This temple is Bekkaku Honzan (a special headquarters) of Jodo-Shinshu. The Buddhist priest Shinran, who had been exiled to Echigo (present Niigata Pref.), was given absolution and invited to this place. He stayed here and promulgated his faith from 1214 to 1232 before going back to Kyoto. The temple is known as the place where Shinran wrote his famous “Kyogyo Shinsho (A Collection of Passages Revealing the True and Real Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way).” There is a unique gingko tree planted by Shinran himself in the precinct, which is called “Ohatsuki Icho (seeds grow on the leaves).” This Ohatsuki gingko tree was designated as a cultural property by the prefecture on November 15 in 2000. A gingko tree is a known example of a living fossil and is thought to have existed for more than one million years. Though Ohatsuki is not confined to old trees, visitors are glad to pick up a nut and bring it home to plant as a token of their visit. Thinking that the tree was planted by the holy man, they may find a special meaning in the nut.
Icho-gaeshi was a hairstyle worn by Japanese women in the Edo period (1603-1868). The root of a pony tail is divided into two parts, each of which forms a sidewise 8 shape. The tips of the tail are wound around the root and fastened with a hairpin. As the fan shaped knot resembles the gingko leaf, it was called Icho-gaeshi (literally meaning “a turned-up gingko leaf”).
It was originally worn by young girls aged 12 to 20. Later as geisha and gidayu musicians began to wear their hair in this style, daughters of townspeople, who favored stylish fashion, began to follow their styles. In the Meiji period (1868-1912), it became popular among middle aged women, widows, geisha and entertainers. As it was easy to do up in this style and one did not have to go to a hairdressers’ shop, Icho-gaeshi was the most popular hairstyle up to the early Showa period (1926-1989).
Inashimo Shrine, or popularly called “Shimo no Miya,” located in Matsuzaki-cho, Kamo-gun, Shizuoka Pref. is the shrine of business success and traffic safety. The enshrined deity is Hikohohodemi no Mikoto. It is said that during the reign of Empress Jingu, Emperor Chuai’s wife, who led an army in an invasion of Korea, a man from Korea came to Izu via Toyoura in Nagato province (present-day Yamaguchi Pref.) and enshrined Sumiyoshi no Mihashira Okami and named it “Kara (Korean) Myojin.” Legend has it that the place where the main hall is located used to be a large waterfall basi and two dragons lived there. In the precinct are A 1,000 year-old huge gongko tree with a circumference of 8 m and a height og 25 m, a stone monument of “Matsuzaki Omote (local kind of tatami omote),” and fine spring water of “Sinmei-sui.” At the side of Haiden, a small hall to enshrine Oashi Daimyojin. If you desicated a pair of Japanese slippers, you will be a good walker. The huge gingko tree has been the landmark for sailors since the ancient times.
Murayama Sengen Shrine is located in Murayama, Fijinomiya City, Shizuoka Pref. The enshrined deities are Oyamanegi no Mikoto and Kamosawa Hime no Mikoto. It is said that En no Ozuno, the founder of mountain practice, transferred the deity from Oshoji Temple in Mt. Fuji in the 7th century. According to another account, it was built in 702 and Sakanoue no Tamuramaro visited to worship the temple and made a donation. The place is considered to have been the training ashram for the Murakami mountain practitioners, who worshipped and trained themselves in Mt. Fuji. In the old days, as the shrine was on the path to climb Mt. Fuji, it thrived and there were hundreds of priests’ living quarters. But it declined since a new road was built. At the present time, only Hondo (the main hall) and Dainichi Hall remain. In the precinct stands prefecturally designated protected species of huge cedar and gingko trees. The shrine is now at a height of 500 m above sea level at the southern foot of Mt. Fuji. From a picture drawn in 1609, it seems that the surrounding landscape hasn’t changed very much.
Kannon Temple is a Yuzu Nembutsu temple on Mt Otowa in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture.
Kannon Temple is the 8th temple of Amadera Sanju-Rokkasho. In the Hakuho period, when Nakatomi no Kamatari's son, Jo-e, enshrined his father at Myoraku Temple, he established Kannon Temple to exorcize devils. The temple includes a statue of Sahasrabhuja-arya-avalokiteśvara, which was carved from a single tree by Kamatari.
During the Heian period, Kannon Temple prospered and was known as Otowa Hyakubo. In 876, however, much of the temple was destroyed in a flood.
The temple's principle deity is, of course, Sahasrabhuja-arya-avalokiteśvara, which is known as Otowa's Kannon. The temple grounds feature several special spots, such as Otowa spring (said to be good for eye diseases), and a ginkgo tree (said to bring good fortune).
Hitokotonushi Shrine is located on Mt Katsuragi in Gose, Nara Prefecture. The real name of the shrine is Katsuragi Niimasu Hitokotonushi Shrine. The god Hitokotonushi is enshrined here.
There is a legend that when an emperor climbed Mt Katsuragi, Hitokotonushi appeared and preached to the emperor. The emperor then offered items such as weapons and clothing to the god. The local people call the god Hitokoto-san because it is believed that the god can grant their wishes.
Within the shrine precincts stands a large gingko tree called Nyu-Gingko, which is some 1200 years old. There is a legend that this gingko brings good luck to children. It is also said it can improve a woman's milk.
The upper reaches of the Kawahara River flow for a long stretch through the spectacular Hyodo Valley in Kamitsuemachi, Hita, in Oita Prefecture.
The Hyodo Valley has an altitude of 600m and the mountain stream has very clear, translucent water with a refreshing and brisk aspect. It is also known as an excellent spot for masu salmon fishing, and a common sight is that of families fighting against a masu salmon at the fishing spot.
There are various waterfalls that tumble over rough and jagged rocks, making an intense scene that is enhanced by color contrasts in the four seasons. Many wild birds, such as the crested kingfisher, the akashiyobin, and the grey wagtail, nest along the ravine, allowing people to enjoy birdwatching as well. In the autumn, the maple trees turn a rich red, and if the weather is fine, these and the ginkgo trees, along with the other trees in the valley appear to shine. Because of its secluded setting, the Hyodo Valley is an excellent area to experience nature.
The Takatsuka Atago Jizo statue is located in Amagase-cho, Hita in Oita Prefecture, and is a rare example of a statue merging Buddhist and Shinto elements. It is also in unusually good condition despite its age.
The existence of this statue is clearly mentioned in the 'Takatsuki-engi', which records that, in the 12th year of the Tenpei era of the Nara period (740), on his way home from Chikugo, Gyoki-bosatsu stopped in Takamatsu to pray under a ginkgo tree for the nation's peace and prosperity. Here he received an oracle and, in gratitude, carved a Jizo image and had a structure built to enshrine it.
The Takatsuka Atago Jizo statue is reputed to grant any kind of wish, and the 2.3 million people who visit every year ensure that the temple and its precincts are always bustling. The approach to the shrine is always lined with shops selling local goods such as royal fern, bracken, shiitake mushrooms, chestnuts, and many more goods, adding to the bustle. The Takatsuka Atago Jizo statue is regarded with great fondness by all the locals.