Kurufushi Shrine is located in Takachiho-cho, Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture. The shrine is dedicated to Amatsuhikohikohono-niniginomikoto.
In earlier days when there was no building erected on the site, the mountain itself was the subject of worship and it was counted as one of the Eighty Eight Takachiho Shrines. In 1694, the shrine was built by the lord of the Nobeoka Clan and the people of the village, who were deeply devoted to their faith.
According to Kojiki, the oldest surviving book, Niniginomikoto descended to the top of “Mount Kujifuru” in Takachiho. This Mount Kujifuru is believed to be today’s Mount Kurufuru where, halfway up the side, the Kurufushi Shrine stands. In the vicinity are some other mythological sites including Shioujiga-mine which is said to be the birth place of Emperor Jinmu’s brothers, as well as theTakamagaharayouhaisho and Takachioho-hi Monument.
Kurufushi Shrine is a tranquil place surrounded by woods. Visiting this shrine, along with theTakachiho Shrine and the Amanoiwato Shrine is called sansha mairi (three shrines visit) and the practice has been popular since the old days.
Go-ishi or Go stones are black and white stones used for “Go”, a Japanese traditional board game that originated in China. Hyuga Clam Go Stones are Go stones produced in the Hyuga region, made from clamshells.
Prior to the Meiji period, stones, wood, and gems were generally used to make Go stones.
In the beginning of the Meiji period, Go-ishi makers in Oosaka began to use clams for Go stones in the Kuwana region of Mikawa. Due to vigorous production, however, clams in the region became scarce and Go-ishi makers had to look elsewhere for supplies.
Eventually Go-ishi makers found an abundant source of good clams in the Hyuga region and, as a result, all go-ishi makers in Oosaka started using them.
Around 1908, Seikichi Harada, who was from the Hyuga region and who had been trained as a Go-ishi maker in Oosaka, decided to go back to his home town where he and his workmate, Eijirou Ogawa, began producing Go stones. Due to their tireless efforts, Go-ishi making increased and it became one of the most important local businesses.
Hyuga is now the production center of clamshell Go stones in Japan. Its Go-ishi making techniques, mastered over the years, are highly regarded even outside of Japan.
Hyuga Clam Go Stones are the highest quality of Go-ishi in every respect, due to their fine texture, color, gloss and shape.
Matsuri Nobeoka Festival held since 1977 is the biggest summer event in the northern part of Miyazaki Prefecture. It is a citizen’s festival featuring the fireworks display, the Deai Mikoshi parade and the Banba So-odori dancing parade. Everything is planned and carried out by the executive committee organized by the citizens under the themes of “the warm heat,” “the love for homeland” and “the feeling of thankfulness.”
The members of the committee attend the necessary workshops, set the shooting ground and shoot up 10,000 fireworks by themselves with the aid of pyrotechnists.
In the Deai Mikoshi parade, large mikoshi (portable shrines) are dynamically waggled and lifted up and down. The largest mikoshi named “Sanbyakkan Mikoshi” weighs more than 1 ton.
The Banba Odori dance is a traditional performing art handed down in this area since the Edo period (1603-1868). In the Banba So-odori parade, more than 5,000 citizens including Mayor participate and dance in a huge circle. In the recent years, the new styles of Banba dances such as “New Banba,” “New New Banba” in the Okinawan Eisa style and “Samba Banba” are also popular among young citizens.
Gottan is a stringed instrument that has been passed down in the Miyazaki Prefecture.
It is very similar to shamisen, which is a more broadly used traditional instrument in Japan. While shamisen uses animal skin, gottan uses Japanese cedar wood and is smaller than shamisen. Gottan is generally perceived to be a cross between shamisen and sanshin, a traditional instrument in Okinawa.
In the past, when carpenters built a house, they would make a gottan out of the wood left over and present it to the owner of the house as a gift. This custom has been almost totally lost today although the instrument itself has been preserved.
During the rule of the Satsuma Clan, when the ban on some Buddhist sects (especially the True Pure Land sect) was imposed, people are said to have kept their religious faith by singing songs instead of chanting and the gottan, which was used to accompany these songs, became widely used as far as the Miyakonojyou region.
The gottan is often used to accompany a popular style of song known as Yassabushi. This is lively music performed with the shamisen, drums and other musical accompaniments. The gottan, also called Hako (box) shamisen or Ita (board) shamisen, produces a simple yet sharp and crisp sound that invokes the local mood.
Climbing Monkey is a folk toy that has been handed down for years in the Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture. The toy is put up on a bamboo pole along with Koinobori or carp shaped streamers on “Boy’s Day” – May 5th to pray for the children’s good health and prosperity in the future. When the wind blows, the monkey starts climbing up the pole.
The making of the Climbing Monkey toy is said to have started around 200 years ago as a homemade craft by the samurai wives of the Nobeoka Naitou Clan. There are some popular myths as to why a climbing monkey first appeared. One story says that it was created to admonish Sarutahiko, a Monkey God during the mythical age, who acted violently and ran amuck. Another story is that, before he was victorious in battle, the head of the Arima Clan, a previous occupant of the region prior to the Nobeoka Clan, had a monkey drawn on the war banner that he carried on his back.
The toy is made by first creating a monkey shaped wooden mold. The mold is wrapped with many layers of Japanese paper and then, the back of it is cut to remove the mold. The remaining paper is then stitched up before it is colored. The monkey wears the golden-striped eboshi headgear worn by court nobles and it carries a kozutsumi drum and a gohei (a wand with paper streamers) on its back. His appearance resembles a dancer who performs the celebratory dance before a Kabuki performance. The monkey is then suspended from a banner on which iris flowers are drawn. Although it is not a modern creation, Climbing Money continues to delight children into the 21st Century.
Zogan (or inlay) is a metalwork technique which involves engraving the surface of a metal sheet and then inserting different materials into it.
Nisshu-Sukashi Zogan was highly influenced by the Higo Zogan method, which was started in 1632 by Matashichi Hayashi. He was an artisan who worked under Tadatoshi Hosokawa, the head of the Kumamoto Clan. He mostly used the zogan to decorate rifles and sword guards.
In zogan making, a metal sheet is prepared by casting or hammering it. A design which can be as small as 0.3mm, is then engraved into it. Gold is inlayed and the work is then further engraved. The intricacy of this process is so fine that it is almost the ultimate in what a person can produce by hand. The finished zogans are treasured because of their elegant patterns and rare beauty.
Nisshu-sukashi Zogans are still created today in the Nobeoka region. Because of the intricacy of the process, however, only a handful of them can be made each year. This adds to the value of these rare and beautiful craftworks.
Hisamine Uzura Guruma or Hisamine Quail Toy Car is a traditional folk toy whose history has been passed down for years in Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture.
Since Edo era, quail has been a familiar bird in Miyazaki region and local people adore them. It was a local practice to keep the birds to enjoy their calling.
Quail in Japan breed in Hokkaido and northeastern Japan from Spring to Summer, then migrate to warmer areas of Shikoku and Kyushu from Fall to Winter.
Uzura Gurum is a children’s toy based on the quail. Japanese Angelica tree is used for the body and bamboo is used to make the axle of the wheels. On its side is a word, “の”, to pray for children’s safety and happiness.
In old days, the quail toy car was sold at religious festivals in Hisamine Kannon and Kishibo Shrine. They are still loved by the locals and can be seen being displayed by the front entrance of each household.
There are two kinds of quail toy cars in Miyazaki City; One in Hokkedake Yakushi-ji Temple and the other one in Hisamine Kannon. Hisamine quail toy car has a more feminine look.
Karui, made from woven bamboo, is a basket used to carry things on one’s back. They have been used in the Miyazaki Prefecture to carry grains, mushrooms, manure and other things needed for farm work.
The bamboo used to make karui baskets is “madake bamboo”, which grows wild all over Japan. The bamboo used for the body of the basket is woven with six strands and the “masubushi” weave is applied to finish the edge. Karui is a useful item made from all natural materials.
These baskets have an upside-down triangular pyramid shape which doesn’t allow the basket to sit on a flat surface easily. Although the baskets are unstable on level ground, they sit well on steep, mountainous hills. The wisdom of this design was gained from living in deep mountainous regions.
Today, karui are used, not only as baskets for transporting things, but also as interior decorations such as vases, letter holders or newspaper racks. They remain much loved by many people.