NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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朴峠 Hou-touge Ho Toge Pass

Jp En

Ho Toge Pass, between Johana and Mt Goka, was an important route for travelers as well as for the transport of daily commodities. Of the five passes from Mt Goka to Johana--which included Sugio, Ho, Karaki, Oze and Bunao--Ho Toge Pass was the most popular.

Because Ho Toge Pass was so widely used, the Kaga Domain established a watchhouse on the pass where travelers to the domain could rest or shelter from snow in winter. Even after Hoso New Pass was established in 1887 (Meiji 20), Ho Toge Pass remained popular as a shortcut to Johana and the only pass in winter.

Today, Ho Toge Pass is a safe route where people can walk among nature. Along the route are many landmarks, explanatory notice boards and statues dedicated to the god of safe travel. Many people hike along this route every year.
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山刀伐峠 Nadagiri-touge Nadagiri Pass

Jp En

Nadagiri Pass is located near the town of Mogami, in Hanazawa district, Yamagata prefecture. It featured in a haiku poem from Matsuo Bashō's book 'The Narrow Road to Oku' ('Oku no Hosomichi'). Bashō illustrates the pass as a black spot because he was anxious about the bandits that haunted it and the roughness of the path.

Even nowadays, the pass is still rough. Along the way, a statue of Jizo, the guardian deity of children, has been placed and there is a festival held here on July 24th each year. There is also a tree called the 'children blessing pine' beside the stone statue. Its strange shape has led people to imagine that a forest god is inhabiting it.

People back then, including Bashō, must have had a hard time getting over the pass.
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