It is said that this temple was founded in 794 by the priest Saicho, the founder of the Tendai sect of Buddhism, as the east gate of Hieizan Enryakuji Temple, which had been constructed 6 years before as the headquarters of the sect. When Emperor Kanmu visited the temple, he named it Hieizan Tomonin Moriyamadera, which means the temple guarding the east gate of Mt. Hiei.
During the Edo period (1603-1868), the temple was used as the lodge for Joseon Royal Embassies, the Joseon envoys intermittently sent to Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan. In 1986, the main hall and Kuri (the priests’ quarters) were burned down by a fire. The statue of Juichimen Kannon (Kannon with 11 faces) housed in the main hall was also destroyed by fire. The main hall was reconstructed and the statue was restored to its original form in 1990.
The statue of Fudo Myoo, which is the principal object of worship in Goma Hall and survived the fire undamaged, and the five-story stone pagoda in the corner of the precinct are designated as national Important Cultural Properties. Together with other art objects, they tell us of the temple’s 1,200 year history.
Inukoeji located in Yamakita-cho, Ashigara-Kami-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture, is a mountain pass at an altitude of 1,050 m. This scenic spot has provided a comfort stop for trekkers since old times.
In the Warring States period (1493-1573), Takeda Shingen in Kai province (present-day Yamanashi Prefecture) extended powers over the area around Tanzawa Mountains. The name of this pass, Inu-koe-ji, meaning “the path that dogs go over” is derived from the legend pertaining to their attacks on the Hojo clan in Odawara. Legend has it that whenever the Takeda forces headed for Odawara, they took this trail with their army dogs leading the steep and dangerous way.
You can command a panoramic view of the west part of Tanzawa Mountains and Mt. Fuji from Inukoeji Pass, which is selected one of the Kanagawa 50 Scenic Places. This tranquil mountain pass is a resting spot for the hikers climbing Mt. Hinokiboramaru and Mt. Omuroyama. Wonderful autumn foliage can be enjoyed in fall.
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.
Aoso Shrine in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, is the headquarters of Aoso shrines all over the country. It was founded in 852 by Hozumi Yasumasa, the ancestor of the current shrine priest’s family, who came to this area from Kyoto. He enshrined Amaterasu Omikami (the sun goddess), Ame no Minakanushi no Kami (the god of the universe), and Tsukuyomi no Kami (the god of the moon) in the cave where holy water sprang out; hereby the shrine is famous as the place where the sun, the stars and the moon are enshrined together.
Yasumasa taught the villagers how to grow hemp plants. It is said that the shrine name “Aoso,” which literally means Green Hemp, was derived from this episode. The shrine has been known for its divine power to cure and prevent palsy, and it is said that if you visit this shrine three times, you will never be stricken with palsy for the rest of your life.
As the Hozumi clan was involved in maritime industry, the shrine is also worshipped as the deity of navigation safety. The famous fine water “Osuzu” springs out in the precinct. A lot of visitors come to take a drink of this holy water.
The Shizunai River running through Shin-Hidaka Town in the eastern part of Hokkaido is the representative river in the Hidaka area. Of the 683.4 square kilometer in watershed area and 69.9 kilometer in total length, about 70 % is the mountainous zone in the national forest, where bountiful nature remains intact. The river flows out of Mt. Petegari and Mt. Idonnappu in the Hidaka Mountain Range, where many cirques are found. Surrounded with sheer cliffs, the river has a lot of waterfalls.
In the old days, the Shizunai River was called the Shibechari River, the name of which derived from the Ainu word “shipe-ichan,” meaning “a spawning place of salmon.” The river is famous as the place where stream gold was panned in the Edo period (1603-1868). It is also known as the wintering place of swans. About 200 Whooper swans come to stay in winter, which is the largest in number among all the rivers in Hokkaido. Also, whistling swans, a very rare species of swan, can be seen in this river, although only a few can be confirmed all over the country in Japan, The Shizunai River was designated as a Wildlife Protection Area in 1965.
Cape Gorota is a rocky cape located in Funadomari-mura, Rebun-cho on the Northern part of Rebun Island in Hokkaido. In the Ainu language, it is called “Kamui Kotan (the place where the god lives),” which is usually given to dangerous places along rivers and coasts. The cape located at 176 m above sea level consists of the cliff protruding to the westward. You can command a panoramic view of Todo Island, Lake Kushu, Mt. Rebun and Mt. Rishiri (Rishiri-Fuji). The cape looks like a dinosaur lying along the coast. Walking down the promenade to the south, you will get to Gorota Beach and Teppu Beach farther away. Here at Cape Gorota you will encounter the beautiful sky, sea, flowers and winds and fully enjoy the natural beauty.
The Naioroppu Waterfall with a width of 1 m and a height of 30 m is in the stream of the Jusen River, a tributary river of the Teshio River in Nisshin, Nayoro City, Hokkaido. The name “Naioroppu” come from “Nayoroputo”, which means “a river mouth” in Ainu. The city name of “Nayoro” also originates in this word. As the tributary Nayoro River flows into the main stream of the Teshio River in the city, it was named “Nayoro.” At the Naioroppu Waterfall, water flows down the drop of 30 m, changing the directions according to the stepped rocks. It increases in the volume of water in May and June, which makes the waterfall look more dynamic, but it usually flows down calmly. In summer a lot of people visit to seek for coolness. The Naioroppu waterfall is a beautiful waterfall, which makes us sense Japanese elements
The Hoshioki-no-taki Waterfall is in a valley adjacent to a quiet residence area in Teine-ku, Sapporo City, Hokkaido. It is a two-storied waterfall with a height of 14 m located in the Hoshioki River, which springs out of 949-meter high Mt. Teine.
The name “Hoshioki” is presumed to be borrowed from an Ainu word “hoshipoki,” which means “down the cliff.” There are clustering trees in the valley around the cliff, where you can enjoy forest bathing. Having been eroded by the river flow, the rock mass around the middle of the waterfall was hollowed into a conical shape, into which the upper part of the waterfall flows and forms a two-storied waterfall.
The dashing flow of water with white splashes is really dynamic and gives a masculine impression. Its roaring sound echoes through the quiet valley.