Akiru Shrine located in Itsukaichi, Akiruno City, Tokyo is a historic shrine, which was atop the list of eight shrines in Tama district of Musashi province in Jinmyocho (the list of deities) of Engishiki (the codes and procedures on national rites and prayers) written in the Heian period (794-1192). It is said that Minamoto no Yoritomo, Ashikaga Takauji and Tokugawa Ieyasu paid a visit to this shrine.
Akiru Festival held from September 28 to 30 every year has a long history dating back to the Edo period (1603-1868). The huge and gorgeous mikoshi (portable shrine) with 1.5 m square body is carried along the Itsukaichi Kaido Road in a gallant manner. The lion dance is traditionally performed to purify the way of the mikoshi before it is carried out of the shrine.
The upper part of this character now is 折 (‘oru: to break off, to bend’), in the previous character forms, however, it is considerably different. 斥 is the form of an ax, 扌, however, in this case, does not mean a hand. That the ax is used with the hands is common sense and does not have to be mentioned in full detail. Here, it shows the object being made with the ax.
Like at the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima, there are so called god ladders to be used by the Kami (gods) when ascending to and ascending from heaven. It is a wooden ladder as one often finds at sacred places in China. The扌 of the upper part of 哲 is a god ladder and shows the making of a gods ladder with an ax. As the 口 of the lower part is a receptacle for putting in ‘norito’ prayer writings, this character represents the heart and mental state when welcoming the gods. Therefore, since antiquity it had the meanings ‘akiraka: clear’ and ‘kenmei: wise.’ This adjective was also often used for kings. There also is the character form with 心 ‘heart’ instead of the 口 ‘norito’ prayer receptacle which in a representative ancient dictionary is defined as having the meaning of “It is 敬 ‘Kei: reverence’.” The Zhu Xi school (in Japan ‘Shushigaku’) which exerted profound influence on East Asian thought for hundreds of years and became the political thought and philosophy of the Japanese Tokugawa government from the 17th to the 19th century had made 敬 the guiding principle. The meaning of this character 敬 thus is defined as identical with this previous character form of 悊.
Also, long before this, there was the variant character form 喆 (tetsu). Based on the dictionary Shuō Wén Jiě Zì, Setsumon Kaiji (Explanation of Simple Graphs and Analysis of Complex Characters) from the later Han period, Dr. Shirakawa also introduces the equivalent 嚞 made up of three 吉.
left: bronze inscription
right: so called Old Script from the Shuō Wén Jiě Zì
After the Battle of Sekigahara, Tokugawa Ieyasu unified the nation and started to construct the highway network starting from Edo (present Tokyo) in all the directions of the country. The post stations and magistrate offices were set up on each raod. Among the five such roads is the Oshukaido Road, which connected Edo and Shirakawa in present Fukushima Prefecture via Senju in the northern end of Tokyo. The main road together with sub-roads of the Oshu Kaido was the indispensable transportation route for the travelers going to and from the Oshu (present Tohoku) district.
In the early Edo period (1603-1868), the Oshu Kaido Road was mainly used by daimyo in the Tohoku district for their sankin kotai processions and official purposes. The volume of traffic concerning the development of Ezo (present Hokkaido) increased in the middle of the Edo period, and that concerning the defensive purposes against Russia increased in the late Edo period. In 1873, the road was changed its name to the Rikuu Kaido by the Meiji government. Today, it is called National Route 4 and functions as an arterial highway, along which the Tohoku Jidoshado Expressway and the Hachinohe Jidoshado Expressway are constructed.
Chimanji Temple located in Kawane-Honcho, Haibara-gun, Shizuoka Pref. is a historic temple of the Soto sect Buddhism. The principal object of worship are Hasso Shakamuni Nyorai (the eight aspects of Shakamuni), Hokan Shakamuni Nyorai (crowned Shakamuni), Senju Kanzeon Bosatsu (Kannon with 1,000 arms) and Yakuyoke Enmei Jizo Bosatsu (life prolonging Jizo).
According to the temple record, it originates in a hermitage built by Kochi, a second generation student of Priest Ganjin, in the Nara period (710-794). Some say that it was founded as an attached temple of Chimanji Temple in Shimada City to teach priests of the Tendai sect. After the mid-Heian period, it was flourished as a training ashram for mountain practitioners. In 1491, the temple sect was changed to the Soto sect and a Zen monk Kaifu Keimon of Dokeiin Temple in Suruga province was invited as the first resident priest of the new temple. During the Warring States period (1493-1573), the temple was revered by the Imagawa and Tokugawa clans.
Located in a scenic place with refreshing air, the temple is proud of its fine groves in the precinct including ten cedar trees of 800 to 1,200 years old, which are nationally designated Natural Monuments.
Eirinji Temple located in Shimo-Yugi, Hachioji City, Tokyo is a temple of the Soto sect of Zen Buddhism. The main object of worship is Dakini Sonten. The temple is selected as one of Hachioji Hachiji-Hakkei (88 Scenic Places in Hachioji). The temple is pertaining to Oishi Sadahisa, a powerful warrior in the Warring States period (1493-1573), for there used to be a residence of Sadahisa at the place where the temple is located today. When Sadahisa moved to Takiyama Castle as the castellan in 1532, he founded the temple named Eirinji here. However at this time, the Kanji meaning “scale” was used for “rin (鱗)” as “永鱗寺.” Later when Tokugawa Ieyasu moved to the Kanto region, he praised the grove in the precinct of this temple. Then the Kanji meaning “grove (林)” came to be used for its name as “永林寺.”
Eirinji Temple is one of the most magnificent temples in Musashino area (the area including Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture). Passing through the three gates of So-mon, Ro-mon and Suzaku-mon, you will reach the main hall. On a hill behind the main hall is the ruin of Oishi Sadahisa‘s old residence.
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.
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.
Kogetsuin Temple in Matsudaira-cho in Toyota City, Aich Prefecture, is famous as the family temple of Matsudaira Chikauji and his son Yasuchika, the ancestors of the Tokugawa clan.
The tombstone of Chikauji (the founder of the clan) in the center and those of Yasuchika (the 2nd head of the clan) and the wife of Chikatada (the 4th) on both sides are erected in the grave yard surrounded by stone walls with the doors, on which the family crest of the Tokugawa clan, hollyhock leaves (aoi-no-mon) are inscribed.
Kogetsuin Temple was founded in 1367 by Asuke Shigemasa under the patronage of Ariwara no Nobushige, the father of Chikauji’s wife. It was originally named Jakushoji Temple, but its name was changed to Kogetsuin after Chikauji dedicated the hall, the pagoda and the statue of Amida Buddha, which is the principal object of worship, and became the family temple of the Matsudaira clan.
The temple had received a great degree of protection from the Tokugawa Shogunate until the end of the Edo period (1603-1868). It was enfeoffed with the land producing 100 koku of rice by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1602. The main hall and the gate were reconstructed under the order of the 3rd Shogun Iemitsu in 1641.