Sangasho Shrine located in Gokase-cho in the northwest part of Miyazaki Pref. in central Kyushu is a shrine famous for seasonal flowers. The shrine originates in the hokora (small shrine) at the top of Mt. Futagami, which is believed to be the place of Tenson Korin (the Sun goddess’ descent to earth). Later during the Shotai era (898-901) the hokora was moved to the foot of the mountain and Sangasho Shrine was founded. It enshrines the deities of Izanagi and Izanami. The shrine was rebuilt in 1571. The present Honden (main hall) built in 1817 is made of one zelkova tree and the excellent Nagare-zukuri style is employed there. Exquisite wood carvings by master craftsmen of the time are especially beautiful. From the middle of April through the end of May, when the annual spring is festival is held, 12,000 stocks of alpine roses burst out in the precinct. Camellia and weeping cherry blossoms are also splendid when they are in full bloom. The gallant Araodori Dance by male dancers in warrior costume is a nationally designated Important Intangible Cultural Property. It is dedicated to the deities of this shrine on the last Saturday of September every year.
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.
Ishibe-juku was the 51st post station of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1868). There are several opinions as to the origin of the town. One of them states that 5 nearby villages were consolidated into the town of Ishibe in 1571 under the governance of Oda Nobunaga. Another states that the town was established in 1597 by the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi to provide couriers and horses for transporting commodities to Zenkoji Temple in present Nagano Prefecture. Still another states that it was established according to a shuinjo (red-seal letter) of 1601 to order every post station of the Tokaido Road to requisition the horsed for official use.
Travelers who left Kyoto usually spent their first night at Ishibe-juku. Located at the interchange point of the Tokaido Road and the Ise Shrine Pilgrimage Road, the town was bustling with a lot of travelers. There was a gold mine (“kin-zan” in Japanese) near the town, and it is said that a Japanese metaphor “Ishibe Kinkichi” meaning a hardheaded person is derived from this place.
Presently, two free rest stations, Ishibejuku-eki and Dengaku-jaya, are provided for the tourists.
Tanaka Castle, or popularly called “Kame-jo (Turtle Castle),” was located in Fujieda City, Shizuoka Pref. The castle was originally called Tokunoisshiki Castle, but it was captured by Takeda Shingen in 1570. Shingen ordered his retainer, Baba Mino-no-Kami, to build an extension and renamed it Tanaka Castle. In the battle with Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1582, when the castellan of nearby Ejiri Castle, who had sided with the Takeda clan, defected to the enemy, Tanaka Castle was completely detached and the castellan, Yoda Nobushige, was obliged to take the advice of peace settlement by the Tokugawa forces and surrendered the castle. Later in 1601, the outmost compound was added by the new castellan, Tadatoshi Sakai, and the castle had been resided by the successive domain lords until it was dismantled with the Meiji restoration in 1868. The castle compounds were built in a concentric circle, which is very unique in the nation. At the present time, Nishimashizu Elementary School stands on the site of Honmaru (the main Castle) and Ninomaru (the second castle) and Nishimashizu Junior High School on Sannomaru (the third castle).
Oyama Castle was located in Yoshida-cho, Haibara-gun, Shizuoka Pref. From the Muromachi period (1336-1573) to the Warring States period (1493-1573) there was a fort built by the Imagawa clan at this place. In 1568, Takeda Shingen rebuilt the fort as the base to capture Totomi province (present-day the western part of Shizuoka Pref.). Then in 1571, the fort was improved into a castle named Oyama Castle by Baba Nobufusa under the order of Shingen. After the construction of the castle, the Takeda clan and Tokugawa Ieyasu fought fierce battles in this area and finally the Takeda clan, preparing themselves for their defeat, set fire on the castle and fled to their home country. The site of the ancient castle was arranged into Nomanjiyama Park with the newly constructed donjon, “Oyama Castle Observatory.” The ruins of the triple moats and things pertaining to the Takeda clan, which are displayed in the observatory, remind us of the days in war-tone eras.
The Iwakiri Castle was a castle that once stood in the city of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture. The castle was built by the Rusu family, the Rusushiki (caretaker) of the Mutsunokuni region (present day Tohoku) during the Nanboku-cho Period (1333-1393). Later on, during a power struggle between Ashikaga Takauji and his older brother Ashikaga Tadayoshi, the Rusu family took sides with the Takauji faction, and the Iwakiri battle broke out. Although the Takauji faction managed to hold Iwakiri castle, in 1351, the Tadayoshi faction released a relentless full frontal attack, leading to the suicide of Okushu Kanrei and Hatakeyamashi, as well as the surrender of the Rusu family. Even after this defeat, the Rusu family continued to reside in Iwakiri castle up until Rusu Masakage became head of the family. Rusu Masakage moved the stronghold to Rifu castle in 1570; this move began the gradual deterioation of Iwakiri castle.
Currently, the area is covered with cedar forests and a grove of mixed tree copse; the only reminders of the former castle are a few horikiri (dry moats) and earthwork foundations. However the scenery of the Taihakusan and the Zaou Peaks is beautful, and the area has become known for its cherry blossoms during the spring. The Iwakiri castle is representative of the medieval castles in the Touhoku district, which exhibit a lot of historical dignity and honor.