Go-ishi or Go stones are black and white stones used for “Go”, a Japanese traditional board game that originated in China. Hyuga Clam Go Stones are Go stones produced in the Hyuga region, made from clamshells.
Prior to the Meiji period, stones, wood, and gems were generally used to make Go stones.
In the beginning of the Meiji period, Go-ishi makers in Oosaka began to use clams for Go stones in the Kuwana region of Mikawa. Due to vigorous production, however, clams in the region became scarce and Go-ishi makers had to look elsewhere for supplies.
Eventually Go-ishi makers found an abundant source of good clams in the Hyuga region and, as a result, all go-ishi makers in Oosaka started using them.
Around 1908, Seikichi Harada, who was from the Hyuga region and who had been trained as a Go-ishi maker in Oosaka, decided to go back to his home town where he and his workmate, Eijirou Ogawa, began producing Go stones. Due to their tireless efforts, Go-ishi making increased and it became one of the most important local businesses.
Hyuga is now the production center of clamshell Go stones in Japan. Its Go-ishi making techniques, mastered over the years, are highly regarded even outside of Japan.
Hyuga Clam Go Stones are the highest quality of Go-ishi in every respect, due to their fine texture, color, gloss and shape.
Shiunseki Suzuri or Shiunseki Inkstone is an inkstone produced in Ichinoseki City and Oofunado City of Iwate Prefecture and is made from stone called Shiunseki that has a distinctive texture.
The origin of the inkstone dates back to Kamakura period when a monk who, on his travels, dropped by Chouan-ji Temple in Oofunado City and found a shiunseki stone at the bottom of a nearby river and used the stone as an inkstone. The monk later took the stone back to Kamakura and dedicated it to a Shogun at that time. With its beautiful looks, the inkstone was named Shiunseki (purple cloud) Inkstone.
Shiunseki stone is a schalstein extracted from soil more than 400 million years old from Kitakami mountain. The stone has a red-purplish color similar to azuki red beans. Also many of them have characteristic cloud-shaped patterns or greenish spots.
In addition to elegance and smoothness, the surface of the stone has fine and minute imperfections that allow ink-cake to be ground finely. These characteristics make Shiunseki stone the most suitable stone for inkstone.
There was a time when mass production of machine made inkstone was widespread and handmade Shiunseki Inkstone making waned. However, after World War II, artisans began turning their attention back to the craft of hand making the stone. Shiunseki Inkstone is still now being produced with the same quality as its legend suggests.
There is a stone-paved road remaining in Ochiai, Nakatsugawa City, Gifu Prefecture. In the late Edo period (1603-1868), stone-pavement work was given to the road between Ochiai Jikkyoku Pass and Magome-juku Post Station of the Nakasendo Road, because this section was very steep and difficult to go through.
According to the historical record, the pavement was repaired for the procession of Princess Kazunomiya, who was on her journey to Edo for the marriage to the emperor in 1861. In the Meiji period (1868-1912), a part of the pavement was cleared away for a construction work, as a result of which only a part of the original pavement remained.
In 1988, a restoration work was given to the section of 840 m in total length. Together with the historic sites of Honjin and the large iron pot in Ochiai-juku Post Station and the stone monument inscribed with “Kisoji Road, further ahead” written by Toson Shimazaki, a novelist in the Meiji period, this stone-paved road will bring the travelers back to the old times.
Hizusa Shrine is a historic shrine in Juzenji in Hino Town in the southeastern part of Shiga Prefecture. The shrine site is thought to have been the center of ancient Hizusa go (sub-county) in Gamo gun (county), which had been already settled in the Yayoi period (300 B.C.-300 A.D.).
The area including Hizusa was called Kuno in the old times and Hizusa Shrine was founded as the shrine housing Kuno Daimyojin, the guardian god of all the villages in Kuno area. In the Heian period (794-1192), the area became the manor of Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Mt. Hiei and co-enshrined the deity of Juzenjigu Shrine, one of the seven major shrines composing Hiyoshi Taisha.
Hizusa Shrine is famous for the Hokyointo stone pagoda erected in 1304 during the Kamakura period. It is 237 cm tall and stands with well-balanced shape. It has been preserved in a good state and beautifully carved lines as well as a pair of peacocks on the front base are still clearly seen. As one of the few excellent stone structures in Japan, it is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
The Tando River is a clear mountain stream in Morioka City, Iwate Pref. As the habitat of Ayu, Yamame and Iwana, the river is a treasure trove for anglers. Landscape changes from season to season, while the gentle stream consoles visitors all through the year. As there are so few people seen around, you may feel scared with its tranquility. Besides, there are several dangerous places along the promenade, you’d better not walk into the valley alone.
Mt. Katsuragi is located on the border of Kushira, Gose City, Nara Pref. and Chihaya Akasaka-mura, Minami Kawachi-gun, Osaka Pref. It is a part of Kongo-Ikoma-Kisen Quasi-National Par. Among the Kongosan mountains, this 959-meter mountain is the highest mountain next to Mt. Kongo.
Mt. Katsuragi is believed to be the residence of Hitokotonushi no Okami. Legend has it that when En no Ozuno, the founder of mountain practice, was building a bridge from Mt. Katsuragi to Mt. Kongo, this god helped him with his work only at night because he was ashamed of his ugly face.
The tableland at the top of the mountain called “Katsuragi Highland” is famous for mountain azaleas in spring and Japanese pampas grass in fall. Its diversified mountain path with natural beauty that changes from season to season is popular among hikers.
Ichigoyama Castle is located at the eastern peak of Mt. Ushibuse (491 m) in Yoshii-cho, Gunma Pref. It is said that the castle was built in the late Muromachi period (1336-1573) as an attached castle of Hirai Castle, which was resided by the Uesugi clan. Located at the top of such a high peak, the castle is thought to have been used as a base to send smoke signals during the Warring States period (1493-1573). The castle fell in 1563 by the attack of Takeda Shingen. It is presumed that several outer compounds separated by dry moats were constructed but there are almost no ruins remaining now. The area was arranged into Ushibuseyama Natural Park to provide citizens with recreation and relaxation. On the castle ruin stands a three-story mock donjon with a commercial museum of Yoshii-cho on the 1st floor, a historical museum on the 2nd floor, and an observatory on the 3rd floor, from which visitors can command a 360°panoramic view.
Numata Castle was located in Numata City, Gunma Pref. It is said to have been built by Bankisai Akiyasu, the 12th generation head of the Numata clan. The castle was called Kurauchi Castle in those days. As it stands at the strategic spot on the way to Kanto region, a lot of battles to capture this castle were fought among warring lords such as the Uesugi clan of Echigo region (present-day Niigata Pref.), the Hojo clan of Odawara, and the Takeda clan of Kai province (present-day Yamanashi Pref.). In the Edo period, this area came under control of the Sanada clan. Sanada Yukinobu started its modification work in 1597, and in several years it was modified into an early modern-styled castle with the five-story donjon, Ninomaru (the second castle), Sannomaru (the third castle), and the stone walls, which were rear for Kanto region. At the present time, only a part of stone walls and moats remains, which remind us of the ancient times. In spring, a 400-year-old cherry tree called “Goten-zakura (palace cherry tree)” is in full bloom. It looks as if it were talking of rise and fall of the castle.