Sapporo Clock Tower, or “Tokeidai,” is a symbol of Sapporo City, Hokkaido. The tower was built in 1878 as a militaly drill hall of the former Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University). At the time of the construction, it was a bell tower without a clock. However, as the first floor was used for laboratories, the incorrect experiment data were often obtained due to the vibration caused by the ringing bell, from which the clock was installed in 1881. The clock was designated as the standard time clock of sapporo in 1888. In 1903, when Agricultural College was relocated to the place where Kokkaido University is located now, the clock tower was left out of use for some time. Then in 1906, Sapporo ward office bought the tower and removed it not by dismantling but by dragging to the present location. Being loved by the citizens of Sapporo, it was designated as a National Important Cultural Property in 1970. The improvement works were given for 4 years since 1995, and it is now used as exhibition space and a ceremony hall.
Namura Shrine in Ayado in Ryuo Town, Shiga Prefecture, is a historic shrine and a treasure trove of cultural properties since most of the structures of the shrine are nationally designated as either a National Treasure (NT) or an Important Cultural Property (ICP). The origin of the shrine is not clear, but, as many Kofun (ancient Imperial tombs) have been discovered in the area, it is considered that this shrine was originally founded to enshrine the spirits of ancestors.
The Romon gate (ICP) has the impressively huge thatched roof. The wooden statue of Fudo Myoo (ICP) is enshrined in the Fudo Hall in the precinct, which is the reminder of Shinbutsu Shugo (the fusion of Shinto and Buddhism) practiced until the end of the Edo period (1868).
The main hall, Nishi-Honden (NT), was constructed in 969 to enshrine the deity Kunisazuchi no Mikoto, who had resided in Mt. Kongo in Yoshino in Yamato province (present-day Nara Prefecture). The old shrine located on the opposite side of the road is the east shrine, Higashi Honden (ICP), which enshrines Okuninushi no Mikoto and Susanoo no Mikoto.
Namura Shrine is the head shrine of all the branch shrines in 33 adjacent villages; hereby the Grand Autumn Festival is held once every 33 years.
Ishibaji (Stone Horse Temple) in Gokasho Ishibaji Town in Higashiomi City on the eastern side of Lake Biwa is a historic temple belonging to the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai sect. The principal object of worship is Juichimen Senju Kanzeon Bosatsu (Kannon with 11 faces and 1,000 arms). The temple is famous as the Horse Temple.
Legend has it that when Prince Shotoku visited this village in 594, his horse was turned into a stone and sank in the pond while he was away. Deeply impressed by this incident, Prince Shotoku built up a temple at this place. Beside the ruins of the Daimon gate at the foot the stone steps is the pond where the stone horse sank. You can see the horse back through the water.
The temple belonged to the Hosso Sect of Buddhism until the Middle Ages. As a temple of the Tendai sect, it fought with Oda Nobunaga in the Warring States period (1493-1573) and was burnt down by his forces. The temple was restored in 1644, as a temple of Rinzai Sect of Buddhism, by Zen monk Ungo.
The temple possesses a lot of cultural properties including the wooden plaques on which three kanji characters representing Ishibaji Temple were written by Prince Shotoku himself and the statue of Prince Shotoku on the horseback.
An old vernacular house of honbyakusho (a titled peasant), built in the middle of the Edo period (1603-1868), is preserved in the precinct of Kozoji Temple in Kakuda City, Miyagi Prefecture.
It is a rectangular building, 14.9 m wide and 7.8 m deep, with a hipped roof that descends from the ridge on four sides of the building. The roof has a smoke control opening with a comb-shaped bargeboard.
As was typical to a farmer’s house in this region, there is no partition between the living room and Doma (the earth-floored space). The pillars are made of thick and unfinished lumbers, supported by the Torii-date construction (the old architectural style using struts).
The Sato family was called by their hereditary house name “Kurumaya.” It is said that a Shugendo practitioner had lived in this house before the Sato family. The house was relocated to its present location in 1972 and was designated as an important cultural property by the prefecture.
An old farm house built in the middle of the Edo period (1603-1868) is preserved in Jusanzuka Park in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture. It is a standard farm house of the time.
The house has a hipped roof that descends from the ridge on four sides of the building. As was typical to a farmer’s house in this region, the floor is divided evenly into four rooms, which is called the Natori-style floor planning. There is no partition between the rooms and Doma (the earth-floored space). The ridge is supported by three pillars respectively called Ushimochi-bashira, Hoito-bashira and Yomekakushi-bashira, which are made of unfinished lumbers. The pillars create simple but stately atmosphere, typically felt in the Tohoku region.
The house was lived by some family until 1973. It was designated as an Important Cultural Property by the national government in 1974, and after the repair work conducted from 1975 to 1976, it was relocated to its present location. It is a precious historical property that brings the life of farmers in the Edo period to the present day.
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.
Yagumo Honjin is the former residence of the Kowata family, which was one of the wealthiest land owner families in Izumo province (present-day Shimane Prefecture). Carrying on a brewing industry, the family also served as O-Shoya (the officer that ruled Shoya of each village).
This grand building with a floor area of 2,640 m2 standing on 3,940 m2 land was constructed in 1733. In the Edo period, the residence was used as honjin (an inn for the nobility and daimyo), where the lord of the Matsue domain stayed when he made an inspection tour around the domain territory.
After World War II, the residence was open to public as a Japanese restaurant and inn, where guests can enjoy its gorgeous interior furnishings. Yagumo Honjin was nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property in 1969.
Hizusa Shrine is a historic shrine in Juzenji in Hino Town in the southeastern part of Shiga Prefecture. The shrine site is thought to have been the center of ancient Hizusa go (sub-county) in Gamo gun (county), which had been already settled in the Yayoi period (300 B.C.-300 A.D.).
The area including Hizusa was called Kuno in the old times and Hizusa Shrine was founded as the shrine housing Kuno Daimyojin, the guardian god of all the villages in Kuno area. In the Heian period (794-1192), the area became the manor of Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Mt. Hiei and co-enshrined the deity of Juzenjigu Shrine, one of the seven major shrines composing Hiyoshi Taisha.
Hizusa Shrine is famous for the Hokyointo stone pagoda erected in 1304 during the Kamakura period. It is 237 cm tall and stands with well-balanced shape. It has been preserved in a good state and beautifully carved lines as well as a pair of peacocks on the front base are still clearly seen. As one of the few excellent stone structures in Japan, it is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.