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.
Murakumo-gosho Zuiryuu-ji Temple belongs to Nichiren religious sect and is the only Monseki temple among Nichiren temples. It is now located at the top of Hachiman Mountain in Shiga Prefecture.
The temple was built in 1596 by Nisshuuni, an older sister of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, so she could pray there for the soul of her son, Hidetsugu, who was forced to commit harakiri by the order of Hideyoshi.
At the time the temple was built, Nisshuuni was given the land Murakumo of Saga, Kyoto, and the name, Zuiryuu-ji, to the temple by Emperor Goyouzei. The temple attracted many followers from the Imperial family and politically powerful aristocrats and was recognized as a Monseki temple, which is a title given to a temple that had a close relationship with aristocracy, and was called Murakumo-gosho. In the Edo period, the temple was transferred from Saga to Nishijin. The monument of Murakumo-gosho is still present in front of the Nishiji Textile Center.
In 1962, Nichieini who is the 12th representative of the temple and had dedicated her life to restoring it, moved the temple to its current location, the site of Oumi Hchiman Castle, where Hidetsugu was deeply connected to.
Magnificent views can be seen from the temple of the beautiful line of Suzuka Mountains far away, the town of Oomi in the south and Biwa Lake in the east. After the transfer, the main building and the gardens were restored by followers. The temple is now open to the public and welcomes visitors.
En no Ozunu is the founder of Shugendou which teaches how to gain mystic powers through ascetic practices in the mountains and, by unifying with nature, to reach Sokushin Joubutsu, attaining enlightenment in one’s present form. As the initiator who first organized the Japanese spiritual doctrine, En no Ozunu has stood out with his enormous influence that still continues today.
He was born in 634 at the foot of Katsuragi Mountain in present day Gose City, Nara Prefecture. He possessed unique talents since childhood teaching himself to carve Buddha statues and learning how to write Sanskrit characters. At the age of seventeen, he left his family home and began spiritual practice in Katsuragi Mountain.
Legend says he spent time with a sennin, a legendary immortal hermit, even chastising Buddha and deities, and became a man of strength who had a demon as his follower. When his supernatural powers became known to the Imperial Court, the Emperor, frightened by his power, ordered him exiled to Izu Ooshima Island.
In his late life, he traveled throughout Japan and visited a number of sacred mountains. Reportedly most of mountains considered sacred mountains today were founded by him. At the age of sixty seven, he passed away while smiling, surrounded by many disciples in Tenjyouga-dake Mountain.
The ruins of Kuroki Palace at the top of Tennozan, a low hill facing Beppu Bay, on Oki-Nishinoshima Island in Shimane Prefecture is the site where Emperor Go-Daigo stayed when he was exiled to the Oki Islands.
In 1332, Emperor Go-Daigo raised the army to defeat the Kamakura Shogunate, whose power had been diminished by the two wars with Mongol, but he was defeated and banished to the Oki Islands. The emperor, however, escaped Oki within 2 years and succeeded in defeating the Shogunate this time. He returned to Kyoto and claimed power in what came to be known as the Kemmu Restoration.
At the foot of Tennozan is the history museum Hekifukan, where documents and pictures pertaining to the emperor are exhibited. Beside the ruins of Kuroki Palace is Kuroki Shrine, where Emperor Go-Daigo is enshrined. The ruins site is prefecturally designated as a historic site.
The Shikama Otaki Waterfall is on the Hono River running through Mt. Funagatayama at the center of Funagata Renpo (the Funagata Mountain Range) Prefectural Natural Park in the border of Miyagi and Yamagata Prefectures.
The area is a part of the Ou Mountains. Mt. Funagatayama (Boat-shaped Mountain) was named so, because its summit looks like a boat placed upside down. The mountain is also called Mt. Goshosan in Yamagata Prefecture.
The Shikama Otaki Waterfall is usually a quiet and gentle two-staged waterfall. The water in the upper stage flows down onto the protruding rock, from which it flows down again into the river. When the water volume increases in the snow melting season in spring, it changes into a dynamic straight cataract without forming two stages.
The observatory and the promenade are set out near the waterfall. You can take a close look at the waterfall by going down the promenade. In fall, you can enjoy viewing the wonderful scenery of the white silky flow of the water against red and yellow autumn leaves from the observatory.
“Ubugi” is a Japanese word for clothes for a new born baby. Special clothes for a new born baby appeared around the Edo period (1603-1868), when it was often the case with a new born baby that it died in a few days after its birth. Parents intentionally made clothes for their babies from old cloth in hoped that their babies could manage to live long without catching eye of the devil.
Right after its birth, a baby was usually wrapped in a small futon-like blanket called “okurumi.” Then in 3 to 7 days it was dressed in the clothes called “tetoshi,” which had sleeves. On the 31st day for a boy and the 32nd day for a girl, when the baby had spent the first critical period safely, parents took them to a family shrine for “Omiya-mairi” to thank the family god for their safe growth. At the Omiya-mairi ritual, babies were dressed in gorgeous gowns. The Noshime pattern (checked pattern) was favored for boy babies, while the Patterns such as Gosho-guruma (court carriage), silk balls and small flowers were favored for girl babies. It seems that “Ubugi” has protected babies in various forms.
Kirime Shrine together with Fujishiro Oji and Takijiri Oji is one of the most well-known shrines of Kumano Kuju-ku (99) Oji shrines. The god enshrined at this shrine is believed to have such a strong divine power that it even stops a ship sailing off the coast. So, the honored god-body is placed to face the back of the building. In the ancient times, visitors had to offer prayers at the rear side of the main hall. And visitors on the New Year’s Day had to visit the shrine without wearing anything and must not say a word even when they meet their close friends. For 300 years from the Heian period (794-1192) through the Kamakura period (1192-1333), Kumano Pilgrim had been very popular. The emperor, Joko (abdicated emperor), and Hoo (pious ex-emperor) of the time as well as literary people all made the pilgrim visit to Kumano. The Gosho-Goten Hall in the precinct was used as the lodgings for the imperial family. The old tree called “Horuto-no-ki” is said to be over 300 years old and it is a prefecturally designated Cultural Property.
Ichijo Taisai held at Ichijo Shrine in Nakamura City is one of the three biggest festivals in Kochi Pref. This festival is dedicated to the memory of the Ichijo family, who had taken refugee from Onin War (1467-1477) in Kyoto and built a town in this place. The festival is also familiarly called “Ichijoko-san” by the local people. When Ichijo Norifusa, ex-Kanpaku (the first secretary to the emperor), moved to this province in 1475, he relocated Atago Shrine, which was on Mt. Komoriyama at the center of the town, to another place and constructed his residence, which were called “Nakamura Palace.” After the Tosa Ichijo clan was exiled from this province during the Tensho era (1573-1591), the bereaved retainers built a memorial hall to enshrine the successive heads of the Ichijo clan in 1607. Later in 1862, Ichijo Shrine was constructed on the part of the ruins of Nakamura Palace where the mausoleum of the Ichijo clan was located. Since then a big festival of Ichijo Taisai has been held at this shrine. In the precinct are several ruins pertaining to the Ichijo family such as “Fujimi-no Goten (wisteria viewing hall)” and “Kesho-no Ido (dressing well).”