NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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むらた町家の雛めぐり Murata-machiya-no-hina-meguri The Hina Festival of Murata

Jp En

The Hina Festival of Murata is an event that takes place on the fourth Saturday and Sunday of March in Murata, Shibata, Miyagi Prefecture.

During the late Edo period, Murata flourished with the harvesting of thistle saffron. The town prospered through the trade of saffron and various goods between other regions of Japan.

The elegant hina doll is one item that was traded. During the hina festival, people adorn their houses and storehouses with old-fashioned dolls as well as dolls that were made after the Meiji period up to the present day.

The Hina Festival of Murata has been beloved and passed on from generation to generation.
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上ノ国の中世の館 Kaminokunino-chuseino-tate Kaminokuni Fort-Mansion

Jp En

Facing the Sea of Japan in Kaminokuni, Hokkaido, are the remains of a medieval fort-mansion ('tate'). The fort comprised three halls: Hanazawa, Suzaki and Katsuyama halls, all of which are located in Kamino and which have been designated as an important asset of Hokkaido. The remains of Katsuyama hall, the largest of the halls, have helped solve several mysteries about Hokkaido in the middle ages, following excavations and studies of important artifacts since 1979.

Katsuyama hall was built by the father of the Matsuyama clan, Takeda Nobuhiro. In 1457, he overpowered the local Ainu people, and built this fort-mansion as a feudal residence. Excavation of the hall ruins revealed a trench, the remains of a dwelling and some crockery, as well as records showing that more than 200 people of both Japanese and Ainu race lived together here. Such evidence of racial harmony has drawn a lot of attention.

Some 45% of the ceramics and pottery unearthed here was made in China, which shows that there was active trading and exchange with China.

The Kaminokuni fort-mansion is a very important ruin, which not only has an aura of romance, but has helped historians fill in missing links in Hokkaido's past.
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八幡堀 Hachiman-bori Hachiman-bori Canal

Jp En

Hachiman-bori is a canal that was used to transport goods for the flourishing trade of the wealthy Omi merchants (Omi shonin).

During the late Edo period, the canal was as crowded as that in nearby Otsu, yet after World War II, it fell into disuse, due to the development of onshore communication.

Hachiman-bori is 15m wide and 6km long. It was established when Hachiman-jo castle was built, first as a moat for protection from enemies and second, as part of the urban planning of the castle town.

Alongside the canal are white walls and old houses that show the ostentatious wealth of the city back then. Nowadays the canal has been re-constructed as a leisure venue with renovated piers etc.
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今市石畳 Imaichi-ishidatami Imaichi Stone-Paved Road

Jp En

The stone-paved road in Imaichi is part of the old Higo road that was used in the past. This important historical path was designated as an important cultural heritage site of the prefecture in 1972.

Imaichi Stone-Paved Road is located in the town of Notsuharu in Oita Prefecture. Notsuharu-cho became part of Higo territory from 1601, and Imaichi and the Notsuharu area formed a post station for the Higo clan until the late Tokugawa shogunate.

It is said that a teashop along the road here once prospered as a trading center. The stones used to pave the road reflect former ages. The 2m-wide section of stone-paved road lies in the center of the 6m-wide road. It stretches about 660m and reminds us of the time in the past when a daimyo lord would pass along this road.

The Kagokaki race, which takes place annually in August, is also famous. It is a race to reenact the cityscape back then. During the race, people run along the pathway, wearing a costume and carrying a basket.
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暗峠 Kuragari-touge Kuragari Tōge Mountain Pass

Jp En

The Old Nara Highway (National Road 308) dates to the C8th and is the main road that used to connect with Kawauchi until modern times. Kuragari Tōge (455m) is a mountain pass on the prefectural boundary between Osaka and Nara and was a tollway that once bustled with traders coming and going from Osaka, or pilgrims visiting shrines, or daimyō on their way to pay regular attendance at the Shōgun's court in Edo.

These days, tourists can easily visit this area by driving along the Shigi-Ikoma Skyline road along Mt Ikomayama, where they will see the remains of old stone paving, guidepost, and old rows of houses. There are a lot of historic sites around Kuragari Tōge, such as a monument to the Yanagisawa daimyō of Koriyama and a stone statue of Amitabha Buddha. In the Edo period, Bashō crossed this pass and left an excellent poem describing it.

The views of Ikoma city is superb. And one can see splendid terraced paddy fields extending before one's eyes.
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和賀江嶋 Waka-enoshima Waka-enoshima

Jp En

Waka-enoshima is located in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, and is Japan's oldest harbor. The city of Kamakura was utilized as a port during the Kamakura period, and was bustling with merchant ships from all over Japan and China. Yet, due to the shallowness of the port for a considerable distance from shore, many ships found it inconvenient to unload, while some were shipwrecked due to carelessness.

During the first year of the Jyoei era (1232), the monk O-amidabutsu was granted permission by Masatoki Hojo to lay down Izu rocks in the water as a foundation for a man-made harbor island. A temple called the Gokuraku Temple was later built on top of it to manage the harbor. This was the start of the oldest harbor in Japan, Waka-enoshima.

The island was later used as a port during the Edo period, but due to numerous earthquakes and erosion, only a large mound of rocks can be seen during low tide now. Pieces of old ceramic pottery dating back to former trading days, as well as tidal pool sea organisms can be found on the island.

Waka-enoshima is a monument that reminds visitors of the glory of the Kamakura period.
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勝山館 Katsuyama-no-tate Katsuyama-no-tate Castle

Jp En

Katsuyama-no-tate is a mountain castle in Hokkaido and was built in the latter half of the 15th century by Takeda Shingen, the ancestor of the Matsumae family. The castle area is about 350,000m2. Until the end of the 16th century, Katsuyama-no-tate was Takeda and Katsuzaki's political and power base and center for the northern trade along the Japan Sea.

Excavation of Katsuyama-no-tate has revealed about 30,000 artifacts, including Mino ware and Chinese celadon, metal and wooden objects, as well as the remains of buildings, wells, waterless moats and bridges. They tell us about life in olden times. Moreover, more than 500 tools made of bone and horn that were used by the Ainu people have been found.

These traces tell us about Japan's trade on the Japan Sea in the northern part of the country, and life in the middle ages, which have increasingly drawn scholarly attention.
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尻八館 Shirihachi-date Shirihachi-date Fort

Jp En

Shirihachi-date is a medieval fort at the top of a 180m-high hill. The remains of moats, hillside fencing and earthen bridges can still be seen still today.

Excavation has revealed Chinese ceramics dating from the late 13th century to the late 15th century. Of particular interest, these include a celadon 'peony incense burner', which is said to be the most excellent ceramic ever found in Aomori Prefecture.

In 1978 and 1979, excavation revealed 1,800 relics including moats and daily ware, which gave new insights into Tsugaru in medieval times.

Today, the prefectural history museum exhibits valuable relics relating to trade in east Asia. These suggest that Aomori was not an isolated region at all.
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