NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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駿河雛具 Suruga-hinagu Suruga Hina Doll Fittings

Jp En

Shizuoka Pref. has been known for producing paraphernalia for the Hina Matsuri (doll festival), which included a sewing box, tea utensils, a chest, nagamochi (Japanese trunk), and a scissor case. Those items were originally made to mock the gorgeous bridal trousseau of a warrior’s family in the Edo period. Though miniature, they are made as elaborately as real things. Hina doll fittings had been already made in the Suruga district in the 16th century, when the Imagawa clan ruled the province. In the Edo period (1603-186), carpenters with advanced craft techniques were called together to construct Kunosan Toshogu Shrine and Sengen Shrine. Many of them settled down in this area and taught their techniques to the local craftsmen, by which the production of hina doll fittings greatly developed. The main characteristics of Suruga Hina industry is that all the parts are made separately by craftsmen specializing in woodwork, lacquering, Makie decoration, or metal work. It is said that the industry took off because of this style of specialization and it also made mass production possible. The warm humid climate of the area and its geographical condition of being located between the nation’s two largest consumption centers, Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto, furthered the growth of hina doll fitting industry in the Suruga region.
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松平東照宮 Matsudaira-toushou-guu Toshogu Shrine in Matsudaira

Jp En

A Toshogu shrine is where Tokugawa Ieyasu is enshrined. In the Edo period (1603-1868), there were as many as over 500 Toshogu shrines in the country. Some of them like the ones in Nikko and Mt. Kunozan were constructed by the Tokugawa Shogunate, while others were constructed by daimyo, who were feudatory to the Tokugawa clan. With spate of abolition and integration of the shrines in the Meiji period (1868-1912) and onward, the number decreased to about 130.

Toshogu Shrine in the mountain village of Matsudaira is one of such existing Toshogu shrines. It enshrines Matsudaira Chikauji, the founder of the clan. It is said that Chikauji was a person of strong faith and compassion. He built many temples and shrines in his domain including Kogetsuin Temple as his family temple.

As the premise was where the Matsudaira family resided until the Taisho period (1912-1926), there remain historic ruins such as the ruins of the residence and an old well from which the water for Ieyasu’s first bath was taken. The stone walls and dry moats surrounding the precinct remind the visitors the atmosphere of bygone days.
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日光彫 Nikkou-bori Nikko Carving

Jp En

Nikko carving is a traditional handicraft in Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture. In 1634, the 3rd Shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu declared that he was going to give a large-scale improvement to Toshogu Shrine, by which it was rebuilt into the present magnificent forms. Then he assembled as many as 1,680,000 workmen including miya-daiku (carpenters specialized in building temples and shrines), horimono-daiku (specialist carpenters engaged in transom sculpture), lacquerers, metal workers, and painters from all over the country. Among them, 400,000 were horimono-daiku and what they made at their leisure was the origin of the present Nikko carving.

After the construction of Toshogu Shrine, some of the horimono-daiku settled in the town of Nikko and were engaged in repair work or improvement work of Toshogu, while kept on making wooden trays or furniture, which were sold to sightseers as souvenirs. Since the Meiji period (1868-1912), a large number of Nikko carved products have been exported.

Most of the products are made of chestnut wood. Nikko carving products have a warm feeling of wood and a nice taste that is created by careful handiwork. There are also expensive products made with Tsuishu technique, in which thick layers of solid lacquer is engraved with designs.
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新田荘遺跡 Nittashou-iseki Nitta-no-sho Ruins

Jp En

Nitta-no-sho Ruins, a national Historic Site, is the ruins of the manor developed by Nitta Yoshishige in the late Heian period (794-1192).

The ruins are composed of 11 remains pertaining to the Nitta clan; the precincts of Enpukiji, Sojiji, Chorakuji and Meio-in temples, those of Junisho, Toshogu and Ikushina shrines, the ruins of Sorimachi Residence and Eda Residence, and Judono and Yadaijin headsprings. The remains spread in the huge area in the western half of present-day Ota City.

Nitta-no-sho Ruins are unique historic sites in that a number of the Middle-Age remains spreading in a huge area are collectively grasped as the components of one manor and designated as one Historic Site. The remains tell us the prosperity enjoyed by the Nitta clan, who played an active role in Japan’s history of the Middle Ages.
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天下祭 Tenka-sai Tenkasai Festival (Naked Festival)

Jp En

Tenkasai Festival is a naked festival held at Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, in February every year. It is said that the festival was originally held to pray for stability and peace of the country during the Nanbokucho period (1336-1392). It was discontinued in the Meiji period (1868-1912) and revived in the recent times as the valiant and dynamic naked festival.

Matsudaira Toshogu Shrine is well-known as the birthplace of the Matsudaira clan, the ancestors of the Tokugawa clan. It enshrines Matsudaira Chikauji, the founder of the clan. The water in the old well named “Ubuyu-no-ido (First Bath Well)” has been famous for its holy power since Chikauji’s days. When Tokugawa Ieyasu was born in Okazaki Castle, the water for his first bath was taken from this well in accordance with his family custom.

The festival is held to protect men of the unlucky age of 41. On the festival day, local men of this age get together wearing only a loincloth. They run into the shrine precinct, where they fiercely struggle with one another to touch the wooden ball called “Mizu-dama (Water Ball),” which was purified with the holy water in the well on the previous evening. It is believed that if they can touch the ball, their bad luck is purified. The precinct is filled with air of excitement.

There are a lot of stalls and open booths for visitors, who can also enjoy other events such as the service of the Senjin-nabe stew (Battle Field Stew), hana-mochi rice cake making, the dedication of a large Ema-plate, performance of Japanese drums and the demonstration of Bo-no-te (stick weapon techniques).
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滝山東照宮 Takisan-toushou-guu Takisan Toshogu Shrine

Jp En

Takisan Toshogu Shrine was built in the precinct of Takisanji Temple in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, by the order of the 3rd Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1645 in order to enshrine Tosho Daigongen (Tokugawa Ieyasu). It is counted as one of Japan’s three largest Toshogu shrines.

A Tendai temple Takisanji, which enshrines Sho Kannon as its principal object of worship, was founded by En no Gyoja in the latter half of the 7th century.

Toshogu Shrine had been administered by Takisanji Temple until it was separated from the temple according to the Meiji government’s policy of separation of Shinto and Buddhism.

Honden (the main hall) in Toshogu-style is a colorful building with copper roof. Honden, Haiden (oratory), Heiden (the votive offerings hall), the middle gate, the torii gate and Mizuya (kitchen) are nationally designated as Important Cultural Properties.

The row of stone lanterns dedicated by the successive lords of the Okazaki domain speaks for the power of the Tokugawa family in the Edo period.
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龍城神社 Tatsuki-jinja Tatsuki Shrine

Jp En

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.
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仙台 東照宮 Sendai Toushou-guu Toshogu Shrine in Sendai

Jp En

Toshogu Shrine in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, was founded in 1654 by Date Tadamune, the 2nd lord of the Sendai domain. Enshrined deity is Tosho Daigongen, namely Tokugawa Ieyasu.

In 1649, Tadamune applied for the permission to build a Toshogu shrine to the 3rd Shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, to express his gratitude to the Shogunate for having lent 18,900 kg of silver when the domain was suffered from a catastrophic flood. He decided on the present place as the construction site because it was where Tokugawa Ieyasu stayed with Date Masamune, the founder of the Sendai domain, in 1591, when they were on their way back home from the inspection tour on the rebellion by the Kasai and Osaki clans.

Toshogu Shrine was worshipped as the guardian god of the Date family during the Edo period (1603-1868) and given generous protection from the domain as the second most important shrine after Shiogama Shrine.

The historic importance of the structures such as Honden (the main hall), the Karamon gate, the see-through fence, the stone torii gate, the stone lantern and the Zuishinmon gate is highly esteemed and all are nationally designated as Important Cultural Properties. The beauty of these structures is known nationwide and a lot of tourists come to visit the shrine especially on the anniversary of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s death, April 17, when the annual festival is held at the shrine.
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