Koriyama Castle located in Yoshida-cho, Aki Takata City, Hiroshima Pref. was a large-scale castle which covered the whole mountain of Koriyama. The original castle was built on a ridge in the southeastern part of the mountain in 1336 by Mori Tokichika, who was appointed as the Jito (an official to manage manors) of Yoshida manor. Since then the successive heads of the clan had resided at this castle until the time of Mori Motonari, who fortified the castle and expanded the castle area in the whole mountain. In the Battle of Yoshida Koriyama in 1541, the castle was attacked by Amako Haruhisa’s forces with 20,000 soldiers, but the Mori clan succeeded in beating them back. In 1589, the Mori clan shifted its bases to Hiroshima Castle. Koriyama Castle was dismantled in the early Edo period. Most of the castle compounds were destroyed at this time. At the present time, there are about 130 remains of kuruwa (castle compounds) spreading all over the mountain, from which we can easily imagine how large the castle was.
Great Green Grid is a lattice-shaped windbreak forest in Konsen Plateau in the eastern part of Hokkaido. It is a globally “large-scale” forest, which can’t be constructed in this country except in Hokkaido. It is registered as one of Hokkaido Heritages.
The side of each lattice is 3,000 m in length, the green belt is 180 m in width, and the total length of the forest is as long as 648 km. It became famous after astronaut Mamoru Mori captured it with a video camera when he flew aboard the space shuttle “Endeavor,” from which alone we can imagine how huge it is.
It was originally built to protect nearby cattle farms and grazing ground from wind and snow, but it has also become habitats and pathway for wild animals. In recent years, it is a popular spot for horse trekking and animal watching.
Sarukake Castle located in the northwester part of Yoshida Basin in Yoshida-cho, Aki Takata City, Hiroshima Pref. was a castle closely related to the Mori clan. It was built during the Meio era (1492-1501) by Mori Hiromoto, Motonari’s father. The castle is well known as the place where Mori Motonari spent his young days till he succeeded the clan. Sarukake Castle stood on the ridge of a mountain facing the Tajihi River running on the border of currently Yakake-cho in Oda-gun and Makibi-cho in Kurashiki City. It functioned as an important base to keep watch on passers coming from and going to the west. After the Battle of Sekigahara, however, the Mori clan lost three provinces including Aki and moved to present-day Hagi, Yamaguchi Pref. The castle became a Shogunal property and later dismantled. Doshoji Temple in Yakake-cho had been the family temple of the successive castellans.
The residence of the Kuchiba family, who acted as Yorigumi (a quasi-principal retainer) of the Choshu domain during the Edo period, is preserved in its original form in Horiuchi Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings located in Hagi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture. Among the residence of high-ranked warriors in this district, the Kuchiba family’s residence is relatively old and it is a precious historic site as one of the small number of warriors’ residences preserved in the country. The main building and Omote-mon (the front gate) are nationally designated Important cultural Properties.
The main building is supposed to have been built from the late 18th to the early 19th centuries. It is in the kirizuma-style (a house with a gable roof) with sangawarabuki (with base tiles) and has a protruding wing in the Irimoya-style. Characteristically, the innermost room has the adjacent room called “ai-no-ma,” where guardsmen stationed to protect the master.
The front gate is a long roofed-gate with a width of 22.2 m and a depth of 4.9 m. It is built in the Irimoya-style with hongawarabuki (with formal tiles), the front side of which is plastered with white clay and has beautiful sea slug walls covering its lower part. It is said that this magnificent gate had been used for the domain lord’s manor in Edo before being relocated to this place. It is the largest existing gate of a warrior’s residence in the city.
Hagi Castle was constructed in 1604 by Mori Terumoto, who lost to the Tokugawa forces in the Battle of Sekigahara. His huge territory in Hiroshima was confiscated and he was moved to Hagi as the lord of the Choshu domain.
The structure of Hagi Castle is interesting in that it is primarily a flatland castle but Terumoto also built a compound called Tsume no maru at the top of Mt. Shizuki. The donjon, watch tower and other structures were demolished in 1874 under the Castle Abolition Law. Only the stone walls and moats remain today.
The castle site was arranged into Shizuki Park with an area of 200,000 sq m when Shizukiyama Shrine was built in the ruins of Honmaru (the main castle) to enshrine the successive lords of the Mori clan.
Today the structures such as the ruins of the donjon, the Banzai Bridge and the East Yard also remain in the park. Some of the historic buildings in the city were relocated to the park and open to the public, which include Hananoe Tea House, the tea house of the Nashiba family and the old Shoin-room of the Fukuhara family.
In spring, this park is famed for its cherry blossoms including the prefecturally designated Natural Monument “Midori Yoshino,” which produces cherry blossoms with green calyces, and 600 Somei Yoshino cherry trees.
A Rinzai Zen temple Reichinzan Daishoin, which had long been deserted, was restored in 1656 by the 2nd lord of the Choshu domain Mori Tsunahiro as the mausoleum of his father, Hidenari. After the fire in 1747, the present main hall, kuri (the priest’s quarters) and the bell tower were reconstructed by the 6th lord in 1750. Especially, the priest’s quarter is large and stately enough to be the family temple of the domain lords.
The main hall, Shoin (the priest’s private quarters), the bell tower, the sutra repository and the wooden and standing statue of Akadoji (Red Youth) are nationally designated Important Cultural Properties. Visitors can have the honor of seeing the statue of Akadoji housed in Shoin hall from the garden. The wooden and sitting statue of Priest Gio, the founder of this temple, is a prefecturally designated Tangible Cultural Property.
Over 600 stone lanterns that were dedicated by senior retainers stand in front of the graveyard of the lord and his wife. In early May, wisteria trees in the precinct come into bloom. On August 13 every year, Mantoe (the lantern festival) is held at the two family temples of the Mori clan, Daishoin Temple and Tokoji Temple. The illuminated stone lanterns create a mysterious atmosphere.
Gokokuzan Tokoji Temple is an Obaku Zen temple founded by Egyoku, a renowned priest from Hagi, in 1691 with the patronage of the 3rd lord of the Choshu domain, Mori Yoshinari. Together with Daishoin Temple, it had been a family temple of the successive lords of the domain.
The two-floor, two-story Sanmon Gate, or also called Gedatsumon (Nirvana Gate), is worth seeing. It was dedicated by the 10th lord Narihiro in 1812. The gate is in Irimoya style with hongawarabuki (with formal tiles), atop of which has hoju (a ball-shaped ornament) with roban (the box-like base structure) for lightening protection. The gate is made of zelkova lumbers, which are joined together without nails. The statues of Birushana Buddha and 18 Rakans are housed on the 2nd floor. The gate as a whole is in almost perfect accordance with the Chinese architectural style.
The temple buildings in the Obaku Zen architectural style are laid out to represent a dragon. The temple is known for possessing a lot of historic treasures, which include Japanese painting by the Unkoku school artists and wooden plaques of mokugaku (a prefecturally designated Tangible Cultural Property), churen, and bohai. In the precinct are the graves of the eleven brave Sonno Joi extremists who were executed in the prison in Hagi and those of Kinno warriors who worked to establish a return of imperial rule. In A lot of people visit the temple for Mantoe (the lantern festival) held in August at the two family temples of the Mori clan, Daishoin Temple and Tokoji Temple, where the illuminated stone lanterns create a mysterious atmosphere.
Zuiunzan Taineiji Temple in Fukagawa Yumoto, Nagato City, Yamaguchi Prefecture is a Soto Zen temple, which is popularly called “Mt. Koya in the West.” It was constructed in 1410 by the Washizu clan, a branch family of the Ouchi clan, the governor of Suo and Nagato provinces (present-day Yamaguchi Prefecture). The temple thrived as the western academic center of the sect.
The temple buildings were destroyed by fire in 1551, when a high rank retainer of the Ouchi family, Sue Harukata, rebelled against his master, and the 31st lord Ouchi Yoshitaka committed suicide at this temple. The present building was reconstructed by Mori Motonari.
The Banjaku-kyo Bridge in the precinct is called one of the three distinctive bridges in the prefecture. It’s a beautiful bridge made of two huge flat stones supported by the combination of large and small stones. The temple is a famous viewing spot of cherry blossoms in spring and crimson foliage in fall. In November, when the leaves are lit up at night, a lot of visitors come to enjoy the fantastic scenery.