Mikami Shrine enshrines Mt. Mikami or popularly called Omi-Fiji, a 432 m conical mountain in Shiga Prefecture, and Amenomikage no Kami, the guardian deity of old Omi province and the deity of blacksmith and blade smith.
The main hall constructed in the Kamakura period (1192-1333) is a very unique building in the style called Mikami-zukuri, in which the architectural styles for shrines, temples and residences are combined together. The Buddhism architectural style can be seen in its 3-bay structure, the Irimoya-zukuri roof, white walls and lattice windows. As one of the oldest shrine building in the Irimoya-zukuri style, it was designated as a National Treasure in 1952. The Haiden Hall (oratory), the main gate, the main hall of an attached shrine, Wakamiya Shrine, and the wooden Chinese dog are nationally designated as Important Cultural Properties.
Zuiki Festival is held at this shrine in the middle of October every year. The word “zuiki” means the stem of a taro potato. Every year five Mikoshi (portable shrine), which are made of zuiki and decorated with vegetables, persimmon leaves and chestnuts, are dedicated to the shrine to express gratitude for the year’s crop.
Osasahara Shrine is a very old shrine founded in 986. As the place where the god of water resides, it is visited by a lot of worshippers. Susanoo no Mikoto, Kushinada-hime and other 3 deities are enshrined.
Assembling the cream of the gorgeous Higashiyama Culture, Honden (the main hall) was constructed in 1414 during the Muromachi period. Though small in size, elaborate decoration is given to every detailed part of this Irimoya-zukuri building. The transom and doors are also beautiful. It was designated as a National Treasure in 1961.
To the right of the main hall is a bottomless swamp named Yorube-no-ike. It is said that the swamp has been filled with affluent water even though there is a long spell of dry weather since two mikoshi (portable shrines) were sunk into the swamp in hope for rain.
As this area has produced high quality glutinous rice and it is said to be the birthplace of Kagami-mochi, Kagami-no-miya Shrine enshrining the original of Kagami-mochi is located in the shrine precinct.
Toridejuku was a post station on the Mito Road in the Edo period (1603-1868). In1687, the residence of the Someno family, Nanushi (village officer) of Toridejuku, was designated as honjin (the inn for the nobility and daimyo) by the Mito Tokugawa clan. The original building was burned down by fire in 1794 and the existing main building was built in the next year.
It is a large-scale private house in Yosemune-zukuri style, with 19 m wide and 13.3 m deep. The bargeboard on the Irimoya-styled roof (hip-and-gable roof) over the wooden step at the entrance hall gives a dignified impression. The inside of the residence was divided into two sections; the honjin section for lodging and the private section. As did the formal honjin, the honjin section had Jodan-no ma, which was the special room for the nobility and daimyo, and the suite of three rooms.
In the garden stands a stone monument inscribed with a poem written by Tokugawa Nariaki, the 9th lord of the Mito domain, in 1840, when he was on a boat going down the Tone River on his way back to Mito. The stone monument was later presented to the Someno family from the Mito domain, which shows the close connection between the Mito Tokugawa clan and the Someno family.
Kaminoseki Bansho is the old guard station located in Nagashima, Kaminoseki-cho, Yamaguchi Prefecture. The guard station was established by the local government to keep an eye on ports and inspect shipping cargo during Edo era.
Because there are very few remnants of buildings preserved from the administrative arm at the beginning of Edo era, Kaminoseki Bansho is of significant importance. It was moved from inside the port where it was once located to its current address in 1996 and reconstructed as it looked originally.
The western side of the Setonaikai Inland Sea had several guard stations for cargo inspection and the region, currently Yamaguchi Prefecture, wasn’t exceptional. They had three stations which were called, in order of distance from the capital, “kaminoseki”, “nakanoseki” and “Shimonoseki” respectively.
Kaminoseki guard station has an overall length of 11.66m and width of 3.86m. It is a wooden building with Irimoya tile roof style and has “geya” (a lower roof) on all sides. The station is designated as a tangible cultural asset by the prefecture.
The Kirizuma-zukuri style is one of Japanese traditional architectural styles, especially said of the styles of roofs. Japanese roofs are classified into any one of the three representative styles; Kirizuma (gable roof), Yosemune (hip roof) and Irimoya (hip-and-gable roof).
The ends of buildings with gable roofs have a triangular space (gable) made by the incline of the two sides of the roof. Seen from the gable side, the wall looks as if it was cut by the roof; hereby it is called Kirizuma, which literally means “a cut gable.”
The Kirizuma-zukuri style was a basic architectural style in ancient Japan. The gable roof was prized most highly during the Kofun period (3rd-6th centuries), when it was the symbol of the residences of powerful rulers. However, in the Nara period (710-794), when the Yosemune-zukuri style (with hip roof) was introduced from China, it was considered more sophisticated because extension of the roof was apparently recognized.
Later on, the Irimoya-zukuri style (with hip-and-gable roof) became most favored in the prestigious buildings such as palaces, noblemen’s residences and temples due to its combined features; the symbolic character of the Kirizuma style and the expansivity of the Yosemune style.
When Oda Nobunaga constructed Azuchi-Momoyama Castle in 1578, he invited the priest Oyo Meikan, who had resided at Jogonbo Temple and whose virtue Nobunaga had long respected, to his new castle town and constructed a temple in the ruins site of Jionji Temple, which used to be the family temple of the Sasaki clan, governor of Omi province, and Nobunaga named the new temple Jogonin Temple.
In 1579, the Azuchi religious debate took place between monks of the Nichiren and Jodo sects of Buddhism, at this temple. Nobunaga used this debate as a good opportunity to weaken the power of influence held by the Nichiren sect. The debate ended with the defeat of the Nichiren sect, which lost its powewr since then. Delighted with their victory, the monks of the Jodo sect chanted Kachidoki-nenbutsu (nenbutsu for victory), which has been dedicated to Buddha in November every year.
The stately main hall was what used to be the main hall of Koryuji Temple in Omihachiman City. It was dismantled and rebuild here. The Romon gate in Irimoya-zukuri style stands since the days of old Jionji Temple. These two structures and five pieces of the temple’s treasure are nationally designated as Important Cultural Properties, which include the wooden statue of sitting Amida Buddha, the pagoda-shaped sarira container housed in Zushi (a miniature Buddhist shrine), the silver statue of standing Amida Buddha housed in Zushi, the depicted image of Sanno Gongen in the Kenpon-Chakushoku style (silk-based colored picture) and Amida Shoju Raigozu (Amitabha mandala) in the Kenpon-Chakushoku style.
It is said that Hyozu Taisha Shrine in Nosu City, Shiga Prefecture, was founded during the Nara period (710-794). As its name Hyozu literally means “the master of soldiers,” it had been worshipped by the Imperial Court and the warrior class.
The shrine treasure varies from weapons to Buddha’s ashes, which is the reminder of Shinbutsu Shugo (the fusion of Shinto and Buddhism). The vermillion main gate magnificently awaits visitors. It is said to have been dedicated by Ashikaga Takauji and the Japanese ink writing on a rafter shows that it was constructed in 1550. It is a 1-bay and 1-entrance well-balanced gate in Irimoya-zukuri style, which is prefecturally designated as a tangible cultural property.
Beyond the gravel path is the Haiden Hall (oratory). The red thick rope hanging from Waniguchi (the bronze gong) is very impressive. Its magnificent garden was constructed in the Heian period (794-1192). It is a pond-stroll garden. The ground covered with a moss carpet looks superb especially in the rainy season. From the middle to the end of November, the tinted autumn leaves are lit up for night visitors.
Konhira-guu is a shrine built halfway up Zouzui-zan Mountain in Kotohira-cho, Nakatado-gun, Kagawa Prefecture.
Like Oise-mairi, which was a pilgrimage to Ise Shrine and a popular leisure time activity among common people during the Edo period, Konhira-mairi also drew many visitors from all over the nation.
Konhira-guu Shrine is worshiped as a deity of shipping and seafarers and dedicated to Oomononushino-kami.
Konhira-guu was recognized as a shrine in 1010 following the restoration of its main building and torii by Fujiwara Saneaki by order of the emperor. The shrine was known as Konhira-daigongen prior to the Meiji period.
In the middle of the path to the shrine stands a grand gate built by Matsudaira Yorishige, an elder brother of Mito Mitsukuni and the first lord of the Takamatsu Clan. After the gate there is a stone stairway with 365 steps leading up to the shrine.
Inside the shrine is Asahino-yashiro, made from Keyaki trees which has Dou-gawarabuki tiles and a Nisou-irimoya style roof. The building is a designated Important Cultural Property. After passing Yashiro visitors arrive at the imposing main shrine.
Konhira-guu is one of the most famous sites in Shikoku.