Kandaten Shrine located in Koshu City in Yamanashi Prefecture is a shrine pertaining to the Takeda clan. Enshrined are Susanoo no Mikoto and other seven deities. It is said that the shrine was founded in 842 by the provincial governor, Fujiwara Iseo, by the Imperial order. When Sugawara no Michizane was enshrined together in 1004, the kanji “suga (菅)” was borrowed and the shrine came to be called Kandaten (菅田天). In the precinct is the statue of Zagyu (lying cow), which is believed to be the messenger of Sugawara no Michizane.
During the Warring States period (1493-1573), the shrine was protected by the Takeda clan as the god to guard the ominous direction of the provincial capital. The shrine is known for the possession of Kozakura Kawaodoshi Yoroi, which was one of the 8 armors handed down to the descendants of the Genji (the Minamoto clan). This armor was so strong that the one who wore it didn’t have to use a shield, so it was called “Tate-nashi-no-yoroi (the armor without a shield).” It was handed down to the heads of the Takeda clan, one of the rightful descendant family of the Seiwa Genji, as the family treasure together with Japan’s oldest Rising Sun flag.
Kofuku (Good Luck and Wealth) Shrine in Hyuga City, Miyazaki Prefecture, was founded in 1776 by Ibi Tomijiro, the magistrate of Hida Magistrate’s Office, which managed “tenoryo (the Tokugawa Shogunate’s landholdings)” in Hyuga province (present-day Miyazaki Prefecture) as the guardian god of the branch office in Takatomi village. The deities of shrines ranked Sho-Ichii (the 1st of the 1st) in Fushimi (in present-day Kyoto) were collectively transferred as the main deity.
Later in 1868, the minor deities of local shrines were collectively enshrined and also Okuninushi no Mikoto, Kotoshironushi, Uka no Mitama (Inari God), Sukuna Hikona no Kami, Iwanagahime no Mikoto and Sugawara no Michizane were transferred. Of the shrine name, “ko (good luck)” derives from Inari God, the god of food and agriculture and “fuku (wealth)” from Okuninushi no Mikoto, the god of wealth.
A pair of camphor trees, which are said to be several hundred years old, stand in the precinct. They are called “Meoto Kusunoki (Husband and Wife Camphor Trees),” which finely matches the shrine name. As the symbol of the shrine, they are worshipped by visitors who wish a happy life.
Kiryu Tenmangu Shrine in Tenjin-cho, Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture is a historic shrine founded during the reign of Emperor Keiko (reigned 71-130) as Isobe Myojin Shrine. The enshrined deities are Amenohohi no Mikoto and Sugawara no Michizane. Later in the Kan'o era (around 1350), it was relocated to the present place, where the deity of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto was transferred, and renamed Kiryu Tenmangu Shrine. The shrine thrived during the Edo period (1603-1868), when it was designated as the oratory of the Tokugawa family and the textile fair was regularly held in the precinct.
The shrine building was constructed in 1793. As is called “the shrine on the rock,” its Honden (the main hall) and Heiden (the votive offerings hall) stand on the rock stratum. All the main buildings of the shrine (Honden, Heiden and Haiden) are collectively designated as a prefectural Important Cultural Property “Shaden (shrine buildings) of Kiryu Tenmangu” in that the best techniques in architecture decoration of the time were gathered in those buildings.
It is said that the Tenjin mask represents the furious countenance of Sugawara no Michizane, before he was deified. It is used for various heavenly gods including Michizane.
In the play “Raiden,” Michizane lost his position as Minister of the Right and was banished to Kyushu on account of an intrigue by a jealous Minister of the Left. Dying in rage, he transforms himself to Raijin, the god of lightening and thunder, and brings calamities to the court and capital, but was defeated by the Priest Hossho-bo from Enryakuji Temple on Mt. Hiei. As the emperor decided to deify him as Tenjin, the god of study, Michizane’s spirit is finally appeased.
The reddish coloring, the hair around the lips, the eyebrows, and the gold metal eyes give the mask an air of heightened emotions and movement. However, the mask's unassuming nose, thin lips, and open mouth exposing upper and lower teeth are simple and human-like.
The mask is also used to portray Idaten, who is a swift-footed deity, in the play “Shari,” and Amatsu Futodama, a deity who defeats the devil by using the golden tablet and the bow and arrow, in the play “Kinsatsu.”
Myogi Shrine is located in Myogi-machi, Tomioka City, Gunma Prefecture. The enshrined deities are Yamato Takeru no Mikoto, Toyouke no Okami and Sugawara no Michizane. It was founded in 537 at the foot of Mt. Hakuun, one of the peaks composing Mt. Myogi. The shrine had been worshipped by warriors as well as by the common people in the area. It was also deeply respected by the successive generations of the Shogun during the Edo period (1603-1868).
The present black-lacquered main hall in Irimoya-zukuri style with a copper roof and the Karamon and Somon gates with copper roofs were built in 1758. These structures are designated as national Important Cultural Properties. The elaborate carvings of dragons and Chinese phoenixes given to the buildings are said to have been done by the sculptor that worked for Nikko Toshogu Shrine.
The annual festivals are held on April 15th and October 15th. The over 200-year-old weeping cherry trees are in full bloom around the spring festival and the precinct is covered with red leaves around the autumn festival. As it was believed that Tengu lived in Mt. Myogi, visitors can get Tengu talismans at the shrine.
Kawagoe Castle Honmaru-Goten located in Kuruwa-machi, Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture is the only remaining structure of the Kawagoe Castle, which enjoyed the prosperity of 170,000 koku of rice in the Edo period (1603-1868). The castle was built in 1457 by Ota Doshin and his son, Dokan under the order of Uesugi Mochitomo, who wanted to suppress the movement of Koga Kubo (the governor general of the Kanto region), Ashikaga Nariuji. The Honmaru-Goten was built as the main castle in 1848 by Matsudaira Naritsune, the domain lord of the time.
Honmaru-Goten used to be composed of 16 buildings standing on the site of 3388 square meters, but most of them were dismantled after the Meiji Restoration. The entrance hall and the chief retainer's residence are the only reminding parts of the former Honmaru-Goten. In the hall remains the wooden sliding door with a painting of a pine tree on it, and the dolls of the retainers are placed in the chief retainer’s residence. The subdued luxury seen everywhere in the building represents the powerful daimyo’s life of the time.
Iwatsuki Park located in Iwatsuki-ku, Saitama City, Saitama Prefecture is a public park, which used to be the castle ground of Iwatsuki Castle.
It is believed that Iwatsuki Castle was built in 1457 by Ota Doshin and his son Dokan under the order of Uesugi Mochitomo, who wanted to suppress the movement of Koga Kubo (the governor general of the Kanto region), Ashikaga Nariuji. However, in the recent years, a newly founded historical record says that it was founded by Narita Shoto, a local minor domain lord and served for Koga Kubo, and this theory is thought to be more reliable now.
Surrounded with natural groves, the park has many ups and downs, where part of the earth work of the castle remains today. The park is one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing spots in the prefecture. The full-blown blossoms of 800 cherry trees seen from the vermillion Yatsuhashi Bridge (zig-zag bridge) over the iris pond is especially beautiful. It is also known as the place to see water lilies.
Here you can enjoy wonderful natural sights as well as various festivals and events all through the year including Cherry Blossom Festival, “nagashi-bina” ritual (drifting Hina dolls) and Ningyo Kuyo (a funeral mass for used dolls).
Ushigoe Festival held at Sugawara Shrine in Nishi-Kawakita, Ebino City, Miyazaki Pref. on July 28 every year is a unique festival, in which cows join in a competition. The festival is designated as an Intangible Cultural Property by the prefecture. As Sugawara Shrine was established by Sugawara Michimasa, the youngest son of Sugawara no Michizane, it is also called Ebino-shi Tenmangu.
Dozens of cows with collars on their necks, red blanket around their bodies and gohei (a ritual wand) made straw and white cloth on their back are encouraged to leap over a 4 m long log that is raised 50 cm above the ground. With the owner’s call, if a cow successfully jumps over the log, it will stay in a good health during the year. Ushigoe festival is a humorous and peaceful rite to express gratitude for the health of the livestock.