Tozan washi paper is a traditional handicraft in Higashiyama, Ichinoseki City, Iwate Prefecture. There are several opinions as to its origin, but it is presumed to have started in the late Heian period, when the Fujiwara clan in Hiraizumi (in present-day Iwate Prefecture) was defeated by the forces of Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1189. Some of the Fujiwara’s warriors, who escaped from Hiraizumi, settled down in the area around Higashiyama and began to make paper as one of their daily commodities. In the city of Ichinoseki, there is a town named “Kamiagari,” which means a paper producing village in Kanji, from which this town is thought to be the birthplace of Tozan washi paper.
Only locally grown paper mulberry and Oriental paperbush are used as the materials. The original techniques have been precisely handed down to create high quality handmade washi paper, which is characterized by its natural color of paper mulberry, elegance, and durability. This simple-tasted paper is use for many purposes including Japanese sliding door paper, caligraphy, name cards and certificate paper. Tozan washi paper is a part of cultural heritage that was left by the Fujiwara clan of Hiraizumi.
Kumano Shrine is located in Takadate, Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture. The enshrined deities are Hayatamao no Okami, Izanagi no Okami and Kotosakao no Okami.
Natori is the center of Kumano Worship in the Tohoku region during the Middle Ages. Kumano Shrine in Natori was one of Natori Kumano Sanzan constituted of Hongu, Shingu and Nachi Shrines, which were founded by transferring Kumano Sansho Gongen (the great deities of Kumano in present Wakayama Prefecture) in 1123.
The Honden (main hall) building composed of three sections is a prefecturally designated cultural property as the oldest existing building in Kumano-Gongen-zukuri style. By the pond in the precinct is a kagura hall, a part of which protrudes over the pond. Kumanodo Kagura, and Kumano Bugaku (a court dance) have been handed down at this shrine and both are prefecturally designated intangible folk cultural properties. The kagura is dedicated in spring and fall and the bugaku is dedicated only in spring.
Zuiganji Temple in Matsushima Town, Miyagi Prefecture, is a temple of the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai sect. It was founded as Enpukuji Temple in 828 by Jikaku Daishi En’nin, a high-ranked priest of the Tendai sect. The temple received faithful protection from the Oshu Fujiwara clan as a temple built at the Emperor's behest. The principal object of worship is Sho Kannon Bosatsu.
In 1259, it became a temple of the Rinzai sect, and was prosperous for some time and then declined in the Warring States period (1493-1573). It was revived in 1609 by Date Masamune and renamed Zuigan Enpuku Zenji Temple.
Kuri (the priests’ quarters) and the corridor were constructed presumably during the Keicho era (1596-1614). They are elaborately designed precious historic structures. Kuri is connected to the main hall by the corridor, which has railings with incised decorations. Kuri has a huge tiled roof in the Kirizuma-zukuri (gabled) style. The embellishment of gable pediments and the layout of the corridor are especially wonderful. They are collectively designated as a National treasure.
The Mutsukami-kaido Road connects Ichinoseki on the Oshu-kaido Road and the Dewa-kaido Road via Kurikoma, Ichihasama-Masaka and Iwadeyama. It is a nationally designated Historic Site. The road is well-known as the ancient route of the Oku no Hosomichi, which Basho Matsuo used on a Haiku journey coming back from Hiraizumi in 1686. Currently, this ancient route has been partly paved with stones and restored, but still remains quiet, surrounded with old trees. The name “Oku-no-hosomich (the narrow road to the deep north)” sounds just apposite. It reminds us of good old days.
There are many legends about Yoshitsune and Benkei in Mogami district. The 'Yoshitsune Story', supposedly written in the Muromachi period, relates that when Yoshitsune was being hunted by his brother Minamotono-no-Yoritomo and was heading for Hiraizumi in Iwate Prefecture, he passed through Mogami district in the third year of the Bunji period (1187).
The district around Semi hot springs has many legends and traces about Yoshitsune's masters and servants. For example, the Koyasu-Kannon deity is supposed to have overseen the birth of Kamewakamaru, Yoshitsune's child.
The name 'Semi' has several possible origins: one is that it derives from 'Semi-maru', Benkei's long-handled sword; another is that it derives from 'no-crying semi (cicada)', the nickname of Kamewakamaru, who was reputed to have never cried, even when he knew that he was a son of a fleeing warrior. A third possible source is that it is named for a wounded cicada that was resting on a tree and curing itself in the steam from a nearby hot spring.
There are many tourist attractions in Semi, Mogami, that relate to Yoshitsune and Benkei, such as Yagen Hot Water and Benkei's Inkstone that Beinkei was supposed to have used.
The Sanko-jo mask is one of the Old Man masks, which express the features of very old men. It is said that because the mask was created by Sankobo, the priest at Echizen Heisenji Temple, it came to be called Sanko-jo. Or legend has it that the mask was created by three lights (“san-kou” in Japanese) of the Sun God, the Moon God and the Star God.
Having many wrinkles on the forehead and cheeks, it looks like an ordinary old man but also gives an arrogant impression. The Sanko-jo mask is used when the ghost of a fallen hero takes on the form of an old fisherman (mae-shite) in the play “Yashima.” It is also used to express a woodcutter and other common villagers in the plays such as “Tooru,” “Kanehira,” “Kuzu,” “Nomori,” “Ukai,” and “Akogi.”
Mt. Kinkei in Hiraizumi-cho, Iwate Pref. is an elegant, conical, 60-meter-high mountain. When the famous haiku master Matsuo Basho visited Hiraizumi, he expressed his impression of this historic site that, “only Mt. Kinkei retains its form.” It is said that Mt. Kinkei is an artificial mountain built by Hidehira in a single night. Legend has it that a pair of golden chicken statues has been buried at its peak. These legends seem to be based on the sutra mound near the apex. The evidence suggests that more than nine individual sutra mounds were created over the century from the reign of Kiyohira to that of his great-grandson Yasuhira. Due to these sutra mounds, Mt. Kinkei was a holy mountain dedicated to the protection and pacification of Hiraizumi. However, the site was badly disrupted by the random diggings in 1930, and its details have remained a mystery. A pot containing a sutra, which was made in Atsumi Peninsula, was excavated from the site. It is now displayed at Tokyo National Museum.
The Ruins of Yofukuji Temple with an area of 90,000 square meters is a designated National Historic Site located in Nikaido, Kamakura City, Kanagawa Pref. Yofukuji Temple was constructed in 1192 by order of Minamoto no Yoritomo to appease the souls of the war dead in the Oshu War, including Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Fujiwara no Yasuhira. The design was modeled after Chusonji Temple’s Daichojuin Nikaido Great Hall and Moetsuji Temple. The buildings were arranged in a symmetrical order with Nikaido Hall in the center, Yakushi-do Hall in the north, and Amida-do Hall in the south. The complex faced the east and had a total length of 230 m. The pond with a length of 200 m from north to south was made in front of the complex. The buildings were burnt to the ground in 1405 and only the name of the hall, Nikaido, remains as a place name. The Ruins of Yufukuji Temple is a historic site to represent the authority and originality of Kamakura Shogunate.