Shichseiken or Seven Star Sword is a Japanese sword that is 62.1cm in length and belongs to the Shitennou-ji Temple located in Shitennouji-ku, Oosaka City, Oosaka. It is designated as a National Treasure.
Shitennou-ji Temple was built by Shoutoku Taishi in 598 and it is sacred to Kukanzeonbosatsu.
Along with Heishishourinken, another sword that is also kept in Shitennou-ji, Shichiseiken is said to have been much loved by Shoutoku Taishi.
The name Seven Star Sword came from the fact that the sword is engraved with seven golden stars in the shape of a plough, using a technique called zougan. Additionally, the front side of the sword is carved with 5 asukagumo, using the golden zogan technique and at both ends of the seven stars, there are three V-shaped stars and three stars aligned with a blue dragon and a white tiger. The back of the sword is also engraved with asukagumo, seven stars, a blue dragon and a white tiger.
Shichiseiken, by comparison to Heishishourinken, has a more noticeable residual metal substance called suragu, however, it uses a finer raw metal called koitame-hada and it has a hososugu blade.
Shichiseiken is a historically valuable sword that has been carefully preserved from an ancient period.
Shitennou-ji Temple, located in Tennouji-ku, Osaka City, Osaka, is the head temple of Wa Shuu or Japanese Buddhist sect. The principal image of Buddha is Guse Kanzeon Bosatsu. The temple is a part of Kansai Kannon Pilgrimage, the 25th temple of Settsukoku Pilgrimage and the first temple of Shoutoku Taishi Reiseki Temples.
Shitennou-ji is an ancient temple built by Shoutoku Taishi on the first year of Emperoro Suiko era (593).
Doya-doya Festival is said to date back to 827 when Shushoue, a New Year’s memorial service, first took place, and is counted as one of the Big Three Strange Festivals in Japan.
Shushoue, which starts on New Year’s Day, is dedicated to good luck for the year and to pray for world peace and rich harvests. Doya-doya Festival takes place on January 14th, the final day of Shushoue.
The festival is a majestic soul-stirring event in which young men who are divided into white and red groups and wearing only headbands and clad in loincloth strive to grab an amulet called gohei. The name, Doya-doya, came from a Japanese expression of a big crowd gathering noisily.
Even now Shitennou-ji Doya-doya is still a very well attended thriving traditional religious festival.
Mizusawadera, or popularly called Mizusawa Kannon (Mizusawa, Ikaho-machi, Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture) is a historic temple of the Tendai sect. It is the 16th temple of Bando Pilgrimage to the 33 Holy Places of Kannon. The principal object of worship is Juichimen Senju Kannon Bosatsu (Kannon with 11 faces and 1,000 arms).
It is said that the temple was founded about 1,300 years ago by Priest Ekan from Goguryeo under the order of Empress Suiko and Emperor Jito and built by Takamitsu Chujo, the provincial governor. According to the temple record, it used to be a magnificent temple enshrining as many as 1,200 images of Buddha housed in more than 33 temple halls including the halls of Kon-do, Ko-do, Jogyo-do and Kanjo-do, the sutra library,, the bell tower and the Tahoto pagoda.
Rokkaku-do (the Hexagon Hall) constructed in the Genroku era (1688-1703) is a two-story pagoda that has a very unique structure, where the 6 images of Jizo Bosatsu are placed on the rotating platform.
The statues of Shaka Triad and other precious statues and paintings are displayed and open to the public in Shaka-do (the Shakamuni Hall), which was constructed in 2001.
Shinpukuji Temple, or popularly called “Mikawa Yakushi,” located in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Tendai sect. The principal object of worship is Mizu-Yakushi, which is the sacred water in the well housed in the octagon-shaped small hall set up in the center of the main hall. As it is believed that the sacred water has the power to cure eye diseases and make people healthy, the water has been worshipped for 1,400 years until today.
The temple was founded in 594 by Mononobe no Masachi, the second son of Mononobe no Moriya. When he visited this village, he saw a mysterious light shining at the top of the mountain, where the temple is now located. Wondering what it was, he climbed up the mountain and found a shining spring. Then Yakushi Nyorai appeared from the spring, at which he was deeply moved and decided to build a temple here.
The temple was very prosperous in the Kamakura period (1192-1333), when it supervised 36 branch temples. At present, people from all over the country visit this temple to pray for good health and recovery from eye diseases.
Yakurai Jinja Miwaryu Kagura is a traditional folk performing art handed down at Yakurai Shrine in Kami Town, Miyagi Prefecture. It is a kind of the Hoin-styled kagura dances that were performed by mountain practitioners. Its dancing style, Miwaryu (the Miwa school of dancing), dates back to the period reigned by Empress Suiko (the 7th century).
This kagura had been danced by shrine priests since the period when this area was ruled by the Osaki clan, who served as the Oshu Tandai (the responsible head of the shogun’s executive office in the Tohoku region), during the Muromachi period (1336-1573). It is now danced by volunteers among the shrine’s worshippers and managed by the Omiya family, the hereditary shrine priest family.
In 1683, the 4th lord of the Sendai domain, Date Tsunamura ordered Miwaryu Kagura be transferred to Kameoka Hachiman Shrine, the family god of the Date clan in present Sendai City, from which Kameoka Shrine Kagura derived. Miwaryu Kagura was also dedicated at Kamo Shrine in present Sendai City later by the order of the domain lord.
As there is no similar-styled kagura dance existing in the prefecture, the prefectural government acknowledged its cultural preciousness and designated it as an intangible folk cultural property in 1978. Since then it has been formally named “Yakurai Jinja Miwaryu Kagura.” At present, it is performed at the spring and autumn annual festivals and hands down the religious faith peculiar to this mountain area centered around Mt. Yakurai.
Ikaho Festival is held from September 18 to 20 every year at Ikaho Shrine in Ikaho Town in Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture. The shrine was founded during the period of Empress Suiko (reigned 592-628). The enshrined deities are Onamuchi no Mikoto and Sukunahikona no Mikoto. The annual autumn festival has been held on September 19 since the shrine was ranked as a Myojin Taisha shrine (a grand shrine enshrines a high-ranked deity) on this day in 835.
Ikaho Town is known throughout the country as a hot spring town, where a flight of 365 stone steps connect every streets of the town. On the day of the festival, mikoshi (portable shrine) and Ikaho’s traditional barrel-shaped mikoshi are carried up the stone steps and offered before the shrine at the top. The sight of the mikoshi carriers bumping against each other in the narrow stone steps is really thrilling. Some of them are sometimes so strained that they tumble down the steps.
The festival is combined with Roka Festival, at which a Japanese tea ceremony is held in memory of a Meiji-period novelist Tokutomi Roka, who introduced this hot spring town in his most famous novel “Hototogisu (The Cuckoo)”.
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.
Kunosan Toshogu Shrine located in Suruga-ku, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Pref. is a magnificent shrine pertaining to the Tokugawa clan. Enshrined here is Tosho Daigongen, namely Tokugawa Ieyasu. It was originally a temple founded in the mountain of Kuno in around 600 by Kuno Tadahito. In 1568, Takeda Shingen transferred the temple to the present-day Shimizu City and built Kuno Castle at the top of the mountain. After the Takeda clan was destroyed, the castle was possessed by the Tokugawa clan. In 1616, when Ieyasu died, he was buried here according to his will. Kunosan Toshogu Shrine was built under the order of Hidetada in as short a time as 1 year and 7 months after Ieyasu’s death. Later the divine spirit of Ieyasu was moved to Nikko Toshogu, but the shrine remained at the place.