Driving on National Route 220 from the central part of Miyazaki City and passing some gentle curves, you will get to Horikiri Pass in Oryuzako in Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture. It was open to traffic in 1889. Beyond the pass lies nothing but blue water of Hyuganada Sea spreading as far as the eye could see. The Pacific Ocean viewed from the observatory is so splendid that it is counted as one of the representative landscapes in the Nichinan Coast area. Several phoenix (Date palm) trees stand along the observatory and cute crinums are blooming. The coast spreading below is composed of Oni-no-Sentakuiwa (the ogre's washboard), wavy rocks with stripe patterns formed by sea erosion. Going down the pass and advancing southward for a short time, you will get to Michi-no-eki (Roadside Station) Phoenix, which was renewed and opened in 2005. The area along the coast is designated as Nichinan Kaigan Quasi-National Park and has a lot of scenic spots that symbolize the tropical paradise Miyazaki Prefecture.
Nagurumi Castle was built in 1578 by Sanada Masayuki, a retainer of the Takeda clan, as the base for attacking Numata Castle. In 1589, Toyotomi Hideyoshi yielded up Numata region to the Hojo clan but he allowed the Sanada clan to hold this castle as before. Inomata Kuninori, the castellan of Numata Castle got angry at this decision and attacked Nagurumi Castle in November in the same year, with which Hideyoshi expressed his dissatisfaction and attacked the Hojo clan to their extinction. This is what is called “the Incident of Nagurumi Castle,” which lit the spark of Hideyoshi’s Seige of Odawara and allowed him to take the opportunity to unite the country. San-no-kuruwa (the third compound), Sasa-kuruwa, Sode-kuruwa, and the watch tower remain to the present time. Each of the compounds is divided by the moat and the building layout of the foretime is well preserved. Hannya-kuruwa and Mizunote-kuruwa (the compound for water intake) called “Maruyama” also remain to the present time.
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.
Ashinasawadate Castle Ruin is located on the hill between the Omonai River and the Kirita River to the northeast of Ashinasawa Village on Lake Towada. The castle area takes the shape of a triangle. The north compound used to stand at the apex of the triangle and the east and the west compounds stood on the both ends of the base line. Part of the ruin is reclaimed for farm land but the site as a whole is well-preserved. The remains of double structure moats can be seen clearly. The precise history of the castle is unknown but it is said that either Okuse clan or Hatakeyama clan resided in this castle. It is presumed that the castle as well as Sawadadate Castle functioned as one of the base camps to invade Tsugaru Province. There is a legend that gold ingots were dug out of this ruin.
In 1646, Tsugaru Hideyoshi, a younger brother of the Hirosaki clan head, Nobuyoshi, was given about 5,000,000m2 of land to build a mansion, which is the origin of Kuroishi Castle. It was a magnificent castle on a flatland, and is otherwise known as Crow Castle.
The 8th clan head, Chikatari, was given about 6,000,000m2 of land by the So clan in 1809. Therefore, the Tsugaru clan received some 10,000,000m2 land in all and became feudal lords and established a clan. In the fourth year of the Meiji period, because of the abolition of clans and the establishment of prefectures, the mansion was opened to the public. The Tsugaru family then presented the residence to Kuroishi Town and it was used as the Kuroishi Elementary School. Today it forms Mikyuki Park.
Most of the park is open, but there exist some remains of small clay walls across the moats in the south, which remind you of former times.
Toshimichi Shiraishi is an Edo lacquerware craftsman, born in 1937 in Horikiri, Katsushika-ku, Tokyo.
Toshimichi's father was also a craftsman. In 1953, Toshimichi was apprenticed to a craftsman in Senju. In 1963, when he was 26, he set up on his own.
Edo lacquerware became popular in the early Edo period when the shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, invited Kyoto lacquerware craftsmen to move to the capital. Since then, the craft developed mainly to make strong practical ware, such as sushi boxes and buckwheat noodle steamers.
Toshimichi's lacquerware is amazingly inexpensive for its quality. Now, the emphasis of his practice is to repair lacquerware. 'Whether it is chipped or cracked, any wooden ware can be fixed repeatedly and once fixed, it will keep for another several years. I'm willing to fix any lacquerware,' he says.
Toshimichi has been designated as a Tokyo Traditional Craftsman, a Traditional Craftsman of Katsushika-ku, and a National Lacquerware Development First-Class Technician.