NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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妙立寺 Myouryu-ji Myoryuji Temple

Jp En

The 1st Kaga domain head, Maeda Toshiie, adopted the Chudo spirit of the Nichiren Buddhist sect and Hogekyo as his political philosophy and built Myoryuji Temple as a place to pray for the domain's peace. This was in the 13th year of the Tensei period (1583). Later, in the 20th year of the Kanei period (1643), the 3rd domain head, Maeda Toshitsune moved the temple to its present place.

At the time of Toshitsune, the Tokugawa government had established its base and sent spies to various domains. Toshitsune let his nose hair grow and pretended to be stupid in order to deceive the spies. But Toshitsune is also famous for developing industry and the performing arts, and built temples as emergency barracks. Myoryuji Temple is the main temple among these.

It might look two-storied from the outside but in fact it is four-storied with seven layers. There are many contraptions everywhere in the temple such as a hidden walkway, room, stairs and changeable fake walls, holes for escape, double doors and various traps. This is the reason why the temple is also called Ninja (Spy) Temple.
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忍者屋敷 Ninjya-Yashiki Ninja House

Jp En

This Iga-style Ninja Museum is located in Ueno, Iga City, Mie prefecture. Ninja is a kind of samurai warrior who engaged in espionage activities. Ninja House in the museum originally belonged to the local ruling family in Iga and was renovated and moved.

In Iga, people manufactured secret elixirs using medicinal herbs there, or they dispensed gunpowder. Thieves often broke in to steal the scrolls with the secrets of their production methods.

To deter intruders, many tricks were set up everywhere in the house so that it took longer for thieves to find the scrolls or escape. These tricks explain why the house is called Ninja House. The appearance of the house is like a typical thatched farmer's dwelling.

A visit to the house these days, includes demonstrations by Ninja actors who show the house's secret devices, like fake walls, trick doors and hiding places. Visitors to Iga Ninja House can experience the atmosphere of a former warlike period.
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松尾芭蕉 Matsuo-bashou Matsuo Bahou

Jp En

Matsuo Bashou was a haiku poet in the early Edo period. His given name was Munefusa, although at various stages of his life he used different pseudonyms such as Tousei, Hakusendou, Chougetsuan and Fuuraibou. He finally settled on Bashou though he often signed his name as Hasewo, which is another way to pronounce Bashou in Kanji. He was born 1944 in Iga, Mie pref. During his early life, he started composing Haikai, a verse poetry developed out of a tradition of renga or linked verse, (which later became known as Haiku) and at the age of 31, he went to Edo (now Tokyo) and became a professional Haikai poet. He created a retreat hut there and planted bashou plantain trees, calling the place Bashou-an, hence his pseudonym. He developed Haikai, which until that time had been a comic, less serious style of writing, into higher level of art form and established Shoufuu or Bashou style. He also traveled extensively across Japan, composing poetry along the way and mastered this new trend of Japanese short verse literature. At the time of Bashou, it was common for Haiakai poets to live a nomadic life and travel throughout the land, sharing information and culture around the country. In his most famous book, Okunohosomichi, he described his journey through Tohoku to Hokuriku area covering 2400km which he completed in six months. With this unusual speed of traveling and his birth place, a curious rumor says he was a ninja (Iga is famous as a birth place of ninja). In 1694 while traveling, Matsuo Bashou died at an inn in Oosaka. He was 50.
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