Inabasan-zan or Inaba Three Mountains is a general name for the three mountains; Koshiki-yama, Imaki-yama and Omokage-yama, located in Kokufu Toun, Tottori Prefecture. This area contained the Inaba provincial headquarters of the state government and became prosperous as a regional center of politics and culture from Nara Period to Kamakura period. The area is also well known as a place where Ootomono Yakamochi, a famous figure as the compiler for the Manyoushu Anthology, came to live after being appointed as the head of the provincial government in 758.
The famous poem at the end of the book: Like the snow that falls on this first day of the new year in early spring, may there be ever more good things to come, was composed in Inaba, which led scholars to believe the Manyoushu Anthology was compiled in this region.
From Kokufu Town in the center, Koshiki-yama lies to the east, Omokage-yama to the west and Imaki-yama to the south. It is said that a spectacular view of all the three Inaba Mountains could be seen from the provincial office. Omokage-yama has a more feminine look while Koshiki-yama and Imaki-yama have a more masculine look.
Oyamasankei is a festival held at Iwakiyama Shrine in Hyakuzawa, Hirosaki City, Aomori Pref. Iwakiyama Shrine was established as a Bettoji (attached temple) of Oriinomiya Shrine (detached shrine) in 1628. The enshrined are five deities including Utsushikunitama no Kami, which are collectively called Iwakiyama Oogami (Great god of Mt. Iwakiyama). There are two big festivals held at this shrine; one in spring and the other, Oyamasankei Festival, in fall. From July 29 to August 1 on lunar calendar every year, people from the same village form a group and visit the back shrine at the top of Mt. Iwakiyama to thank and pray for rich harvest. The groups of people, all dressed in white and with white Tekko (wrist coverings) and Kyahan (leggings) on, head for the top of the mountain chanting “Saigi, Saigi, Rokkon Shojo,” with the musical accompaniment of Japanese flute and drums. After praying, they spend a night at the mountain top, worship the rising sun, and climb down the mountain chanting “Batara, Batara, Batarayo, Iiyama-Kaketa.” It is said that a person who come down the mountain safely will have the good fortune.
Plum blossoms, with their delicate pink petals and fragrance, symbolize the coming of spring before any other flower, and are cherished as a poetic representation of early spring. In the middle of the Tsukigase area of Nara prefecture lies a picturesque valley of plum blossoms called “Tsukigase-baikei or, Tsukigase Plum Valley”. Along with Hirohashi and Anou, it is one of the Three Great Plum Forests in Nara. The view of 10,000 plum trees lining both sides of the Satsuki River is spectacular. In high season, the area attracts many visitors who enjoy walking along the river and losing themselves in the plum blossoms. Tsukigase reportedly dates back to the middle of the Kamakura period when some plum trees were first planted in the precincts of Shinfuku-ji Temple. During the Edo period, scores of writers and artists visited the area. A stone slab stands in the valley inscribed with Matsuo Bashou’s haiku and there is also a monument commemorating Tomioka Tessai, a prominent literati painting master who represents Modern Japan. In 1922, Tsukigase Plum Valley was designated as a National Scenic Area by the Japanese government.
Hagoita, or kogiita as they were known in olden times, were used as decorative battledores or presented as New Year gifts. Hagoita were believed to repel evil, and had connotations of healthy growth.
In the late Edo period, a Chinese technique called 'oshi' was first used for hagoita. A design is made, then cardboard is tacked against a board, which is covered with cloth to give a 3-d effect.
At that time, the merchant Edo culture had entered a mature stage with the creativity of ukiyo-e, woodblock prints of popular subjects. Like ukiyo-e, hagoita featured similar designs with portraits of Kabuki actors being very popular. At the annual year-end fairs in Edo, many people bought hagoita with portraits of popular actors.
Even today, beautiful hagoita make a popular gift to bring luck at New Year or to be presented as a special gift.