The word “chise” in the Ainu means “a house,” which could be seen in the Ainu Kotan (village). It was normally built in Yosemune-zukuri style（a square or rectangular building.）The building materials of an Ainu house varied according to geographical and climatic conditions. Bamboo leaves, wild grasses, thatch, reed grass and tree bark were used for roofs and walls, which were tied with grapevine or tree bark. The wood of chestnut, Japanese Judas tree and Amur maackia were used for supporting pillars, which were directly set up without foundation stones. A chise has three windows; the one in the back is a rorun-puyar (god’s window), through which the gods entered, the one on the right is for letting in light, and the one near the entrance is for cooking ventilation. The orientation of the houses in a kotan (village) is identical; in most of the cases, a house is oriented from east to west with the god’s window facing the east. A chise was 33 to 99 square meters in area. It was a warm and comfortable home of the Ainu in the old days.
Sumisaka Shrine is located along the Uda River in Haibara-ku, Uda, in Nara Prefecture. The shrine used to be located on the west path of the Amanomori (Forest of the Heavens) of Sumisaka, but, in 1499, it was transferred to its present site.
Until the Meiji period, the Amano Temple deified both Buddhist and Shinto gods, giving it alternative names such as Rokusha Gongen and Amano Shrine. The present enshrined deity is the Sumisaka Omiwa God, which is a generic name for the six pillars of the Amenominakanushinokami, Takamimusubinokami, Kamimusubinokami, Izanakinokami, Izanaminokami and the Omononushinokami. Legends told that during Emperor Sujin's imperial reign, an epidemic spread across his empire. However, if the sick person deified the god that appeared in their dreams, which was the Sumisaka Omiwa God, their illness would be cured instantly.
Every year in November, a festival called the Sumisaka Togyo Gyoretsu takes place, where a mikoshi (portable shrine) is carried, along with a red shield and red sword, from Sumisaka Shrine at its current location to its prior location in the Amanomori (Forest of the Heavens).
Sandai Shrine in Shina-cho, near the town of Kusatsu in Shiga Prefecture, is famous for its wisteria. The enshrined deities at the shrine are Shinatsuhiko-no-mikoto and Shinatsuhime-no-mikoto.
Every year in April and May, the wisteria blossom clusters grow so long that they touch the ground, hence the name 'suna-zuri-no-fuji' (wisteria trailing the sand). The wisteria was originally planted by Fujihara, a Sessho (regent for a child emperor) and a Kampaku (regent for an adult emperor), in hopes for prosperity and good fortune. The wisteria deteriorated, however, following a fire started by Oda Nobunaga. In time, it sprouted again from its roots, and became what it is today.
At the Wisteria Festival held during this season at the shrine, people exhibit local products, and the Kusatsu-shi Sightseeing Product Association fair takes place, alongside other activities.
Along with the wisteria in the neighboring Shina Shrine and Soujya Shrine, the wisteria at Sandai Shrine are sometimes collectively known as 'shinamisato-no-fuji'. The wisteria of Sandai Shrine are notable for their twisting, lithe appearance, and make for a truly gratifying spectacle.
Hitoshi Ota was born in 1931. He was designated as a Living National Treasure for his 'kinma' work, which is an intangible cultural heritage.
Kinma uses woven bamboo as a base material, which is then layered with lacquer. Patterns are incised on this using a special carving knife or a Japanese sword and finally, the carved lines are filled with colored urushi. It is a traditional craft that has beautifully engraved lines.
In 1953, Hitoshi Ota was apprenticed to Joshin Isoi, known as the 'father' of Sanuki-urushi-chuko. Later, Hitoshi Ota developed his original style 'nunomebori-kinma' using 'rantai' (peeled bamboo or woven vines) as a base material.
He also used a wide variety of knives to make patterns. Ota, who has a sense of contemporary design, still creates colorful and beautiful pieces that are highly rated.
Akebia vine craft is a Traditional handicraft of Aomori Pref. The cordially knotted craft warms our heart. The making of this craftwork started in the late Edo period, when the local people began to make charcoal baskets and swagger baskets of locally obtained akebia-vine as souvenirs for spa visitors of Dake Hot Spring at the foot of Mt. Iwaki. In the Meiji period, it fascinated a lot of people through domestic and overseas exhibitions. Handwork of careful knotting gives this craft the simple but warm hue and feel which can be found in nature. At present geta (Japanese wooden footgear), shoulder bags, and ornaments are also made. Various items including daily articles are favored by the people who know the “real” things.