Ibusuki Shrine is located in Higashikata, Ibusuki City, Kagoshima Prefecture. The enshrined deity is OOhirumemuchi-no-mikoto.
According to the shrine’s record, the shrine’s history dates back to 706 when a shrine was built to honor the visit of Emperor Tenchi and was named Katsuragi Palace.
In 874, due to the great eruption of Mt. Kaimondake, the spirit of the shrine was transferred to Hirasaki Shrine and was renamed Montake-shinguu or Montake New Palace. It was after the Meiji Restoration that the palace received its current name, Ibusuki Shrine.
The shrine has been worshiped as the general shrine deity of Yabusuki area, primary deity of local reclamation and guardian deity of sailing and business prosperity.
The main building seen today was built by Shimazu Narioki in 1847.
In the precinct stand eight gigantic camphor trees which are estimated to be over 700 years old. The whole area is known as Ibusuki’ god forest and designated as a natural monument by Kagoshima Prefecture.
Ibusuki Shrine is the historical shrine that had been deeply venerated by the successive heads of the Satsuma Clan.
Gottan is a stringed instrument that has been passed down in the Miyazaki Prefecture.
It is very similar to shamisen, which is a more broadly used traditional instrument in Japan. While shamisen uses animal skin, gottan uses Japanese cedar wood and is smaller than shamisen. Gottan is generally perceived to be a cross between shamisen and sanshin, a traditional instrument in Okinawa.
In the past, when carpenters built a house, they would make a gottan out of the wood left over and present it to the owner of the house as a gift. This custom has been almost totally lost today although the instrument itself has been preserved.
During the rule of the Satsuma Clan, when the ban on some Buddhist sects (especially the True Pure Land sect) was imposed, people are said to have kept their religious faith by singing songs instead of chanting and the gottan, which was used to accompany these songs, became widely used as far as the Miyakonojyou region.
The gottan is often used to accompany a popular style of song known as Yassabushi. This is lively music performed with the shamisen, drums and other musical accompaniments. The gottan, also called Hako (box) shamisen or Ita (board) shamisen, produces a simple yet sharp and crisp sound that invokes the local mood.
Old samurai gardens and residences have been carefully preserved in Chiran-cho, Minamikyushu City, Kagoshima Prefecture. This district is nationally designated as a Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings. They are the reminiscence of the samurais’ residential district built about 260 years ago by the lord of Chiran Town, Shimazu Hisamine. As is represented by the words, “What defends the province is not a castle but people,” more than 100 residential districts of this kind were constructed as outer forts to defend the domain’s main castle during this period.
The residences are located along the delightful streets nicknamed Samurai Lanes, which are intentionally narrow and high walled to prevent would-be invaders. The seven gardens are open to the public. One garden is a pond garden with a miniature artificial-hill, and others are dry gardens in Karesansui-style. Those exquisite and elegant gardens fully represent intelligence and decency based on the Satsuma style simple and sturdy philosophy.
Ryukyu pottery is a traditional handicraft handed down in the Tsuboya district in Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture. Pottery techniques were introduced to Ryukyu through the trade with Southeast Asian countries during the 15th century.
Later in the early 17th century, potters from Korea and China were invited to teach their techniques to the local potters, who gradually combined them with the techniques used in the Satsuma domain, the ruler of Ryukyu at that time, and developed their original pottery ware. In the late 17th century, King Shotei of the Ryukyu Dynasty concentrated all the workshops build around his country in the Tsuboya district. Since then the Tsuboya district has been the center of Ryukyu pottery up to the present time.
Using locally produced clay and glazers, it is characterized by generous-hearted and bright impression that is typical to the south land. Pottery produced at these kilns is classified largely into two groups; Ara-yachi and Jo-yachi. Ara-yachi potteries are not glazed and large in size, while Jo-yachi includes those finely-glazed and having painted designs.
Yaeyama joufu (high-quality ramie) fabric is woven on Ishigaki Island, Okinawa. The small dark-brown 'kasuri' (scratched) patterns against the white background on this material give a very refreshing look.
In the early 17th century, the Satsuma clan invaded Ryukyu (Okinawa) and imposed taxes on the Okinawans. Many people were made to weave fabric to be sent as tribute to their rulers, hence the development of the Yaeyama joufu technique.
After regulations were abolished at the end of the Meiji period, the craftworkers organized guilds and Yaeyama joufu became a popular cottage industry.
The materials for the ramie and the many kinds of dye are all natural, and are turned into beautiful fabric by the hands and wisdom of the people. The cloth is dried in the May sun and the dyes are fixed by seawater.
Many people love this high-quality ramie because it suits the subtropical climate: it is refreshing and light enough to to let air pass through.
Did you know Okinawa used to be an independent state, called 'Ryukyu Kingdom'? Ryukyu Kingdom was founded in 1429, 600 years ago in what is now Urazoe City. From the 15th to 16th century, it flourished economically by trading with Asian countries like China and developed an advanced architectural culture with construction including Kingdoms, temples, roads and bridges. From the 17th to 18th century, when it was ruled by Satsuma Domain, now called Kagoshima prefecture, local characteristic cultures blossomed including pair dancing, Bingata, the technique of textile dyeing, and Ryukyu lacquer ware. In 1879, the kingdom ended but experiencing its historical architecture enables us to imagine its prosperity at that time and its vital culture.
Especially interesting is 'Shuri-castle', which has been designated as a World Heritage site, and was much influenced by Japanese and Chinese architecture; the main, north and south parts are obvious examples. In addition, the king's grave, Sonohyanutaki stone gateway, and Shikina-en, Ryukyu garden, were also designated as World Heritage sites in 2000.