Sanage Shrine in Toyota City, Aich Prefecture, is a historic shrine pertaining to the legends referred to in Kojiki (the Records of Ancient Matters) and Nihon Shoki (the Chronicles of Japan). It is said that the shrine was founded in 192 during the reign of Emperor Chuai, but it is not historically verified. The oldest existing record about the shrine says that the deity of this shrine was ranked Ju-goi-no-ge (the second rank of the fith class) in 851. The shrine was the 3rd largest shrine in the Mikawa province in the old times.
The enshrined deity is Ousu no Mikoto, who is a twin brother of Yamato Takeru no Mikoto. According to Nihon Shoki, when Emperor Keiko ordered Ousu no Mikoto to set out for the eastern land to put down the barbarians, he refused it. According to Kojiki, he was killed by his brother Yamato Takeru because he committed a lot of wrongful acts. However, the shrine record says that Ousu no Mikoto was bitten by a poisonous snake and dead in the mountain of Sanage, where he was buried. The shrine also enshrined a left-handed scythe because Ousu no Mikoto was a left-handed person.
The main shrine is located at the foot of Mt. Sanage, 629 m above sea level. Together with the east shrine in the east peak and the west shrine in the west peak, they were generically called Sanage Sanja (three shrines) Daimyojin. The dedication of “Bo-no-te,” a kind of the martial arts using a stick, is held in October every year.
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.
Kiryu Tenmangu Shrine in Tenjin-cho, Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture is a historic shrine founded during the reign of Emperor Keiko (reigned 71-130) as Isobe Myojin Shrine. The enshrined deities are Amenohohi no Mikoto and Sugawara no Michizane. Later in the Kan'o era (around 1350), it was relocated to the present place, where the deity of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto was transferred, and renamed Kiryu Tenmangu Shrine. The shrine thrived during the Edo period (1603-1868), when it was designated as the oratory of the Tokugawa family and the textile fair was regularly held in the precinct.
The shrine building was constructed in 1793. As is called “the shrine on the rock,” its Honden (the main hall) and Heiden (the votive offerings hall) stand on the rock stratum. All the main buildings of the shrine (Honden, Heiden and Haiden) are collectively designated as a prefectural Important Cultural Property “Shaden (shrine buildings) of Kiryu Tenmangu” in that the best techniques in architecture decoration of the time were gathered in those buildings.
Saeno Shrine in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine. According to the shrine record, it was founded by Yamato Takeru, a legendary prince of the Yamato Dynasty, who was ordered by his father Emperor Keiko to set out for the eastern land to put down the barbarians in 110. Sarutahiko, known as Dosojin (the guardian deity for a community and the god of road), accompanied him at this time as the guide, he enshrined Dosojin at this shrine; hereby it used to be called Kasama Dosojin Shrine.
The other enshrined deity, Ameno Uzume no Kami, is the deity of marriage, namely the deity who leads our family life. Hence the shrine is famous for housing the god who leads our way of life.
At the annual festival held on April 20 every year, Dosojin Kagura, which is a kagura dance in Izumo style and a prefecturally designated intangible cultural property, is dedicated to the deities.
As the shrine was faithfully revered by the successive lords of the domain including Date Masamune since Honden (the main hall) was constructed in 1522, the shrine possesses several cultural properties such as the votive plaque with Masamune’s writing and several old swords.
Taga-jinja, located in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, is the oldest shrine in Sendai.
It is said to date back to the year 110 when Yamato Takerunomikoto, a legendary hero, brought part of the spirit of the deity he worshiped to this area during his East expedition that he undertook by order of the emperor.
Since then, it has been worshiped as a guardian deity and protected by a succession of local lords and military commanders, including Date Masamune, a well-known founder of Sendai clan who established his castle in Sendai. In 1775, the shrine building was expanded by Date Shigemura.
The shrine is also worshiped by people hoping for long life and affectionately called “Otaga-sama”. When spring comes, cherry trees in the ground come into full bloom and cheerfully welcome visitors.
The entrance path to the shrine is also a path to a local school and school children can often be seen passing nearby.
It has been over 1,800 years since the first development on this site. The shrine full of historic relics is still to this day deeply rooted in local people’s lives and is loved and cared by them as it has been through the ages.
Hinokuni (Land of Fire) Festival is held in Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture from August 11 to 13 every year. Being nicknamed “Land of Fire,” Kumamoto Prefecture has a lot of history and folklore pertaining to “fire” including the Shiranui (Unknown Fire) legend concerning Emperor Keiko, the legendary hero Hinokimi (King of Fire Country) in the Kofun period (3rd to 6th centuries) and the fire mountain Mt, Aso. Hinokuni Festival was first held in 1978 as an event to cerebrate this land of fire.
On the first day of the festival, the fire ignition ceremony is held at Kinpo-zan Youth Outdoor Learning Center. The fire is then brought to the torch at the symbol tower placed in the Kumamoto Castle ruins site. It is called “Fire of Hope” and keeps on burning during the festival.
The main event is the colorful rhythmic Otemoyan Grand Dance, in which as many as 6,000 citizens wind through the streets of the downtown area, dancing to a famous and happy folksong “Otemoyan (Did you get married?)” and the lilt music of “Samba Otemoyan.”
Chiryuu-juku is the 39th post town along Toukaidou highway, one of the Five Major Highways of Edo period, and located in present day Chiryuu, Aichi Prefecture.
Since ancient times, the post town area had been called “Chiryuu” written as 知立 in kanji, however, because the Chiryuu Shrine in the post town had a pond full of carps and crucians, people started to use a different kanji, 池鯉鮒 (translated as “pond of carps and crucians” also pronounced “Chiryuu”). Thus, the present day Chiryuu City is written知立and the post town for池鯉鮒 while they are both pronounced “Chiryuu”.
The Chiryuu Shrine has an even longer history than the post town dating back to the reign of Emperor Keikou Era (241~310, according to records), who was the father of Yamato Takeru no Mikoto.
Chiryuu -juku became an important trading route town when tie-dyed cotton cloth made in neighboring towns such as Naruto-juku and Arimatsu-juku was in high demand, and the town held huge horse fairs attracting hundreds of traders and their horses. Andou Hiroshige, a famous woodblock print artist, captured a scene from the horse fair in his masterpiece, Fifty-three Sations of the Toukaidou.
Chichuu-juku was once a quiet farming village until it was designated as a post town after the Battle of Sekigawara.
Visitors can take an interesting walk through the town imaging the hustle and bustle of the crowds hundreds of years ago.
Kusanagi Shrine located in Kusanagi, Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Pref. is a shrine that enshrines Yamato Takeru no Mikoto. According to the myth, Kusanagi is the place where Yamato Takeru broke away the fire attack by sweeping off the grass with a holy sword named Amenomurakumo no Tsurugi (later called Kusanagi no Tsurugi, a part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan) and sparked off intersect fire with firestones. Later , his father, Emperor Keiko, built a shrine here. The sword was dedicated to the shrine, but in 686 it was transferred to Atsuta Jingu Shrine by the order of the emperor. At the annual festival held on September 20, a lot of people gather together to enjoy Ryusei Fireworks, which is said to originate in a signal fire and designated as the prefecture’s intangible folk cultural property.