The Kofuku-ji Temple, located in Nobori Ooji-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture, is a head temple of the Hosso-shu Buddhism sect and it was a private temple of the Fujiwara Clan. The principal image of the Buddha is Shakanyorai. The temple is 9th in sequence of the 33-temple Kannon pilgrimage and 4th of the 49-temple Yakushi Pilgrimage in Western Japan.
Koufuku-ji Temple was originally built in 669 by the wife of Fujiwara Kamatari under the name of Yamanashi-dera in Yamashina-ku, Kyoto City. It was transferred by Fujiwarano Fuhito to its present location and renamed Koufuku-ji.
Ooyu-ya is a medieval style bathhouse standing in the east of the Gojyuuno-to, or Five-story Pagoda. It is not known in which year the bathhouse was built, however, the current building was reportedly restored in 1426. It is now designated as a national important cultural property.
The bathhouse is 7 meters wide north to south and 7 meters wide east to west with a Hongawara tile roof. The west side of the bathhouse has the Irimoya roof style and the east side has the Kirimoya roof style. Inside the bathhouse are two gigantic iron pots that are used to make steam for a steam bath.
After the Middle Ages, the bathhouse was also used as a meeting place for public uprisings.
The bathhouse is tremendously valuable as an example of bathhouse architecture from the Middle Ages.
Niseko Oyunuma is a pond located in Yumoto Hot Springs in Rankoshi-cho, Isoya-gun, Hokkaido. The source of the hot springs is Oyunuma Pond. It is a hot water pond, which is 50 m from east to west. There is a promenade arranged around the pond, by which you can walk around it in 3 or 4 minutes. The yellow flowers of sulfur floating on the surface of the hot spring source are called spherical sulfur, which is academically very precious. The average temperature of the water is 70℃; however, it is as high as 360℃ at the hottest point. White steam and the smell of sulfur create a distinctive atmosphere. Oyunuma Pond is the most popular sightseeing spot in Niseko area, where you can enjoy the natural beauty that changes from season to season.
From May 3rd to the 4th every year, Hanayu (Flower Bath) Festival is held in Misasa Hot Springs to give thanks to hot waters in the town. The highlight of the festival is a large-scale tug-of-war ritual called Jinsho. The huge male rope and the female rope are made of wisteria vines and are 80 m in length, 2 m in circumference and 2 tons in weight. After they are combined together, the male rope is place in the east of the En-mon gate erected in the center of the Honcho Street, while the male rope is placed in the west of it. The tug-of-war sometimes takes as long as over 30 minutes. It is said that if the east side wins, the town is blessed with rich harvest, and the west side, the business success. Not only local people but also tourists join the tug-of-war. Whichever side wins, it will bring luck to this hot spring town of Misasa. Jinsho is a very popular event that tells people of the arrival of early summer.
A furo is a bathtub with hot water, or a place with a flow of hot water where you can warm and clean your body.
In ancient Japan, furo were simple bathing places with a flow of water. The origin of furo comes from 'yokudo', which were imported with Buddhism from China. Priests would cleanse their bodies in yokudo.
The present style of hot-water bathtubs began in the Edo period. The introduction of public baths at this time meant that they became popular places where people could meet, too.
In other parts of the world, stream baths and ablution are popular, too, although in Christian countries, taking baths did not become so common until the 19th century.
In the Shinto culture of Japan, washing is an important process to cleanse the person of sin. In addition, for many reasons such as climate and health, people love to bathe. Even today, hot springs and public baths are very popular.
Iron kettle-making is one of Japan's major traditional handicrafts. To make an iron kettle, metal is melted at a temperature of over 1500℃ and poured into molds in a technique known as 'fuki', which takes many years to learn.
This traditional technique has been passed down over the ages, and products are still being made by hand. The 'nanbu iron kettle', made in Morioka, Iwate prefecture, is famous in Japan.
In fact, recently there has been a small boom in iron kettles. Mankind today is said to be deficient in iron. It is said that one in five people suffers from anemia or semi-anemia. Water boiled in iron kettles carries enough iron to effectively replace any deficiency in iron. Connoisseurs can tell the difference between tea or coffee made with or without water boiled in an iron kettle. The taste of hot water boiled in an iron kettle is highly valued even abroad.
The Shimokita Peninsula located in the northeastern part of Aomori Pref. is known for its ax-like shape. The whole peninsula area is designated Shimokita Peninsula Quasi-National Park. From Cape Oma at the northernmost of Honshu Island, you can see Hokkaido within striking distance. There are a lot of scenic sites such as Cape Shiriya at the northeastern edge, Cape Oma at the northwestern edge, a series of rock formations made by wave erosion at Hotokegaura, Mt. Osorezan known for “Itako no Kuchi Yose (the calling of the spirits of the dead)” and beautiful autumn leaves at Yagen Stream. Many of these scenic sites create dreary and mysterious atmosphere, which has a nostalgic air of the farthest land. At night, isaribi, which are the lights of a cuttlefish fishing boats that leave the port at the sunset are fantastic. This area is also blessed with good hot springs such as Shimofuro, Yagen, Okuyagen and Yunokawa, where you can enjoy bathing in the idyllic atmosphere.
One of Japan’s oldest hot springs, Dogo Hot spring in Matsuyama City, Ehime Pref. is thought to have a history of 3,000 years. In the “Iyo-fudoki” (an ancient description of Ehime’s natural features), there is a legend that Sukunahikona-no-mikoto (a god of medicine) recovered his health in the hot spring. The name “Dogo” comes from the historical fact that at the time of Taika no Kaishin (Taika Reform Edicts) in 645, kokufu (the provincial office) was established in each province and the area around the kokufu was divided into three districts called dozen, dochu and dogo (an area farther away from the capital than kokufu), respectively. This hot spring has been known for its quality since ancient times and lots of historical characters including Prince Shotoku, Ippen Shonin (Buddhist monk) and Isa Kobayahi (poet) visited this place. It is also famous as the setting for “Bocchan,” a famous novel written by Soseki Natsume. The hot spring is very popular among women because its thin-felt water has the esthetic effect to smoothen the skin. After taking a bath, you can take a nice walk specified as National Important Cultural Properties around the hot spring town around the Dogo Onsen Honkan (the main building), which is specified as National Important Cultural Properties.
Beppu Hot Spring town in Oita Pref. has the largest volume of hot water in Japan. There are as many as about 3,000 hot spring sources around the areas known as “Beppu Hatto (eight major hot springs)” including Kankaiji, Kanawa and Kamegawa. Also the tour called “Jigoku Meguri (Hell Tour),” through which you will go around the eight Jigokus (geothermal pits) such as Umi Jigoku (Sea Hell), Yama Jigoku (Mountain Hell) and Kamado Jigoku (Cooking Pot Hell), is a very popular sightseeing program. Umi Jigoku is the largest Jigoku of the eight. Although the water temperature is as high as 98℃, its cobalt blue water remind us of the sea in the South Pacific Ocean. This hot spring pond emerged about 1200 years ago after Mt. Tsurumi erupted. When iron sulfate content reacts to the sun light, the water looks blue. Contrary to the name of “Jigoku,” its bottomless cobalt blue is really beautiful.