Mt. Nebisodake (1,112 m) in the eastern end of Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, is the highest mountain among the mountains in the Mikawa highland, which is surrounded by the mountains with an altitude of over 1,000 meters. Composed of granite in the Cretaceous Ryoke metamorphic belt, the mountain has a gentle appearance and it is easily accessible. The area is a part of Aichi-Kogen Quasi-National Park.
Blessed with bountiful nature, Mt. Nebisodake is always bustled with hikers and birdwatchers, who come with the aim of watching various wild birds including tits. Flowers of the family of Asteraceae such as asters and thistles and many other seasonal flowers come into bloom in the flower field at the top of the mountain.
The mountain top commands a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains in the Mikawa highland and the Kiso mountains in the direction of Asuke Town. On a fine day, Mt. Ontakesan can be seen in the distance.
Taga-jinja, located in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, is the oldest shrine in Sendai.
It is said to date back to the year 110 when Yamato Takerunomikoto, a legendary hero, brought part of the spirit of the deity he worshiped to this area during his East expedition that he undertook by order of the emperor.
Since then, it has been worshiped as a guardian deity and protected by a succession of local lords and military commanders, including Date Masamune, a well-known founder of Sendai clan who established his castle in Sendai. In 1775, the shrine building was expanded by Date Shigemura.
The shrine is also worshiped by people hoping for long life and affectionately called “Otaga-sama”. When spring comes, cherry trees in the ground come into full bloom and cheerfully welcome visitors.
The entrance path to the shrine is also a path to a local school and school children can often be seen passing nearby.
It has been over 1,800 years since the first development on this site. The shrine full of historic relics is still to this day deeply rooted in local people’s lives and is loved and cared by them as it has been through the ages.
Ushiku Castle was located at the side of Ushiku Pond in Ushiku City, Ibaraki Pref. It is said to have been built by Okami Yorikatsu during the Bunei era (1532 1555). In 1586, the castle fell by the attack of the Kagaya clan. Later the Yura clan moved to this castle, but in 1621, when the Yura clan was transferred to another domain, the castle was abolished.
Surrounded by Ushiku Pond in the three directions and protected by the moat in the north, this flat land castle is presumed to have been a strong fort typical to the middle ages. All the castle area was surrounded by earthworks, which was forming a strong defense line. Inside the castle area, deep and steep earthworks bounded each of the compounds (the main, the second and the third). At present, an information board of the castle ruins is set at the north gate, inviting visitors to go back to the warring days.
Taga Taisha Shrine, located in Taga-cho, Inukami-gun, Shiga Pref. is the main shrine of Taga shrines in the country. Taga Taisha Shrine has been called by a friendly nickname of “Otaga-san” and has been visited by a lot of people since the ancient times. As it is sung in the folk song “if you visit Ise, then why not Taga? Ise is a child of Taga …,” here at Taga Taisha Shrine, Izanagi and Izanami, the parents of Amaterasu Oomikami, the main god at Ise Grand Shrine, are enshrined. The both shrines have been linked each other for a long period of time. According to the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters), Izanagi and Izanami descended from the heaven on this town of Taga. So, the town of Taga developed as the shrine town of Taga Taisha Shrine, where the god and goddess of longevity and marriage are enshrined. The precinct has an area of 60,000 sq. m. The shrine is said to be originated in a shrine temple of Tendai Sect, Fudoin, founded in 1494. It changed its name from Taga Shrine to Taga Taisha Shrine in 1947.
Manto Festival is held at Taga Taisha Shrine at Taga Town in Shiga Pref. This town of Taga, with a legend that Izanagi and Izanami (forefathers of Japan) came down from the heaven at this place, has been flourished as a market town (monzenmachi) of Taga Taisha Shrine, which is worshipped by local people as the place enshrines the gods of marriage and longevity. Manto Festival is carried out from August 3-5 every year to pray to the ancestors for their protection, for the enshrined god of Izanami is considered to be the guardian of Yomi no Kuni (the land of the dead). At the twilight of August 3, Goshinka (holy fire) Festival is held in Mt. Sugizakayama, where a holy fire is lit according to the traditional procedures. The fire is then relayed from Tsukinomiya Shrine at the foot of the mountain to Taga Taisha Shrine by 15 local elementary school children. On the arrival of the sacred fire, it is transferred to 10,000 chochin lanterns, which are dedicated by the worshippers nationwide. Manto Festival is a charming sight of summer, which has been handed down since the time of the Kojiki.