Other than Gioji Temple in Oku-Sagano in Kyoto, there is a temple named Gioji in Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture. Yasu City is said to be where Gio and Ginyo in Tale of the Heike were born.
After her father’s death, Gio went to Kyoto and became a Shirabyoshi, a dancer that performed traditional Japanese dances dressed as a man. In time, Taira no Kiyomori, the ruler of the country, was captivated by her good looks and tenderness and they fell in love with each other.
Gio asked Kiyomori to construct a canal for the people in her home town, which was suffering from droughts. Thanks to the canal, this area recovered from a bad harvest and became one of the largest rice producing centers in the country. Local people named the canal the Gioi River in token of their thanks.
However, one day, Kiyomori was fascinated by another Shirabyoshi named Hotokegozen. Grieving over Kiyomori’s change of mind, Gio and her younger sister Ginyo and her mother became Buddhist nuns and returned to their home town. Hotokegozen, who knew this and became enlightened that the same thing could happen to her and the rising sun would set in due time, left Kiyomori and visited Gio to become a nun herself.
After their death, village people built Gioji Temple to express their gratitude to these nuns as well as to mourn for them. The statue of the four nuns stands quietly in the precinct.
Yashima is a peninsular lava plateau in the northwestern part of Takamatsu City. It used to be an island but was connected to land by a reclamation work in the Edo period (1603-1868). From its table-shaped land feature, which looks like a roof, it was named Yashima (Roof Island).
Yashima is also a historic site pertaining to the Taira clan. In 1183, the Taira clan, who were driven away from the capital, built a fortress and an improvised palace for 6-year-old Emperor Antoku after a long string of defeats by the Minamoto clan. Then in 1185, Minamoto no Yoshitsune attacked them and they had the fierce Battle of Yashima, which is well-known for the episode of Nasuno Yoichi firing his shot at a fan atop the mast of a Taira ship.
Being called the best scenic spot for viewing the Seto Inland Sea, Yashima is visited by a lot of tourists. Yashimaji Temple, which was rebuilt in the Muromachi period (1336-1573), is a nationally designated Important Cultural Property. In the precinct is an attached shrine that enshrines Minoyama Daimyojin, the head of all the raccoon dogs in Shikoku.
Jugoya Festival (Moon Festival), or popularly called “Jugoya-san,” is held on around the 15th day of the 8th lunar month every year in Hyuga City, Miyazaki Prefecture. The whole city is wrapped in a festival mood with a lot of tourists from inside and outside the prefecture.
It is said that this festival originates in the festival of Tomitaka Hachimangu Shrine, which was founded by Nasu no Yoichi and Kudo Suketsune to bolster the morale of the soldiers of their troops, who had come to Kyushu in pursuit of the Heike warriors having escaped from the battle field at Dannoura. The enshrined deity at this shrine was transferred from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura at this time.
On the festival day, the parade of Mitate-zaiku, the flower floats and the dancing teams walk through the city. In the recent years, Hyuga Jugoya-daiko drum performance is added to the festival program, which further warms up the festival mood in the streets.
Juroku is used to portray a male character such as a young warrior or a prince of the Heike clan. This mask is said to represent Taira no Atsumori (1169-1184), a nephew of Taira no Kiyomori. The name of the mask “Juroku (‘sixteen’ in Japanese)” is said to be derived from the fact that Taira no Atsumori died at the age of 16, when he was defeated by Kumagai Naozane in the Battle of Ichinotani, which is referred to in the Tale of the Heike.
The mask’s decent countenance with cute dimples and bright eyes fully expresses susceptibility of the youth. While the Doji mask is called the mask of the Full Moon, this Juroku mask is called the Mask of the 16th Moon. It is used for the plays such as “Atsumori,” “Tomonaga,” and “Tsunemasa.”
Shunkan is a Noh mask used in the play “Shunkan,” a story about a Buddhist priest Shunkan (1143-1179) written in the Tale of the Heike. The priest of the Shingon sect, Shunkan, and the two aristocrats, Fujiwara no Naritsune and Taira no Yasuyori were exiled to “Devil’s Island (Kikaigashima)” off the coast of Satsuma province, as punishment for a plot against the ruling Taira clan. As Fujiwara no Naritsune and Taira no Yasuyori were pardoned later because they made 1,000 wooden stupas and floated them into the sea, one of which drifted to the shore of Itsukushima Island in Aki province and attracted attention of Taira no Kiyomori. Shunkan, on the other hand, was accused of being the mastermind of the plot and left alone on the island. Shunkan was deeply depressed and fasted to death there. Zeami was moved by this tragedy and wrote the play “Shunkan.” The Shunkan mask expresses the great woe and despair.