Nishinomiya Shrine stands in the middle of Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, in the part of the city known to produce one of the highest-quality sake brands - Nadagogou. Nishinomiya Shrine is the head Ebisu shrine that presides over more than 3,500 Ebisu shrines. It is also commonly known as “Nishinomiya no Ebe-ssan”.
It is not known when the shrine was first founded, however, it appeared in a document from 1172, suggesting it already existed at that time. It was during the Muromachi Period, when the Seven Lucky Gods became widely popular and songs and plays related to them were broadly shown nationally. At that time, Ebisu, who was a deity of wealth and one of the Seven Lucky Gods, came to be known and worshiped all over the country. The Ebisu dance performed in front of the Nishinomiya Shrine is said to be the foundation of the Oosaka Bunraku and Awaji Puppet Theaters.
The Toyotomi Family and the Tokugawa Family, the subsequent leaders of Japan, also embraced and protected the shrine and Ebisu worship and, as local commerce developed, Ebisu became deeply rooted and honored as the deity of prosperity in business.
The shrine was destroyed by fire during the Second World War and restored fully in 1961. The Ooneribei wall, built during the Muromachi Period and the Omote Daimon gate in the Momoyama architectural style are designated as National Important Cultural Assets.
For three days at the beginning of each year, from January 9th through 11th, a big festival called “Touka Ebisu” is held and the shrine becomes filled with more than 1 million visitors.
The Kofuku-ji Temple, located in Nobori Ooji-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture, is a head temple of the Hosso-shu Buddhism sect and it was a private temple of the Fujiwara Clan. The principal image of the Buddha is Shakanyorai. The temple is 9th in sequence of the 33-temple Kannon pilgrimage and 4th of the 49-temple Yakushi Pilgrimage in Western Japan.
Koufuku-ji Temple was originally built in 669 by the wife of Fujiwara Kamatari under the name of Yamanashi-dera in Yamashina-ku, Kyoto City. It was transferred by Fujiwarano Fuhito to its present location and renamed Koufuku-ji.
Ooyu-ya is a medieval style bathhouse standing in the east of the Gojyuuno-to, or Five-story Pagoda. It is not known in which year the bathhouse was built, however, the current building was reportedly restored in 1426. It is now designated as a national important cultural property.
The bathhouse is 7 meters wide north to south and 7 meters wide east to west with a Hongawara tile roof. The west side of the bathhouse has the Irimoya roof style and the east side has the Kirimoya roof style. Inside the bathhouse are two gigantic iron pots that are used to make steam for a steam bath.
After the Middle Ages, the bathhouse was also used as a meeting place for public uprisings.
The bathhouse is tremendously valuable as an example of bathhouse architecture from the Middle Ages.
Daishoji is located in today's Kaga city in Ishikawa Prefecture. This was once a thriving castle town within the highly productive million-koku branch domain of the Kaga Domain.
Daishoji is a place where history and tradition live. The streets still retain a mellow and relaxed atmosphere evocative of the Edo period. At the base of the Kinjo mountain castle are the old Zen and Nichiren Buddhist temples standing side by side. Visitors come all year round to see the historical sites here.
Among the temples, Jisshouin is famous throughout Japan for its beautiful wisteria. The gilt-painted shoji screens are also magnificent. Choryu-Tei pavilion and garden, located in the grounds of the Enuma Shrine and once part of the mansion of Daishoji's 3rd lord, seem to imitate the Kenrokuen garden. Here the elaborate and detailed drawing room and tea room are interesting. This garden is designated as an important national asset.
Old Toyoma Higher Elementary School located in Toyoma Town, Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture, was built in 1888. It is a nationally designated Important Cultural Property. The Japanese architectural style is attractively combined with the Western-styled design.
It is a U-shaped cloistered building surrounding a courtyard, which is a characteristic of the Meiji-period architecture. Over the entrance door is an impressive white balcony, from which the whole building can be viewed. Decorations are given to the uppermost part of the pillars supporting the balcony, making it look like a Greek temple.
The school building was designed by Kisaburo Yamazoe, who had studied architecture for 3 years in Europe. No deformation has occurred even after 100 years since it construction.
Reizanji Temple located in Shimizu Ouchi, Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Pref. is a temple of the Kogi Shingon (old Shingon) sect. The temple is said to have been established by Priest Gyoki in 749. The main hall houses the principal image, the standing statue of Senju Kannon (Kannon with 1,000 arms), which is said to have been carved by Priest Gyoki. It has been worshipped by people as one of the Seven Kannon in Suruga province (present-day Shizuoka Pref.) and friendlily called “Kannon-san at Ouchi.”
The temple used to be located on the eastern side of the mountain but it was relocated to the present place during the Shogyo era (1332-1334). Going up the winding mountain path called “Thirty-three Curves,” you will get to Nio-mon Gate at the entrance, which is supposed to have been built at the end of the Muromachi period (the 16th century). It is one of the oldest structures in the prefecture and nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
The best time to see this temple is early spring, when the mountain path to the temple is lined with cherry trees in full bloom. After visiting Reizanji Temple, it is worth hiking thirty minutes further to Ipponmatsu Park at the summit.
Shakuninji Temple located in Higashiomi City in Shiga Prefecture is a historic temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism. The principal object of worship is Nyoirin Kannon. It is the 19th Holy Place of Gamo Kannon Pilgrimage. This temple and adjacent Yamabe Shrine are pertaining to Yamanobe no Akahito, a poet of the Manyoshu, who is noted as one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals. It is said that Shakuninji Temple is where Akahito spent his last days.
The biography of Yamanobe no Akahito is unknown, but it is said that he spent most of his life traveling all around present Kansai district. The temple is said to have been founded by Yamanobe no Akahito himself to enshrine Nyoirin Kannon that he brought from Tagonoura.
In the precinct stands a cherry tree named Akahito Cherry, or also called “Kanmurikake-no-sakura (Cap Hanger Cherry).” Legend has it that when Akahito hung his cap on a branch of this cherry tree, it was never removed; thereby he decided to live at this place. The seven-story stone pagoda constructed in the Kamakura period (1192-1333) is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
Fukuyama Castle was located in Marunouchi, Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Pref. This castle is the most perfect example of the Edo architectural style. It is designated as a National Historic Site and counted as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Castles. The castle was built in 1619 by Mizuno Katsunari, Tokugawa Ieyasu’s cousin and the first domain lord of the Fukuyama domain, under the order of the Tokugawa Shogunate as the bases for defending the western part of Japan. Since the castle had been resided by the successive lords of the domain such as the Mizuno, Matsudaira, and Abe clans till the Meiji Restoration. After the abolition of the han system, the castle was dismantled in 1873. The designated National Treasures of donjon and Oyudono (bathroom) were destroyed by fire due to the U.S. airrade in 1945. In 1966, the donjon, Tsukimi-yagura, and Oyudono were reconstructed. Fushimi-yagura and Sujigane-gomon Gate are designated National Cultural properties.
Nokami Hachimangu Shrine is an old and distinguished shrine located in Kimino-cho, Kaiso-gun, Wakayama Pref. It is said that the shrine dates back to the period during the reign of Emperor Kinmei (around A.D. 550). It is one of the 3 largest Hachiman shrines in Japan. As a branch shrine of Iwashimizu Shrine in Kyoto, Nokami Shrine has been worshipped by people for a long time. The shrine is also known for a lot of nationally designated cultural properties including the Main Hall built in the Azuchi Momoyama period (1568-1598), the Main Hall of Takeuchi Shrine (one of the branch shrines), and a sword. Brilliant vermillion of the Main Hall reminds us of its ancient flourishing times. At the autumn festival held on Sunday in the middle of October every year, flamboyant Shishimai dance (lion dance) is dedicated to the god and a lot of local people come to enjoy the festival.