NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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石薬師宿 Ishiyakushi-juku Ishiyakushi-juku

Jp En

Ishiyakushi-juku was the 44th of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1686). As the way station of the long journey between Yokkaichi and Kameyama, the town was built in around 1616 by relocating 180 families from nearby villages and named so after Ishiyakushi Temple.

The names of historic figures such as Ooka Echizen no Kami and Asano Takumi no Kami can be seen in the guest book of honjin preserved at the house of the Ozawa family, whose ancestors were the successive proprietors of honjin.

Off the present Tokaido Road, namely National Route 1, Ishiyakushi is a quiet town today. In the vicinity is the birthplace of Nobutsuna Sasaki, a tanka poet and scholar of Japanese literature, active in Showa period. In the history museum next to the house, about 2,000 mementos of Nobutsuna including the order of Culture, personal letters, books and manuscripts are displayed.
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笠間稲荷神社 Kasama-inari-jinja Kasama Inari Shrine

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Kasama Inari Shrine is one of the 3 largest Inari shrines in Japan. The enshrined deity is Ukano Mitama no Kami, which is ranked as the highest of all the deities. It was founded in 651 during the reign of Emperor Kotoku and has a history of more than 1350 years. The shrine gained prosperity in the Edo period, when the successive domain lords worshipped this shrine faithfully. Yasunaga Matsudaira, the 3rd generation lord, and Asano clan, which is famous for the story of “Chushingura” are said to have transferred the enshrined deity to their new places of appointment. The shrine is also worshipped faithfully as the deity of rich harvest and successful business by ordinary people not only in Kanto region but also many other areas of the country. Today annually 3.5 million people from all over Japan visit this shrine. On the New Year’s Day alone the shrine is visited by about 500 thousand people, which ranks first in the number of New Year’s visitors in the prefecture.
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華蔵寺 Kezou-ji Kezo Temple

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Kezo Temple is located in Kira-cho, Hazu-gun, Aichi Prefecture.

Kezo Temple belongs to the Shingon Buddhist sect. The temple has a history of 1600 years and it is believed that Kira Yoshisada established it for the Kira family. There is a magnificent garden behind the main building. In addition, the temple is the site of the grave of Kira Kozunosuke Yoshihisa, who appears in the 'Chuingura'.

Also in the main building are 44 pictures of 'The Beauty of Nature' drawn by Ikeno Taiga. Usually the pictures may not be viewed, except in the New Year, when they are displayed.

A wooden statue created by Kira Kozunosuke Yoshihisa, is designated as cultural asset of the prefecture. Kira Yoshihara is commemorated every year on the 4th December.
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草津宿本陣 Kusatujuku-honzin Kusatsu-juku Honjin

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Kusatsu-juku is the 52nd of the 53 post stations along the Tōkaidō from Edo to Kyoto. From 1635 to 1870, a period of 235 years, Kusatsu-juku Honjin was a special inn used only by nobility and government officials.

Kusatsu-juku lies at the branch of the Tōkaidō and Nakayama roads and there used to be over 100 inns here. Kusatsu-juku Honjin is the largest of its type still standing. Names like Asano Naganori and Kira Yoshinaka can be seen on the register.

The head of the honjin, the Daifukucho, kept a record of visitors from 1692 to 1874, a total of 182 years. There is one register book per year, and in total there are 182 books. In Kusatsu-juku, there were 2 honjin, 2 sub-honjin, and about 70 inns.

Of all these, the Tanaka Shichizaemon Honjin has kept to its original appearance. In 1949, it was designated as an important cultural asset and attracted many people to the world of Edo. It was restored and opened to the public in April 1996.
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大畑家の武者絵のぼり Oohatake-no-mushae-nobori Mushae-nobori by the Ohatas

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In Ichikai Town, Tochigi Pref. there is a custom of setting out Mushae-nobori (labrums with a warrior painting) as the decoration of Tango-no-sekku on May 5 with the wish for the boy’s sound growth and success in life. The Ohata family, who had been the castellan of Ohata Castle in Kozuke region, ran a dye house in the Edo period. It is said that the Ohatas dyed the costume worn by masterless warriors of Ako-han on the day of their Uchiiri (revenge raid). The Ohatas began to make Mushae-nobori in 1889, and the traditional craft has been handed down through three generations. In the old days every picture was painted by hand but now they use both hand painting and stencil dyeing in which thirty stencils are used for one picture. The images are selected from portraits of  famous warriors such as Shingen Takeda, Kenshin Uesugi, Nobunaga Oda and Hideyoshi Toyoyomi. The faces are all gallant and graceful and the fine touches of painting-brush given at the beard are especially fantastic. The picture gives such a strong impact that you can sense the breath of those wartime warriors.
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新発田城 Shibata-jyou Shibata Castle

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Shibata-jyou is a castle located in Shibata, Niigata prefecture. The castle, also called Ayame-jyou, is the only Edo-period style castle in Niigata prefecture. In 1596, Hidekatsu Mizoguchi began construction of Shibata-jyou, which was completed by his grandson, Nobunao. For about 270 years, it was the seat of the Mizoguchi daimyo – a feudal lord. Shibata-jyou differs from other Japanese castles in that it is located on a plain rather than a hill, for reasons of commerce and governance. The castle is built using a construction system known as “kirikomihagi", in which stone bricks are elaborately laid to look sophisticated. It also varies from other castle in that its ramparts are made up in a peculiar style called "namakokabe". In front of the castle, facing Edo stands the bronze statue of Yasube Horibe, who was related to the Mizoguchi feudatory
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大石神社 巫女 Ooishi-jinjya miko Shrine Maidens at Oishi Shrine

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Oishi Shrine in Ako City, Hyogo Pref. was built in 1912 at the place where Kuranosuke Oishi and Matazaemon Fujii’s residences used to be. The shrine honors 47 Ako loyal warriors, Sanpei Kayano, the Asano family (the load of Asano-han) and the Mori family collectively. About 150,000 visitors crowd in the shrine during the New Year’s holidays and many of them purchase hamaya (arrow) or shofuku-dawara (lucky straw rice bag). The shrine maidens in pure white costume give a ceremony of purification at any time of the year. At the turn of the New Year, they beat a drum 47 times after 47 Ako warriors and holy sake is given to the first 1,000 visitors by the hand of the High Priest and the maidens. It is also fantastic to hear Japanese taiko (drums) performance given by Ako Gishi-Daiko Preservation Association.
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