The Kabasaki battery fortress was built in 1855, after clearing a mountain and reclaiming the land for construction. It was built to protect Uwajima Bay. The battery was believed to have been planned and designed by Oomura Masujirou, who is also known as Murata Kuraroku. He was originally a medical doctor and he later took an active role as a military leader in the closing days of the Tokugawa shogunate.
After the Ansei Purge, the ports of Japan were opened to foreign trade ships and, as a variety of foreign ships began to arrive at the ports around Setonaikai Inland Sea, neighboring clans were alerted and urged to protect their coast. Among them, the Uwajima clan and the lord Date Mumenari were especially eager to promote Fukoku Kyouhei policy. This policy seeks to enrich the country and modernize and strengthen its military. The Kabasaki battery was one of the western style batteries constructed for this purpose.
Reclaiming the land from the sea to create the foundation for the battery involved a considerable amount of hard labor. The fortress covers 505 square meters, with 73 square meters being a storehouse for machinery. It includes facilities for the firing and storage of explosives as well as five big bronze batteries.
What remains of the fortress is preserved next to the Uwajima City History Museum at Uwajima airport. This airport was built on land that was reclaimed from the sea in the Showa Period (1985~1988). The Uwajima City History Museum was once a police station and it was built in the characteristic architectural style of the Meiji Period.
Hanatori Odori is a kind of sword dance handed down in Ehime Prefecture since the Middle Ages. It is a gallant dance performed to pray for good health. Today several towns in the prefecture have handed down their own Hanatori Odori dances, each of which is slightly different from town to town.
In Shirokawa Town in Seiyo City, Hanatori Odori is performed in the precinct of Hachiman Shrine on August 21, the memorial day of Kobodaishi, as a part of the Buddhist ritual held at the Taishi-do Hall next to the shrine.
When straw mats are spread on the ground and the Japanese drums and gongs are placed, Ohayashi music starts at the call of the leader and the dancers carrying bamboo branches decorated with colorful paper strips on their backs stand in two lines. The dancers are local junior and senior high school students. Then at the call of the leader, they perform six kinds of gallant dances by wielding swords or grain sickles. Hanatori Odori is designated as an intangible cultural property by the city.
Nanrakuen Garden, which is located in Uwajima City, Ehime Prefecture, is one of the largest Japanese gardens in Shikoku. The construction having taken 10 years, two fine pond, Kami-ike and Shimo-ike, are surrounded with the four zones built on the concept of “mountain,” “village,” “town” and “sea.” There are about 200,000 trees of over 180 species growing in the 150,000 sq. km garden area and about 10,000 carp swimming in the pond. It is a stroll garden, where visitors can enjoy viewing colorful carp and seasonal flowers.
Azalea Festival is held in this garden from early April through early May every year. About 32,000 stocks of Rhododendron obtusum, Rhododendron hirado azalea and Enkianthus perulatus and about 36,000 stocks of Rhododendron indicum come into bloom all at once. Deep and light red, pink and white azalea flowers brilliantly spread along the promenade and entertain the visitors with the taste of spring.
Rurihime Festival is held in Shirataki in Ozu City, Ehime Prefecture, on November 23 every year to appease the soul of Rurihime (Lady Ruri), who threw herself into the waterfall.
Lady Ruri was the wife of Fujiwara Yukiharu, the castellan of Takinojo Castle. At the end of the Warring States period (1493-1573), the castle was attacked by the forces of the Chosokabe clan again and again until at last it fell.
Lady Ruri and her women attendants fought back with fukibari (needles blown from the mouth), naginata and shuriken, but they finally escaped from the castle and made their way to the waterfall, where they were cornered by the pursuers.
Lady Ruri told her two daughters to live on and dived from the top of the waterfall (presently called the Otaki Waterfall) into the basin 60 m below with her 2-year-old son Takaomaru in her arms.
On the festival day, the parade of girls in colorful costumes and boys carrying the flower mikoshi (portable shrine) heads for Lady Ruri’s grave mound, where the memorial service is performed and the flower mikoshi is thrown into the waterfall for the repose of her soul and children’s good health.
Mitsuhatajima located offshore of Ainan-cho, Minami-Uwa-gun, Ehime Pref. is a collective name for the three small islands in the Uwakai Sea, which is a part of Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park. The water around the islands is so clear that a variety of table corals exist in colonies at the sea bottom and colorful tropical fish are swimming through waving sea weeds. It looks like a flower garden in the ocean. Seeing the cute islands in the afterglow, you will have a relaxing time until the sun set in the ocean. Mitsuhatajima Islands are the symbolic landscape of the Uwakai Sea.
Bunraku is a traditional puppet theater comprising three key elements: puppet performers, a chanter and a shamisen player. During the performance, puppets are manipulated by skilled performers while a chanter recites to the sound of a shamisen guitar. Their performance is enchanting and inexplicably erotic and spectators are captivated by the elegance of the puppets movement. Kiho Bunraku is a Bunraku that has been passed down for generations in the southern part of Ehime prefecture.
In the early Edo period, there were three puppet theater groups considered the best in the land. One of them, dating back more than four hundred years was Awaji Puppet Theater troupe lead by Kamimura Heitayuu. Their performance has been passed down in this region along with the puppets and complete sets of costumes during Meiji period, which have been carefully preserved to this day. Among them, thirty nine of the doll’s heads, which were created by Tenngusa who was considered a master artisan, were especially highly regarded and have been designated as tangible folklore cultural assets by the prefecture. The puppet performers are also designated as intangible cultural assets by the Kihoku Town.
In order to preserve Bunraku and nurture its successors, Kihoku Bunraku Preservation and Kihoku Bunraku Kouenkai were formed and they have been actively involved in performing at schools and senior centers. They also perform with other nearby Bunraku groups every few years.
Iyo-kasuri is one of the three major Kasuris, a Japanese ikat fabric with a blocky pattern, the other two being Kurume-kasuri and Bingo-kasuri. It is a specialty of Ehime prefecture and many people love it because it is comfortable, has a simple texture, and feels smooth to the touch. About 200 years ago, in the latter part of the Edo period, two people invented Iyo-kasuri. One was Shinsuke Kikuya, born in Shobu, and the other was a young woman called Kana Kagiya, born in Imadzu, Nishi-habu town in Matsuyama city.
In the beginning, Shinsuke Kikuya sold cotton at his store in Matsuyama, but he found the quality of cotton in Matsuyama were not very high so he ordered new machines from Kyoto. He altered and improved the machine over time and succeeded in creating a cotton weaving machine. Upon hearing of the good reputation of this weaving machine, Kana Kagiya began using his machine to weave her original designs; this was the beginning of 'Iyo-kasuri'. The designs came from the mottle of tied bamboos that she observed as farmers replaced thatch on their straw roofs. The quality and beauty of the pattern earned a high reputation and in the Meiji period Iyo-kasuri was known as the top producer in Japan. Now, the well loved design is applied to many fabrics including Kimonos, cloth, hats, ties etc.
Tensha-en is a Chisenkaiyu style garden which is a beautiful rock garden with a pond that you can stroll around. The seventh Uwajima Domain head in the Edo period, Date Munetada built this beautiful oasis for his retirement. Uwajima is located in Aichi prefecture.
The name of Tensha-en, literally “heaven forgives” garden, derives from the Chinese poem Date Masamune, who was the commander in the Sengoku period, composed after his retirement.
'I spent my younger days on a horseNow the world is peaceful and my hair has turned grayMy aging body exists here because God in heaven forgave me and let me liveBut I cannot enjoy living now. Why?'
There are many Fujidana, frames for wisteria flowers to twine around and bloom, in the garden. Especially beautiful are the white wisteria twining on Fujidana that are also on the Taiko-bridge, the semicircular bridge that looks like a drum. In connection with the Date family insignia, 'Bamboo with Sparrow', many unusual kinds of bamboo are planted around the pond and it is a wonderful sight. At the beginning of June, you can see calamus gest in full bloom. After that, calamus colors the garden. You can enjoy the beautiful flora changing through the four seasons and experience the history with your five senses.
While strolling in the garden, you can take a rest at 'Senei-kan', the place to drink some Japanese tea, which is built in Shoin style, the tea house style established in the Muromachi period. In the 11th year of Taisho, Showa Emperor, when he was the crown prince, visited here.