Kandaten Shrine located in Koshu City in Yamanashi Prefecture is a shrine pertaining to the Takeda clan. Enshrined are Susanoo no Mikoto and other seven deities. It is said that the shrine was founded in 842 by the provincial governor, Fujiwara Iseo, by the Imperial order. When Sugawara no Michizane was enshrined together in 1004, the kanji “suga (菅)” was borrowed and the shrine came to be called Kandaten (菅田天). In the precinct is the statue of Zagyu (lying cow), which is believed to be the messenger of Sugawara no Michizane.
During the Warring States period (1493-1573), the shrine was protected by the Takeda clan as the god to guard the ominous direction of the provincial capital. The shrine is known for the possession of Kozakura Kawaodoshi Yoroi, which was one of the 8 armors handed down to the descendants of the Genji (the Minamoto clan). This armor was so strong that the one who wore it didn’t have to use a shield, so it was called “Tate-nashi-no-yoroi (the armor without a shield).” It was handed down to the heads of the Takeda clan, one of the rightful descendant family of the Seiwa Genji, as the family treasure together with Japan’s oldest Rising Sun flag.
Megi-jima Island, which is a part of Setonaikai National Park and about 20 minutes ferry ride from Takamatsu Harbor, is often called by its nickname of Onigashima (Ogres' Island), which derives from a long cave located in the hillside on the island. Since it was discovered in 1930, it has been associated with the ogres’ den in the story of Momotaro.
From the platform above the cave, you can command a panoramic view of the Seto islands including Oshima, Kabuto-jima and Yoroi-jima as well as the attractive fishing village at the foot of the hill, where houses have high stone walls called “ote” to provide protection from cold wind called “Otoshi” in winter.
In Takamatsu City Onigashima Oninoyakata Museum at Megi port, many objects concerning ogres are exhibited.
Kenketo Festival is held on Sunday near April 23rd every year at Suginoki Shrine in Ryuo-cho and Yasaka Shrine in Gamo-cho both in Higashi Omi City, Shiga Pref. The word “kenketo” comes from the echoic word of the sound of Japanese bells and drums in matsuri-bayashi music, which sounds like “ke-ken-kei, ke-ken-don, ke-ken-kei, ke-ken.” It has been held since the Heian period (794-1192) to pray for rich harvest. Dedicated together is the dance called “Naginata Odori,” in which the eldest sons of shrine parishioner families at the age of 11-12 in matching Yuzen kimonos parade to the shrine, dancing to the music of Japanese bells and drums. It is said that the boys’ costume is modeled after the dress of the local people who joined Oda Nobunaga’s forces as foot soldiers to attack Koga province. The festival is selected as a National Intangible Cultural Property. Kenketo Festival is an elegant festival with a history of 1,000 years.
Nasuno Makigari Hunt Festival is held for two days in October in Shiobara City, Tochigi Prefecture. It is a City’s annual festival pertaining to Minamoto no Yoritomo, who established the Kamakura Shogunate in 1192. The festival was first held in 1994 to honor the 800th anniversary of Yoritomo’s Nasuno Makigari Hunting. In 1193, Yoritomo performed a grand hunting called Nasuno Makigari to make a display of his power to all the provincial lords of the country. The Makigari hunting is a type of hunt consisting of a great number of hunters surrounding and driving animals to an area where they are then killed by a warrior hunter.
During the festival, the atmosphere of Yoritomo’s hunting is recreated by the dynamic performance of Kuroiso Makigari Daiko (Japanese drums) and the Makigari-nabe stew, which is served for as many as 2,500 visitors. With high-ranked warriors and princesses stand watching, gallant warriors and hunters in the samurai armors reenact exciting and realistic hunting.
Obata in Kanra-machi, Kanra-gun, Gunma Prefecture used to be a castle town constructed around Obata Castle, which was built by the Obata clan enfeoffed with 20,000 koku of rice in the late Muromachi period (1336-1573). The town was flourished under the rule of the Warring-States-period powerful warriors including the Obata clan, the Oda clan and the Matsudaira clan. In 1615, Oda Nobukatsu, the second son of Oda Nobunaga, was enfeoffed with this area and became the founder of the Obata domain. The area had been ruled by the eight generations of the Obata clan for 152 years since then.
The reminiscence of the Edo period can be found in this small castle town. The Ogawazeki, a water channel built about 400 years ago, runs through the center of the town and cherry trees border the channel. On the left side of the street along the channel continue the residences with warehouses. The residences of the Edo-period warriors stand on both sides of the Nakakoji Street, which is as wide as 14 m. Their white clay walls are shining brilliantly.
Obata Cherry Festival is held on the 3rd Sunday in April every year. The magnificent parade of warriors wearing the armor and helmet and riding on horses, the gun troop and women warriors goes through the town. The demonstration of firing a harquebus and the performance of Shimonita Arafune Drums can be seen in the festival field.
Kogakuji Temple in Enzan Kamiozo, Koshu City, Yamanashi Prefecture is Daihonzan (the headquarters temple) of the Kogakuji school of the Rinzai sect. It was founded in 1380 by the Zen monk Bassui Tokusho, who was invited to this place by Takeda Nobunari, the 11th head of the Takeda clan. The principal object of worship is Shaka Nyorai.
The temple had suffered from a fire several times in the Edo Period (1603-1868) and most of the temple buildings were burnt down. The main gate is the only remnant of the structures that were constructed in the Muromachi period (1336-1573). This four-legged gate with the gable roof made of cypress bark is designated as a National Important Cultural Property as one of a few precious structures in Zen architectural-style in the Muromachi period. In this temple, Butsuden (the hall where the Buddhist image is housed) is uniquely combined with Kaizando Hall (the hall sacred to the memorial tablets of the founding fathers of the sect).
Legend has it that the armor called “Tate-nashi-no-yoroi,” which had been handed down to the heads of the Takeda clan as the family treasure together with Japan’s oldest Rising Sun flag, was buried at the foot of a large cedar tree in the precinct when the Takeda clan was defeated by Tokugawa Ieyasu, who ordered to dig it out later and dedicated it to Kandaten Shrine.
The Shimonoseki Channel Festival is held annually in March in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture. This festival is associated with the Battle of Dan-no-ura, and many events are held to commemorate it.
The Sentei Festival is one such event worth noting. It features a parade of women dressed in luxurious costume, who visit the Akama Shrine once a year on the anniversary of Emperor Antoku's death. This event was begun by court ladies of the Taira Clan who had survived the Battle of Dan-no-ura. Later, the courtesans of the pleasure quarters took over this event. These historical customs are the origin of today's Jourou Douchu (courtesan's parade).
Other events around Shimonoseki include the exciting Gen-pei Gassen (Genji and Taira Clan Battle), which features a display of over 200 boats on water, with people dressed as warriors. Another event is the Ganryu Island Festival, which reproduces the scene of the Ganryu Island Duel between Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro.
Boy's Festival is held each year on 5th May to pray for a boy's growth. It is otherwise known as Tango or Shobu seasonal festival.
On the tango day, on the 5th day of the 5th month in the lunar calendar, which was supposed to be the day when spring moved into summer, people in China and Japan prayed for their health and drank sake made of shobu (calamus: a medical herb). This is the origin of Boy's Day.
In the Kamakura period, shobu (calamus) doubled in meaning with the homonym for shobu (respect for samurai). Hence armor and shobu dolls were used as decoration and people prayed for the health of boys and their success as samurai.
Offerings on Boy's Day include rice cakes wrapped in in oak leaves. The significance of this is that oak will not wither until a new bud appears, which is a symbol that the family also will not die out.
Colorful carp banners are set in gardens. This comes from parents' wishes for their son's success. The carp are a symbol of success. In folk belief, carps swam up rivers until they reached a waterfall, where they transformed into dragons. Carp festivals are held in many places and the festival Carp Banners On the River by the Shimanto River in Kochi Prefecture is especially popular with over 500 carp banners flying over the river.