Ishikawa cypress weaving is a traditional handicraft in Hakusan City, Ishikawa Prefecture. It was designated as a prefecture’s traditional craft product in 1988.
The beginning of cypress weaving was about 400 years ago, when a traveling priest visited a village in Hakusan and taught the villagers how to weave hats with cypress strips. By the middle of the Edo period, weaving hats had become the important source of income for the villagers.
Strips of cypress called hin-na, or hegi, are woven to make articles. The most famous product is the Hakusan cypress hat, which has been made since the early Showa period (1926-1989). As it is light in weight, strong and effectively blocks off the rain and sunlight, it is widely used by farmers. The time before busy farming season is the peak of the production of Hakusan hats. Today, 6 workmen undertake the annual orders of about 700 hats. Cypress weaving is also adapted in folk crafts such as oboke (baskets to store spun hemp thread), baskets, flower vases, etc. Each item is a charming handicraft with utility and beauty.
Hakusan Shrine located in Nakayama, Hachioji City, Tokyo is a historic shrine. The enshrined deity is Izanagi no Mikoto. The exact era of its foundation is unknown, but according to the postscript of the Lotus Sutra excavated from the sutra mound in the precinct, the shrine had already existed in the late Heian period (794-1192), The postscript indicates that there used to be a temple named Choryuji as a jinguji (a temple housed in a shrine) in the precinct and the sutra is presumably dedicated in 1154 by the monk Benchi, a kinsman of Musashibo Benkei, who is said to have copied and dedicated the Lotus Sutra to seven shrines in the Kanto region.
The shrine was burned down by fire in the battle fought between the Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s forces and the Hojo clan at the siege of Odawara in 1590, but it was rebuilt in 1613. The 1,000-year-old Japanese umbrella pine tree in the precinct was designated as a Natural Monument by Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Kounji Temple located in Tsukui-cho, Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect. In 1408, a small hermitage named “Koun-an” was founded in a village of Oi (present-day Tsukui-cho Oi) behind Tsukui Castle (present-day Tsukuiko-Shiroyama Prefectural Park). Later in the Warring States period (1493-1573), Naito Kagesada, the castellan of Tsukui Castle, relocated it to the present place and built the temple. In the Edo period (1603-1868), Kounji Temple was a sub-branch temple of Soneiji Temple, which was appointed as the registrar (Kanto Sorokushi) and the head of the three head administrative temples (Kan-Sansatsu) of the Soto sect in the Kanto region. The temple was so flourished as to be feoffed with the land of 50 koku of rice and the Main Hall, Kaizando Hall, Hakusando Hall and the bell tower stood in the large precinct.
In back of the Main Hall are Muhoto pagodas (priests’ tombs) with Hokyointo (three-tiered stupa pagoda) in the center, which is supposed to be the tomb of Kagesada and his wife. The pagodas are surrounded with the toms of the family of Moriya Sadaiyu, the local governor, Baba Sado, the castle substitute, and Shimazaki Norinao, a former retainer and Sodai-Nanushi (the officer delegating nearby villages) of Tsukui area. Kagesada’s tomb is designated as a Cultural Property of the town.
The Amida Waterfall in Gujo City, Gifu Prefecture is in the upstream of a tributary of the Nagara River. It was named so, because when the priest Doga of Choryuji Temple at the foot of the mountain was burning a Goma fire for the ascetic training, the image of Amida Nyorai emerged out of the water.
The waterfall, which rushes down the 60 m cliff with a roaring sound, is said to be the best waterfall in the Tokai region. It is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Waterfalls. The water is so clear that if you stand in front of the waterfall with your back against the rising sun, you can see your own reflection surrounded by dim rainbow in the spray of water, which looks very fantastic.
The waterfall creates different impressions from season to season; with fresh green in spring, cool air in summer and crimson foliage in fall, and the frozen waterfall at midwinter.
Momiji River runs down through a valley on Mt. Omoshiro, which lies to the northeast of the city of Yamagata.
A hiking course along the valley enables you to enjoy nature throughout the four seasons, and it is very popular with sightseers.
The valley is especially beautiful between late October and mid November when the leaves turn red or yellow; this change is called 'momiji' and is the origin of the name Momiji River.
The 2km hiking course takes about 40 minutes to walk along slowly. Here and there running into the valley are waterfalls such as 'Wisteria Waterfall' and 'Illusional Dragon Waterfall'. Moreover, there are many unique rocks in the valley such as 'Whale Rock' or 'Treasure Rock'. And there are many strange ones, too.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of views of the river; some parts of the river are broad and some run between rocks. The canyon is also very popular among photographers.
Hakusan Domon Rock Cave located in a little westward from the tip of Ashizuri Cape is a typical rock cave created by sea water erosion. This 16-meter high and 17-meter wide rock cave is one of the largest granite stone caves in Japan. The base of the rock is being eroded by the raging waves of the Pacific Ocean.
As the promenade leads you very close to the cave, it is suitable for geological study as well as sightseeing. On top of the Rock cave is a tiny shrine, where the deity of Hakusan Shrine is enshrined as the guardian god. Listening to the sound of the waves washing the shore of the Pacific Ocean, you will experience the crossing moment when the time flowing over the mother earth and the time spent by us, human beings cross each other.
As the kanji meaning a sword blade was used for the name Tsurugi in the old times, it was a cutlery-producing town. The town was the distributing center of products from forest industry in Hakusan mountains and agriculture in the plain areas. Accordingly hoes and spades for both forestry and farming were in high demand and forgery thrived in the town. In the Edo period, a master forger, Ittetsu, was appointed as the Kaga clan’s sward manufacturer.
Tsurugi became famous as a producing center of high quality cutlery products and was producing a wide variety of cutlery for lumber jacks, farmers as well as household users. It reaches at its peak in the Taisho period (1912-1926) but gradually declined in the late Taisho period. At the present time, there is only one blacksmith in town, who keeps on manufacturing various items using the traditional outdoor forging techniques.
Koto, or a Japanese harp, was first played in Japan in the Heian period (794-1192). However, it was the Kamakura period that today's 13-string sou (a Japanese classic harp) came to be called koto. In Kanazawa, manufacturing koto began after the Edo period. As playing the koto was considered as one of the samurai class women's requirements, koto became a popular musical instrument. The one kept in the Yokoyama family, who was a powerful retainer of the Kaga clan, is decorated with elaborately elegant gold-leaf paintings on the whole surface, which indicates there was already an excellent craftsman making koto harps in Kanazawa.
Kanazawa koto harps are made of paulownia wood from Hakusan mountains. They are elegant art work, the surface of which are decorated with Makie (gold and silver leaf paintings) or Raden (mother-of-pearl inlay). Even today a lot of people play koto harps in Kanazawa, where many concerts are held by both famous and obscure koto-players.