Daishoji is located in today's Kaga city in Ishikawa Prefecture. This was once a thriving castle town within the highly productive million-koku branch domain of the Kaga Domain.
Daishoji is a place where history and tradition live. The streets still retain a mellow and relaxed atmosphere evocative of the Edo period. At the base of the Kinjo mountain castle are the old Zen and Nichiren Buddhist temples standing side by side. Visitors come all year round to see the historical sites here.
Among the temples, Jisshouin is famous throughout Japan for its beautiful wisteria. The gilt-painted shoji screens are also magnificent. Choryu-Tei pavilion and garden, located in the grounds of the Enuma Shrine and once part of the mansion of Daishoji's 3rd lord, seem to imitate the Kenrokuen garden. Here the elaborate and detailed drawing room and tea room are interesting. This garden is designated as an important national asset.
In mid-May, wisteria blooms beautifully over the mountains. Fujifu is a cloth made by weaving fabrics extracted from the vines of those wisterias. In the Tango areas, the weaving skills that developed over 1,200 years are now designated as a traditional handicraft of Kyoto.
The history of fujifu is long. There is a phrase that indicates the presence of fujifu even in the 'Manyoushu' (a collection of Japanese poetry, compiled around the mid-8th century), which mentions 'the fujifu of a salt farm worker, working for the lord'. Also, an anecdote describes how the Emperor Godaigo took a wisteria seedling with him to Okinoshima island, when he was exiled there by the Kamakura Shogunate in 1333 (Genkou 2). The anecdote explains that he loved the wisteria and remembered the imperial capital by dressing in fujifu cloth.
At one time, fujifu was being produced widely across Japan as general apparel. Today, there have been approaches to adapt fujifu for modern lifestyles by making new products, such as 'noren' curtains, tapestries, obi belts and interior accessories.
Sandai Shrine in Shina-cho, near the town of Kusatsu in Shiga Prefecture, is famous for its wisteria. The enshrined deities at the shrine are Shinatsuhiko-no-mikoto and Shinatsuhime-no-mikoto.
Every year in April and May, the wisteria blossom clusters grow so long that they touch the ground, hence the name 'suna-zuri-no-fuji' (wisteria trailing the sand). The wisteria was originally planted by Fujihara, a Sessho (regent for a child emperor) and a Kampaku (regent for an adult emperor), in hopes for prosperity and good fortune. The wisteria deteriorated, however, following a fire started by Oda Nobunaga. In time, it sprouted again from its roots, and became what it is today.
At the Wisteria Festival held during this season at the shrine, people exhibit local products, and the Kusatsu-shi Sightseeing Product Association fair takes place, alongside other activities.
Along with the wisteria in the neighboring Shina Shrine and Soujya Shrine, the wisteria at Sandai Shrine are sometimes collectively known as 'shinamisato-no-fuji'. The wisteria of Sandai Shrine are notable for their twisting, lithe appearance, and make for a truly gratifying spectacle.
The Giant Aphananthe of Mukumoto is located in Geinou-chou, Angei County, Mie Prefecture, and has been designated as a National Natural Monument. As old as 1500 years, the giant aphananthe tree is more than 18 meters high and has a trunk circumference of 8 meters. It is the largest tree in Japan after the Mikazuki-no-muku located in Hyogo Prefecture.
Long ago, there used to be a larger trunk on the northern face of the tree, but it was blown off in strong winds during the Meiji period. Because of this, the trunk is currently only half of what it used to be. The circumference of the trunk at that time is said to have been more than 14 meters.
During the reign of Emperor Saga (809~822), it is said that when Taizen Nozoe and his son, both subjects of the Sei-Taishogun (General) Sakanoue-no-Tamuramaro, were wandering along the Ise Road, they came upon this land, where they found a giant aphananthe tree. They dwelt here temporarily in a tea hut they built right under the tree.
The trunk, which has grown and thickened over many hundreds of years and has its own strong vitality, gives the observer a strong impression and a sense of a mysterious stately presence