Mt. Himetsugi in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture is a mountain with an altitude of 1433 m above sea level. This mountain is on the route of Tokai Shizen Hodo (the Tokai Nature Path) and is the highest peak on the trail from Aonohara in Tsukui-cho through the mountains of Yakeyama and Kibigarayama to Inukoe Pass.
It is said that the name “Hime-tsugi” is derived from the story that once upon a time a daughter of a samurai, Oyamade Hachizaemon, who had fought on the Takeda forces and was defeated in the Battle of Tenmokusan, escaped from the soldiers of the Nobunaga and Ieyasu’s forces and committed suicide by stabbing a dagger into the throat in this mountain. Since then people called this mountain “Hime-tsuki (literally meaning “stabbing of a highborn girl”), which has been corrupted into “Himetsugi.”
The summit of Mt. Himetsugi has a bright and refreshing atmosphere, where you can command a fine view of Mt. Fuji and Lake Miyagase. The larch forest of this mountain is selected as one of Kanagawa’s 50 Excellent Forests. It provides hikers with fresh green in spring through summer and crimson foliage in fall.
Ome Taisai, or Ome Grand Festival, is held in Ome City, Tokyo on May 2 and 3 every year. It is one of the largest traditional festivals in the Kanto region. After the Shinto ritual performed at Sumiyoshi Shrine in the city on April 28, twelve festival floats go along the Ome Kaido Avenue on parade. In the Edo period (1603-1868), mikoshi (portable shrines) were carried through the town, but later in the Meiji period (1868-1912), some local communities that organized the festival bought the floats, which had been used for the famous Tenka Festival in Chiyoda City, Tokyo.
The highlight of the festival is “seriai,” an aggressive performance shown by floats as they go by each other on a parade. The excitement comes to its peak as characteristic “kenka-bayashi,” in which ohayashi musicians on the floats compete with each other by beating Japanese drums and bells passionately. During the festival period, the entire city is filled with a festival atmosphere.
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.
Hie Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. The enshrined deoty is Oyamakui-no-kami, the god of Mount Hie in Shiga prefecture. It is said that when Ota Dokan constructed Edo Castle in 1478, he erected a Sanno-Hie Shrine in the compound for a guardian deity of the castle. When Tokugawa Ieyasu was enfeoffed with Edo (present-day Tokyo), he relocated it to the grounds of Edo Castle, and worshipped the deity as the protector of Edo. The citizens of Edo also had strong faith in Hie Shrine as the founding god of their town. In 1607, when Ieyasu’s son, Tokugawa Hidetada, planned to make improvement on the castle, he moved the shrine out, so the people of Edo could worship there.
Sanno Festival held in June every year is one of the three great festivals of Edo; the others are Kanda Festival at Kanda Shrine in Chuo-ku and Fukagawa Hachiman Festival at Tomioka Hachiman Shrine in Fukagawa in Koto-ku. In the Edo period (1603-1868), Sanno Festival and Kanda Festival were also called “Tenka Matsuri,” which means the Shogun’s Festival, because the festivals were protected by the Tokugawa Shogunate and the festival processions were allowed to enter the grounds of Edo Castle for the Shogun to view them.
The high-spiritted Edokko (natives to Edo) would have said, “Sanno Festival is too refined, isn’t it?” Any way, why don’t you try experiencing one of these great festivals of Edo, if you have time?
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.
Mihara Castle was located in present-day Mihara City, Hiroshima Pref. The castle ruin is a designated National Historic Site. It was built on the island near the river mouth of the Numata River in 1580 by Kobayakawa Takakage, a son of Mori Motonari. As the castle looked as if it were floating on the sea, it was called “Uki-shiro (floating castle)” or “Umi-shiro (sea castle).” The castle area was about 900 m from east (the Wakuhara River) to west (where Garyu Bridge is presently located) and about 700 m from north to south. Mihara Castle was an important fort, and it is said that Toyotomi Hideyoshi once stayed here. After Takakage’s death, Asano Tadayoshi, the head retainer of the Asano clan, who fought for the Toyotomi forces in the Battle of Sekigahara, was transferred to this castle. The castle was used as a branch castle of the Hiroshima domain until the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It was dismantled in 1871, when the domain system was abolished by the Meiji government. Now the castle area is arranged into a park, where the stone walls and moats remain.
Himure Hachimangu Shrine in Miyauchi Town in Omihachiman City, Shiga Prefecture, is a historic shrine visited by a lot of historical figures. It is said that the shrine was founded by Takenouchi no Sukune by the order of the 13th emperor Seimu in 131, when Seimu ascended the throne at Takaanaho Palace.
It was given the present name by the 15th emperor Ojin when he traveled to Omi province and his tentative palace was set up at this shrine. As the emperor saw double rings around the sun, he ordered to build a shrine hall here and named Himure no Yashiro Hachimangu Shrine, which means Sun Gathering Shrine.
Later during the reign of Empress Jito (690-697), the shrine was renamed Himure Shrine after the poem written by Fujiwara no Fuhito when he visited this shrine. According to one theory, the name “Himure” was derived from Hifure no Omi, the founder of the Wani clan, which ruled the northern part of Nara Basin from the 5th to 6th centuries.
As the shrine housing Homutawake no Mikoto, the god of war, it was visited by many powerful warrior clans including the Ashikaga and the Tokugawa clans. At the time of the Mongol Invasions of Japan, the Japanese Imperial court presented heihaku (offerings) to the shrine. After the Battle of Sekigahara, Tokugawa Ieyasu also visited this shrine.
In 1966, the shrine was renamed Himure Hachimangu Shrine. A lot of important cultural properties are preserved in the repository.
Takatenjin Castle located in Kakegawa City, Shizuoka Pref. was a field of fierce battles fought between the Takeda clan and the Tokugawa clan during the Warring States period. The castle ruin is a nationally designated Historic Site. Its construction year is unknown, but it is said that the castle was built in the early 16th century by the Imagawa clan as the military base to combat with the Shiba clan in Totomi. In the Warring States period, the castle was considered so important a strategic point as to be said “The one who takes over Takatenjin can take over Enshu province (present-day the western part of Shizuoka Pref.).” In 1569, when the Imagawa clan declined, the castle was occupied by the Tokugawa forces, and Ogasawara Tadanaga became the castellan. The castle fell by the attack of Takeda Katsuyori in 1574. Tokugawa Ieyasu, however, succeeded in taking it back in 1581, but he moved the bases of this region to Yokosuka Castle, and Takatenjin Castle was abandoned. At the present time, the castle ruins are in a good state of preservation.