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.
Looking as if it has no connection to this world, Kannonshoji Temple stands quietly near the top of Mt. Kinugasa, a 433 meter high mountain located on the eastern side of Lake Biwa. The temple is the 32nd of the Saigoku 33 Pilgrimage Temples, which are located in 6 prefectures in the Kinki region and Gifu Prefecture. This pilgrim route is said to be Japan’s oldest pilgrim route.
According to the temple record, Kannonshoji Temple was founded by Prince Shotoku (574-622). Then, in the Kamakura (1192-1333) and Muromachi (1336-1573) periods, it thrived under the protection of the Rokkaku clan and gained power of influence. During these periods, there were as many as 33 attached temples in the mountain.
In the later periods, the temple was involved in wars and relocated to another place. However, in 1597, it was moved again to its original location. Though having receded into the background today, the temple is visited by a lot of worshippers who offer prayers for good relationship in life.
Mt. Himetsugi in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture is a mountain with an altitude of 1433 m above sea level. This mountain is on the route of Tokai Shizen Hodo (the Tokai Nature Path) and is the highest peak on the trail from Aonohara in Tsukui-cho through the mountains of Yakeyama and Kibigarayama to Inukoe Pass.
It is said that the name “Hime-tsugi” is derived from the story that once upon a time a daughter of a samurai, Oyamade Hachizaemon, who had fought on the Takeda forces and was defeated in the Battle of Tenmokusan, escaped from the soldiers of the Nobunaga and Ieyasu’s forces and committed suicide by stabbing a dagger into the throat in this mountain. Since then people called this mountain “Hime-tsuki (literally meaning “stabbing of a highborn girl”), which has been corrupted into “Himetsugi.”
The summit of Mt. Himetsugi has a bright and refreshing atmosphere, where you can command a fine view of Mt. Fuji and Lake Miyagase. The larch forest of this mountain is selected as one of Kanagawa’s 50 Excellent Forests. It provides hikers with fresh green in spring through summer and crimson foliage in fall.
Mt. Hinokiboramaru with an altitude of 1601 m is on the border of Tsukui-cho in Sagamihara City and Yamakita-cho in Ashigara-Kami-gun in Kanagawa Prefecture. It is the second highest peak in the Tanzawa Mountains after 1673 m Mt. Hirugatake. Though located in the center of the deepest mountains in the western part of the Tanzawa Mountains, a finely arranged mountain trail is provided and there are no such places as you might loose your way or get into trouble.
The name “Hinokiboramaru” comes from the stream named “Hinokibora,” a feeder stream of the Kurokura River, which flows out of this mountain down to the south.
The area near the top of the mountain is the virgin forest of beech trees. The contrast between greenish yellow young leaves and the trunks with white spots is very beautiful. The beech forest is selected as one of Kanagawa’s 50 Excellent Forests. On the south side of the mountain is the colony of Shiroyashio-tsutsuji (Rhododendron quinquefolium). At the end of May every year, the mountain is jammed with people who come to enjoy viewing these cute flowers. Mt. Hinokiboramaru is one of the most popular mountains in the Tanzawa Mountains.
Ono Castle, also called Miyayama Castle, was located at the top of Mt. Seikai in Tokoname City, Aichi Prefecture. The castle was resided first by the Ono clan, the descendant of the Owari-Genji family, then the Isshiki clan, and finally the four generations of the Saji clan.
The Saji clan built up Chita Suigun (the naval forces) and played an important role in promoting maritime trade and controlling marine transportation in Ise Bay. Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi placed great importance on their naval power and Nobunaga’s sister and niece were married off to the Saji clan.
Nobunaga’s niece, Ogo (or Oeyo), whose mother is Nobunaga’s sister Oichi, was married to Saji Kazunari, the 4th head of the Saji clan, by the order of Hideyoshi. However, when Kazunari sided with the Tokugawa and Oda allied forces later, Hideyoshi got angry and made the couple get divorced in 1584. Later in 1595, she remarried Tokugawa Hidetada, the 3rd son of Ieyasu and later the 2nd Tokugawa Shogun, and became the mother of his successor, Iemitsu.
The castle ruins site has been arranged into the park, where the two-story donjon and the castle gate were newly constructed. You can command a wonderful view of Ise Bay from the observatory deck on the donjon. The Saji clan is enshrined at Saji Shrine in the ruins site of the watch tower.
Mt. Rebun is a relatively low mountain with an altitude of 490 m located on Rebun Island in Rishiri-Rebub-Sarobetsu National Park in the northwestern end of Hokkaido. Rebun Island is a flat island composed of hills and coastal terraces. A variety of alpine plants grow from above sea level due to its high latitude, the island is called “the Island of Flowers.”
Mt. Rebundake is nearly at the center of this longish island. It is counted as one of the 100 beautiful mountains in Hokkaido. Two hours’ walk through the woods of Erman's Birch Sakhalin fir will lead you to the top of the mountain. As the access to the summit is not very difficult, it is visited by a lot of tourists.
In summer, more than 300 species of plants including bunchberry dogwood (Chamaepericlymenum canadense), Isotsutsuji (Ledum palustre var. diversipilosum) and Ezo-suzuran (Epipactis papillosa) come into bloom. However, as the wind is very cold, you must be attentive to your clothes. The 360-degree view from the summit is just magnificent. The emerald green ocean spreads beyond green hills below. Rishiri Fuji on Rishiri Island ―and Teuri Island together with the tip of Sakhalin on a fine day― can bee viewed in the southeastern direction.
Mt. Iinoyama, 422 m above sea level, is a beautiful conical mountain in the border of Marugame City and Sakaide City in Kagawa Prefecture. Being called “Sanuki Fuji,” this fine-shaped mountain has been turned in to verses by many poets including Priest Saigyo and Takahama Kyoshi in the old times and Emperor Showa in the modern times. At the top of the mountain, the stone monument inscribed with the Emperor’s poem is erected.
The way to the mountain top is a good hiking course, where you can enjoy flowers of wisteria, peony and lespedeza in each season. A gigantic stone “Ojyomo no Ashiato (footprint of a legendary giant)” on the way is what to see. From the top of the mountain, you can command a panoramic view of the mountains in Sanuki Plain such as Mt. Nekoyama, Mt. Otakamine and Mt. Oasayama, beyond which the Seto-Ohashi Bridge and the Seto Inland Sea are seen.
Ichigoyama Castle is located at the eastern peak of Mt. Ushibuse (491 m) in Yoshii-cho, Gunma Pref. It is said that the castle was built in the late Muromachi period (1336-1573) as an attached castle of Hirai Castle, which was resided by the Uesugi clan. Located at the top of such a high peak, the castle is thought to have been used as a base to send smoke signals during the Warring States period (1493-1573). The castle fell in 1563 by the attack of Takeda Shingen. It is presumed that several outer compounds separated by dry moats were constructed but there are almost no ruins remaining now. The area was arranged into Ushibuseyama Natural Park to provide citizens with recreation and relaxation. On the castle ruin stands a three-story mock donjon with a commercial museum of Yoshii-cho on the 1st floor, a historical museum on the 2nd floor, and an observatory on the 3rd floor, from which visitors can command a 360°panoramic view.