Sapporo Clock Tower, or “Tokeidai,” is a symbol of Sapporo City, Hokkaido. The tower was built in 1878 as a militaly drill hall of the former Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University). At the time of the construction, it was a bell tower without a clock. However, as the first floor was used for laboratories, the incorrect experiment data were often obtained due to the vibration caused by the ringing bell, from which the clock was installed in 1881. The clock was designated as the standard time clock of sapporo in 1888. In 1903, when Agricultural College was relocated to the place where Kokkaido University is located now, the clock tower was left out of use for some time. Then in 1906, Sapporo ward office bought the tower and removed it not by dismantling but by dragging to the present location. Being loved by the citizens of Sapporo, it was designated as a National Important Cultural Property in 1970. The improvement works were given for 4 years since 1995, and it is now used as exhibition space and a ceremony hall.
Reizanji Temple located in Shimizu Ouchi, Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Pref. is a temple of the Kogi Shingon (old Shingon) sect. The temple is said to have been established by Priest Gyoki in 749. The main hall houses the principal image, the standing statue of Senju Kannon (Kannon with 1,000 arms), which is said to have been carved by Priest Gyoki. It has been worshipped by people as one of the Seven Kannon in Suruga province (present-day Shizuoka Pref.) and friendlily called “Kannon-san at Ouchi.”
The temple used to be located on the eastern side of the mountain but it was relocated to the present place during the Shogyo era (1332-1334). Going up the winding mountain path called “Thirty-three Curves,” you will get to Nio-mon Gate at the entrance, which is supposed to have been built at the end of the Muromachi period (the 16th century). It is one of the oldest structures in the prefecture and nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
The best time to see this temple is early spring, when the mountain path to the temple is lined with cherry trees in full bloom. After visiting Reizanji Temple, it is worth hiking thirty minutes further to Ipponmatsu Park at the summit.
Murakumo-gosho Zuiryuu-ji Temple belongs to Nichiren religious sect and is the only Monseki temple among Nichiren temples. It is now located at the top of Hachiman Mountain in Shiga Prefecture.
The temple was built in 1596 by Nisshuuni, an older sister of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, so she could pray there for the soul of her son, Hidetsugu, who was forced to commit harakiri by the order of Hideyoshi.
At the time the temple was built, Nisshuuni was given the land Murakumo of Saga, Kyoto, and the name, Zuiryuu-ji, to the temple by Emperor Goyouzei. The temple attracted many followers from the Imperial family and politically powerful aristocrats and was recognized as a Monseki temple, which is a title given to a temple that had a close relationship with aristocracy, and was called Murakumo-gosho. In the Edo period, the temple was transferred from Saga to Nishijin. The monument of Murakumo-gosho is still present in front of the Nishiji Textile Center.
In 1962, Nichieini who is the 12th representative of the temple and had dedicated her life to restoring it, moved the temple to its current location, the site of Oumi Hchiman Castle, where Hidetsugu was deeply connected to.
Magnificent views can be seen from the temple of the beautiful line of Suzuka Mountains far away, the town of Oomi in the south and Biwa Lake in the east. After the transfer, the main building and the gardens were restored by followers. The temple is now open to the public and welcomes visitors.
Shoin Shrine was founded in 1890 to enshrine Yoshida Shoin, who had devoted to developing many Sonno Shishi warriors until he was executed at age 29. His discoples include Takasugi Shinsaku, Kusaka Genzui, Maebara Issei, Yamagata Aritomo and Ito Hirofumi, who respectively made an outstanding contribution to the Meiji Restoration.
In 1955, the shrine was removed to the present location, where the shrine building was newly constructed. The old shrine building also exists in the north of the precinct as an attached shrine Shomon Shrine, where Shoin’s disciples are enshrined.
There area many historic ruins remaining in the precinct, which include the old house where Shoin was sentenced to house arrest and ran Shokasonjuku Academy to teach the youth. It is now open to the public.
As the deity of study, Shoin Shrine is the most respected shrine in the city of Hagi and visited by a lot of people especially on New Year’s Day.
Takachiho-gawara in the Kirishima mountain range (Kirishima City, Kagoshima Prefecture) is where Kirishima Jungu Shrine used to be located. It was originally built between Mt. Takachiho-no-mine and Mt. Ohachi but was destroyed by a volcanic eruption about 1,400 years ago and rebuilt at this place. However, it was again burnt down by the second eruption about 1,000 years ago and relocated to the town at the foot of the mountain. Presently only the remains have been preserved.
Located near the western starting point for climbing Mt. Takachiho-no-mine, the site is surrounded with the forest of red pine and the communities of Kyushu azalea. Seen from this point, Mt. Takachiho-no-mine protrudes into the sky, making a sharp angle. Its exquisite appearance deserves the name of “Holy Mountain.”
The summit of Mt. Takachiho-no-mine is believed to be where the Heavenly Descendant Ninigi no Mikoto descended from Takamagahara Field (Heavenly Hill Field). On November 11th every year, “the Fire of the Gods” festival is held here to commemorate Ninigi no Mikoto.
Chosenji Temple in Kakuda City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect and one of the most distinctive temples in the Tohoku region. The principal object of worship is Shakamuni Nyorai. Its mountain name is Kogenzan or Rokkokubo. It has a historical connection with Soneiji Temple (Ichikawa City, Chiba Prefecture), which was appointed as one of the three head administrative temples in eastern Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868).
Chosenji Temple was originally founded in Ishikawa Town in Fukushima Prefecture in 1436 by Zen Priest Sokuan Sogaku under the sponsorship of Ishikawa Mochimitsu, the castellan of Miyoshi Castle in Iwaki province (present Fukushima Prefecture). When Ishikawa Akimitsu was removed to Kakuda by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s Oshu Shioki (punitive action against powerful clans in the Tohoku region) in 1598, the temple was also relocated to its current location.
Although the temple buildings were constructed in relatively recent times, the temple is composed of the main hall, the Zazen hall, the guest house, the hall to enshrine ancestral tablets, priests’ quarters, bell tower, the main gate and the middle gate. The middle gate, Gagyu-mon, used to be the inner gate of Kakuda Castle. In back of the main hall is Otamaya (the mausoleum), where the painted wooden statues of Ishikawa Akimitsu and his seven loyal retainers, who followed their lord to the grave.
Sendai Sparrow Dance is an annual festival that takes place at Miyajyouno-ku, Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, at the end of July.
It is said to originate with a dance that was improvised by stonecutters from Sakai, Oosaka, in front of Date Masamune at a banquet after a formal celebration of the newly-built Sendai Castle in a new location.
With its upbeat tempo, energetic movements and hopping dance which resembles sparrows pecking their food, and also because the family crest of Date is “bamboo and sparrow”, the dance came to be called “sparrow dance”.
Before the Second World War, the dance was preserved and practiced by descendants of stonecutters in Ishikiri Town, but recently it has become more widely popular among people in general and many dance groups have sprung up.
Presently, groups compete against each other with their techniques and beauty by inventing an original choreography which is developed from the basic dance pattern called “Hanekko Odori” which is to move a fan across the front of the body while jumping left and right.
Sendai Sparrow Dance brings a poetic charm to the season of summer and is much loved by local people.
Tatsuki (Dragon Castle) Shrine is located next to Okazaki Castle in Okazaki Park in Kosei-cho, Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture. Enshrining Tokugawa Ieyasu and Honda Tadakatsu, this historic shrine is closely associated with the Tokugawa clan and its retainer, the Honda clan.
On the day when Saigo Tsugiyori, the deputy governor of Mikawa province, completed the construction of Okazaki Castle in the mid-15th century, a heavenly maiden, who called herself the Dragon God, appeared in the donjon and told Tsugiyori to worship her as the guardian god of the castle. He built a shrine on the top floor of the donjon to enshrine the Dragon God, from which the castle was called “Ryugajo (Dragon Castle).”
During the Kanei era (1624-1643), Okazaki Toshogu Shrine was founded in Honmaru (the main castle) site to enshrine Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was born in this castle. In 1766, Honda Tadatoshi, the lord of the Okazaki domain moved Toshogu Shrine to the Sannomaru (the 3rd castle) site and built a new shrine named Eisei Shrine in the Honmaru site to enshrine Honda Tadakatsu, one of the four powerful retainers of Ieyasu, as Eisei Daimyojin. Toshogu Shrine was, however, relocated to the Honmaru ruins site again in the Meiji period (1868-1912), where it was integrated with Eisei Shrine and became Tatsuki Shrine.