The Kofuku-ji Temple, located in Nobori Ooji-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture, is a head temple of the Hosso-shu Buddhism sect and it was a private temple of the Fujiwara Clan. The principal image of the Buddha is Shakanyorai. The temple is 9th in sequence of the 33-temple Kannon pilgrimage and 4th of the 49-temple Yakushi Pilgrimage in Western Japan.
Koufuku-ji Temple was originally built in 669 by the wife of Fujiwara Kamatari under the name of Yamanashi-dera in Yamashina-ku, Kyoto City. It was transferred by Fujiwarano Fuhito to its present location and renamed Koufuku-ji.
Ooyu-ya is a medieval style bathhouse standing in the east of the Gojyuuno-to, or Five-story Pagoda. It is not known in which year the bathhouse was built, however, the current building was reportedly restored in 1426. It is now designated as a national important cultural property.
The bathhouse is 7 meters wide north to south and 7 meters wide east to west with a Hongawara tile roof. The west side of the bathhouse has the Irimoya roof style and the east side has the Kirimoya roof style. Inside the bathhouse are two gigantic iron pots that are used to make steam for a steam bath.
After the Middle Ages, the bathhouse was also used as a meeting place for public uprisings.
The bathhouse is tremendously valuable as an example of bathhouse architecture from the Middle Ages.
The origin of Oiso Shrine in Azuchi Town, Shiga Prefecture, is unknown, but it is presumed to have been the oratory for the mountain god residing at the top of Mt. Kinugasa. The enshrined deity is Amatsukoyane no Mikoto, an ancestor of the Fujiwara clan.
According to a legend, when Ototachibanahime no Mikoto threw herself into the sea to appease the rage of the sea god and saved Yamato Takeru, who was on his way to the eastern land, she was pregnant and said “I will stay in Oiso Woods and become a guardian goddess for safe childbirth.” From this episode, the shrine is visited by a lot of women who offer a prayer for safe delivery.
Guarded by Oiso Woods, Honden (the main hall) stands at the end of the front approach. It is a 3-bay flowing style building. Tosatsu (the wooden plate staked to a building7s ridgepole stating details of the construction) shows that it was constructed in 1581. The stone monument inscribed with a poem written by Motoori Norinaga, a Japanese scholar of Kokugaku during the Edo period, stands in a corner of the precinct.
Rurihime Festival is held in Shirataki in Ozu City, Ehime Prefecture, on November 23 every year to appease the soul of Rurihime (Lady Ruri), who threw herself into the waterfall.
Lady Ruri was the wife of Fujiwara Yukiharu, the castellan of Takinojo Castle. At the end of the Warring States period (1493-1573), the castle was attacked by the forces of the Chosokabe clan again and again until at last it fell.
Lady Ruri and her women attendants fought back with fukibari (needles blown from the mouth), naginata and shuriken, but they finally escaped from the castle and made their way to the waterfall, where they were cornered by the pursuers.
Lady Ruri told her two daughters to live on and dived from the top of the waterfall (presently called the Otaki Waterfall) into the basin 60 m below with her 2-year-old son Takaomaru in her arms.
On the festival day, the parade of girls in colorful costumes and boys carrying the flower mikoshi (portable shrine) heads for Lady Ruri’s grave mound, where the memorial service is performed and the flower mikoshi is thrown into the waterfall for the repose of her soul and children’s good health.
Kandaten Shrine located in Koshu City in Yamanashi Prefecture is a shrine pertaining to the Takeda clan. Enshrined are Susanoo no Mikoto and other seven deities. It is said that the shrine was founded in 842 by the provincial governor, Fujiwara Iseo, by the Imperial order. When Sugawara no Michizane was enshrined together in 1004, the kanji “suga (菅)” was borrowed and the shrine came to be called Kandaten (菅田天). In the precinct is the statue of Zagyu (lying cow), which is believed to be the messenger of Sugawara no Michizane.
During the Warring States period (1493-1573), the shrine was protected by the Takeda clan as the god to guard the ominous direction of the provincial capital. The shrine is known for the possession of Kozakura Kawaodoshi Yoroi, which was one of the 8 armors handed down to the descendants of the Genji (the Minamoto clan). This armor was so strong that the one who wore it didn’t have to use a shield, so it was called “Tate-nashi-no-yoroi (the armor without a shield).” It was handed down to the heads of the Takeda clan, one of the rightful descendant family of the Seiwa Genji, as the family treasure together with Japan’s oldest Rising Sun flag.
Oshu Zenkoji Temple is located in Atagoyama Park in Kurihara City, Miyagi Prefecture. Together with the ones in Nagano City and Kofu City, it is counted as one of the three greatest Zenkoji temples in Japan. Oshu Zenkoji Temple was founded at the end of the Heian period (794-1192) by Fujiwara no Motohira, the 2nd head of the Oshu Fujiwara clan, to mourn for his late father, Kiyohira. The principal image of worship is Zenkoji Nyorai, which is a replicated image of Nyorai at Nagano Zenkoji Temple.
There is a huge weeping cherry tree presumably over 800 years old in the precinct. It is known as “the Cherry Tree in Atagoyama” and a lot of people come to view cherry blossoms in the middle of April every year. Zenkoji Taisai (Grand Festival) is also held during this season. The garden of the temple is crowded with people enjoy walking in flattering cherry petals.
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.