Tsunaginosato Daimyo’s Procession is a traditional festival handed down in Towa Town in Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture. The festival dates back to 1564, when Kasai Minbunosho, the castellan of Hatooka Castle, restored Hachiman Shrine and dedicated Yabusame (horseback archery) on the festival day.
The procession is performed in the middle of September every year. At 11:00 in the morning, when conch-shell horns are blown and fireworks are set off with loud bangs, the procession leaves the shrine for going through the town.
With the leading men in formal Hakama in the lead, about 120 citizens in total join the parade, performing the roles of Yakko (samurai’s servants), the spearhead troop of cavalrymen, the magistrate of transportation, mikoshi carriers, Chigo (young children) and Ohayashi musicians. This Ohayashi music is mainly composed of Japanese gong sounds in Kyoto style, which creates a graceful atmosphere.
Occasionally, Tengu and Chinese Lion get out of line and pretend to bite children on the head, which is a magical rite for protecting children from diseases. When Yakko stop and toss to exchange the 3 meter long keyari (feather-topped lances)” in a valiant manner, which is called “Otorikae (exchanging),” the spectators along the street erupt into cheers and applause.
The 3rd Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate systematized “sankin kotai (alternate attendance)” by including it in Buke Shohatto (Laws for the Barons) in order to maintain the shogunate system. Basically, sankin kotai was a military service to the shogun, by which it required daimyo of every feudal domain to reside every other year in Edo and to leave their wives, children, and many retainers in Edo permanently as hostages. A daimyo’s procession occurred when a daimyo went to and from Edo.
The number of people that joined the procession and its detailed formation were set up in accordance with the assessment (by koku of rice) of the daimyo’s domain. As is seen in Japanese samurai movies, the procession goes with the usher calling “Shitani! Shitani!,” who was followed by m a factotum, couriers carrying hasamibako (briefcase) and soldiers with keyari (a haired pike), bows and guns, footsoldiers, men srvants of daimyo, the daimy in a palanquin, chief retainer, women servants and couriers carrying nagamochi (trunks).
According to one record, the procession of the Kaga domain, which boasted the largest kokudaka (the production of land assessed by koku of rice) in the Edo period, was composed of as many as 2,500 people. In the early Edo period, many daimyo seemed to enjoy the processions as occasions for displaying their wealth and status. However, it gradually became simplified due to the financial strains on daimyos.
Rokusho Shrine in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, is a historic temple pertaining to the Tokugawa clan. The enshrined main deities are Sarutahiko no Mikoto, Shiotsuchi-no-oji no Mikoto, Kotokatsu-Kunikatsu-Nagisa no Mikoto. The shrine was founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu at the end of the 16th century by transferring the three deities from Rokusho Shrine in Matsudaira county (present-day Toyota City), in which the Matsudaira clan, the ancestry family of the Tokugawa clan, originated. Later, 12 other deities were also transferred to this shrine.
The main hall was constructed by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1602 and repaired and expanded by the 3rd Shogun Iemitsu and the 4th Shogun Ietsuna. The shrine was worshipped by a lot of people from far and wide during the Edo period (1603-1868) as Ubusunagami (birthplace deities) of the Matsudaira and Tokugawa families. It received a great degree of protection from the Shogunate and only daimyo enfeoffed with more than 50,000 koku of rice were allowed to use the stone steps leading to Romon Gate (the two-story gate).
The colorfully decorated Honden (the main hall), Haiden (oratory), Heiden (the votive offerings hall), Romon Gate and Shingusho (offering preparation hall) are all nationally designated as Important Cultural properties.
The stone-paved road in Imaichi is part of the old Higo road that was used in the past. This important historical path was designated as an important cultural heritage site of the prefecture in 1972.
Imaichi Stone-Paved Road is located in the town of Notsuharu in Oita Prefecture. Notsuharu-cho became part of Higo territory from 1601, and Imaichi and the Notsuharu area formed a post station for the Higo clan until the late Tokugawa shogunate.
It is said that a teashop along the road here once prospered as a trading center. The stones used to pave the road reflect former ages. The 2m-wide section of stone-paved road lies in the center of the 6m-wide road. It stretches about 660m and reminds us of the time in the past when a daimyo lord would pass along this road.
The Kagokaki race, which takes place annually in August, is also famous. It is a race to reenact the cityscape back then. During the race, people run along the pathway, wearing a costume and carrying a basket.
The Old Nara Highway (National Road 308) dates to the C8th and is the main road that used to connect with Kawauchi until modern times. Kuragari Tōge (455m) is a mountain pass on the prefectural boundary between Osaka and Nara and was a tollway that once bustled with traders coming and going from Osaka, or pilgrims visiting shrines, or daimyō on their way to pay regular attendance at the Shōgun's court in Edo.
These days, tourists can easily visit this area by driving along the Shigi-Ikoma Skyline road along Mt Ikomayama, where they will see the remains of old stone paving, guidepost, and old rows of houses. There are a lot of historic sites around Kuragari Tōge, such as a monument to the Yanagisawa daimyō of Koriyama and a stone statue of Amitabha Buddha. In the Edo period, Bashō crossed this pass and left an excellent poem describing it.
The views of Ikoma city is superb. And one can see splendid terraced paddy fields extending before one's eyes.
Hikone Castle was once the seat of the Ii family in Konki, Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture. Another name for the castle is Konki Castle. It has been designated as a National Treasure and Special National Historical Place.
After the battle of Sekigahara, Ii Naotsugu, the son of Naomasa, the first Hikone domain head, along with Naotaka, the second domain head, built the castle, which was finally completed in the 8th year of the Genna period (1622).
Even today, the white three-storeyed castle tower still retains its power and majesty. The castle is one of Japan's four major National Treasure castles, the others being Himeji, Matsumoto and Inuyama.
The castle features many Important Cultural Assets such as the Balance Watchtower and the Taiko Gate Watchtower. The mood of each season is enhanced by cherry blossoms, fresh green, red leaves and snow. Moreover, Hikone Castle in moonlight is very beautiful, and comprises one of the 8 great views of Lake Biwa.
Hikone Castle is one of the best castles in the world.
Yujaku Park is named after the ricefields (yujaku-den) owned by Shiga Yoshisato, the 8th son of Otomo Yoshinao, along with a mansion he owned as lord of the manor in 1240.
The land was given to Nakagawa Heiemon, the elder of the Oka Clan in 1664 from the Oka Clan leader, Nakagawa Kiyohisa. It provided an important stop along the route known as Sankin Kotai Michi that daimyo took between their domains and Edo. It was located closest to Okajo Castle.
Heiemon proceeded to build a mansion, plant maples and pines, make two ponds (Shinji-ike and Tanji-ike) and turn the land into a place not only as a rest station on the Sankin Kotai Michi but as a beautiful scenic cottage spot.
Apparently even important literati, such as Rai-Sanyo and Tanomura Chikuden, visited the Oka clan guesthouses (okyaku-ya) and held garden parties.
Today, a maple-viewing festival is held in November, and the park is renowned as one of the best places in Okayama to see autumn leaves.
In the 8th year of the Keicho period (1603), the daimyo Tsugaru Tamenobu, who helped unify the Tsugaru domain, first made plans for this castle. But it was not until two generations later, in the 15th year of the Keicho period (1610), that Nobuhira commenced construction to complete the castle two years later. The castle became the Tsugaru family house and remained the center of Tsugaru domain politics for 260 years until the abolition of the domain.
The castle consists of six parts: main, second, third, fourth, north and west in grounds of about 49.2 ha. It is very rare that so much of a 400-year-old castle has been preserved, including a tower, gate, and triple water moats.
There is a small three-storied castle keep located near the southwest wall. The tower harmonizes tastefully with the four seasons that include cherry blossom in spring, the moon in summer, the moon, the maple in autumn and snow in winter.