Sokutai is the full official dress worn by emperors, aristocrats and courtiers since the Heian Period (794). It is also called Hino-shouzoku.
The word Sokutai, was originally found in the Analects of Confucius, where it meant layered clothes tied with an obi belt and it indicated a full set of dress.
Sokutai consist of a crown, hitoe clothes worn over underwear followed by akome and shitagasane clothes with a long sash called kyo hanging in the back. Crimson under pants and baggy outer trousers are then added and finally, an outer robe called hou, which is tied with a leather belt containing stone decorations called sekitai.
Sokutai, based on the court uniforms worn by the government officials under the ritsuryo codes, became the full official dress of the Imperial Court. Those who were among military officers, civil officials in Nakatsukasasho who oversaw imperial affairs and aristocrats who held the sangi position or higher and who were granted Imperial permission were allowed to wear a sword. As time passed, sokutai has become more ceremonial, only being worn in special occasions.
There are two kind of the hou outer robe: houeki which the civil officials wore and ketteki which allowed more free movement and was worn by military officials.
Sokutai is traditional and elegant full official wear for the emperor as well as aristocratic and government officials.
Hokkaido Jingu Shrine located in Miyagaoka, Chuo-ku, Sapporo City is one of the major shrines in Hokkaido. The enshrined deities are Okunitama no Kami, Onamuchi no Kami, Sukunahikona no Kami and Emperor Meiji. It was founded in 1869, when the Meiji government decided to set on the development of the land in Hokkaido and they enshrined the three deities to guard the land. In 1871, the name of this new shrine was decided as Sapporo Shrine and the construction of the buildings started. Since then the shrine has been worshipped as the guardian god of Hokkaido as well as the family god of the people living in this island. In 1964, Emperor Meiji was enshrined together and it changed the name to Hokkaido Jingu Shrine.
The precinct is known as a cherry blossom viewing spot. On the annual festival day in June, mikoshi and floats with ohayashi musicians parade in the city. The shrine is selected as “the New Ichinomiya Shrine of Ezo Province (literally meaning “a modern version of the first shrine of Ezo province)” by a civilian shrine pilgrimage group named Zenkoku Ichinomiya-Kai.
Yashima is a peninsular lava plateau in the northwestern part of Takamatsu City. It used to be an island but was connected to land by a reclamation work in the Edo period (1603-1868). From its table-shaped land feature, which looks like a roof, it was named Yashima (Roof Island).
Yashima is also a historic site pertaining to the Taira clan. In 1183, the Taira clan, who were driven away from the capital, built a fortress and an improvised palace for 6-year-old Emperor Antoku after a long string of defeats by the Minamoto clan. Then in 1185, Minamoto no Yoshitsune attacked them and they had the fierce Battle of Yashima, which is well-known for the episode of Nasuno Yoichi firing his shot at a fan atop the mast of a Taira ship.
Being called the best scenic spot for viewing the Seto Inland Sea, Yashima is visited by a lot of tourists. Yashimaji Temple, which was rebuilt in the Muromachi period (1336-1573), is a nationally designated Important Cultural Property. In the precinct is an attached shrine that enshrines Minoyama Daimyojin, the head of all the raccoon dogs in Shikoku.
Eifukuji Temple is known as the site of the kofun (tomb) of Prince Shotoku. It is one of the New Saigoku Pilgrimage of 33 Temples, which was newly selected based on Prince Shotoku’s idea of “harmony” as a priority over all other virtues. In 724, after the death of the prince, the emperor Shomu ordered to build a temple to repose the soul of Prince Shotoku. The temple was burned down by the attack of Nobunaga Oda during the Warring States period, but it was rebuilt by Hideyoshi Toyotomi. If you go up the stone steps, you will see the South Gate. Walk through the gate, and then you will see the houtou (a treasure pagoda), the main hall, and the Shoryo-den (a memorial hall of Prince Shotoku) on your left. In the back of the precinct is the Prince Shotoku’s tomb. Shoryo-den is a designated Important Cultural Property. The principal image worshipped inside is said to be Prince Shotoku’s life-size statue when he was 16. It is said to have been placed in the ancient Imperial Palace in Kyoto but donated to this temple by the emperor Gotoba in 1187. Around the temple there are a lot of places associated with Prince Shotoku. You will be impressed by the length of the history all through which people have paid respect for the Prince.
It is said that Tsuno Shrine located in Tsuno-cho, Koyu-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture, was founded in 666 BC, when Emperor Jinmu offered a prayer for his military success and national stability at this place before he left Takachiho in Hyuga province to conquer the Yamato region. Since then the shrine has close association with the successive emperors.
The precinct together with the gravel lane to the shrine building is filled with solemn atmosphere. Surrounded by magnificent cedar tree groves, you will feel yourself purified at this shrine.
The annual festival of the shrine is held on December 4 and 5 every year. The 4th is the festival eve and the 5th is the main festival day. It features various events such as the Tsuno So-odori parade, in which a lot of people dance together in a huge circle, the Hyuga Hyottoko Dance, which is a comical dance performed by dancers with Hyottoko masks, the Shihanmato archery tournament and the dedication of kagura dance. The visitors to the shrine are treated with amazake (sweet sake wine), shochu and tonjiru (miso soup with pork and vegetables) in the precinct.
Yagoro-don Festival held on November 3 every year serves as an annual autumn festival of Iwagawa Hachiman Shrine in Oshumi Town in Soo City, Kagoshima Prefecture. It is a gallant festival that represents the southern part of Kyushu and counted as one of the three largest festivals in Kagoshima Prefecture.
The highlight of the festival is the Hamakudari parade of Yagoro-don, a 4.85 meter tall giant with goggle eyes and strong eyebrows. Wearying long and short swords on his waist, the giant goes through the town in hope of a rich harvest. There are many theories about its origin. Some say that he is modeled after Takenouchi Sukune, a legendary hero who served six generations of the emperors. Others say that he was the head of the Hayato clan, who ruled the ancient Kyushu. It is believed that if you touch things pertaining to Yagoro-don, you will be in sound health for one year.
Ryuunkaku was constructed in 1909 as a guesthouse for the Imperial family members and high-ranked government officers, who visited Niikappu Imperial Ranch constructed in Shizunai Town in southeastern Hokkaido in 1872 in order to breed horses for the Imperial family. It was originally named Ryounkaku, but was renamed Ryuunkaku in the Taisho period (1912-1926).
This stately house in Shinden-zukuri style (the style of the aristocrat residences in the Heian period) gives off a distinctive atmosphere in the tranquil meadowland. Apart from the cultural value of the building itself, there are a lot of precious cultural properties are preserved. Among them are the Chinese-style poem written Japanese ink by Ito Hirofumi and the picture painted on a folding screen by Kano Tanyu.
The interior of the building is open to the public only during the cherry blossom festival period. From the second floor, a vast expanse of the ranch can be viewed. You may sense the passion for the Westernization n the Meiji period.
The Hoheikan was a western-style hotel constructed in 1880, which was earlier than the construction of the Rokumeikan guest house in Tokyo, by the Hokkaido Development Commission. It was once used to host members of the imperial family and other distinguished guests. It is well-known that the hotel’s first guest was Emperor Meiji.
The contrast between pure white walls and the ultramarine pigments from lapis lazuli stone used in the window frames looks really luxurious. However, this ultramarine color had been lost for a long time and they were painted in different color for some reason. The window frames were restored to their original color by the specially ordered paint in the large-scale improvement works from 1982 to 1986.
At the time of the construction, the hotel was located in the place where Sapporo Civic Hall is located today. Going through the changes of the time, the building has been used in many ways such as the division headquarters of the Japanese Army, the lodgment of the U.S. Army, and the Sapporo branch of Mitsukoshi Department Store. In 1958, the building was relocated to Nakajima Park, where several cultural facilities such as the Sapporo Concert Hall and Hokkaido Museum of Literature are located. It was designated as a national Important Cultural Property in 1964. The hall is now used as a popular wedding hall, namely Japan’s only wedding hall that is a designated Important Cultural Property.