Jubako lunch boxes come in various shapes such as cylindrical or hexagonal, but the most common is square.
Jubako are basically lunch boxes for food. They may have up to 5 layers. Officially, these layers represent the 4 seasons, so there are usually only 4 layers. Jubako may hold special food such as 'osechi' at New Year, or for hanami cherry-blossom-viewing picnics, or during athletic festivals.
It is believed that jubako developed from 'food baskets' ('shilong') introduced from China. However, there are references to lunch boxes in Muromachi-period documents, therefore, it could be said that jubako have a long history.
During the Edo period, jubako came to be used by common people, too, and their real manufacture began in 1610. Samurai and daimyo used them as lunch boxes during leisure outings, such as hunting expeditions. Later, they started to be lacquered and decorated. Even now, this traditional item is commonly used in Japan.
Akasaka Dolls are clay dolls made in Akasaka, Chikugo City, Fukuoka Pref. It is designated as a prefectural specialty craft product. Three is no record about a precise history of this handicraft and its origin is unknown but it is presumed that those dolls were first made as an odd job of the potters who worked for the official kilns of Arima Province in the middle of the Edo period. The most famous one is an ocarina called “Tette-Poppo (meaning an awkward man in the local dialect), which was popular among children in those days. Now there are more than ten kinds of dolls including Fukujin (a lucky god), Tenjin (a god of scholarship), and a monkey. The doll is made by applying white pigment made of burnt seashell to a simple brown ware, to which colorful painting is given. It is a very simple clay doll but its simplicity reminds us of childish innocence. It is the representative traditional folk craft in Chikugo area.
Lake Biwa was formed about four million years ago and is the third oldest lake in the world behind Lake Baikal and Lake Tanganyika. It is one of only 10 ancient lakes in the world. It is also the biggest lake in Japan.
In the Muromachi period, Konoeno Masaie, one of the then emperor's chief advisers, selected the Eight Views of Omi around the lake, following the Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang around Lake Dongting in China.
Unfortunately, the appearance of the scenery has completely changed today. But for the Eight Major Views of Lake Biwa that were selected in 1950, the scenery has not changed much.
The present eight scenic views include:
*Morning fog, rocks in Nedu-Osaki (Takashima City)
*Cool wind, white beach in Omatsuzaki (Otsu City)
*Drizzle, trees in Hiei (Otsu City)
*Evening sunlight, clear stream in Seda, Ishiyama (Otsu City)
*New snow, spectacle of Mt Shizuka (Kinomoto Town)
*Deep green, shadow of Takebu Island (Nagahama City)
*Bright moon, old castle in Hikone (Hikone City)
*Spring color, Azuchi-Hachiman's waterfront (Azuchi Town, Omi-Hachiman City)
You can enjoy these various scenic sights, too, and be moved by their magnificence, as well as walk around the castle town reading about its history.
Misu-Oji Shrine is a historic site located in Tanabe City, Wakayama Pref. It is a part of World Heritage “Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes,” and one of the Kumano Kuju-ku (ninety-nine) Oji Shrines, which were small shrines along Kumano ancient pilgrimage routes in the Heian and Kamakura periods (794-1333). Actually there were more than 100 such small shrines existing on the routes at some time, so 99 meant “numerous.”
Misu Oji is referred to in many writings such as “Kumano-michi no Aida Guki,” Fujiwara no Teika’s diary and “Shumeimonin Kumano Gyokoki” by Fujiwara no Yorisuke in 1210. Misu-Oji was once declined but restored as Kagemi-Oji in the Edo period (1603-1868). The ruin of Misu-Oji shrine remains in the precinct of Misu Shrine.
In the ancient times, a Japanese sword was more than a weapon for a samurai warrior. It was the symbol of “the soul of bushi.” Therefore, to keep a sword always sharp, polished and serene represented the bushi’s heart and pride. A bushi warrior sat in front of his sword and silently asked for a teaching when he was in doubt or in trouble. Today Japanese swords are loved by a lot of people all over the world as works of art. The name “Japanese sword” can be seen an old record in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) in China, and it is said that Japanese swords were already exported to foreign countries as early as in the Heian to Kamakura periods. Akitsugu Amata (1927-), a contemporary master swordsmith in Niigata Pref. was designated as the holder of National Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure) in 1997. He was fascinated by fine swords made in the Kamakura period and since then he has been making efforts to realize his goal of duplicating the ancient steel to create an excellent sword. He has visited the ruins of ancient iron mills and made several experiments to make iron with the duplicated blast furnaces. He is still making persistent efforts to create his ideal sword.
Kijo Castle is a Korean-style fortress located on the 400m-high peak of Kijo. It is situated in what is today the Okayama Prefecture town of Sōja.
According to the 'History of Kijo', the castle is the origin of ogres, which appear in the legend of Momotaro. The castle is also believed to be the provenance of the same legend. There is a story that Ura, the prince of Baekje, came to Kibi and founded a country. Later he brewed up some mischief, and seized supplies as well as women and children to send to his country. As a result, people were terrified and named Kijo 'the castle of ogres'.
The fortress extends some 2.8km round on land of about 30 hectares. It is a perfect place for hiking, and from the peak, the whole country of Kibi can be seen.
Shiki-do located in Matsuyama City, Ehime Pref. is a sightseeing facility concerned with the great poet Shiki Masaoka. The eight-jo shioin (reception room) of the house where Shiki spent his first 17 years was removed and rebuilt in the precincts of Shouju-ji Temple. Inside the house is a corner that reproduces Shiki’s childhood study room, where his favorite low desk, zabuton (a cushion for sitting) and ink brushes are displayed as they were. Also the house functions as a literary museum with the exhibition of very precious documentation including his posthumous work of calligraphy, photos and literary documents. In the precincts of the temple, monuments related to Kyoshi Takahama and Meisetsu Naito, and the passenger coach commonly named “Bocchan train” which Soseki described it as “a train like a matchbox” in his novel, all of which creates a lot of atmosphere unique to Matsuyama, a city of haiku. Shiki-do was designated as a prefecture’s Historical Site in 1948.