At the foot of Yahiko mountain soaring high in the middle of the Chikugo plain in Niigata pref. stands the Yahiko(Iyahiko) Shrine. The grounds are covered by a dense grove of aged trees, such as cedars and Japanese cypresses. Though the exact year of construction is not known, the shrine is referenced in Manyoshu, an old poetic anthology dating back to 750 AD, so it certainly predates that time. The shrine is devoted to Ame no Kagoyama no Mikoto. Ordered by Emperor Jinmu (the legendary first emperor), Ame no Kagoyama no Mikoto taught the people of Echigo region of Niigata pref. various agricultural methods of fishing, salt making, rice farming, and sericulture amongst others, and contributed greatly to the development of the region. The shrine was once affectionately called Iyahiko-sama and flourished as a spiritual home of the mind and the soul for people in Echigo. In its museum, shrine treasures such as Shidano-Ootachi, a prominent long Japanese Katana and designated as an Important National Property, and armors that are said to have once belonged to Yoshiie Minamto and Yoshitsune Minamoto, both being legendary warriors from 12th century, are exhibited. The hall was rebuilt in 1961after being destroyed in a large fire.
Kakinomoto Shrine in Kakinomoto, Katsuragi City, Nara Pref. is one of the sessha shrines (attached shrines) of Kakinomoto Honsha Shrine in Masuda City, Shimane Pref. It enshrines Kakinomoto Hitomaro, a poet in Manyoshu. As one of the legends concerning Kakinomoto Hitomaro found all over Japan, it is said that he was born here in Kakinomoto village. It is also said that he died in Iwami province (present-day Shimane Pref.) and later in 770, his body was reburied here. Kakinomoto Hitomaro was a poet and aristocrat of the Nara period (701-794). With the sophisticated poetry style, he is said to be the greatest lyric poet in Manyoshu and was counted as one of the 36 great poets in Japan in the later period. His grave located to the left of the main hall was built in the Edo period.
The temple next to the shrine is an attached temple, Keigenji Temple, which is called Kakinomoto-dera. The wooden statue of Kakinomoto Hitomaro curved by Buddhist archbishop Sinzei is placed in the main hall but it is not open to public.
Kakinomoto Shrine in Nara is a historic shrine pertaining to the great poet in ancient Japan.
Yamabe Shrine located in Higashiomi City in Shiga Prefecture is well-known for enshrining Yamanobe no Akahito, a poet of the Manyoshu, who is noted as one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals. The biography of Yamanobe no Akahito is unknown, but from the poems he wrote, it is inferred that he spent most of his life traveling all around present Kansai district. The town of Gamo is where the poet spent his last days.
In the precinct stands a stone monument with his famous poem, which was inscribed by Watari Tadaaki, a poet in the Edo period (1603-1868).
When you walk through the torii gate, what attract your attention first is the huge Kanjozuri (braided rice straw rope) hung between the trees. The custom of hanging the Kanjozuri rope is typical to this district. It is usually dedicated on New Year’s Day in hope for getting rid of evils and bringing happiness.
Tamamo Park located near Takamatsu Station and Harbor was originally a site where Takamatsu Castle stood. The castle was built around 1590 by Ikoma Chikamasa, a retainer of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Later in the Edo period (1603-1868), it was taken over by Matsudaira Yorishige, a famous Mito Komon’s elder brother, and the town of Takamatsu flourished under the rule of the Matsudaira Family.
This seaside castle was popularly known by its nickname of Tamamo-jo (Pearly Seaweed Castle) because it was built to be well-guarded by the sea, which was named “Tamamo no Ura” after “Tamamo-yoshi,” the poetic epithet used by Kakinomoto Hitomaro when he referred to Sanuki province (present-day Kagawa Prefecture).
A lot of events such as the chrysanthemum shows, tea ceremonies and plant fairs are held in the park all through the year. Hiunkaku in the premise is a historic building, which is used for conventions, flower arrangement exhibitions and tea ceremonies.
Inabasan-zan or Inaba Three Mountains is a general name for the three mountains; Koshiki-yama, Imaki-yama and Omokage-yama, located in Kokufu Toun, Tottori Prefecture. This area contained the Inaba provincial headquarters of the state government and became prosperous as a regional center of politics and culture from Nara Period to Kamakura period. The area is also well known as a place where Ootomono Yakamochi, a famous figure as the compiler for the Manyoushu Anthology, came to live after being appointed as the head of the provincial government in 758.
The famous poem at the end of the book: Like the snow that falls on this first day of the new year in early spring, may there be ever more good things to come, was composed in Inaba, which led scholars to believe the Manyoushu Anthology was compiled in this region.
From Kokufu Town in the center, Koshiki-yama lies to the east, Omokage-yama to the west and Imaki-yama to the south. It is said that a spectacular view of all the three Inaba Mountains could be seen from the provincial office. Omokage-yama has a more feminine look while Koshiki-yama and Imaki-yama have a more masculine look.
Yanaizu Kokuzoson is a temple in Tsuyama-cho Yanaizu, Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture. Together with Fukuman Kokuzoson at Enzoji Temple in Yanaizu-machi, Fukushima Prefecture and the one at Shokoan Temple in Yanai City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, this Kukuzoson is counted as one of Japan’s Three Finest Kokuzoson.
Yanaizu Kokuzoson was founded in 726, when Priest Gyoki, who had been traveling all over the country preaching and carrying out civil engineering works, visited this place and carved out the image of Kokuzo Bosatsu, praying for peace and stability of the country. The temple is widely known as one of the few most historic temples in the Tohoku region.
The Grand Festival held from 12th to 13th in April and October every year is visited by a lot of worshipper from inside and outside the prefecture. It features the meal serving ritual called Kenzen Procession and the Goma fire ritual.
At noon, a procession of the priests and the temple laymen carrying trays with delicacies from sea and mountains leaves the Kuri (priests’ quarters) for the main hall to dedicate a meal to the principal object of worship, Kokuzo Bosatsu. After the procession, the Goma fire ritual is performed, in which a lot of Gomagi (prayer sticks) with people’s written prayers for family safety, traffic safety and passing entrance examinations and so on, are burned with holy fire. All the attendants quietly offer their prayers to Bosatsu.
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.
The Seirei Waterfall with a height of 50 m is located in Otaki, Kamikawa-mura, Yoshino-gun, Nara Pref. The waterfall flows down the Otonashi River, which spring out of Aonegamine Peak rising 858 m above sea level, runs into the Yoshino River and then into the Kinogawa River, and finally empties into the Kii Channel. Legend has it that when Emperor Yuryaku (A.D. 418-479) enjoyed hunting in this mountain, a large horsefly came flying and bit him on the elbow. At this moment, however, a dragonfly appeared from nowhere and killed the horsefly, which the emperor greatly applauded and named the place “Akitsuno (the field of dragonflies).” As a rainbow is always over the waterfall due to the sun shining onto splashes of water, the area around the waterfall is also called “Nijikko (the rainbow light).” Being referred to in Manyoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), the Seirei Waterfall is a scenic beauty with a long history.