Kazan Shrine located at the ruins site of Demaru (the outermost compound) of Tahara Castle in Tahara City, Aichi Prefecture is a shrine enshrining Watanabe Kazan, a Japanese painter, scholar and the senior councilor of the Tahara domain in the late Edo period (1603-1868).
The local people planned to build a shrine to honor Kazan’s virtuousness in 1941; however, as it was during World War II, they could not commence the construction. In 1946, they bought a temporary pavilion used for a shrine in Inasa Town in Shizuoka Prefecture and founded Kazan Shrine at the present site. The shrine pavilion was destroyed by Ise Bay Typhoon in 1959 and reconstructed later.
Born at Kamiyashiki (the main resident) of the Tahara domain in Edo in 1793, he first served the domain lord’s little son at the age of eight. He started to learn Confucianism of Mencius and Zhu Xi at the age of 13 and became a great scholar in Confucianism as well as Rangaku (Western learning), from which it is believed that the one who visits this shrine will be able to improve his /her learning ability.
On the memorial day of Kazan on October 11, the annual festival is held at this shrine. The memorial service is held in front of Kazan’s grave located in Johoji Temple in the city and the Shinto ritual is performed at Kazan Shrine. Kazan’s portrait is drawn on the Ema-plates provided at the shrine.
Saigyo was a famous Japanese poet of the late Heian period (794-1192). Born to a military family in 1118, he started his careear as an Imperial Guard to retired Emperor Toba at the age of 18. He was a handsome young man, who was both a good warrior and a good scholar. He came to be known in the political circles of the time, but for some unknown reasons, he quit worldly life to become a monk at the age of 23. Later he took the pen name “Saigyo” meaning Western Journey.
He did not belong to any sect of Buddhism and stayed in a hermitage in a deep mountain to seek for enlightment through writing waka poems. Being attracted by the beauty of nature, he made his temporary hermitage in the suberbs of Kyoto and Nara including Mt. Ogurayama in Saga, Mt. Kuramayama, a holy mountain of Yoshino and Mt. Koya, the sanctuary of the Shingon Buddhism. He also made a number of trips to visit temples and shrines in Shikoku and Ise.
94 poems of Saigyo’s work are collected in “the Shin Kokinshu.” His other important collections of poems are “Sankashu (Mountain Home Collection),” “Sanka Shinchu Shu,” and “Kikigakishu.” He died at Hirokawa Temple in Kawachi province (present-day Kanan-cho in Osaka Prefecture) in 1190.
Ise-katagami is a Japanese traditional handicraft handed down for about 1.000 years in Mie Prefecture. Kkatagami is Japanese paper stencil patterns for kimono. Kimono stencil has been called Ise-Katagami because it was made primarily in Ise province (present-day Mie Prefecture) and the stencil paper making was protected by the Kishu domain in the Edo period (1603-1868) as the industry of the domain’s outland territory. They were sold all over Japan by itinerant traders called Ise Merchants.
Ise kimono stencil is made of Japanese washi paper with a persimmon stringent liquid, onto which elaborate and elegant kimono patterns are hand-carved. They are mainly used for dyeing kimono such as Yuzen, yukata and Komon. Today they are also used for drawing patterns on pottery ware, glass ware, and goza-mats as well as for the background mon-gara patterns for newspaper names.
Itoire (literally meaning “thread insertion”) is a technique employed in the making of Ise-katagami (paper stencil patterns), which is a traditional handicraft handed down in Mie Prefecture. Ise kimono stencil is made of Japanese washi paper with a persimmon stringent liquid, onto which elaborate and elegant kimono patterns are hand-carved.
In the case of patterns such as stripes, where there are substantial spaces between the uncut areas of the stencil, threads are fixed to the stencils to strengthen them and prevent movement during use, which technique is called “itoire.”
As itoire is an elaborate technique to require a long period of training and painstaking efforts, successors of this technique are decreasing in number and the technique using silk gauze (called “sha-bari”) are now replacing it. The itoire craftsperson Mie Jonokuchi was designated as a Living National Treasure together with 5 other Ise-katagami craftspeople in 1955; regrettably all have passed away now.
Kuwana-juku was the 42nd of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1686). It was in current Kuwana City in Mie Prefecture. As is referred to in a famous Japanese pivot words, “Sonote wa Kuwana no Yaki-hamaguri (Your method is a broiled clam of Kuwana),” the town is famous for broiled clams. Kuwana had been the distribution center and an intermediate port of the marine traffic in this area since very old times. For the pilgrims heading for Ise Shrine, the town was the eastern entrance of the Ise province.
As it was very difficult for travelers to take an inland route due to the Kiso River crossing the Tokaido Road between Kuwana-juku and Miya-juku, a ferry route called “Shichi-ri no Watashi” was provided between the two post stations. Travelers could go 7 ri (about 27 km) of the way comfortably on a boat, which was depicted in Ando Hiroshige’s “The 53 Post Stations of the Tokaido Road.” The boats took different coursed according to rise and fall of the tide, and the time required varied. The torii gate erected at the port was called “Ise-koku Ichi-no-torii (the 1st Torii of Ise Province).” It is renewed at Shikinen Sengu of Ise Shrine (reconstruction of all the buildings of Ise Shrine done once every 20 yeas) even today.
Yokkaichi-juku was the 43rd of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1686). As the center of overland traffic and sea-lanes, the town had already thrived in the 16th century, when a market was started to be held on the 4th day of each month, hence it was called “Yokkaichi (4th Day Market).” The town was located at the diverging point of the Ise Kaido, the pilgrimage road to Ise Shrine, and the pilgrims could make their 40 km journey by boat from Yokkaichi port.
Yokkaichi is famous for “Nagamochi” rice cake. As the word “nagamochi” is a pun for “long-lasting” in Japanese, a Warring States period warrior Todo Takatora once said “It’s a good sign to eat rice cake to bring the long-lasting fortune of war.” An old pine tree standing in Hinaga in Yokkaichi City is the only remnant of the pine trees that were bordering the Tokaido Road.
Minakuchi-juku (presently Koga City in Shiga Prefecture) was the 50th post station of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1868). Minaguchi had been flourished as a lodging village for the pilgrims to Ise Shrine since the Muromachi period (1336-1573). Then, it developed into a castle town of the Kato clan in the Edo period. Located at the southern foot of Mt. Kojozan, the town was divided into two parts; the area to the east of the stone bridge was a post town with a three-forked road, while the western part was a castle town, where a street bents at a right angle. Minakuchi Castle was also known as “Hekisui (deep blue clear water) Castle,” from its reflecting image on the surface of the water moat. The specialty products of the town are rattan work, tobacco pipes, and a dried gourd shaving, which was depicted in Hiroshige’s “The 53 Post Stations of the Tokaido Road.” The town was so flourished and bustling as to be called “The No.1 place to gather people on the Tokaido Road.” Today, there are several historical spots including the castle ruins and the old street light, which remind you of the town’s prosperity in the old days.
Ishibe-juku was the 51st post station of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1868). There are several opinions as to the origin of the town. One of them states that 5 nearby villages were consolidated into the town of Ishibe in 1571 under the governance of Oda Nobunaga. Another states that the town was established in 1597 by the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi to provide couriers and horses for transporting commodities to Zenkoji Temple in present Nagano Prefecture. Still another states that it was established according to a shuinjo (red-seal letter) of 1601 to order every post station of the Tokaido Road to requisition the horsed for official use.
Travelers who left Kyoto usually spent their first night at Ishibe-juku. Located at the interchange point of the Tokaido Road and the Ise Shrine Pilgrimage Road, the town was bustling with a lot of travelers. There was a gold mine (“kin-zan” in Japanese) near the town, and it is said that a Japanese metaphor “Ishibe Kinkichi” meaning a hardheaded person is derived from this place.
Presently, two free rest stations, Ishibejuku-eki and Dengaku-jaya, are provided for the tourists.