Hakusan Shrine located in Nakayama, Hachioji City, Tokyo is a historic shrine. The enshrined deity is Izanagi no Mikoto. The exact era of its foundation is unknown, but according to the postscript of the Lotus Sutra excavated from the sutra mound in the precinct, the shrine had already existed in the late Heian period (794-1192), The postscript indicates that there used to be a temple named Choryuji as a jinguji (a temple housed in a shrine) in the precinct and the sutra is presumably dedicated in 1154 by the monk Benchi, a kinsman of Musashibo Benkei, who is said to have copied and dedicated the Lotus Sutra to seven shrines in the Kanto region.
The shrine was burned down by fire in the battle fought between the Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s forces and the Hojo clan at the siege of Odawara in 1590, but it was rebuilt in 1613. The 1,000-year-old Japanese umbrella pine tree in the precinct was designated as a Natural Monument by Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
There are many legends about Yoshitsune and Benkei in Mogami district. The 'Yoshitsune Story', supposedly written in the Muromachi period, relates that when Yoshitsune was being hunted by his brother Minamotono-no-Yoritomo and was heading for Hiraizumi in Iwate Prefecture, he passed through Mogami district in the third year of the Bunji period (1187).
The district around Semi hot springs has many legends and traces about Yoshitsune's masters and servants. For example, the Koyasu-Kannon deity is supposed to have overseen the birth of Kamewakamaru, Yoshitsune's child.
The name 'Semi' has several possible origins: one is that it derives from 'Semi-maru', Benkei's long-handled sword; another is that it derives from 'no-crying semi (cicada)', the nickname of Kamewakamaru, who was reputed to have never cried, even when he knew that he was a son of a fleeing warrior. A third possible source is that it is named for a wounded cicada that was resting on a tree and curing itself in the steam from a nearby hot spring.
There are many tourist attractions in Semi, Mogami, that relate to Yoshitsune and Benkei, such as Yagen Hot Water and Benkei's Inkstone that Beinkei was supposed to have used.
Kawadai Gorge is a 2 km rhyolite gorge located in the down stream of Kurikoma Dam to the south of Mt. Karekidachiyama in Kurihara City in the northern end of Miyagi Prefecture. The scenery in the seasons of tender green and autumn leaves is especially beautiful.
The gorge has several legends concerning Minamoto no Yoshitsune. The statue of Gofukin Fudoson placed by Yoshitsune remains on a rock and a small hall looking like an oratory stands by the stream. Near the hall is a waterfall named “Tsukuri-daki.” Legend has it that Benkei, the retainer of Yoshitsune, rolled rocks with a light hand and created the waterfall, saying, “There must be a waterfall by the Fudo Hall.”
With several places of interest such as Saruwatari (Monkey’s Path), the gorge is suitable for pleasant hiking. From late October through early November, branches with colorful leaves protrude over the stream to form a blazing tunnel, which looks breathtakingly beautiful.
Tsuzuki-Ishi is a set of stones located in Ayaori-cho, Tono City, Iwate Pref. A huge stone with a width of 7 m, a depth of 5 m and a thickness of 2 m is laid on the two supporting stones. It is on a slope in the cedar grove 15 minutes’ walk from the torii gate in Ayase Town. There are several legends and stories as to the origin of these stones, but none of them is ascertained. According to the 11th appendix of Legends of Tono, it was lifted by Yoshitsune’s retainer, Benkei. The stones are also said to be the ruin of an ancient tomb or a part of dolmen. As there has been no record about the stones, it isn’t clear how long it has been here and even whether it was part of the natural process or man-made object. As there is another huge stone located at Haguro Shrine in the nearby area, these stones might be related to it but no proof has been found. The existence of Tsuzuki-Ishi itself is a real mystery.
Yoshitsune Kakure-to Hall is an old structure located in the precinct of Kinpu Shrine in Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Nara Pref. The hall is down the narrow path beside Kinpu Shrine. Without a signboard, you might miss it. It is a Hogyo-zukuri (the square-styled) simple hall with a Hinoki-bark roof.
It is also called “Kenuke-no-to (literally meaning ‘a pagoda of kicking and escaping’)” because when Yoshitsune and his retainers, Benkei, Sato Tadanobu and others, hid themselves in this hall and were surrounded by the pursuers, they made an escape by kicking up the roof of the hall.
The hall is used as a training ashram of Omine Shugendo. In the darkness inside the hall, a Shugendo practitioner walks around to let out his own earthly desires by chanting “Kakure-to in the deep mountains of Yoshino is the habitat of eternal emptiness.” Full of legends and history, Yoshitsune Kakure-to Hall stands calmly as the place of meditation.
Ataka no Seki is the site of a historical checkpoint located near the river mouth of the Kakehashi-gawa River in Komatsu City, Ishikawa Pref. It is said that the checkpoint was built by the provincial governor, Togashi clan. The checkpoint, however, is famous as the scene of the Noh play “Ataka” and the kabuki play “Kanjincho.” The story goes that Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who had defeated Heike clan in the sea battle at Dannoura, was on the run, escaping from his eldest brother, Yoritomo, who became jealous of Yoshitsune. Yoritomo ordered to set up checkpoints all over the country to capture Yoshitsune. In 1187, Yoshitsune and his followers were disguised as mountain priests and tried to pass the checkpoint of Ataka. Togashi Saemon, the head of the checkpoint was in suspicion and started to ask questions. Benkei told him that they had been sent to collect funds for the restoration of Todaiji Temple in Nara and began reading aloud Kanjincho (a list of contributors) out of a blank roll of paper. To dispel the suspicion that the porter in the party might be Yoshitune, Benkei pretended to be angry with him, saying that it was his fault to resemble Yoshitsune, and began to beat him harshly. Although Togashi was sure of their real identity, he was deeply moved by Benkei’s loyalty and let them go on with their journey.
Gakuenji Temple is a Tendai Sect temple, located in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture.
In the 2nd year of the Suiko period (594), the emperor suffered from an eye disease. After Chishun Shonin prayed at Furo Waterfall, the emperor recovered and built the temple in thanks.
The name of the temple comes from a legend in which Shonin accidentally dropped hisBuddhist staff into the basin of the waterfall and a crocodile (in Chinese-style reading, Gaku) picked it up.
Near the Furuo Waterfall defile and 500m from the entrance of the temple, is a small shrine named ‘Zao-do’,.
It is said that Benkei trained himself at Gakuenji. Even after he won the battle in Dannoura with Yoshitsune, he remained in Gakuenji and left many legacies and relics.
The Benkei Festival is held every year in October, and during the Red Leaves Festival, held from late October through November, people come to enjoy the red leaves.