A tug of war is held in the sea during the Bon season in August every year in Hado Fishery Harbor in Chinzei-cho, Karatsu City, Saga Prefecture. It was originally performed in memory of the souls of warriors who lost their lives in battles when Toyotomi Hideyoshi stayed in this village to dispatch his troops to Korea.
The rope used for this unique festival is made by young men in the town on the day before the festival. It is 40 cm in diameter and 35 m in length. On the day of the festival, men in local fishermen’s traditional clothes called “Donza” dive into the sea at the signal of a drum and hold each end of the huge rope floating in the sea. Then the men play at a tug of war, dynamically splashing water and valiantly shouting encouragement.
It used to be held on July 15 on the lunar calendar but now it is held at high tide on August 15.
Akizuki-jou, or Akizuki Castle, was once located in Akizuki-cho, Asakura, Fukuoka Prefecture.
The origin of the castle dates back to 1203 when Harada Tanekatsu built a mountain castle in Mt. Koshouzan (856m above sea level) and his residential castle at the foot of the mountain. He changed his name to Akizuki Tanezane and the residential castle was occupied by generations of the Akizuki family.
In 1587, faced by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s massive army surrounding the mountain castle, Akizuki Tanezane surrendered to Hideyoshi and the mountain castle was abandoned.
In 1924, Kuroda Nagaoki, who was granted the land of Akizuki, transferred the residential castle to the old mountain castle and made extensive renovations. The ruins we see today are from this castle, in which successive lords of Akizuki family of Kuroda Clan resided until Meiji Period.
The castle’s main gate, Kuromon, is still remaining and the area is known for its fall foliage.
The ruins of Akizuki Castle is a historical site dating from Kamakura Period.
Kurume-jou, or Kurume Castle, was once built in Sasayama-machi, Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture.
The castle originated from a fortress made by a local clan during the period of Eihyou Era (1504 ~ 1521). It is believed that it was after Toyotomi Hideyoshi conquered Kyuushyuu region that the castle was renovated extensively using a more modern building technique by the order of Kobayakawa Hidekane in 1583.
In 1620, the castle was given to Arima Toyouji as recognition of his contribution to the victory of Osaka no Jin Battle. Since then, until the end of Edo Period, the castle was occupied by the Arima family, the lord of Kurume Clan.
The Chikugo River ran along the Northwest side of Kurume Castle and it functioned as a natural protective moat and the castle was built making the most use of other natural geographical advantages to protect it. The castle compound had seven castle towers with two or three stories soaring above high white stone walls. Among them, the three storied Tatsumi castle tower, the main castle in the southeast corner, was the most imposing and impressive.
Now only the stone wall remains and inside the castle compound are Sasayama Shirine, worshipping the Arima lord, and Arima Kinenkan Museum that exhibits reference materials related to the Arima family.
Kurume Castle is an old castle ruin that is also designated as a prefectural cultural asset.
Negoroji Temple in Iwade City in Wakayama Prefecture is a head temple of the Shingi Shingon Buddhism. The Daito pagoda at Negoroji temple was constructed by modeling after the one in Mt. Koya, the headquarters of the Shingon Buddhism. According to the document discovered during the demolition work for renovation, the construction started in 1480, continued for nearly 70 years and completed in 1547. The bullet wound made at the time of the Siege of Negoroji commanded by Toyotomi Hideyoshi can be seen on the surface of the base wood.
A “daito” is a large-sized “tahoto” pagoda with a circular core inside the lower story. The Daito pagoda at Negoroji Temple is designated as a National Treasure as one of a few existing Daito pagodas that escaped war damage. It is an overwhelmingly huge wooden building with a height of 35.1 meter and a width of 15 meters. It is a two-story pagoda with a tiled roof. Seen from outside, the lower story looks square but the inside is a circular sanctuary surrounded with twelve pillars.
After the Kasai clan, the ruler of the southern part of Tohoku region, was destroyed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s Oshu Shioki (punishment given to the powerful clans in Tohoku are to prevent their expansion) in 1590, Ichinoseki Castle was given to a Hideyoshi’s retainer, the Kimura clan, and then became a part of the Date domain. In 1604, Date Masamune transferred his uncle, Rusu Masakage, to this castle, but later in the Kanbun era (1661-1672) his 10th son, Munekatsu was feoffed to this castle. Munekatsu, however, was exiled to Tosa province (present-day Kochi Pref.), being accused of causing Date Disturbance in 1671. In 1682, Tamura Tatsuaki, Masamune’s grandson, was transferred from the Iwanuma domain to this castle, and his 10 successors had resided at this castle until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. The ruin of Honmaru (the main castle) called “Senjojiki” is a rectangular land of 100 m by 50 m at the altitude of 90 m above sea level. A ruin of dry moat can be seen on the adjacent hill at the same level as Honmaru, and several other outer compounds were presumably arranged on the terraced land below Honmaru. Koguchi (the main gate) was located in the northeast to Senjojiki. A square land in the southwest is presumed to have been another outer compound such as a watch tower. Now at the side of a small hill in the west of the castle ruins stands Tamura Shrine built by the Tamura clan.
Mihara Castle was located in present-day Mihara City, Hiroshima Pref. The castle ruin is a designated National Historic Site. It was built on the island near the river mouth of the Numata River in 1580 by Kobayakawa Takakage, a son of Mori Motonari. As the castle looked as if it were floating on the sea, it was called “Uki-shiro (floating castle)” or “Umi-shiro (sea castle).” The castle area was about 900 m from east (the Wakuhara River) to west (where Garyu Bridge is presently located) and about 700 m from north to south. Mihara Castle was an important fort, and it is said that Toyotomi Hideyoshi once stayed here. After Takakage’s death, Asano Tadayoshi, the head retainer of the Asano clan, who fought for the Toyotomi forces in the Battle of Sekigahara, was transferred to this castle. The castle was used as a branch castle of the Hiroshima domain until the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It was dismantled in 1871, when the domain system was abolished by the Meiji government. Now the castle area is arranged into a park, where the stone walls and moats remain.
Murakumo-gosho Zuiryuu-ji Temple belongs to Nichiren religious sect and is the only Monseki temple among Nichiren temples. It is now located at the top of Hachiman Mountain in Shiga Prefecture.
The temple was built in 1596 by Nisshuuni, an older sister of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, so she could pray there for the soul of her son, Hidetsugu, who was forced to commit harakiri by the order of Hideyoshi.
At the time the temple was built, Nisshuuni was given the land Murakumo of Saga, Kyoto, and the name, Zuiryuu-ji, to the temple by Emperor Goyouzei. The temple attracted many followers from the Imperial family and politically powerful aristocrats and was recognized as a Monseki temple, which is a title given to a temple that had a close relationship with aristocracy, and was called Murakumo-gosho. In the Edo period, the temple was transferred from Saga to Nishijin. The monument of Murakumo-gosho is still present in front of the Nishiji Textile Center.
In 1962, Nichieini who is the 12th representative of the temple and had dedicated her life to restoring it, moved the temple to its current location, the site of Oumi Hchiman Castle, where Hidetsugu was deeply connected to.
Magnificent views can be seen from the temple of the beautiful line of Suzuka Mountains far away, the town of Oomi in the south and Biwa Lake in the east. After the transfer, the main building and the gardens were restored by followers. The temple is now open to the public and welcomes visitors.
Tamamo Park located near Takamatsu Station and Harbor was originally a site where Takamatsu Castle stood. The castle was built around 1590 by Ikoma Chikamasa, a retainer of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Later in the Edo period (1603-1868), it was taken over by Matsudaira Yorishige, a famous Mito Komon’s elder brother, and the town of Takamatsu flourished under the rule of the Matsudaira Family.
This seaside castle was popularly known by its nickname of Tamamo-jo (Pearly Seaweed Castle) because it was built to be well-guarded by the sea, which was named “Tamamo no Ura” after “Tamamo-yoshi,” the poetic epithet used by Kakinomoto Hitomaro when he referred to Sanuki province (present-day Kagawa Prefecture).
A lot of events such as the chrysanthemum shows, tea ceremonies and plant fairs are held in the park all through the year. Hiunkaku in the premise is a historic building, which is used for conventions, flower arrangement exhibitions and tea ceremonies.