan and also a very rare example of a Zen three-storied pagoda.
The pagoda is 18.75m tall. Its Zen architectural features include the connections between the pillars and the radial baulks that decorate the impressive octagonal roof. Even the Buddhist altar is octagonal. There is a Dainichi-Nyorai statue, which is very rarely seen in a Zen structure. The pagoda looks four-storied but the lowest roof is, in fact, a line of eaves called 'mokoshi'.
In 1947, the pagoda and Nagano Castle were the first buildings in Nagano prefecture to be designated National Treasures.
Sasaoka House is an old private house located in Uda, Nara Prefecture. It is the former residence of the Sasaoka family, country samurai who governed nine villages in the Edo period.
The house was built in the Kanei period (1624-44). The fifth house owner, Gohe, won some contest of strength and got pine trees from the domain head. He used the pines to build the house, and the pole plates, too.
The roof is thatched and half-hipped and the wall is white and unembellished. This tells us something of the atmosphere of olden times.
The large garden is well taken care of and is beautiful in spring, when the cherry trees and other shrubbery blossom.
The house has been designated as a National Important Cultural Asset, while the 24th head of the Sasaoka family still lives here and manages the house.
Kura and dozo are storehouses that are built according to traditional Japanese architectural styles, with outer walls hardened by mud and plaster.
Buildings such as kura and dozo were predominantly built for fire and theft prevention, but later on began to be built as a sign of wealth. Formerly used to resist fires during the Edo period, the kura or dozo are known to be strong enough to withstand and retard any fire, as already proved during the American carpet-bombings of World War II.
The walls of kura and dozo have characteristic bumps that have led to them being dubbed 'sea-cucumber walls'. Currently, these kinds of buildings take advantage of their distinct look and are used as restaurants or shops.
Plasterers who complete the walls with mud and plaster work hand-in-hand on traditional architecture projects. Plasterers have always been unbelievably skilled workers who took wall-making to artistic levels.
Walls are built around castles and towers as protection. These walls are usually made of stone, and are mounted within the basic structure of the architecture.
Walled fortresses can be seen in many world civilizations. Although, the styles differ, the basics are the same; some are beautifully made and some have special features, such as ducts for discharging water.
In Japan, walling can be seen especially in castles and castle towns. The Ano Group from Kunie are famous for their designs of fortresses and their beautifully designed walls. Also, in the Ryukyu Islands, it was common practice to put stones on roofs and the surroundings to protect their houses from fierce winds and storms.
In Japanese, the word 'koshi' is a mathematical term for equidistant segments and dividers. Generally, though, koshi is used to represent lattice doors or iron grates.
From olden times, Japanese lattice doors were doors of temple-style architecture. This changed during the late Heian period when double sliding doors became more popular. Black laquered sliding lattice doors are described in the 'Tale of Genji Picture Scroll' and the 'Annual Event Picture Scroll'.
Lattice doors can separate spaces, ventilate rooms, take in light and make rooms look more beautiful, all at the same time. All of these things connect to the introduction of shoji: paper sliding doors.
The Omi merchants (Omi shonin) were based in Omi, but peddled their merchandise around Japan. The majority of them came from Omi-hachiman, Hino and Gokasho. Merchants from the latter, were known as Gokasho shonin.
Gokasho is known as the origin of the Omi merchants, who became considerably wealthy. Within the city, many mansions and gardens can be seen. The old city has been designated as an important cultural architecture preservation area. Some of the houses are open to visitors. Many of the shops and business enterprises that were founded in the late-Edo to Meiji period are still carrying out business today.
There are two towns in Usa: Usa-cho that has the Usa Shrine, and Yokkaichi-cho. In Yokkaichi-cho, there are two large temples: the Shingon Otani school of Buddhism Yokkaichi branch temple and Jyodoshinshu Honganji school of Buddhism Yokkaichi branch temple.
As seen, Usa used to be a temple town. The latter was a central temple of Jyodoshinshu in the Kyushu area. The former was established in 1562 and was called Ohigashisan. It burned down once in 1868, but was reconstructed in 1889. The original huge gate, however, has survived and stands today. Combined, the two temples form the largest wooden architecture in Japan.