Heiwa Kannon located in Ohya-machi, Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Pref. is a huge statue of Kannon carved into a wall of Ohya Stone in the old Ohya stone quarry. It was made in hope for world peace and in memory of Japan and U.S. war dead soldiers in the World War II. The statue is 26.93-meter in height and 20-centimeter in circumference of waist. It was made in 1954 by a stone mason, Ryozo Ueno, who did its foundation work, and a sculptor, Asajiro Hida, who hand-carved its calm expression. From the top of the stairs beside the statue, you can command a wide view of the Utsunomiya plain over its shoulder.
On the left side of the Kannon was a tunnel leading to Ohyaji Temple, but it is currently closed for the danger of falling. Ohyaji Temple is also famous for its rock-cut Kannon known as Ohya Kannon. Heiwa Kannon is a symbol of the stone town of Ohya.
Toro Hachimangu Shrine in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, is a historic shrine founded around the end of the 8th century by a Shinto priest from Kyoto. It enshrines Emperor Ojin and other 4 deities. The shrine was so thrived in the ancient times as to supervise attached shrines and a jinguji (a temple built in a shrine precinct).
In 1563, the shrine buildings were destroyed by fire in the battles caused by Ikko-Ikki (the rebellion by the members of the Shin sect of Buddhism) in Mikawa province and the shrine records were lost in fire. Later in the early 17th century, it was restored by Ishikawa Kazumasa under the order of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The local governor, Kuroyanagi Jugaku, invited Kawakita Sadamori, an expert carpenter from Ise province, and ordered him to reconstruct Honden (the main hall) and Haiden (the oratory), which were completed in 1619.
Honden is a 3-bay building in the archaic Nagare-zukuri style (the flowing style) with a Japanese cypress-barked roof. It is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
The Waka-onna mask is a kind of Female Masks that express the character of a young woman. Other masks included in this type are Ko-omote, Magojiro and Fushikizo. All of them have a glamorous air. The Waka-onna mask portrays an intelligent young woman a little older than Ko-omote. It expresses the intermediacy between the cuteness of Ko-omote and the decency and intelligence of Zo-onna. The Waka-onna mask is characterized by the broad forehead, which is even broader than Ko-omote, and the small chin. It is the most decent mask in this category. Its full cheeks, smooth skin, soft lips, round chin, long-slitted eyes and refined nose altogether create mysteriously ambiguous countenance. The Waka-onna mask is used for “Matsukaze,” “Yuya,” “Nonomiya,” “Izutsu” and “Senju.”
Kotoni Tondenhei (Japanese soldier-farmer) Village was located in Kotoni, Nishi-ku, Sapporo City, Hokkaido. This is a designated National Historic Site. In answer to the plea submitted by Kuroda Kiyotaka, assistance commissioner of the Hokkaido Development Commission, the system of Tondenhei was established in 1873 to accelerate the development of the land in Hokkaido as well as to defend the northern frontier. An influx of people came from Honshu to help the development of this land. The government constructed the settlements for those Tondenhei soldiers.
Kotoni Tondenhei Village was the first to be constructed. Once there were more than 200 barracks stood in close formation. The existing barrack was the one given to one of the soldiers, Senjiro Kiyono, in 1875. It was preserved until 1970, and was restored to the original form in 1972. Inside the house are two rooms, the earth floor space (Doma) and the wooden floored kitchen with the sink. This barrack was a home that generated the power to develop the new land.
Zengenji is a Soto Zen temple in Hama-cho in Furubira-cho, Hokkaido. It was founded in 1858 by a Zen monk Taido.
480 paintings of Gohyaku Rakan (500 arhats) housed at Zengenji Temple were painted in oils, which is very unique for Buddhist paintings in Japan. In 1919 Tomitaro Taneda, a local fisherman, was on his way home from fishing in Sakhalin, when he was shipwrecked due to a heavy storm off the coast of Rishiri Island. He was saved by a Russian ship after drifting for two days and two nights. Tomitaro thought that he was saved by Kannon, which he worshipped every day, and decided to dedicate 500 Rakan to express his gratitude.
As a wooden statue is easy to get damaged and a Japanese-style painting is difficult to preserve, he decided on oil painting. Having received a request from him, Takejiro Hayashi, who was teaching fine arts in Sapporo, stated painting Rakan pictures in 1920. It took him as long as 20 years to accomplish this feat.
Kanazawa still feels like a castle town. It is the site of a castle as well as many samurai houses. In addition, the romantic teahouse streets have not changed at all.
Nishi Teahouse Street is to the south of the Sai River, and is synonymous with Kanazawa. In the third year of the Bunsei period, the Kaga Domain had the street built along with Higashi Teahouse Street.
Even today, Japanese-style restaurants and geisha-girl delivery stores produce items of great elegance. After dark, the sounds of the shamisen can be heard, lending the streets further charm.
In olden times, most teahouses used to refuse first-time customers. This was the case with Higashi Street, but now there are Japanese-style hotels, souvenir shops and cafes lining its sides. It is most enjoyable to walk down the street.
Nishi Teahouse Museum is located in the building where Seijiro Shimada, a writer born in Mikawa, Ishikawa prefecture, lived when young and there are items exhibited here describing his early life.
Born in 1904, Yasujiro Yamaguchi has been involved in the Nishijin textile industry in Kyoto for almost a century since he graduated from an elementary school. He is specialized in the technique called “Karaori (float-weave brocades),” which requires especially high skills and experience among many types of Nishijin weavings.
Since 1950, when he was asked by Kongo Iwao, 25th head of the Kongo school of Noh to recreate Noh costumes that were made 300 years ago, he has reproduced and woven various kinds of cloth for Noh costumes. He has also donated his works to a number of museums in the world. It is well-known that he presented the U.S. General Douglas MacArthur with the cloth for Noh costume. Yamaguchi also reproduced a “Ten-mizuhiki (an upper tapestry)” of a float for Gion Festival in Kyoto.
Yamaguchi was selected as a “Master Craftsman of the Age” in 1982, and received Order of the Sacred Treasure, Silver Rays in 1983. Together with his elder brother Itaro, the centenarian brothers have been actively contributing to the further development of the Nishijin weavings. Their spirit of inquiry gives us the courage to live.
Suruga lacquer ware is characterized by the use of Makie. Makie is a decorative technique in which gold and silver powder is spread over the lacquered surface to create beautiful patterns. After spreading the powder, it is dried, applied raw lacquer to fix the powder, ground with charcoal, dried again through the process of suri-urushi (applying and wiping off lacquer again and again), and given a final grind to finish. The craft dates back to 1828, when Senzo Nakagawa, a lacquerer living in the Suruga region, acquired the skill of Makie and used it in his lacquering processes. In 1830, two Makie lacquerers, Tomekichi and Senjiro Kobayashi, came from Edo (present-day Tokyo) and taught their skills to the local craftsmen, which highly enhanced Makie techniques in this region. Suruga lacquer ware was one of the representative export products from the Meiji period (1868-1912) through the early Showa period (1926-1989), but after World War II, lacquer ware was considered as expensive luxury not suitable for daily use. Today, articles such as suzuribako (box for writing equipment), trays, fubako (letter box), flower vessels, geta (Japanese sandals), and accessories are being made.