Kaiko no Mori, located in Uzumasa, Kyoto, is officially called Konoshimanimasu-amateru-mitama Shrine. It is also affectionately known as Konoshima Shrine by the local people.
It is believed that this shrine was built in the year 604. Kaiko no Mori, which means “silkworm shrine”, was thought by Hatashi, an expatriate from the Korean Peninsula, to be the location of the deity of sericulture, or silkworm raising and also the deity of the textile industry. The shrine was burned in a number of wars and the current structure was most likely restored after the Meiji period.
In the west of the shrine is a spring-water pond called Mototadasu Pond. In the middle of this pond stands a torii called Mihashira Torii. Torii are large gates, erected at the entrance to Shinto Shrines or other sacred places. The Mihashira torii has an unusual design and it is considered one of the “Kyoto Three Torii”. It has three columns and it looks triangle-shaped from above. In the middle is a holly seat where the spirit of the deity sits. The origin of the torii is not known, but the current torii is thought to have been built in 1831.
Kaiko no Mori still has many followers especially from the silk-reeling industry. It is also worshiped as the location of the guardian deity of the town.
One of the major highlights of summer in Miyajima is the Miyajima Water Fireworks Festival held on August 14 every year in the offing of Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima, one of Japan’s Three Finest Views. More than 100 water fireworks are shot up into the air from the fireworks boats offshore and burst with a bang.
It is famous as a unique fireworks display, and spectators enjoy this fantastic night view from more then 500 boats offshore. Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage Site, is famous for its Otorii (Grand Gate) standing in the Seto Inland Sea. A lot of photographers, both professionals and amateurs, are eager to take pictures of the vermillion torii gate and shrine buildings fantastically lit up in the night sky.
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.
Bengara is inorganic red pigment whose main ingredient is iron oxide, Fe2O3, and it is the oldest coloring agent known to mankind.
Bengara is written弁柄, in some cases紅殻, in Kanji and is also known as Indian Red and Venetian Red.
Bengara was thought to be introduced from China, via the Korean peninsula, into Okinawa. The name Bengara was believed to have been derived from Bengal, the Indian province that most of the iron oxide came from.
Bengara’s ingredient, iron oxide Fe2O3, was produced naturally more than any other iron oxide based coloring agents. However because its mineral composition is very similar to that of red rust from iron, nowadays artificially composed dyes have become more common than naturally produced ones. Nariwa-cho, Takahashi, Okayama Prefecture, is the only remaining place in Japan that still produces Bengara naturally.
In ancient time, Bengara was rare and much treasured as a noble color. Shuri Castle in Okinawa is known to have Bengara red color. Because Bengara was superior for coloring and sealing as well as resistant to heat and water, it was applied to wooden buildings to prevent aging damage.
The color of Bengara might lack certain brightness more common in other red based pigments, but its flamboyance today still keeps holding people’s affection.
Hiyoshi Shrine in Aoki Village in Nagano Prefecture is considered to have been founded during the Nanbokucho period (1336-1392). Its very unique architectural style was highly evaluated and it was designated as a Prefectural Treasure in 1990.
Honden (the main hall) is built in the 5-bay wide flowing style without front entrance steps leading to the door of the sanctum. It has a copper gable roof, having a long extended front slope with a flowing curve covering the veranda. It is characterized by the long shape from side to side, and uniquely the building has only one door in the middle. It used to be painted in bright vermillion, but now all the paint has come off and the wood building material has revealed its natural color, which creates a sedate atmosphere.
Nakano Shrine is located in Nakano, Tsukui-cho, Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture. The enshrined deities are Mihosusumi no Mikoto, Toyoukehime no Mikoto and Takuhata Chijime no Mikoto. It is said that the shrine was founded in 835 and restored in 1571. The main hall is made of Japanese cypress wood and decorated with relief carvings. The shrine is known for its annual festival with a history of 300 years, which is held on the 4th weekend of July every year. In this festival, six floats march in the town with a portable shrine. The competition of the floats carrying Oayashi musicians on the stages is very powerful. On New Year’s Day, visitors can experience “Chinowa Kuguri,” in which sins and dirtiness are expelled by walking through a large ring made of thatch. Though old, Nakano Shrine is still visited by a lot of local worshippers today.
Ose Shrine is in Nishiura Enashi in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture. As it enshrines Hikitajikara no Mikoto, it is formally named Hikitajikara no Mikoto Shrine. It is also called Ose Myojin Shrine.
The origin of the shrine is not identified, but, according to one story, the shrine was founded because, when an island called Biwashima emerged by the elevation of the sea bottom due to a big earthquake in 684, the local people believed that the god had pulled land from Tosa province (present-day Kochi Prefecture), where a lot of land sank into the sea by the same earthquake.
The enshrined deity, Hikitajikara no Mikoto, is known as the guardian god of the sea and has been worshipped by fishermen in Suruga Bay. A lot of Ema-plates depicting fishing activities in the old days and model fishing-ships made by ancient fishing people preserved at the shrine. These votive items are considered historically precious and prefecturally designated as a tangible folk cultural property.
Kami-ike Pond in the precinct is counted as one of the Seven Wonders in Izu because it is a fresh-water pond in spite of being located just by the sea.
There are two shrines standing next to each other in the town of Asuke in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture. The larger one is Asuke Hachimangu Shrine, which is a historic shrine founded in 652, and the smaller is Asuke Shrine, a relatively new shrine founded in 1902.
The enshrined deity at Asuke Shrine is Asuke Shigenori, the feudal lord of this area in the late Kamakura period (1192-1333). He fought on the side of Emperor Go-Daigo and was besieged in a castle in Mt. Kasagiyama in Kyoto to resist the Kamakura Shogunate forces. Feared as a dauntless general and a master-hand at archery, he fiercely fought in the battles but was finally captured and beheaded at Rokujo-Kawara in Kyoto.
Asuke Town has been famous for archery since the ancient times. Beside the torii gate of Asuke Shrine stands “Goose Monument,” a stone monument inscribed with a haiku poem on the deathbed composed by a person named Kyuemon, who had mistakenly shot a goose and entered the priesthood. The poem goes “Precedent death of a goose // blazed my way // to the Pure Land.”