Kannonji Castle was located in Kinugasayama, a 432.7 meter low mountain popularly called Kannonjiyama, in Azuchi Town in Shiga Prefecture. It is a nationally designated Historic Site.
The origin of the castle is not clear, but it had been resided by generations of the Sasaki clan, the governor of Omi province. After the Sasaki clan was divided into the two clans, the Rokkaku clan and the Kyogoku clan, the Rokkaku clan lived in the castle. In 1568, during the time of Rokkaku Yoshikata and his son, Yoshiharu, the castle was attacked by Oda Nobunaga, who was on his way to Kyoto. The castle fell and dismantled.
Covering the whole mountain as the castle area, it is one of the few largest-scaled mountain castles in the Middle Ages in Japan. The ruins of stone works and earthworks remaining everywhere in the mountain suggest that the castle had many large and small compounds. The wall made of huge stones can be seen around Kannonjisho Temple, a Holy Place of the Saigoku Pilgrimage, near the top of the mountain. The mountain path serves as a good hiking course today.
Kamezuka Tomb is located at the eastern end of Niyuu Plateau which is on the left bank of the estuary of Niyuu River that runs through Sakanoichi Town, Ooita, Ooita Prefecture.
The tomb is a keyhole-shaped tumulus with the front facade facing southwards. It is thought to be built in the early 5th century during the Tumulus period. There are scores of other burial mounds nearby and the whole area is now recognized as a Kamezuka Tomb Cluster.
The tomb is built on three levels, and has a total length of 120m, with its rounded rear part 64m wide. It is known as the largest keyhole-shaped tumulus in Oita Prefecture.
In ancient times, the area was controlled by the Amabenotami people who ruled Bungo Channel, traveling and trading freely through it, leading to a theory that Kamezuka Tomb belongs to the head of Amabenotami.
In 1996, the tomb was designated as a historic location and excavation began. More than 150 artifacts were found there including Magatama, earthenware, glass beads, swords and compasses.
After the excavation, the area was restored as a park with replica Haniwa burial mound figurines, so visitors can imagine the ancient times in their heyday.
Goshiki-dai Plateau, located in the border of Takamatsu City and Sakaide City in Kagawa Prefecture, is the lava mass composed of five peaks. The five peaks are slightly different in color; hereby they were named Black Peak, Blue Peak, White Peak, Yellow Peak and Red Peak according to the five colors of Buddhism.
Driving on the road running on the hillside, you can enjoy fine views of the Seto Inland Sea and the mountains in Okayama Prefecture. You can also enjoy the seasonal changes in scenery including wild birds and azalea in spring and crimson foliage and orange picking in fall. The walking trails, the grass land and camping sites are provided on the hillside. You can also visit Kagawa Natural Science Museum and The Seto Inland Sea Folk History Museum (consolidated into Kagawa Prefectural Museum in April, 2008).
White Peak located in the western part of the plateau is presumed to have been where the retired emperor Sutoku, who had been defeated in the Hogen Rebellion and exiled to this province, was cremated. Many historic sites concerning the retired emperor remain in the mountain.
The Group of Tile Kiln Site at Hinodeyama
The group of tile kilns was excavated at Hinodeyama Hill in Shikama Town, Miyagi Prefecture. They are thought to have been the ruins of one of the few roof tile producing factories in the ancient Tohoku region. The site is designated as a Historic Site by the national government.
It is thought that the roof tiles for Tagajo Fort, which was the administrative center of the Tohoku region in the early Nara period (710-794), were produced at these kilns. Up to the present, 6 sites have been confirmed and 7 kilns are preserved in the site, which is presently arranged into a history park, where azalea trees and green turf create fresh green oasis. You can see large holes dug in the slope of the hill located in the tranquil countryside.
The excavated roof tiles include the half-round eave-end pendant tile with a lotus pattern with double layered petals, the concave rectangular pendant tiles with a pattern of parallel lines, half-round tiles, and broad concave tiles. Besides roof tiles, pieces of Sueki pottery were found. From the bottom of the Sueki vessels and the kodai-foot, it can be seen that the static thread method, in which the vessel is cut from the wheel head with thread, was employed.
The Kido tile kiln ruins site in Tajiri Numabe in Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a designated national Historic Site. It was revealed from the research conducted in 1958 and 1974 that these are the ruins of the cave kilns to produce roof tiles for Tagajo Fort at the time of its first construction in the early 8th century.
The excavated roof tiles include the half-round eave-end pendant tile with a lotus pattern with double layered petals, the concave rectangular pendant tiles with a pattern of parallel lines, half-round eave tiles, rectangular eave tiles, half-round tiles, broad concave tiles and oni-gawara (ridge-end tiles).
Also a broad concave tile inscribed with the name of the head of a sub-village composed of 200 families in the Osabe village (ri) in the Nakamura sub-county (go) in a certain county was found from the surface of the ground. This is an academically interesting historical datum to show that the central government’s system of Go-ri (sub-county and village) and its military system had already been introduced in this area, which is as far as 40 km away from Tagajo Fort, the administrative center of the time.
Azuchi Castle at the foot of Azuchiyama, a 199 meter hill, on the shores of Lake Biwa in Omi Province (present-day Shiga Prefecture) was the primary castle of Oda Nobunaga, a major daimyo in the Warring States period (1493-1573). The Azuchi-Momoyama Period of Japanese history takes its name from this castle. Azuchi Castle took three years to build, between 1576 and 1579, under the supervision of Niwa Nagahide, a retainer of Nobunaga.
As Oda Nobunaga’s best expression of his power and influence on Japan, the castle had the magnificent donjon and many other gorgeous structures. Unfortunately, the castle existed for only three years for Oda Nobunaga died in 1582, when being betrayed and attacked by one of his retainers, Akechi Mitsuhide. After his death, the castle was burnt down for unknown reason.
All that remains of the castle today is the stone base. Deep stone walls, a lot of cornerstones, stone images of Buddha used for lining the paths and the remaining Nio-mon gate; all tells us of the grand vision conceived by Nobunaga. The castle ruins site is nationally designated as a Special Historic Site, where repairwork was given to stone steps and excavations and researches have been made on the donjon and the main castle.
Shinshoin Temple located in Dai-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo is a Soto sect temple worshipping Shakamuni Nyorai. As one of Hachioji Shichifukujin (the Seven Lucky Deities), it also worships Hotei-son.
The temple is deeply related to Matsuhime, a sixth daughter of Takeda Shingen. Matsuhime was born in 1561. At the age of seven, she was engaged to eleven-year-old Oda Nobutada, a son of Oda Nobunaga. But later, when the Takeda clan and the Oda clan got hostile to each other, the engagement was broken off. When the Oda forces invaded into the territory of Takeda clan in 1582, Matsuhime took refuge to Hachioji, where she visited the priest, Tozan Shunetsu at Shingenji Temple and became a nun with a Buddhist name of Shinsho. It is said that Shinshoin Temple originates in a hermitage where the nun Shinsho lived and spent the rest of her life as a Buddhist.
In the precinct is the nun Shinsho’s grave, which is a city’s designated Historic Site. There are also the wooden model ships used in Hideyoshi’s Korean invasion displayed in the precinct. The temple is thronged with visitors when the ground cherry market is held in July every year.
Kinu no Michi, or Japanese Silk Road, is a highway connecting Hachiouji City to Tokyo and Yokohama City of Kanagawa Prefecture and it follows the same journey as today’s Route 16.
Hachiouji City had been known as Souto (translated as the city of mulberry) since old times and thrived with the production of raw silk. In 1859, as Yokohama opened its port to limited foreign trade, raw silk became an important export and Hachiouji became a vital hub for raw silk merchants from Nagano and Yamanashi area.
The road frequently used for the raw silk trade was called Yarimizu-kaidou or Hama-kaidou, but because the road was what the Silk Road was to the Asian continent, it later became known as Kinu no Michi, or Japanese Silk Road.
The road has been recognized for its historical importance and some parts of the road and vicinity were restored and preserved. In Yarimizu region of Hachiouji, there is the Silk Road Museum built inside the ruins of the mansion of a famous raw silk merchant.
The Silk Road is a valuable historical record that has many stories to tell of the silk trade merchants in late Edo period and the Meiji era to this day.