Iga Hachimangu Shrine is located in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture. Matsudaira Chikatada, an ancestor of the Tokugawa clan, established it as a place to pray for the protection of his descendants.
Tokugawa Iemitsu enshrined his grandfather, Ieyasu, in this shrine, and later expanded it: the extension he created is the main building we see today. From these facts, we can see that the Tokugawa family had a special feeling toward the shrine.
In the past, when the shrine's tori gate was moved, it meant that war was going to break out soon. The main building is full of colors and is designated as a national treasure. The Zuishin gate and stone bridge are designated as important sites of cultural heritage. Iga Hachimangu Shrine is said to help grant luck to families and for work, as well as to expel evil spirits.
Sanuma Castle was established some time between 1185 and 1187 by Terui Takanao, a close aide of Fujiwara no Hidehara. After the collapse of the Fujiwara clan, Sanuma Castle came under the control of Kasai, a subordinate warrior of Minamoto no Yorimoto. However, in later years, the castle was a residence of Ishikawa, a retainer of the Osaki clan.
Sanuma Castle is also known as Shishiga Castle, because deer were buried here in the past as a form of protection. The castle is a natural fortress protected by swamp and river. Today, the Hon-maru (main building) has become the Shishiga Castle park. In the past, to the southwest of Ni-no-maru, there used to be a swamp called Tai Numa, which made a natural moat to protect the castle. Along the eastern side of the Hon-maru ruins, flows the Hazawa River, which also formed a natural moat.
Also in the vicinity stands Izumo Shrine's Teruhi Kengen. Near this shrine is the Sanuma Memorial Tablet, which is a record of the castle. Earthworks can be seen at the edge of the castle, giving a hint of the former castle.
Omamori is a kind of amulet offered by shrines. 'Shinsatsu', another kind of amulet, comes with a small pouch that holds a sacred object called 'goshinji' inside it.
People carry omamori with them as an assurance that their wish will come true or as protection from misfortune. Shinsatsu are mainly used for family prayers, while omamori are more often used for individual prayer.
Because omamori are for one particular year only, they lose their power at the end of the year. In the New Year, they may assume a different spiritual power, so old omamori are purified to remove their souls and burnt at this time.
There are omamori for many purposes like safe driving, safe delivery, good luck in studies and exams, happiness in marriage, as well as strange ones, such as protection for pets or IT equipment.
Magaki are cane fences that rise higher than the tops of the eaves of houses, and which can be seen along Nishiho Shore in the town of Monzen, in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture.
Nishiho Shore has 80m-high cliffs and gigantic rocks and in winter is buffeted by strong winter monsoon winds blowing in from the Japan Sea. Magaki fences are built to protect the houses from these winds. The fences are built to a height of about 5m, using strong whangee canes (a kind of tall grass, often mistaken for bamboo) closely lined together. Magaki help to cool the houses in summer, while keeping them warm in winter. They reveal the wisdom of the Noto people in adapting to their natural environment.
In November, people start mending the magaki in preparation for the strong winter winds; it's a sign that autumn is ending and winter is coming.