Subaru is the Japanese name for the Pleiades, an open cluster in the constellation of Taurus dominated by beautifully shining blue stars. The word “Subaru” is derived from an ancient Japanese word “sumaru,” which meant “to assemble.” It is said that “sumaru” became “subaru,” which meant “to unify” in the later periods. The kanji for Subaru (昴) was borrowed from the Hairy Head mansion (昴宿, pinyin), one of the twenty-eight mansions of the Chinese constellations.
The oldest writing that referred to Subaru in Japan is Wamyoruijusho, a 10th-century dictionary edited according to Chinese categories, compiled by Minamoto no Shitago by the order of Isoko Naishinno (Imperial Princess).
In Section 254 of The Pillow Book written by the famous authoress Sei Shonagon around the early 11th century, the following passage can be seen: “The Pleiades, Altair, Venus, the stars most admirable. If only there were no shooting stars to come visiting us at night.” This is the most famous passage in the Pillow Book for those who are involved in astronomy. Admiration for Subaru remains unchanged by time.
Semimaru Noh mask is used in the Noh play called “Semimaru” and expresses the sad real life story of a boy who, despite being a son of Emperor Godaigo, was abandoned in the Aisaka Mountain by the order of his father because of his blindness. The mask, in which his eyes are covered faintly leaving them slightly open, is made to show his elegance even with a gloomy expression.
There is another blind Noh mask called “Jaykuhoushi”. While Jakuhoushi has the look of common people, Semimaru has the grace of a person who was born into nobility. The characteristics of the mask are emphasized by the eyes, which are carved out all the way so the performer has a better view than other masks which are usually carved out so that only the pupils are view holes. The color of the mask emphasizes white. His hair is dirty and matted in parts.
Semimaru, who was left at the Aisaka Mountain, was visited by his older sister who was born with her hair growing upward. The two disabled siblings sought solace in each other. The play ends with the poignant departure of the sister.
Kukai (774-835) was a Japanese monk, the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism in Japan. Kūkai is also famous as a calligrapher, and together with the Emperor Saga and the courtier Tachibana no Hayanari, he is admired as the “Three Great Brushes” (or sanpitsu).
Kūkai was born in 774 in the province of Sanuki on Shikoku island in the present day town of Zentsūji. He studied Confucianism at the government university in Nara, where he became disillusioned with his studies because he thought that Confucianism could not resolve social contradictions. He developed a strong interest in Buddhist studies and named himself Kukai.
In 804, he set sail for China as a menmer of the government sponsored mission, in which Saichō, the founder of the Tendai school of Buddhism, was also included.
After studying Buddhism techings and Chinese cultures, he finally met Master Huiguo (Jap. Keika), the man who would initiate him into the esoteric Buddhism tradition at Changan's Qinglong Monastery in 805. In a few short months he received the final initiation, and become a master of the esoteric lineage.
Kūkai arrived back in Japan in 806 and reside in the Takaosanji (later Jingoji) Temple in the suburbs of Kyoto. There he established his own sect of Buddhism, the Shingon sect. At the same time, he used his knowledge in civil engineering that he had learned in China and directed civil works in many places. He also exercised his talents in various fields such as caligraphy, painting and sculpture.
When the emperor granted Mt. Koya to Kūkai, he planned to build the monastic retreat centre. However, before seeing the completion of his ideal religious institution, he died in Mt. Koya on March 21st, 835.
In 857, Kūkai was awarded the posthumous title of “Daishojo (the Great Priest) by Emperor Buntoku in 857, and “Kobo Daishi” by Emperor Daigo in 921. Kūkai was the great saint, who contributed greatly to the development of Japanese Buddhism after the Heian period (794-1192), and a lot of folklore and legends pertaining to Kūkai still exist in every part of the country.
Shizuoka Sengen Shrine, or popularly called “Osengen-sama,” in Aoi-ku, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Pref. is a generic name for three historic shrines; Otoshimioya Shrine, Kanbe Shrine and Asama Shrine.
Kanbe Shrine enshrines Oomunachi no Mikoto, who is the founding father of Suruga province. It is said that the shrine was founded during the reign of Emperor Sujin (around 100 B.C.) Since the Nara period (710-794), when the provincial system was introduced, the provincial governors revered the shrine. In the Heian period (794-1192), the shrine became the Soja (the head shrine) in Suruga province.
The enshrined deity at Asama Shrine is Konohana Sakuyahime no Mikoto. It was transferred from Fujisan Hongu (main) Shrine under the order of Emperor Daigo in 901. Since then the shrine has been worshipped as Fujisan Shingu (new) Shrine. From its magnificent buildings and treasures, the shrine is called “Nikko in Tokai region.”
Shizuoka Sengen Shrine located in Aoi-ku, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Pref. is composed of three different shrines. Nukabe Shrine, which enshrines Onamuchi no Mikoto, the founder of Suruga province, is said to have been founded in about 100 B.C. Sengen Shrine, which enshrines Konohana Sakuyahime no Mikoto, was transferred from Fujisan Hongu Shrine by the order of Emperor Godaigo in 901. Since then it has continued to the present as Fujisan Shingu (a new shrine). Otoshimiya Shrine, which enshrines Otoshimiya no Mikoto, is said to have been founded in about 300 A.D. It used to be a guardian of an ancient market located on the Abe River. The colorfully lacquered shrine buildings are all in the late Edo period style, which were built in 60 years from 1804. 26 of the buildings are designated as National Important Cultural Properties.
Hakozaki-gu Temple is located in Higashi-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture and is one of Japan's three great Hachimangu temples. It also has one of Japan's three great 'romon' two-storey gates. In addition, the temple is a 'Shikinai-sha' (a temple listed in the Engishiki--a list of all temples in the nation which received offerings from the government). Its status as a temple was Myoujin-taisha (or Myoujindai--a temple which enshrines major and remarkable gods).
The enshrined deities at Hakozaki-gu are Emperor Ojin (the main deity at the temple, the 15th imperial ruler of Japan and the guardian of warriors), Empress Consort Jingu of Japan (empress consort and mother of Ojin), and Tamayori-hime-no-mikoto (mother of Emperor Jimmu).
Hakozaki-gu was first established in 921 during the Heian period, under the authorization of Emperor Daigo. A magnificent temple was built here and, in 923, was transferred from the Chikuzendaibu-gu.
In the mid-Kamakura period, when the Mongols tried to invade Japan and came close to Hakozaki-gu, a 'divine wind', or 'kamikaze', rose up to repel them. As a result, the deities at Hakozaki-gu were worshipped as gods of charm against misfortune, as well as for success, overseas transport and communication and protection overseas.
Hakozaki-gu is a cherished and highly regarded temple, and fills the four seasons with captivating, enjoyable festivals, such as Tamatori Sai and Hojoya Taisai