Koshio Kagura is a traditional folk performing art handed down since the Edo period (1603-1868) in Koshio in the Ina area, Minamiaizu Town, Fukushima Prefecture. It is designated as an important intangible folk cultural property by the town.
The kagura began in 1827 as the votive performance to Ichinomiya Katori Shrine, a branch shrine of Katori Shrine, which was the highest-ranked shrine in Kazusa province (present Sawara City in Chiba Prefecture).
The repertoire includes the kagura dance, the Hyottoko dance, the Okame dance, the Shoki dance and Watonai. Presently, volunteers of Koshio Kagura Preservation Association are making efforts to hand down the tradition. Visitors can see and lean the kagura dance at the town hall all through the year.
Yanaizu Kokuzoson is a temple in Tsuyama-cho Yanaizu, Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture. Together with Fukuman Kokuzoson at Enzoji Temple in Yanaizu-machi, Fukushima Prefecture and the one at Shokoan Temple in Yanai City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, this Kukuzoson is counted as one of Japan’s Three Finest Kokuzoson.
Yanaizu Kokuzoson was founded in 726, when Priest Gyoki, who had been traveling all over the country preaching and carrying out civil engineering works, visited this place and carved out the image of Kokuzo Bosatsu, praying for peace and stability of the country. The temple is widely known as one of the few most historic temples in the Tohoku region.
The Grand Festival held from 12th to 13th in April and October every year is visited by a lot of worshipper from inside and outside the prefecture. It features the meal serving ritual called Kenzen Procession and the Goma fire ritual.
At noon, a procession of the priests and the temple laymen carrying trays with delicacies from sea and mountains leaves the Kuri (priests’ quarters) for the main hall to dedicate a meal to the principal object of worship, Kokuzo Bosatsu. After the procession, the Goma fire ritual is performed, in which a lot of Gomagi (prayer sticks) with people’s written prayers for family safety, traffic safety and passing entrance examinations and so on, are burned with holy fire. All the attendants quietly offer their prayers to Bosatsu.
Rinnoji Temple in Aoba-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect of Buddhism It was founded in Somekawa in present Fukushima Prefecture in 1441 by Date Mochimune, the 11th head of the Date clan, to respond to the plea for constructing a family temple, which had been made by the nun Rantei Meigyoku, the wife of the late 9th head.
In the later periods, when the Date clan relocated their main castle to Yonezawa, Aizu and Iwateyama, the temple was also relocated to the new capital. In 1602, Date Masamune, the 17th head of the family and the founder of the Sendai domain, relocated the temple to the present place in Sendai. In 1876, the temple buildings except the Niomon Gate, a designated National Important Cultural Property, were burned down in a spreading fire from the nearby field. The buildings were restored in the later period.
Rinnoji Temple is famous for its beautiful Japanese garden named “Rinnoji Zen Garden.” It is a pond stroll garden, which is said to be the most wonderful garden in the city. Japanese irises produce beautiful white and violet flowers in late June. Walking across bridges over the pond to view the scenery of the well-kept garden, you will have a really relaxing time.
Aizu Autumn Festival, held for 3 days from the 22nd to the 24th of September every year, is the largest festival in Aizuwakamatsu City. It features a number of events that attract visitors from all over the neighboring areas. The festival begins with the fantastic parade of 1,000 citizens with lanterns in their hand. The Aizu Bandai-san Bon Dance Festival is also held in town.
The following day begins with the highlight of the festival, the Byakko-gyoretsu, a procession of about 500 people dressed in traditional costumes from different periods in the history of the Aizu domain, which set out from Tsuruga Castle after giving the thanksgiving ceremony for those warriors in the Edo period (1603-1868). Some volunteers represent the successive generations of Aizu daimyos (feudal lords). The procession is completed with the Byakko-tai, a troop of boys under the age of eighteen, who committed ritual suicide out of loyalty to their lord.
Aizu Autumn Festival is the biggest event in the city of Aizu Wakamatsu, in which citizens commemorate the warriors who lost their lives in the Boshin War at the very end of the Tokugawa Shogunate period. It also tells citizens that autumn has come to this historic city.
Yanaizu Kokuzoson is a temple in Tsuyama-cho Yanaizu, Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture. The principal object of worship is the image of Kokuzo Bosatsu, the deity of happiness and wisdom. Together with Fukuman Kokuzoson at Enzoji Temple in Yanaizu-machi, Fukushima Prefecture and the one at Shokoan Temple in Yanai City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, this Kukuzoson is counted as one of Japan’s Three Finest Kokuzoson.
Walking along the front approach lined with old cedar trees and passing through the Sanmon Gate, You will find the superb complex of temple buildings. According to the temple’s official history, it was founded in 726, when Priest Gyoki, who had been traveling all over the country preaching and carrying out civil engineering works, visited this place and carved out the image of Kokuzo Bosatsu, praying for peace and stability of the country. The statues of Daikokuten and Bishamonten on both sides of the principal image are said to have been carved by Kobodaishi Kukai.
In the precinct are places called the Seven Wonders, which include “Shizuku no Sakura (Dewy Cherry Tree),” a cherry tree that looks wet even on a fine day, and “Tamakobu no Keyaki,” a zelkova tree with knots.
Yoshiaki Fujii is a craftsman in Fukuyama koto harp, a traditional handicraft in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Pref.
Fukuyama koto harp dates back to the early Edo period (the 17th C), when Mizuno Katsunari was enfeoffed the Fukuyama domain and built Fukuyama Castle in this town. Encouraged by the domain lord, artistic accomplishments came into boom among the wives and daughters of townspeople as well as the warrior class, from which the making of koto harps also developed in the town. The high-grade articles of Fukuyama koto harp are made of paulownia wood from Aizu area. The paulownia tree grown slowly in the cold weather has tight growth rings, which is indispensable for creating good tones.
Tough each part is made separately by different workmen using machines today, Mr. Fujii undertakes the whole processes by hand. He exerts delicate care and expert skills on each product. When he encounters a wood of beautiful grain, he is so much absorbed in the making that he feels 24 hours is too short a time, he says. As a craftsman, it is the happiest moment for him to see his harp is played with treasured care.
Hikiiwa Rocks are a group of huge rocks located in the upstream of the Inari River, one of the tributaries of the Aizu River in Inari-cho, Tanabe City, Wakayama Pref. The rocks are composed of a thick sand stone layer that was formed during Miocene epoch of Cenozoic era. A long period of erosion and water flow of the Inari River has made it into the present shape. The name comes from the shape of the rocks, which look like toads sitting in line and looking up at the sky. Largest ones are about 45 m tall, among which the huge rock on the Inari River is designated as a prefectural Natural Monument. There is a Kannon statue called Iwaya Kannon placed in a large grotto created in one of the rocks. The Kannon stood at the top of the steep stairs. Kumagusu Minakata, a natural historian in the Meiji period, often visited this area to collect plants and fungi, to which he referred in his later literature.
Muramatsu-san Kokuzo-do is a temple established by Priest Kukai in 807. Since then it had been under the protection of the successive domain lords of Satake clan for 500 years. In the Edo period, Tokugawa Ieyasu dedicated the land that produced 50 koku of rice to the temple. It was flourished under the protection of Tokugawa Mitsukuni. In back of the main hall is Muramatsu Daijingu Shrine, to which the deity of Ise Shrine was imparted during the reign of Emperor Kanmu (737-806). The shrine is famous for the custom of “Jusan Mairi,” in which 13-year-old boys and girls visit the shrine to pray for their future success of life. Kokuzo-do now belongs to Buzan School of Shingon Sect. Its main object of worship, the image of Kokuzo Bosatsu (Buddhist deity of wisdom and memory) is counted as one of 3 Finest Images of Kokuzo Bosatsu in Japan together with Asama Kokuzo-son in Ise and Yanaizu Kokuzo-son in Aizu. At the present time it is visited by a lot of people seeking for escaping evil spirits and success of life.