It is said that this temple was founded in 794 by the priest Saicho, the founder of the Tendai sect of Buddhism, as the east gate of Hieizan Enryakuji Temple, which had been constructed 6 years before as the headquarters of the sect. When Emperor Kanmu visited the temple, he named it Hieizan Tomonin Moriyamadera, which means the temple guarding the east gate of Mt. Hiei.
During the Edo period (1603-1868), the temple was used as the lodge for Joseon Royal Embassies, the Joseon envoys intermittently sent to Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan. In 1986, the main hall and Kuri (the priests’ quarters) were burned down by a fire. The statue of Juichimen Kannon (Kannon with 11 faces) housed in the main hall was also destroyed by fire. The main hall was reconstructed and the statue was restored to its original form in 1990.
The statue of Fudo Myoo, which is the principal object of worship in Goma Hall and survived the fire undamaged, and the five-story stone pagoda in the corner of the precinct are designated as national Important Cultural Properties. Together with other art objects, they tell us of the temple’s 1,200 year history.
Chiryu Float Karakuri is performed at Chiryu Festival of Chiryu Shrine in Chiryu City, Aichi Prefecture, from May 2 to 3 once every two years. It is designated as a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.
Chiryu Shrine is a historic shrine founded in 112 and was ranked the second largest shrine in Mikawa province in the Heian period (794-1192). The enshrined deities are Ugaya Fukiaezu no Mikoto and other three deities. The shrine is worshipped by local people as the god to prevent attacks by Mamushi pit-vipers as well as to bring rain and safe delivery.
Karakuri dolls have been made by the local people in Chiryu with creative ingenuity, and the techniques have been handed down since the Edo Period (1603-1868). They are made by the hands of the town people. The mechanism of the dolls is not sophisticated, and scrub bushes and scrap fabric are used for the material. It is unique and almost unprecedented in the way that dolls alone perform a whole play of Bunraku in response to Jorui chanting. It is said that Chiryu Karakuri is the most elaborate style of the float Karakuri in the country. It is a traditional culture that represents the pride of the people in Chiryu.
Kagura is a traditional theatrical dance in the Shinto religion and Musashi Mitake Shrine Daidai Kagura is one of these dances that have been passed down since the Edo period. Musashi Mitake Shrine sits on the top of Mount Mitake in Okutame, Tokyo.
The dance is said to have originally come from the Masaki Inari Shrine in Arakawa-ku, Tokyo, and it is based on the Izumo-style of Kagura dance.
The shrine still serves many different kinds of “kou” each of which represents a group of followers. The people in a kou believe that the highest form of praying to their god is to dedicate a dance and Daidai Kagura is performed on special occasions.
There are two different types of performing style in Kagura dance. In one type, masks are worn and in the other they are not. Masked Kagura has more of an entertainment aspect with clear story lines, many of which are based on popular mythologies from folktales such as Kojiki. The non-masked dance has a more religious or ritualistic aspect and it is performed to purge the place of evil spirits. These two dance performances used to have 12 titles each, however only 17 in total have survived and are still performed.
Because Daidai Kagura is dedicated to god, the dancers kneel down and bow at the start and at the end of their dance. Also, all of these dances are performed facing the image of god.
Daidai Kagura preserves the essence of true Kagura which encourages people to enjoy themselves while they honor god.
Shiroishi washi paper is a traditional handicraft in Shiroishi City, Miyagi Prefecture. It is presumed that Shiroishi washi paper originates in “the paper from the Deep North,” which is referred to in Makura no Soshi (the Pillow Book) by Seisho Nagon and the Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu as
“very soft, pure, elegant and graceful paper.”
Paper making in this area developed after the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, when the town of Shiroishi became a part of the territory ruled by Date Masamune. One of the retainers of the Date clan, Kataoka Kojuro, encouraged local farmers to make paper as a side job during the winter. Since then many craftsmen who were specialized in filtering paper came to this town from the nearby areas. Even today, this elegant and pure washi paper is made by hand in the traditional way. As the paper with very high quality, it has been so highly valued as to be selected the paper used in Omizutori ceremony at Todaiji Temple and the paper for the Japanese Instrument of Surrender after World War II.
Yatsuhasi Iris Festival is held from late April through late May every year in the pond stroll garden named “Yatsuhashi Iris Garden” of Muryojuji Temple in Chiryu City, Aichi Prefecture. It is a renowned place to view Kakitsubata, or the rabbit-ear iris (Iris laevigata Fisch.), about which Ariwara no Narihira wrote a poem in the Chapter 9 “Yatsuhashi” of his famous “Ise Monogatari (the Tales of Ise).” During the blooming season, about 30,000 stocks of rabbit-ear iris come into bloom in the sixteen ponds of the 13,000 square meter garden.
With a history of 55 years, the festival is one of the biggest events of the city. During the festival period, various enjoyable events are held at the temple, such as the photo contest of Yatsuhashi iris flowers, tea ceremonies, the exhibition of bonsai (miniature trees), the tanka poem contest, the shigin (poem chanting) contest and the exhibition of the temple treasures.
Takisan Toshogu Shrine was built in the precinct of Takisanji Temple in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, by the order of the 3rd Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1645 in order to enshrine Tosho Daigongen (Tokugawa Ieyasu). It is counted as one of Japan’s three largest Toshogu shrines.
A Tendai temple Takisanji, which enshrines Sho Kannon as its principal object of worship, was founded by En no Gyoja in the latter half of the 7th century.
Toshogu Shrine had been administered by Takisanji Temple until it was separated from the temple according to the Meiji government’s policy of separation of Shinto and Buddhism.
Honden (the main hall) in Toshogu-style is a colorful building with copper roof. Honden, Haiden (oratory), Heiden (the votive offerings hall), the middle gate, the torii gate and Mizuya (kitchen) are nationally designated as Important Cultural Properties.
The row of stone lanterns dedicated by the successive lords of the Okazaki domain speaks for the power of the Tokugawa family in the Edo period.
Bamba Dance is a folk dance performed every August during the Matsuri-Nobeoka (Nobeoka Festival) in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture.
Matsuri-Nobeoka is the largest summer festival in northern Miyazaki. In the Bamba-Sou-Odori (Whole Bamba Dance), more than 5,000 townspeople dance in a huge circle. The festivities also include a display of some 10,000 fireworks. This festival lasts for two exciting days.
The Bamba Dance is accompanied by narrative songs known as Kudokiuta, which feature long lyrics. The Bamba Dance seems to be a derivation of Bon festival dances held in each region of Nobeoka.
The lyrics of the songs for the Bamba Dance include many phrases from Kabuki and Joruri, which were very popular in the late Edo period. Therefore, the Bamba Dance is considered to have been popular in the late Edo period.
Indeed, the Bamba Dance has been enjoyed by people for a very long time.
Genroku Bouze Dance, or Genroku Buddhist Monk Dance, is dedicated to the deity of Itsukushima-jinjya Shrine located in Minashiro Miyanokubi, Shintomi-cho, Yuyu-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture, and is performed annually on August 15th according to the lunar calendar. The dance is designated as an intangible folklore cultural asset by the town.
Genroku Bouze Dance has been passed down since Muromachi Period in four neighboring areas of the town; Miyanokubi, Hiraikura, Yadoko and Oku. During the rule of Takanabe Akizuki Clan, the dance was performed as part of the festival dedicated to the water god mainly at Hiokimizunuma-jinjya Shrine which was associated with the clan.
The dancers consist of more than five groups of three people, a monk, a man and a bride as well as singers, drums and clappers accompanying them.
The dance celebrates a rich harvest, and there is a storytelling element where a man and his bride are dancing together happily, a monk tries to cut in between them and get in the way. It contains the theme of human drama which became popular at the end of Edo Period.
Genroku Bouzu Dance is a folk art that has a long history passed on through the generations.