Rurihime Festival is held in Shirataki in Ozu City, Ehime Prefecture, on November 23 every year to appease the soul of Rurihime (Lady Ruri), who threw herself into the waterfall.
Lady Ruri was the wife of Fujiwara Yukiharu, the castellan of Takinojo Castle. At the end of the Warring States period (1493-1573), the castle was attacked by the forces of the Chosokabe clan again and again until at last it fell.
Lady Ruri and her women attendants fought back with fukibari (needles blown from the mouth), naginata and shuriken, but they finally escaped from the castle and made their way to the waterfall, where they were cornered by the pursuers.
Lady Ruri told her two daughters to live on and dived from the top of the waterfall (presently called the Otaki Waterfall) into the basin 60 m below with her 2-year-old son Takaomaru in her arms.
On the festival day, the parade of girls in colorful costumes and boys carrying the flower mikoshi (portable shrine) heads for Lady Ruri’s grave mound, where the memorial service is performed and the flower mikoshi is thrown into the waterfall for the repose of her soul and children’s good health.
Mt. Himetsugi in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture is a mountain with an altitude of 1433 m above sea level. This mountain is on the route of Tokai Shizen Hodo (the Tokai Nature Path) and is the highest peak on the trail from Aonohara in Tsukui-cho through the mountains of Yakeyama and Kibigarayama to Inukoe Pass.
It is said that the name “Hime-tsugi” is derived from the story that once upon a time a daughter of a samurai, Oyamade Hachizaemon, who had fought on the Takeda forces and was defeated in the Battle of Tenmokusan, escaped from the soldiers of the Nobunaga and Ieyasu’s forces and committed suicide by stabbing a dagger into the throat in this mountain. Since then people called this mountain “Hime-tsuki (literally meaning “stabbing of a highborn girl”), which has been corrupted into “Himetsugi.”
The summit of Mt. Himetsugi has a bright and refreshing atmosphere, where you can command a fine view of Mt. Fuji and Lake Miyagase. The larch forest of this mountain is selected as one of Kanagawa’s 50 Excellent Forests. It provides hikers with fresh green in spring through summer and crimson foliage in fall.
Hana-no-tou (Flower Augury) is a spring event held on the second weekend every year at Seiganji Temple in Yahagi Town in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, with an assistance of the local merchant association. It was originally an augury to read good omens or bad in agricultural production held in Mikawa province (present-day Aich Prefecture) in the old days and it has been handed down as an augury named “Otameshi” at this temple for 400 years.
Today, the main part of the festival has changed into a kind of Flower Festival that is held all over the country on Buddha’s birthday in April. Visitors pour ama-zake (sweet sake wine) to the small statue of Buddha housed in Hanami-do Hall placed in front of the principal object inside the main hall. Visitors are also treated with ama-zake in the precinct. The local people together with the members of the local merchants association and junior and senior high school students cooperate with each other to make the festival successful.
Seiganji Temple is famous in the legend of Joruri-hime, who fell in love with Minamoto no Yoshitsune and died a tragic death. The Japanese flute inscribed with its name “Usu-zumi” and the mirror that were left to Joruri-hime by Yoshitsune as personal tokens are treasured at the temple.
Tanabata Edoro Matsuri is a festival held in Yuzawa City, Akita Pref. in August every year. A lot of decorative strips and paperwork are attached to thick bamboo poles and boxes with pretty ladies painted on them are lit up at night. The festival dates back to the middle of the Edo period (around 1700), when a princess of Takatsukasa family, a court noble in Kyoto, married into Satake Yoshiyasu, the 5th head of the Stake Nanke clan, one of the branch family of the Akita domain lord. Gripped by homesickness, the princess wrote her nostalgic feelings on strips and put them on a bamboo pole. Accordingly the townspeople who heard of the princess’s grief began to display strips and streamers on the bamboo poles and prayed that she might get over the grief. After the Meiji period (1868-1912), the present lantern boxes were began to be displayed on the streets. The boxes are also displayed in the city hall all through the year. A lot of visitors come to enjoy this fantastic summer festival held to the memory of the princess.
The procession of Tokugawa Ieyasu is held as the main event of Okazaki City’s Cherry festival in April every year. It is a reenactment of the procession of Ieyasu held in the Edo period and performed to give tribute to his attainment of the national unity and the braveness of the Mikawa warriors. It was originally held as a part of the festival at Tatsuki Shrine in the early Meiji period. Today it has become the city’s big event that tells people of the coming of spring.
About 1,000 citizens invited and chosen in the public participation join the procession, playing the roles of Ieyasu, warriors and princesses. The foot soldiers and high-ranked warriors on horsebacks march through the city. The gorgeous and picturesque parade including the ceremony of going to war, the demonstrations by the gun troop and the lancer troop and Kassen-matsuri (Battle Festival) on the riverside of the Otogawa River is a superb spectacle. The procession going through full-blown cherry blossoms may give you an illusion of living in the Edo period.
Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine is located in Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture. The main deities enshrined here are Ojin Emperor, and the queen and princess goddesses.
In 1603, a separated god spirit of Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine in Kyoto was moved to Yuigahama in Kamakura and a new shrine was built there. In the fourth year of the Jisho period (1180), Minamoto Yoritomo came to Kamakura and moved the Hachimangu building to the present place, Kobayashi. It was when Yoritomo conquered 60 states across Japan that he had this shrine built on this hill. In the following year, he became head of government and was at the peak of his power.
Since then, Tsuruoka Hachimangu has been a symbol of Kamakura. All the rituals and events of the Kamakura government were held here. Moreover, both the Toyotomi and Tokugawa families worshiped this Hachimangu as a symbol of the samurai.
The strong, silent people who were born here in Kamakura and placed their faith in Tsuruoka Hachimangu, became the progenitors of the samurai way.
Nijyozan Mountain, despite its low altitude, is the most historic mountain in all of Nara Prefecture, and is located between the Ikoma Mountain range and the Katsuragi Mountain range.
If you look at it from the Osaka Prefecture side, it resembles the shape of a camel's back. The Odake (Male Mountain), which has an altitude of 517m, and the Medake (Female Mountain), with an altitude of 474m, are the two round mountain peaks which make up the Nijyozan.
At the summit of the Odake is the grave of Prince Otsu (poet and son of Emperor Temmu), who was executed on the suspicion of rebellion. Some people may know the Manyoushu (Song of Ten Thousand Leaves), which Princess Ookuno composed in memory of her younger brother. The song 'Utsusomino-Hitonaruwareya-Asuyoriwa-Nijyouzanwo-Otoutoyotowagamimu' describes the princess's feelings of pain and sadness for her brother.
The Nijyozan is currently being prepared to become a Natural Park called the Manyou-no-Mori ('forest of ten thousand leaves'). Besides mountain climbing, people can enjoy touring of historic sites, such as the cave temples dating to the Nara period and stone monuments inscribed with tanka poems from the Manyoushu.
On holidays, the Nijyozan is full of visitors who have come to enjoy a pleasant stroll.
Hyoji Kitagawa (born 1936) is the second son of Heirô Kitagawa, the 17th generation head of the Tawaraya (and holder of this important intangible cultural property). In 1988, he succeeded his father and became the 18th generation head of the Tawaraya.
Kitagawa works for the imperial household as a brocade artisan and is acclaimed for his sophisticated weaving skills. He testified his brilliant techniques to the world when reproducing the ancient Kajyu-Shishi-Jinbutsu-Monaya brocade for the Shosoin repository in Nara. Usig a magnifying glass, he studied the original brocade pattern in great detail to make a thread-by-thread transcript on a cross-section. He accomplished this extremely precise work in only three years.
In 1989, he made complex gauze brocades, such as 'nishiki', 'ra' and 'sha', to be used with votive objects at the Ise Shrine. In 1990, he made the ceremonial costumes 'gosokutai' and 'jyu-ni-tan' for the marriage of prince and princess Akishino, and also for the Emperor's coronation. In 1993, he made wedding costumes for the marriage of crown prince Naruhito to princess Masako.
In 1999, he was honored as a Living National Treasure.