Kofuku (Good Luck and Wealth) Shrine in Hyuga City, Miyazaki Prefecture, was founded in 1776 by Ibi Tomijiro, the magistrate of Hida Magistrate’s Office, which managed “tenoryo (the Tokugawa Shogunate’s landholdings)” in Hyuga province (present-day Miyazaki Prefecture) as the guardian god of the branch office in Takatomi village. The deities of shrines ranked Sho-Ichii (the 1st of the 1st) in Fushimi (in present-day Kyoto) were collectively transferred as the main deity.
Later in 1868, the minor deities of local shrines were collectively enshrined and also Okuninushi no Mikoto, Kotoshironushi, Uka no Mitama (Inari God), Sukuna Hikona no Kami, Iwanagahime no Mikoto and Sugawara no Michizane were transferred. Of the shrine name, “ko (good luck)” derives from Inari God, the god of food and agriculture and “fuku (wealth)” from Okuninushi no Mikoto, the god of wealth.
A pair of camphor trees, which are said to be several hundred years old, stand in the precinct. They are called “Meoto Kusunoki (Husband and Wife Camphor Trees),” which finely matches the shrine name. As the symbol of the shrine, they are worshipped by visitors who wish a happy life.
Katte Shrine located in Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Nara Pref. is one of the eight Myojin shrines in Yoshino. It enshrines Oyama Tsumi no Kami and Konohanasakuya-hime no Mikoto. Legend has it that in 672, when Prince Oama (later enthroned as Emperor Tenmu), who had stayed in Yoshino and gathered an army to battle with the crown prince, was playing the Japanese harp in front of the hall at this temple, a heavenly maiden appeared and showed him a lucky omen.
It is also said that in 1185, when Shizuka Gozen, who parted with Minamoto no Yoshitsune in Mt. Yoshino, was caught by the pursuers, she performed elegant dance in front of the hall at this shrine to make time for her husband to escape.
The main hall was once destroyed by fire and restored in 1776, but in 2005 it was burned down again by the fire of suspicious origin. Presently, only a part of wooden structure remains and there is little possibility of the restoration of this important cultural property.
Flower Festival at Shiogama Shrine in Shiogama City, Miyagi Prefecture, is an annual festival of the shrine held on the 4th Sunday of April every year. As the festival is held during the cherry blooming season in the Tohoku region, it began to be called “Flower Festival.”
The origin of the festival dates back to the Anei era (1772-1780), when a severe flood attacked the region and farmers suffered from a bad harvest. It is said that when the villagers offered a prayer to the deity at Shiogama Shrine for a good harvest, they had good weathers and a rich harvest in the next year. To express their appreciation, they held a festival and the mikoshi (portable shrine) parade in 1788.
On the festival day, 16 shrine laymen called “Yocho” in white costume carry the mikoshi and walk through the city. During the procession, the carriers do not utter a single word and just walk in a solemn manner exposed to quiet Gagaku music (Japanese court music) and flattering cherry petals.
The travel of deity has been handed down to the modern generations for over 200 years without impairing its magnificence.
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.
The Matsuyama Castle of Yamagata once stood in Shinyashiki, Sakata, in Yamagata Prefecture, and was built on the flat lands at the western foot of the Dewa Highlands. It was built mainly to be used as a fortress during the second half of the Edo period.
In 1647, Tadatsune, third son of the Sakai family, parceled out about 3607.8 m3 of the mountain, and made a mansion for his family to live in. In 1779, the accomplishments of Tadayoshi the Third as a wakadoshiyori (assistant) were acknowledged and he was granted 901.95m3 of land and permission to build a castle. Tadayoshi started to build the castle in 1781, and completed it 7 years later as Matsuyama Castle.
Later on, during the Boshin war, the Sakai family joined forces with the Bakugun (troops who supported the revival of the abolished shogunate), but in 1867, they were forced to surrender and give up the castle, which consequently fell into disuse.
Currently, the site remains have become known as Matsuyama Historic Park. Parts of the castle remain around the park, such as the otemon gate called the Tamonzakura, which is a prefectural designated cultural asset. The Matsuyama Castle in Yamagata is a relatively modern castle that sheds light on the culture of the Edo period.
Shibayama lacquerware is a traditional craft from Yokohama, in Kanagawa Prefecture.
It is believed that Onoki Senzo (later called Shibayama Senzo), from Shibayama village in Shimofusa country, started the lacquerware tradition in the year Yasunaga (around 1775). His descendant, Soichi, continued the craft and added his own touches to create Yokohama Shibayama lacquerware.
The surface of Shibayama lacquerware is inlaid with animal bones and teeth, as well as ivory, and is set with decorative pieces of shell, coral and tortoiseshell in the center.
The designs appear in relief in the lacquerware, creating an astonishingly gorgeous and delicate beauty. Unfortunately, fewer craftsmen these days has meant that fewer Shibayama lacquerware objects are produced. Many objects were destroyed in wars and natural disasters.
Nowadays, the few craftsmen that are left carry on the delicate tradition of Shibayama lacquer.
Ootani ware is made near Ooasa in Naruto, Tokushima prefecture. It is the representative pottery of Shikoku.
Ootani ware was first made in 1780 by the artisan Monzaemon, who introduced the potter’s wheel to this valley as well as the craft of porcelain-making. He produced objects such as charcoal-extinguishers with this method. At that time, pottery was rare in the country of Awa. When the local clan lord came to hear of Monzaemon, he had a kiln constructed in Ootani. While dozens of kilns existed at one time, only eight remain today.
The most famous Ootani ware object is the large 'nerokuro', which is made by two people, one to form the shape and one to turn the pot. This vessel is believed to be the largest of its kind in Japan.
In 2003, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry designated Ootani ware as a traditional craft.
Taikodani Inari Shrine is located in Kanoashi district, Shimane Prefecture. Kamei Norisada, the 7th lord of the Tsuwano clan, founded the shrine in 1774. It is said that this shrine is modeled on the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. Today, it is counted as one of the five great Inari shrines in Japan. Inari is a god of food, clothing and shelter. Similarly, it draws worshipers who wish for prosperity in trade, success in industry and good fortune at any time of year. The name of the shrine comes from a story that a guardian of a castle lost the key and was told to commit ritual suicide by disembowelment, yet, after continuous worship at the Inari shrine, he found the key on the day of the ritual . After this, the word “success” was added to the shrine’s name. One thousand Shinto gates are lined to form a zigzag tunnel. Kanoshi district also has a lot of lightning strikes in. The shrine appears particularly beautiful when the snow covers the vermilion gate and courtyard.