Mikami Shrine enshrines Mt. Mikami or popularly called Omi-Fiji, a 432 m conical mountain in Shiga Prefecture, and Amenomikage no Kami, the guardian deity of old Omi province and the deity of blacksmith and blade smith.
The main hall constructed in the Kamakura period (1192-1333) is a very unique building in the style called Mikami-zukuri, in which the architectural styles for shrines, temples and residences are combined together. The Buddhism architectural style can be seen in its 3-bay structure, the Irimoya-zukuri roof, white walls and lattice windows. As one of the oldest shrine building in the Irimoya-zukuri style, it was designated as a National Treasure in 1952. The Haiden Hall (oratory), the main gate, the main hall of an attached shrine, Wakamiya Shrine, and the wooden Chinese dog are nationally designated as Important Cultural Properties.
Zuiki Festival is held at this shrine in the middle of October every year. The word “zuiki” means the stem of a taro potato. Every year five Mikoshi (portable shrine), which are made of zuiki and decorated with vegetables, persimmon leaves and chestnuts, are dedicated to the shrine to express gratitude for the year’s crop.
Lake Jusan is a brackish lake on the Sea of Japan in Goshogawara City in Aomori Prefecture. It is also called Jusan-gata. With a circumference of 30 km, an area of 2,060 ha and a depth of 3 m, it is the 3rd largest lake in the prefecture. It is known for a collecting ground for common clams (Corbiculidae).
The excavation research carried out in the 1990s revealed that Tosaminato, a legendary port city, which existed from the late 12th to the 15th centuries, was located on the sand bar between this lake and the Sea of Japan. As the home ground of the Abe and Ando clans, the powerful warrior families in the Tsugaru region, the city was prosperous as a port city, where international trade was actively carried on. It declined in the late 15th century with the ruin of the Ando clan.
A lot of historic sites, which prove the prosperity enjoyed by the Ando clan, remain in the area around Lake Jusan. Those include Sannobo Hie Shrine with the double Torii gate in Kyoto-style and the thirteen attached temples and Fukushima Castle ruins, where the Ando clan had resided.
The Nageta Kagura dance is a traditional folk performing art handed down in Ishikoshi Town in Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture. It is performed to pray for peace and stability of the country and a rich harvest of the year. Nageta Kagura is designated as an important intangible cultural property by the city.
Nageta Kagura belongs to the Izumo-styled Kagura dance, to which the elements of Nanbu kagura dance were added. The Izumo-styled kagura dance is composed of three phases; the ritual play “Okina” of the traditional Nohgaku, the “torimonomai” used in Shichiza rituals and Shinno (sacred Noh), which is a masked performance of sacred myths and shrine omens. It spread from the Izumo region to all over the country including the Tohoku region, where it was combined with the local Nanbu Kagura dance.
The Nanbu kagura dances have been danced mainly in the areas from the northern part of Iwate Prefecture to the southern part of Miyagi Prefecture. It is composed of the Shikimai ritual dances and drama plays, in which local legends and folk tales are expressed both with dancing and chanting.
The repertories of Nageta Kagura include Ushiwakamaru, Sanbaso, Godai-Ryuo (the five dragon gods), the Kamioroshi dance (the dance to ask the god to descent to their land) and the Bird Dance. Presently the Nageta Kagura troupe has delivered some innovative performances such as the collaboration with the Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra.
Miyazaki lacquer ware (Miyazaki Shikki) is a traditional handicraft, which is designated as a Traditional Craft Product by Miyazaki Prefecture. The history of this craft originates in Ryukyu lacquer ware, which started in present-day Okinawa in the Muromachi period (1336-1573), and the techniques of which we can see in the Shuri Castle Gate in Naha City.
In Miyazaki Prefecture, the lacquering techniques were introduced by some lacquerers, who came to live in this prefecture from Okinawa. Lacquering industry started in this area as the means of promoting local employment and developed as far as to produce the independent lacquer ware Miyazaki Shikki.
The high temperatures and ample humidity of Miyazaki's climate are well suited for drying the pieces, which are applied several times of lacquering; undercoating, middle coating and top coating. These processes are essential for making products strong and durable.
The distinctive way of applying the decorative pattern called Tsuikin characterizes Miyazaki lacquer ware. In Tsuikin techniques, pigment is crushed and mixed with transparent top-coat lacquer and hit by a hammer until it becomes gummy. This is then cut out according to the patterns and attached to a base board.
The outstanding beauty of the vermillion patterns is treasured by a lot of people all over the country. Presently products such as trays, teacup holders, candy dishes and letter boxes are being made.
Tenporin Temple belongs to the Shingonshu Daigo Buddhist sect, and is located on the summit of Mt Kongo, the tallest mountain in the Kongo-Ikoma range in Nara Prefecture. The index of the temple's name is Mt Kongo. It was also once called the Ichijo Tenporin Temple.
This temple is a holy place for the mountain religion, and is also a training ground of Shugen for both the Tendai and Shingon sects.
Tenporin Temple was built in 666 by Enno-Gyoja (a Japanese ascetic and mystic) in order to deify Hoki Bosatsu. The Katsuragi Shrine was built to deify Hitokotonushinogami, which resulted in a sacred mountain where Shintoism and Buddhism mixed.
The mountain, which was once called Mt Katsuragi or Mt Takama in ancient times, changed its name to Mt Kongo by taking the index name of the Tenporin Temple.
Among the hills around the temple are many megaliths and ancient trees, such as fukuishi, kongogo and the meoto-sugi cedar. At the summit of Mt Kongo is an observatory, which faces Sennan. On clear days, there is a distant view of Kansai International Airport and Awaji Island.
Sumisaka Shrine is located along the Uda River in Haibara-ku, Uda, in Nara Prefecture. The shrine used to be located on the west path of the Amanomori (Forest of the Heavens) of Sumisaka, but, in 1499, it was transferred to its present site.
Until the Meiji period, the Amano Temple deified both Buddhist and Shinto gods, giving it alternative names such as Rokusha Gongen and Amano Shrine. The present enshrined deity is the Sumisaka Omiwa God, which is a generic name for the six pillars of the Amenominakanushinokami, Takamimusubinokami, Kamimusubinokami, Izanakinokami, Izanaminokami and the Omononushinokami. Legends told that during Emperor Sujin's imperial reign, an epidemic spread across his empire. However, if the sick person deified the god that appeared in their dreams, which was the Sumisaka Omiwa God, their illness would be cured instantly.
Every year in November, a festival called the Sumisaka Togyo Gyoretsu takes place, where a mikoshi (portable shrine) is carried, along with a red shield and red sword, from Sumisaka Shrine at its current location to its prior location in the Amanomori (Forest of the Heavens).
Yukata is the summer kimono made of lightweight cotton. The word “yukata” is the abbreviation for “yu (bath)-katabira (under clothing).” In the Heian period (794-1192), the noblemen wore yukatabira to prevent heat when they took a steam bath. Later in the Edo period (1603-1868), when a steam bath was replaced by the bathtub as is used today, Yukata, which absorbs sweat and has permeability to air, came to be worn as a summer kimono, a dressing gown, or night attire. At the present time, it is the most popular night wear at a Japanese ryokan (inn). The fabric designs vary from the traditional indigo plant patterns on a white background to more colorful designs. Polyester or blended fabric is also used. Since Yukata is easy to wear, it is the most popular kimono wear. The scene with people walking in Yukata is one of the charming sights of summer in Japan.