Kandaten Shrine located in Koshu City in Yamanashi Prefecture is a shrine pertaining to the Takeda clan. Enshrined are Susanoo no Mikoto and other seven deities. It is said that the shrine was founded in 842 by the provincial governor, Fujiwara Iseo, by the Imperial order. When Sugawara no Michizane was enshrined together in 1004, the kanji “suga (菅)” was borrowed and the shrine came to be called Kandaten (菅田天). In the precinct is the statue of Zagyu (lying cow), which is believed to be the messenger of Sugawara no Michizane.
During the Warring States period (1493-1573), the shrine was protected by the Takeda clan as the god to guard the ominous direction of the provincial capital. The shrine is known for the possession of Kozakura Kawaodoshi Yoroi, which was one of the 8 armors handed down to the descendants of the Genji (the Minamoto clan). This armor was so strong that the one who wore it didn’t have to use a shield, so it was called “Tate-nashi-no-yoroi (the armor without a shield).” It was handed down to the heads of the Takeda clan, one of the rightful descendant family of the Seiwa Genji, as the family treasure together with Japan’s oldest Rising Sun flag.
Numata Castle was located in Numata City, Gunma Pref. It is said to have been built by Bankisai Akiyasu, the 12th generation head of the Numata clan. The castle was called Kurauchi Castle in those days. As it stands at the strategic spot on the way to Kanto region, a lot of battles to capture this castle were fought among warring lords such as the Uesugi clan of Echigo region (present-day Niigata Pref.), the Hojo clan of Odawara, and the Takeda clan of Kai province (present-day Yamanashi Pref.). In the Edo period, this area came under control of the Sanada clan. Sanada Yukinobu started its modification work in 1597, and in several years it was modified into an early modern-styled castle with the five-story donjon, Ninomaru (the second castle), Sannomaru (the third castle), and the stone walls, which were rear for Kanto region. At the present time, only a part of stone walls and moats remains, which remind us of the ancient times. In spring, a 400-year-old cherry tree called “Goten-zakura (palace cherry tree)” is in full bloom. It looks as if it were talking of rise and fall of the castle.
Inukoeji located in Yamakita-cho, Ashigara-Kami-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture, is a mountain pass at an altitude of 1,050 m. This scenic spot has provided a comfort stop for trekkers since old times.
In the Warring States period (1493-1573), Takeda Shingen in Kai province (present-day Yamanashi Prefecture) extended powers over the area around Tanzawa Mountains. The name of this pass, Inu-koe-ji, meaning “the path that dogs go over” is derived from the legend pertaining to their attacks on the Hojo clan in Odawara. Legend has it that whenever the Takeda forces headed for Odawara, they took this trail with their army dogs leading the steep and dangerous way.
You can command a panoramic view of the west part of Tanzawa Mountains and Mt. Fuji from Inukoeji Pass, which is selected one of the Kanagawa 50 Scenic Places. This tranquil mountain pass is a resting spot for the hikers climbing Mt. Hinokiboramaru and Mt. Omuroyama. Wonderful autumn foliage can be enjoyed in fall.
Kinu no Michi, or Japanese Silk Road, is a highway connecting Hachiouji City to Tokyo and Yokohama City of Kanagawa Prefecture and it follows the same journey as today’s Route 16.
Hachiouji City had been known as Souto (translated as the city of mulberry) since old times and thrived with the production of raw silk. In 1859, as Yokohama opened its port to limited foreign trade, raw silk became an important export and Hachiouji became a vital hub for raw silk merchants from Nagano and Yamanashi area.
The road frequently used for the raw silk trade was called Yarimizu-kaidou or Hama-kaidou, but because the road was what the Silk Road was to the Asian continent, it later became known as Kinu no Michi, or Japanese Silk Road.
The road has been recognized for its historical importance and some parts of the road and vicinity were restored and preserved. In Yarimizu region of Hachiouji, there is the Silk Road Museum built inside the ruins of the mansion of a famous raw silk merchant.
The Silk Road is a valuable historical record that has many stories to tell of the silk trade merchants in late Edo period and the Meiji era to this day.
Nichiren was a Buddhist monk in the Kamakura period (1192-1333) and the founder of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism. Born in Awa province (present-day Chiba Prefecture) in 1222, Nichiren began his Buddhist study at a nearby temple, Seichoji, at the age of 12. He was formally ordained four years later at 16. Then he visited temples in Nara and Kyoto including Shitennoji Temple and Koyasan Kongobuji Temple for more in-depth study. Through the study of Nenbutsu (Buddhist invocation), Zen and Shingon (esoteric practice), he became convinced of the pre-eminence of the Lotus Sutra. In 1253, he founded his own sect of Buddhism at Seichoji Temple and recited “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” for the first time. He changed his name to Nichiren, wherein the kanji character for nichi (日) means “sun” and that for ren (蓮) means “lotus.”
In 1260, he wrote “the Rissho Ankoku Ron (Treatise on securing the peace of the land through the establishment of the correct),” in which he criticized all the other sects of Japanese Buddhism. It prompted a severe backlash, especially from among priests of other Buddhist sects and the Kamakura Shogunate. Nichiren was harassed and exiled four times in his life. When he was exiled to Sado, an island in the Japan Sea, he wrote two of his most important doctrinal treatises, “the Kaimoku Sho (On the opening of the eyes)” and “the Kanjin no Honzon Sho (The object of devotion for observing the mind in the fifth five-hundred year period).” It was also during his exile on Sado, in 1272, that he inscribed the first Gohonzon, the mandala that he intended as a graphic representation of the essence of the Lotus Sutra.
Nichiren spent the rest of his life at Minobu, where he and his disciples erected Kuonji Temple and he continued writing and training his disciples. In 1282, Nichiren died in Edo (present-day Tokyo). The Japanese imperial court awarded Nichiren the honorific designations “Nichiren Daibosatsu (Great Bodhisattva Nichiren)” in 1358 and “Rissho Daishi (Great Teacher Rissho) in 1922.
Kenryuji is a temple of the Rinzai sect located in Wakuya Town in Miyagi Prefecture, known as a castle town at the foot of Wakuya Castle, where the Wakuya Date clan resided. The principal image of worship is Nyoirin Kanzeon.
In 1591, Watari Shigemune, the ruler of the area, restored the deserted temple and named it Endoji Temple. In 1671, when Date Aki Muneshige died, it was renamed the present name after his Buddhist name. Date Aki Muneshige was the 4th generation of the Wakuya Date clan and one of the central figures of Date Turbulence. The details of the incident are as follows.
In 1671, Aki complained to the Shogunate of the mismanagement of the Sendai domain under Date Hyobu Munekatsu, the guardian of the young lord, and Harada Kai, a magistrate. When all the Date retainers involved were summoned to the Tairo’s mansion for questioning, Harada Kai suddenly drew his sword and killed Aki. Harada was also killed moments after by the officials. In a trial held soon after the incident, it was decided that the Harada family was destroyed and Hyobu was punished, while Aki was judged to be a paragon of loyalty, and no action was taken against his family.
In the precinct is Otamaya (the Kenryubyo mausoleum) of Date Aki Muneshige, which is designated as an important cultural property by the prefecture. The mausoleum was built in 1673. It is a 3.6-meter square building made of zelkova wood and has Kohai (a step canopy). Together with a copper roof in Hogyo-zukuri (a pyramid style), it is a precious example of the architectural style of the time.
Shukuba were post stations during the Edo period (1603-1868) located on the Edo Five Routes or their sub-routes, which started to be constructed by Tokugawa Ieyasu after the Battle of Sekigahara and completed by his successors. Among the five routes, the Tokaido was the first and the most important route, after which the Nakasendo, the Koshu Kaido, the Oshu Kaido and other sub-routes were constructed.
These post stations were also the places where travelers could rest on their journey. The lodgings in the post stations included honjin (Rest areas and lodgings built for use by samurai and court noble), sub-honjin (a spare Honjin used when regular Honijn were full) and hatago (inns for the commoners).
Toiyaba (administration offices that helped manage the post town) were established in each of the post station. One of the most important roles of toiyaba was to handover the official percels and letters to the next post station.
As it was hard to receive profits from these official functions, the Tokugawa Shogunate provided perquisites such as tax exemptions, rice rationing and money lending, making it possible for the post station facilities to stay open. In the the Meiji period (1868-1912), when the railroad was developed and transportation conditions changed, the number of travelers using these post stations grradually declined, as did the prosperity of the post stations.
Nishizawa Gorge, the riverhead of the Fuefuki River, is located in the bordering area of Saitama, Yamanashi and Nagano prefectures, which is a part of Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park. The gorge has a lot of scenic spots such as pit holes made by erosion, Botai-buchi (a deep pool) and many strange rocks including Kaeru-iwa Rock, which looks like a parent frog carrying its child frog on its back, Jinmen-do Cave, the surrounding rock surface of which looks like a human’s face. There are also many waterfalls in the gorge such as the Okubo Fall, the Ryujin Fall and the Koiito Fall. The highlight is the Nanatsugama Godan Fall (7 basins and 5 stages fall), which is divided into two parts: the upper 3 stages and the lower 2 stages. This cute waterfall is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Waterfalls. The gorge and its surrounding mountains are covered with red and yellow leaves in fall. The gorge was designated as one of 100 Sites Worthy of Preservation into the 21st Century by the Forestry Culture Association. As the walking promenade and bridges are fully arranged along the gorge, a lot of hikers come to enjoy bountiful nature.