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.
After the Kasai clan, the ruler of the southern part of Tohoku region, was destroyed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s Oshu Shioki (punishment given to the powerful clans in Tohoku are to prevent their expansion) in 1590, Ichinoseki Castle was given to a Hideyoshi’s retainer, the Kimura clan, and then became a part of the Date domain. In 1604, Date Masamune transferred his uncle, Rusu Masakage, to this castle, but later in the Kanbun era (1661-1672) his 10th son, Munekatsu was feoffed to this castle. Munekatsu, however, was exiled to Tosa province (present-day Kochi Pref.), being accused of causing Date Disturbance in 1671. In 1682, Tamura Tatsuaki, Masamune’s grandson, was transferred from the Iwanuma domain to this castle, and his 10 successors had resided at this castle until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. The ruin of Honmaru (the main castle) called “Senjojiki” is a rectangular land of 100 m by 50 m at the altitude of 90 m above sea level. A ruin of dry moat can be seen on the adjacent hill at the same level as Honmaru, and several other outer compounds were presumably arranged on the terraced land below Honmaru. Koguchi (the main gate) was located in the northeast to Senjojiki. A square land in the southwest is presumed to have been another outer compound such as a watch tower. Now at the side of a small hill in the west of the castle ruins stands Tamura Shrine built by the Tamura clan.
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.
“The Saikyo Bridge” is actually a very unique rock located at Yamakuni-machi-Nakama, in Nakatsu City, Oita Pref. A large hole was made in the rock by long-time erosion and it looks like a huge stone bridge or a huge dragon lying across a valley. This unique rock is the product of nature’s everlasting power or quite literally an act of god in nature. The rock is also called “Sennin-hari (Sennin’s beam),” “Sennin-iwa (Sennin Rock),” or “Amenoiwato (the stone door to the heaven).” There is a cave with 1 m mouth at the bottom of the rock. The name “Amenoiwato” may have been derived from this cave. Inside the cave there is an empty space of about 2.5 m in height and depth, where ancient mountain practitioners supposedly trained themselves. Looking up at this natural rock bridge, produced by nature and immemorial time, we can’t help but realize how slowly time passes in the universe compared with the restless time we spend every day.
Atago Shrine was originally found in Yonezawa in Yamagata Prefecture. With the relocation of the residence of Date Masamune, the founder of the Sendai domain, the shrine was also relocated from Yonezawa to Iwateyama, and finally to the top of Mt. Atagoyama in Sendai in 1591 to serve as the head guardian shrine of Sendai.
As Mt. Atagoyama used to be called Tenguyama (Tengu Mountain), the sitting statues of Otengu (Great Tengu) and Karasu-tengu (Tengu with a crow face) are placed on both sides of the main gate. They are said to be the largest Tengu statues in Japan.
The present shrine pavilions were built in 1603 by Date Masamune. Honden (the main hall) and Haide (the oratory) were designated as cultural properties of Sendai City. The enshrined deity is Kagutsuchi no Kami, the god of fire. It is said that the fire prevention festival of the shrine was held as the grand event of the castle town.
From the observatory deck set in the precinct, visitors can command a panoramic view of the Hirose River and “the City of Trees” just as Masamune did about 400 years ago.
Koshoji Temple in Urakawa Town in southern Hokkaido is a temple of the Soto sect. The principal object of worship is Shakamuni Nyorai. It was founded in 1882 on the advice of the priest Kai Yuzen, who was on a missionary tour in this area.
In 1908, when a fire broke out and about 80% of the town was destroyed, Koshoji Temple acted as one of the town’s evacuation centers. The fire, starting from a carpenter’s workshop, expanded into the biggest fire that the town has ever experienced.
After the temple building was damaged by Tokachioki Earthquake in 1952, the repair work was given to the building. As the statue of the Saigoku 33rd Kannon, which had been placed in the grove in the precinct, was also damaged, it was relocated neat the main hall.
Visitors can enjoy the wonderful landscape of the historic garden with an old wisteria tree as well as Sargent cherry (Prunus sargentii) blossoms, which are in full bloom in May.
Inuyama Castle located in Inuyama City, Aichi Pref. has Japan’s oldest donjon, which is designated as a National Treasure. The castle is said to have been built in the late Muromachi period (the 16th century) and later relocated to the present place by Nobuyasu Oda, Nobunaga’s uncle in 1573. Several castellans occupied the castle from the Edo period through the beginning of the Meiji period. The castle was seized in 1871, when domain system was abolished by the government, and most of the buildings except the donjon were demolished. In 1891, the castle was damaged in an earthquake, and it was returned to the Naruse family, the ex-castellan of the castle, in 1895 on the condition that they repair and maintain it. Since then it had long been the only castle in Japan that was owned by an individual person. It was, however, transferred to an incorporated foundation in 2004. The donjon is the three-story five-floor watchtower, standing on the hill with an altitude of 80 m facing the Kiso River. Visitors can command a panoramic view of Inuyama City from the top foor of the donjon.
Arikabe-shuku was a post station between Kannari-shuku and Ichinoseki-juku on the Oshu Kaido Road, one of the five national main roads in the Edo period (1603-1868). Honjin (the lodgings for daimyo and the nobility) of this post station was built in 1619, and since then, domain lords and officials of the Matsumae, Hachinohe, Morioka, and Ichinoseki domains stayed there on their way of sankin kotai (the system of alternate attendance).
According to the old document preserved at the Sato family, who had been appointed as the chief official to administer the post station, the Honjin building was once destroyed by fire in 1744, and relocated to the present place and rebuilt here. Having escaped from disasters since then, all the structures including the main building with guest rooms, Onarimon Gate and the carriage porch have been preserved in its original form up to the present day. Also historically precious documents such as the records of the post station administration, the guest books, and the domestic records of the Sato family are preserved. Visitors can see the exterior of the building as well as the store house and the stable.