The Kitakogane shell midden is a national Historic Site located in Kitakogane Kaizuka Park in Kitakogane-cho, Date City, Hokkaido. It is presumed that this shell midden is a part of the ruins of the colony centered on the spring water in a lowland area in the early Jomon period (about 6,000-5,000 years ago).
A large number of human bones, stone implements, earthenware and tools made of bones and horns have been excavated from 5 shell mounds, the ruins of dwellings and graves. The ruin of the water place, which also functioned as the place to perform rituals, is considered to be especially precious as the only existing ruin of this kind in Hokkaido.
The shell middens and pit dwellings are reproduced and open to the public in the park. At Jomon Festival held in the early September, the park bustles with people coming to enjoy the experiences in the Jomon world.
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.
Tojin Daba is the excavation site where pieces of stoneware and earthen ware of the early Jomon to the Yayoi periods (about 7,000 years ago) have been dug out. The number of excavated items is said to be the largest in the Shikoku region. The research on the group of huge stones placed around the site, which is presumed to be the remains of a stone circle, has been carried out now. There is another group of huge stones 200 m up the mountainside. This pile of huge stones is called Tojin-ishi, under which many ruins of Jomon people’s dwellings were discovered. The word “tojin” normally means “a Chinese” in the Japanese language, but “tojin” in “Tojin Daba” is said to refer to “an alien” or “a god.” The word “daba” means “a flat mountain top.” Who built for what purpose is unknown, but the place is filled with some mysterious atmosphere.
The town of Kokuji in Daigo-machi, Ibaraki Pref. has been known for producing excellent material of inkstones. During the Edo period (1603-1868), the ninth generation of Lord of Mito Province (present-day Ibaraki Pref.), Tokugawa Nariaki, loved these inkstones very much, so he named them Kokuju Inkstones. The word “Kokuju” is a homophonic of the place name, Kokuji, and means “eternal prosperity of the country.” Its distinctive black gloss and patterns naturally appearing on the stone surface are simple but beautiful. As it is hand-carved, each product has its original taste. In 1930, when the special exercise of Japanese army was carried out in several places in the prefecture, the governor dedicated a Kokuju inkstone to the emperor. In the next year, an event to exhibit and sell Kokuju inkstones was held in Tokyo, and these inkstones were highly estimated by famous calligraphers, literary people, and business leaders. They were counted as one of Japan’s 3 Fine Inkstones at the time. However there had been no craftsmen who could make this inkstone for some time and it was called “phantom inkstone.” Later in Showa 30s (1955-1964), it was revived by Taiseki Hoshino in Daigo-machi. In its traditional making, Kokuju stone is cut and formed into the shape, then the both sides are flattened with a tagane (a Japanese engraving tool) and scarped with several kinds of flat and round chisels, and finally it is polished with a grind stone.
Rantai lacquer ware is the traditional lacquer ware made in Kurume City, Fukuoka Pref. In Rantai lacquer ware, lacquer is applied many times to a bamboo basket. Then the lacquered basket is polished up and given decorations to finish. The word “rantai” literally means the lacquer ware which has a bamboo basket inside. The technique of making such lacquer ware was already seen in the excavated articles of the Jomon period, but the present style of making Rantai lacquer ware was established in the early Meiji period, and it is said that the name “Rantai” began to be used since the middle of the Meiji period. This lacquer ware is elegant and light in weight, but lasting and acid / alkaline resistant. It increases its beauty and takes on refined taste as you use it longer. At the present this lacquer ware is produced only in Kyushu District.
Waka is a form of Japanese poetry also known as Yamato Uta (songs) or '31 letters'.
Tanka poetry is one branch of waka. Already in the Nara or early Heian periods, the 'Manyoshu' ('Collection of a Myriad Leaves'), had been compiled consisting of tanka. In the Heian period, nagauta and sedoka poetry lost their popularity and waka came basically to mean tanka.
Tanka consist of 5 phrases of 5,7,5,7,7 words each or 31 letters. This is the only rule for tanka; there are no others. You can choose whatever topics you like, for example, daily life, nature, etc.
Tanka has various forms that enable the expression of a wide variety of feeling. Set epithets may be put in front of some special word; puns may be used using homonyms, words with the same pronunciation, but different meanings.
People will continue to compose Waka poems that will change as the use of words change, too.
Ishiyama Temple, located in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, is the headquarter of Shingon Buddhism. It was built by the priest Roubon under the request of Emperor Shomu in 747. Today, it is the thirteenth destination of the thirty-three temples on the Saikoku Fudasho Pilgrammage. The deity enshrined within temple is the Nyoirin Kannon. Located within its expansive grounds, approximately 120000m2 in area, is the Keikaigan (Keikai Rock). It is a rare type of rock known as Wollonstonite, and the Keikaigan has been designated a National treasure. Rising high over the grounds of the temple, this Keikaigan is where the name of the temple, Ishiyama, meaning stone mountain originates.
Located within the main hall of the temple are all sorts of treasures. Most notably, these are the Shoutokutaishi's Hibutsu (Hidden Buddha), which is said to grant marriage, easy birth, and happiness, the Bodhisattva of the Nyoirin Kannon sealed by Imperial command, and Genji’s Room. It is said that Murasaki Shikibu began writing the Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji) at Ishiyama Temple and a room has been set aside room to commerate this.
Aside from these treasures, many different kinds of cultural properties from the Nara, Heian, and the Kamakura Period are preserved within the temple. This includes the Rennyodo, which are the historic relics of Rennyo Shonin, an eminent monk, and the Tahoto, another National Treasure.
The temple is also famous because many female literary figures like the aforementioned Murasaki Shikibu visited its grounds. These include Seisho Nagon, Izumi Shikibu, Sugawara no Takasue's daughter, and a writer known only by the pen name "The Mother of Fujiwara no Michitsuna" visited the temple. It can be said that Ishiyama Temple is a temple for writers, influencing ancient culture.
Plum blossoms, with their delicate pink petals and fragrance, symbolize the coming of spring before any other flower, and are cherished as a poetic representation of early spring. In the middle of the Tsukigase area of Nara prefecture lies a picturesque valley of plum blossoms called “Tsukigase-baikei or, Tsukigase Plum Valley”. Along with Hirohashi and Anou, it is one of the Three Great Plum Forests in Nara. The view of 10,000 plum trees lining both sides of the Satsuki River is spectacular. In high season, the area attracts many visitors who enjoy walking along the river and losing themselves in the plum blossoms. Tsukigase reportedly dates back to the middle of the Kamakura period when some plum trees were first planted in the precincts of Shinfuku-ji Temple. During the Edo period, scores of writers and artists visited the area. A stone slab stands in the valley inscribed with Matsuo Bashou’s haiku and there is also a monument commemorating Tomioka Tessai, a prominent literati painting master who represents Modern Japan. In 1922, Tsukigase Plum Valley was designated as a National Scenic Area by the Japanese government.