Shinkakuji Temple located in Sanda-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo is a temple of the Chizan school of the Shingon sect. The main object of worship is Fudo Myoo. The temple is the 71st fudasho-temple of the Tama Shin-Shikoku 88 Holy Sites. The temple was founded in 1411. The temple treasure of the sitting statue of Yakushi Nyorai is designated as a Cultural Property of the city. The bell and bell tower are said to have been dedicated by Hachioji Sennin Doshin (junior officials) in 1660.
Shinkakuji Temple is famous for azalea and “Kawazu Gassen (the Frog Concert).” In the precinct is a pond called Shinji-ike in the shape of the Chinese character for “heart,” around which grow a lot of azalea and they are in full bloom in the middle of June. From the middle to the end of March, a lot of toads move to this pond for laying eggs. Though the toads decreased in number today, there used to be tens of thousands of toads got together here, which was called “Frog Concert” by the local people.
“The Saikyo Bridge” is actually a very unique rock located at Yamakuni-machi-Nakama, in Nakatsu City, Oita Pref. A large hole was made in the rock by long-time erosion and it looks like a huge stone bridge or a huge dragon lying across a valley. This unique rock is the product of nature’s everlasting power or quite literally an act of god in nature. The rock is also called “Sennin-hari (Sennin’s beam),” “Sennin-iwa (Sennin Rock),” or “Amenoiwato (the stone door to the heaven).” There is a cave with 1 m mouth at the bottom of the rock. The name “Amenoiwato” may have been derived from this cave. Inside the cave there is an empty space of about 2.5 m in height and depth, where ancient mountain practitioners supposedly trained themselves. Looking up at this natural rock bridge, produced by nature and immemorial time, we can’t help but realize how slowly time passes in the universe compared with the restless time we spend every day.
Choju Giga (Caricature Painting of Birds and Beasts) is a scroll painting in Toganosan Kozanji Temple in Arashiyama, Kyoto.
The official name of the scroll is 'Bird Beast Human Scroll'. It consists of four volumes and is designated a National Treasure.
From the end of the Heian period to the early Kamakura period, a monk of the Tendai Buddhist sect, Toba-soju-kakuyu is supposed to have painted the scroll, but many people believe it to be executed by several painters.
In the caricature, animals are depicted as humanlike; rabbits, monkeys, frogs, cattle, dogs, giraffes and so on. The scroll is an ironic description of the world at that time. but some parts of the scroll have been lost or are hard to understand.
The depiction of animals as humanlike and drawn with an emphasis on quickly-painted line to suggest movement is said to be the origin of comic drawing and animation in Japan today.
A year was divided into 24 solar terms on the traditional Japanese calendar. Rikka is the 7th solar term. Rikka (立夏) literally means the beginning of summer. It usually begins around May 6th, when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 45°. The terms from this day to the beginning of Risshu are considered as summer in Japan. It is just between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. It is the season of fresh green. It is when wheat come into ear in the Kyushu region, farmers begin seeding of potatoes and peas in Hokkaido, rice planting begin all over the country, frogs start croaking on the paths between rice fields, and Koinobori (carp streamers) are flying in fresh bleeze.
It is also the season when people enjoy aoutdoor activities because there is a long spell of fine weather and gentle winds. The sunlight gets stronger little by little tward the day of Taisho (Large Heat).
The Yase-otoko mask is used for the ghosts of dead men who have fallen into sufferings of hell. It portrays the fisherman who has landed in hell for the crime of killing fish or the ghost of the hunter who repents of his past misdeed and comes back from the afterworld. This haggard man, who has lost all vitality, has the hollow eyes, sunken cheeks, protruding cheek bones, and thin eyebrows and hairs around the mouth. His eyes are complaining of anguish that he cannot be relieved of even after death. The Yase-otoko mask is used for such plays as “Kayo Komachi,” “Fujito,” and “Utou.” It is always used with the Kuro-kashira mask, which represent a ghost. The extreme expression of this category is the Kawazu mask.
The Kawazu mask suggests a frog, from which it gets its name. Representing a ghost of a man who was drowned, it expresses a human obsession. Its small but widely spaced eyes are casting a downward look, both eyebrows are united to protrude over the eyes like an eave, and the cheeks are hollowed, all of which impart a haggard and miserable expression. The wet-looking hair painted on the forehead, which suggests recent emersion from water, emphasizes the misery. Classified in the same category as the Yase-otoko mask, the Kawazu mask expresses an even stronger feeling of grudge. This mask has several versions. The Kawazu mask is used for such plays as “Akogi” and “Fujito.”
Nishizawa Gorge, the riverhead of the Fuefuki River, is located in the bordering area of Saitama, Yamanashi and Nagano prefectures, which is a part of Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park. The gorge has a lot of scenic spots such as pit holes made by erosion, Botai-buchi (a deep pool) and many strange rocks including Kaeru-iwa Rock, which looks like a parent frog carrying its child frog on its back, Jinmen-do Cave, the surrounding rock surface of which looks like a human’s face. There are also many waterfalls in the gorge such as the Okubo Fall, the Ryujin Fall and the Koiito Fall. The highlight is the Nanatsugama Godan Fall (7 basins and 5 stages fall), which is divided into two parts: the upper 3 stages and the lower 2 stages. This cute waterfall is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Waterfalls. The gorge and its surrounding mountains are covered with red and yellow leaves in fall. The gorge was designated as one of 100 Sites Worthy of Preservation into the 21st Century by the Forestry Culture Association. As the walking promenade and bridges are fully arranged along the gorge, a lot of hikers come to enjoy bountiful nature.
This pagoda was constructed in 1328 at the end of the Kamakura period. It houses the statues of Dainichi Nyorai and the attendants, which are designated as the Important Cultural Properties of Onomichi City, Hiroshima Pref. The images of Shingon Hasso (the eight founder of the Shingon sect) are painted on the walls. Compared with other Tahoto pagodas, this pagoda is relatively large in size. It is characterized by the large rotund, white, plaster-covered form extending above the lower roof. Detailed decorations are given to the nosings that appear as an extension of a tie beam of the lower story and the bracket arms and the tail rafters of the upper roof. Gorgeous brattishing with peony flowers and arabesque design is given to the frog-leg struts. Its well-balanced shape is comparable to the excellent pagodas at Koya-san Kongosanmai-in Temple or Ishiyamadera Temple. As the structure representing the late Kamakura-period architecture, the pagoda is designated as a National treasure.