Nyoirinji Temple located in Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Nara Pref. is a temple of Jodo sect. It was founded in the Engi era (901-923) by the priest Nichizo Doken Shonin, a son of the Monjo Hakase (Professor of Literature) Miyoshi Kiyoyuki. The principal image is Nyoirin Kannon. In 1336, when Emperor Go-daigo was defeated in Nanbokucho Wars and set up the Southern Court in Yoshino, the temple became the place where the emperor offered prayers. The temple is known for the episode that when Kusunoki Masashige set out for the battle of Shijo Nawate in Osaka, he carved the death poem on the door of the hall with an arrowhead.
In 1650, when the priest Tetsugyu restored the main hall, the temple was converted from the Shingon sect to the Jodo sect. A lot of precious cultural properties are displayed in the Treasure House of the temple including the statue of angry-faced Zao Gongen and the picture of Kannon, which is popularly called “Ne-ogami Kannon (Kannon to be worshipped in the lying posture)” because it is painted on the ceiling and which is said to be the largest one of this type. Standing in the precinct, visitors can feel the long history and tradition at this temple of Nyoirinji.
Hiyoshi Shrine in Aoki Village in Nagano Prefecture is considered to have been founded during the Nanbokucho period (1336-1392). Its very unique architectural style was highly evaluated and it was designated as a Prefectural Treasure in 1990.
Honden (the main hall) is built in the 5-bay wide flowing style without front entrance steps leading to the door of the sanctum. It has a copper gable roof, having a long extended front slope with a flowing curve covering the veranda. It is characterized by the long shape from side to side, and uniquely the building has only one door in the middle. It used to be painted in bright vermillion, but now all the paint has come off and the wood building material has revealed its natural color, which creates a sedate atmosphere.
Chokoji Temple in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, is a Bekkaku (a kind of title, which literally means “special”) temple of the Tofukuji school of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism. The principal object of worship is Juichimen Kanzeon Bosatsu (Kannon with 11 faces). Its mountain name is Shuunzan.
The temple was founded in 1335 by Nakajo Hidenaga, the castellan of Koromo Castle, as his family temple. The temple thrived in the early Muromachi period (1336-1573) possessing the precinct of 545 meters from north to south and 436 meters from east to west, where as many as 18 branch temples were built. After the Onin War (1457), when the Nakajo clan declined, the temple also lost its power. It was attacked by Oda Nobunaga and destroyed by fire in 1567. However, the temple was immediately restored by a retainer of Nobunaga, Yogo Masakatsu.
Chokoji Temple possesses several cultural properties, one of which is the portrait of Nobunaga. It was painted by Kano Motohide by the order of Yogo Masakatsu after his master’s death. The picture is now designated as a cultural property by the national government.
Chizenji Temple worshipping Benzaiten is located on Awajishima Island. Benzaiten is the Japanese name of the goddess Saraswati, who is the goddess of wisdom and performing art and one of Shichifukujin (Sevn Gods of Fortune) in Japan. The temple belongs to Shingon Sect and the Sango (the name of the mountain in which it is located) is Daiko-zan. The time of its establishment is unknown, but its history is as long as its earliest record can be found in a copied sutra “Dainehan-kyo” written during the Nanboku-cho period (1336-1392). The main hall was built in the middle of the Edo period, where the statues of Dainyorai and Benzaiten are located. The temple is one of the Awaji Shichifukujin Pilgrimage temples and visited by as many as a hundred thousand pilgrims during the year. Especially during the winter there is a day when more than 2,000 pilgrims visit the temple. On the first prayer day to Benzaiten on January 7 and at the ritual of Sentai Jizo Nagashi (the floating of the talisman representing Jizo) held on August 23, a lot of pious visitors come to dedicate their prayers.
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.
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).
Shinkomyoji Temple in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Jodo sect. It is a historic temple famous as the family temple of the Matsudaira clan. The principal object of worship is Shaka Nyorai. The temple was founded in 1451 by the 3rd head of the Matsudaira clan, Matsudaira Nobumitsu, who took refuge in the Buddha under the guidance of the priest Shakuyo Zongei of the Chinzei school of the Jodo sect. The Shogunate gave a great degree of protection to the temple during the Edo period (1603-1868) as the family temple of the ancestors of the Shogun, and it bore the repair expense when the temple buildings were destroyed by fire.
The temple possesses a lot of cultural properties including the Kannon Hall, the statue of Yamagoe Amida Nyorai (Descent of Amida over the Mountains) of the Muromachi period (1336-1573), and the statue of Unchu Amida Nyorai (Amida on the Cloud) of the Nanbokucho period (1336-1392). The Kannon Hall was constructed in 1478 during the Muromachi period. The characteristics of the Zen-styled architecture in the mid-Muromachi period can be seen in the large camber on the outer side of the roof and the oni-gawara (decorative ridge-end tiles) atop the roof of the Somon Gate. The hall is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
Haruna Shrine in Harunasan-cho, Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture is a historic shrine located in Mt. Haruna. The enshrined deities are Homusubi no Kami and Haniyamahime no Kami. It is one of the Six Shrines in Kozuke province (present-day Gunma Prefecture). It is said that the shrine was founded during the reign of the 2nd emperor Suizei (reigned 581-549 B.C.) and the shrine building was built in 586.
As the god of rainfall and the holy place for mountain practitioners, it has been visited by a lot of worshippers since the ancient times. From the Nanbokucho Period (1336-1392) onward, it had been affiliated with Ueno Kaneiji Temple in Edo, but according to the separation of Buddhism and Shinto during the Meiji period, the Buddhist colors were discontinued and it was restored to the original shrine.
With a national Natural Monument “Yatate Cedar Tree,” at which Takeda Shingen shot an arrow to pray for his victory and the huge Misugata-Iwa Rock behind the main hall, the precinct is filled with solemn atmosphere.
The six buildings including Honden (the main hall), Haiden (the oratory) and Heiden (the votive offerings hall) are designated as national Important Cultural Properties, and an iron lantern, the Sangaku (Japanese methematical votive tablet) of the Seki school and the documents concerning the shrine are designated as prefectural Important Cultural Properties.