There are many legends about Yoshitsune and Benkei in Mogami district. The 'Yoshitsune Story', supposedly written in the Muromachi period, relates that when Yoshitsune was being hunted by his brother Minamotono-no-Yoritomo and was heading for Hiraizumi in Iwate Prefecture, he passed through Mogami district in the third year of the Bunji period (1187).
The district around Semi hot springs has many legends and traces about Yoshitsune's masters and servants. For example, the Koyasu-Kannon deity is supposed to have overseen the birth of Kamewakamaru, Yoshitsune's child.
The name 'Semi' has several possible origins: one is that it derives from 'Semi-maru', Benkei's long-handled sword; another is that it derives from 'no-crying semi (cicada)', the nickname of Kamewakamaru, who was reputed to have never cried, even when he knew that he was a son of a fleeing warrior. A third possible source is that it is named for a wounded cicada that was resting on a tree and curing itself in the steam from a nearby hot spring.
There are many tourist attractions in Semi, Mogami, that relate to Yoshitsune and Benkei, such as Yagen Hot Water and Benkei's Inkstone that Beinkei was supposed to have used.
Uechi Hachimangu Shrine in the town of Uechi in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, is a historic shrine pertaining to the Genji (Minamoto) clan. The enshrined deities are Emperor Ojin, Emperor Nintoku and Amaterasu Omikami (the Sun Goddess).
In 1184, when Minamoto no Noriyori, a younger brother of Minamoto no Yoritomo, was on his way to the battle with the Taira clan, he took a rest at the residence of Omi Toroku, who was a powerful local warrior. As he found that a small shrine located next to the residence was a Hachimangu shrine, which enshrined the ancestors of the Minamoto clan, he prayed for his victory there.
Having won the battles with the Taira clan, Noriyori was appointed as the governor of Mikawa province and returned to this place in 1190. He thanked the god for his victory and constructed Uechi Hachimangu Shrine, to which he transferred the deity of the small shrine and the deity at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura.
The shrine is famous for Ukonzakura cherry tree (Prunus lannesiana E. H. Wils. cv. Grandiflora), which produces pale green double blossoms. It was dedicated by the town of Uechi in 1947, when Haiden was newly constructed. It is called “Bijin-zakura (Beauty Cherry)” and said to have power to bring happiness.
Mishima Summer Festival is held in Omiya-cho, Mishima City, Shizuoka Pref. in the middle of August every year. This is the biggest festival in Mishima City, where nearly 500,000 spectators gather to enjoy it. Centered on the annual festival of Mishima Taisha Shrine, a variety of events are held everywhere from Mishima Taisha Shrine to the avenue in front of Hirokoji Station and its surrounding areas. Accompanied by the sounds of Japanese bells and drums of Shagiri-bayashi (Japanese traditional music) played on top of the floats, the Shagiri floats are pulled around the town. During the three days of the festival, the whole town is filled with bustling attractions such as a parade to restage the war procession of Minamoto no Yoritomo, Yabusame (horseback archery), Daimonji-yaki (great bonfire event) at the western side of Mt. Hakone, Noheibushi (folklore song and dance ) Parade, Mishima Samba Parade, etc. Mishima Summer Festival is a big event with proud tradition and a long history.
The Uematsu family’s residence located in Susono City Chuo-Koen (city park) in Senpuku, Susono City, Shizuoka Pref. is a private house of an old-established family. According to the oral tradition of the family, the Uematsu family moved from Owari province (present-day Aichi Pref.) to this place in 1193, when Minamoto no Yoritomo did hunting at the foot of Mt. Fuji. The generations of the family head served as Nanushi (village officer) in the Edo period (1603-1868).
The time of its construction is not clear but presumably at some time in the early 18th century. The house was nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property in 1973 and donated to the city. Then it was dismantled and restored in the city’s Chuo-Koen (park) , which is a scenic spot of the city and famous for the Goryu Waterfall, a National Monument.
It is a two-storied house, which was very rare at the time. The monitor roof for natural lighting and ventilation is set at the top of the roof. Doma (earth floor), kamado (old-styled kitchen range), irori (fire hole) and nando (closet room) are preserved inside the house.
Mishima Taisha Shrine is located in Omiya-cho, Mishima City, Shizuoka Pref. It enshrines Oyama Tsumi no Mikoto and Tsumihayae Kotoshironushi no Kami, who are collectively called Mishima Daimyojin. The time of its foundation is unknown, but it is said that the shrine was originally located on Miyakejima Island but was transferred later from place to place including Shimoda, Shirahama Beach and Ohito-cho before being moved to the present place. In Engishiki (codes and procedures on national rites and prayers) in the Heian period (794-1192), it is referred to as “Izu Mishima Shrine located in Kamo county (the southern part of Izu Peninsula), Izu province.” At some time later than the middle of the Heian period, present Mishima Taisha Shrine was built near the Kokufu (provincial government office) as a Shingu (a new shrine), to which the deities were transferred. Wakamiya Hachiman Shrine was originally located at this place; however, it is said, the deity of Wakamiya Hachiman yielded his territory to Mishima Myojin. Minamoto no Yoritomo had worshipped Mishima Taisha since he was exiled to Izu province and continued to pay reverence to it after he established the Kamakura Shogunate. The old calendar issued by this shrine in the Middle Ages was known all over the nation as “Mishima Calendar.”
Izusan Shrine located in Izusan, Atami City, Shizuoka Pref. is a historic shrine, which was listed in the Engishiki (codes and procedures on national rites and prayers) in the Heian period (794-1192) and designated as the headquarters of all the tutelary shrines in the Kanto region during the Kamakura period (1192-1333). The enshrined deities are Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto. This is the virtual head of all the Izusan shrines, Izu shrines and Hashiriyu shrines all over the country. The exact foundation date is unknown, but the shrine record says it was founded in 5th to 4th centuries B.C. The original shrine was built in Mt. Higane, and then moved to Mt. Hongusan. There are several opinions about the transition of the shrine, but according to the dominant one, it was moved o this place in 836 by the priest Kenan of Kai province (present-day Yamanashi Pref.). The shrine is famous for the power to realize one’s cherished desire, because Minamoto no Yoritomo prayed for the revival of Genji at this shrine and succeeded in defeating Heike and established the Kamakura Shogunate. The shrine is also said to have the power to bring good fortune in marriage, because young Yoritomo and Hojo Masako had a date in the precinct.
Otonashi Shrine located in Otonashi, Ito City, Shizuoka Pref. is a historic shrine known for its power to bring safe delivery. The enshrined deity is Toyotamahime no Mikoto. The shrine is in the wood called “Otonashi no Mori,” where huge trees such as the city’s natural treasure, tabu-no-ki (Machilus thunbergii) and Shii-no-ki (Castanopsis cuspidataI) densely grow. It is said that Minamoto no Yoritomo and Princess Yae had a date in this precinct, which is darkish even during the day. The attached shrine to enshrine the couple and their son, Sentsurumaru, is built in the precinct. The shrine is famous for “Shiritsumi Festival.” This unique festival is held on November 10 every year. As the ceremony is carried out in the darkness with all the lights turned off, the participants, being forbidden to speak a word, have to pinch the next person’s hip as a sign of passing the holy sake. In front of the main hall, oranges are handed to the visitors. If you get and eat an orange with seeds in it, you will be blessed with children.
Sanuma Castle was established some time between 1185 and 1187 by Terui Takanao, a close aide of Fujiwara no Hidehara. After the collapse of the Fujiwara clan, Sanuma Castle came under the control of Kasai, a subordinate warrior of Minamoto no Yorimoto. However, in later years, the castle was a residence of Ishikawa, a retainer of the Osaki clan.
Sanuma Castle is also known as Shishiga Castle, because deer were buried here in the past as a form of protection. The castle is a natural fortress protected by swamp and river. Today, the Hon-maru (main building) has become the Shishiga Castle park. In the past, to the southwest of Ni-no-maru, there used to be a swamp called Tai Numa, which made a natural moat to protect the castle. Along the eastern side of the Hon-maru ruins, flows the Hazawa River, which also formed a natural moat.
Also in the vicinity stands Izumo Shrine's Teruhi Kengen. Near this shrine is the Sanuma Memorial Tablet, which is a record of the castle. Earthworks can be seen at the edge of the castle, giving a hint of the former castle.