Saie-Hiogi is a crescent folding fan with blades made of Japanese cypress wood. Hiogi fans were made in the Heian period (794-1192) as the accessory used by the nobility on formal occasions in the Imperial court. The number of blades differed according to the rank of the person who carried the fan. At the present time, there are only seven Hiogi fans remain; one at Atsuta Jingu Shrine, five at Itsukushima Shrine and one at Asuka Shrine in Kumano.
Gofun (powder made from oyster shells) solution is applied as the base coat onto slats of cypress wood threaded with silk. Then after applying mica, pieces of gold and silver leaf and foil are sprinkled on the surface, where colorful pictures are painted with Iwaenogu (mineral pigment).
The motifs of Kachofugetsu (flowers, birds, wind, and moon), noblemen and court ladies are painted in well-mellowed brush strokes. Saie-Hiogi fan was not only an implement but also a work of art that was like a picture scroll. The existing Saie-Hiogi fans are designated as either National Important Cultural Properties or National Treasures.
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.
Nakatsu Bansho-en is a wonderful daimyo garden located on the beach at the river mouth of the Kanakura River, which runs through Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture. It was built in 1688 by the 2nd lord of the Marugame domain, Kyogoku Takatoyo as a villa called “Nakatsu Bekkan”
There are about 1,500 pine trees including a 600-yea-old large stone pine. With 8 islets respectively named “Sail,” “Goose,” “Snow,” “Rain,” “Mist on a Fine Day,” “Moon,” and “the Evening Glow” set out in the pond, this strolling garden was constructed to emulate the Eight Fine Views in Omi (present-day Shiga Prefecture), which was the hometown of the Kyogoku family.
There are the main house and the tea house by the pond. In the garden are also Marugame Museum, where paintings of the Barbizon School and Japanese-style paintings are exhibited, Porcelain Center of the 13th century pottery works, and Hiina Doll House, where hina-dolls, combs and Japanese hair pins are displayed.
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.
It is said that Hyozu Taisha Shrine in Nosu City, Shiga Prefecture, was founded during the Nara period (710-794). As its name Hyozu literally means “the master of soldiers,” it had been worshipped by the Imperial Court and the warrior class.
The shrine treasure varies from weapons to Buddha’s ashes, which is the reminder of Shinbutsu Shugo (the fusion of Shinto and Buddhism). The vermillion main gate magnificently awaits visitors. It is said to have been dedicated by Ashikaga Takauji and the Japanese ink writing on a rafter shows that it was constructed in 1550. It is a 1-bay and 1-entrance well-balanced gate in Irimoya-zukuri style, which is prefecturally designated as a tangible cultural property.
Beyond the gravel path is the Haiden Hall (oratory). The red thick rope hanging from Waniguchi (the bronze gong) is very impressive. Its magnificent garden was constructed in the Heian period (794-1192). It is a pond-stroll garden. The ground covered with a moss carpet looks superb especially in the rainy season. From the middle to the end of November, the tinted autumn leaves are lit up for night visitors.
Yashima in the northeastern part of Takamatsu City in Kagawa Prefecture is where the Heike built a fortress after a long string of defeats by the Genji and fought a fierce battle of Yashima with the forces led by Minamoto no Yoshitsune in 1185.
Shikoku Minka Museum located in this town of Yashima is an open-air museum, where old rural houses and other historic buildings from various parts of Shikoku have been transported and rebuilt to create a townscape of the old days. The restored buildings include an old guard station and the store house of the Marugame domain, and the Farmers’ Kabuki Theater, which is a very precious historic building and a prefecturally designated cultural property.
You can walk from house to house along the promenade. On the southern hillside is an art museum Shikoku Gallery, where a lot of works of art collected by the founder of Shikoku Minka Museum are exhibited. A beautiful water garden can be viewed from its balcony.
Chinkin is the technique of decorating lacquerware by carving patterns into the lacquered surface using a special chisel called “chinkin-to,” then gold leaf or powder is inlayed into the curved design. The technique is said to have been introduced from China in the Muromachi period. It is the traditional handicraft in Wajima City, Ishikawa Pref. Fumio Mae (1940-), the holder of National Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure) in Chinkin, studied under a master craftsman and his father, Tokuji Mae after his graduation from the Japanese Painting Department of Kanazawa College of Art in 1963. He advanced his studies in Chinkin-to chisels and even contrived his own chisels. Using a variety of excellent Chinkin techniques, he has created original, sensitive and expressive works. He is also contributing to the technical training in lacquering at the Wajima Lacquer Technique Training Center.
This craft involves the carving of natural semiprecious stone for art objects, craft products and accessories. Its techniques in carving and polishing have developed throughout a long history and highly appreciated not only in Japan but also in many other countries.
This craft started in the Heian period (794-1192), when quartz was found in the deep mountain beyond Mitake Shosenkyo Gorge. When it was first discovered, it was used as an ornament, but by the Edo period (1603-1868), master craftsmen from Kyoto were invited to this area and they taught local craftsmen the techniques of making raw material into gems, which developed into the present Koshu crystal carving.
The production reached its peak with export growth in the postwar period, but today ornaments and items of jewelry for domestic customers are being produced. Many of these pieces have been created to make the most of the transparent colors and brilliance of the natural gem stone. They are not merely beautiful but have an uplifting feeling and sense of being alive.