Gion Yasaka Shrine in Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine, which is widely known as “Gion-sama” in the area. Though its origin is not clear, it is said that it was founded in 804 by Sakanoue Tamuramaro.
The shrine had been left desolated for a long time until 940, when it was restored by Fujiwara no Hidesato, who was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Defense of the North and put down the rebellion of Taira no Masakado. The shrine buildings were, however, destroyed by battle fires in the later periods.
It was in 1601 when the shrine was at last restored again by Date Masamune. Since then, it was worshipped as the guardian god of Shida County (present-day Osaki City). During the Edo period (1603-1868), it was revered by the successive domain lords as Ichinomiya (the highest-ranked shrine) among Japan’s three important Gion shrines. The decorative paintings on the ceiling of the main hall were painted during this period.
The annual festival is held in July every year, when the shrine is crowded with people who come to enjoy seeing the mikoshi (portable shrine) parade and the daimyo’s procession.
You will feel the honorable history of the shrine from the solemn atmosphere of the precinct.
Hamana Shosha Shinmeigu Shrine is located in Mikkabi-cho, Kita-ku, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Pref. The enshrined deity is Amaterasu Sume Omikami. The time of the foundation is unknown. It is said that the shrine was originally founded by Agatanushi (a provincial chief) of Hamana to enshrine his ancestral deity, Ohta no Mikoto. In 940, when the area around the shrine was dedicated to Ise Shrine, the enshrined deity was changed to Amaterasu Sume Omikami and Ota no Mikoto was moved to a sessha (an attached shrine) in the precinct.
Honden (the main hall) is an old-styled Itakura-zukuri (the style used for a log storage house), or generally called Seiro-zukuri, the same style used for the original main halls of Ise Jingu Shrine and Atsuta Jingu Shrine. It was originally use for storing the offerings from a mountain village of Hamana Kanbe. The thatched roof of Honden bears the crest of Mitsudomoe made of copper, which has become coated with verdigris and the entire hall is covered with a net to keep away birds. Honden Hall was designated as a National Important Cultural Property in 1993.
Kaminari-mon Gate, famous as the icon of Asakusa, is the outer gate of Senso-ji, the oldest standing temple in Japan. Kaminari-mon is its commonly known name, its formal name being “Fuuraijin-mon”. Fuujin means the Wind God and Raijin the Thunder God. Statues of those two gods are enshrined in the temple; Fuujin on the right side of the gate and Raijin on the left side. They have been worshiped as the Gods of bountiful harvest since ancient times.
The Gate was first built in 942. Subsequently it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt a number of times. From 1865 for next 95 years, the Gate didn’t even exist. When the technology of using concrete to build Japanese style houses was introduced, the Gate was reconstructed in 1960 with reinforced concrete.
The architectural style is Kirizuma-zukuri, gable roof, using the Hongawarabuki tile style in which round and square tiles are alternately installed. The frontage of the Gate is 11.8m high and its depth is 6.4m. The gigantic lantern hanging in the middle of the Gate is 4m high, with a diameter of 3.4m and weighing 670kg.
Notable elements are the vermillion color of the Gate, the Gods enshrined in the both sides of the Gate, and the disproportionately big lantern. This differs from Wabi and Sabi, yet this combination of the Gate’s characteristics is also a part of Japanese culture that is very unique in the world.
Sano City, Tochigi Pref. has been known as a producing district of iron works since old times and artistic handicraft cast iron works made in this area are called Tenmyo cast iron works. Its history dates back to about 1,000 years ago. Tenmyo iron ware is said to have begun when Hidesato Fujiwara, who had brought the Masakado’s rebellion under control in 939 and became the first castellan of Karasawa Castle, called five excellent iron workers from Kyoto to cast weapons. After the battles the ironworkers settled down near Sano area played leading roles in casting iron and began to make daily necessities, Buddhist altar fittings and tea ceremony kettles. Since then Tenmyo cast iron works had taken the way to its prosperity through the periods of the Heian, the Kamakura and the Edo handed down by generation to generation. The beauty of Tenmyo works including copper ware with beautiful red color, strong but elegant tea ceremony kettles and massive paperweights all fascinate people all over the country.