NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/1/8


菅田天神社 Kandaten-jinja Kandaten Shrine

Jp En

Kandaten Shrine located in Koshu City in Yamanashi Prefecture is a shrine pertaining to the Takeda clan. Enshrined are Susanoo no Mikoto and other seven deities. It is said that the shrine was founded in 842 by the provincial governor, Fujiwara Iseo, by the Imperial order. When Sugawara no Michizane was enshrined together in 1004, the kanji “suga (菅)” was borrowed and the shrine came to be called Kandaten (菅田天). In the precinct is the statue of Zagyu (lying cow), which is believed to be the messenger of Sugawara no Michizane.

During the Warring States period (1493-1573), the shrine was protected by the Takeda clan as the god to guard the ominous direction of the provincial capital. The shrine is known for the possession of Kozakura Kawaodoshi Yoroi, which was one of the 8 armors handed down to the descendants of the Genji (the Minamoto clan). This armor was so strong that the one who wore it didn’t have to use a shield, so it was called “Tate-nashi-no-yoroi (the armor without a shield).” It was handed down to the heads of the Takeda clan, one of the rightful descendant family of the Seiwa Genji, as the family treasure together with Japan’s oldest Rising Sun flag.
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2007/10/31


一郷山城跡 Ichigousan-jyou-ato Ichigoyama Castle Ruins

Jp En

Ichigoyama Castle is located at the eastern peak of Mt. Ushibuse (491 m) in Yoshii-cho, Gunma Pref. It is said that the castle was built in the late Muromachi period (1336-1573) as an attached castle of Hirai Castle, which was resided by the Uesugi clan. Located at the top of such a high peak, the castle is thought to have been used as a base to send smoke signals during the Warring States period (1493-1573). The castle fell in 1563 by the attack of Takeda Shingen. It is presumed that several outer compounds separated by dry moats were constructed but there are almost no ruins remaining now. The area was arranged into Ushibuseyama Natural Park to provide citizens with recreation and relaxation. On the castle ruin stands a three-story mock donjon with a commercial museum of Yoshii-cho on the 1st floor, a historical museum on the 2nd floor, and an observatory on the 3rd floor, from which visitors can command a 360°panoramic view.
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2007/10/12


高天神城 Takatenjin-jyou Takatenjin Castle Ruins

Jp En

Takatenjin Castle located in Kakegawa City, Shizuoka Pref. was a field of fierce battles fought between the Takeda clan and the Tokugawa clan during the Warring States period. The castle ruin is a nationally designated Historic Site. Its construction year is unknown, but it is said that the castle was built in the early 16th century by the Imagawa clan as the military base to combat with the Shiba clan in Totomi. In the Warring States period, the castle was considered so important a strategic point as to be said “The one who takes over Takatenjin can take over Enshu province (present-day the western part of Shizuoka Pref.).” In 1569, when the Imagawa clan declined, the castle was occupied by the Tokugawa forces, and Ogasawara Tadanaga became the castellan. The castle fell by the attack of Takeda Katsuyori in 1574. Tokugawa Ieyasu, however, succeeded in taking it back in 1581, but he moved the bases of this region to Yokosuka Castle, and Takatenjin Castle was abandoned. At the present time, the castle ruins are in a good state of preservation.
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沼田城跡 Numata-jyou-ato Numata Castle Ruins

Jp En

Numata Castle was located in Numata City, Gunma Pref. It is said to have been built by Bankisai Akiyasu, the 12th generation head of the Numata clan. The castle was called Kurauchi Castle in those days. As it stands at the strategic spot on the way to Kanto region, a lot of battles to capture this castle were fought among warring lords such as the Uesugi clan of Echigo region (present-day Niigata Pref.), the Hojo clan of Odawara, and the Takeda clan of Kai province (present-day Yamanashi Pref.). In the Edo period, this area came under control of the Sanada clan. Sanada Yukinobu started its modification work in 1597, and in several years it was modified into an early modern-styled castle with the five-story donjon, Ninomaru (the second castle), Sannomaru (the third castle), and the stone walls, which were rear for Kanto region. At the present time, only a part of stone walls and moats remains, which remind us of the ancient times. In spring, a 400-year-old cherry tree called “Goten-zakura (palace cherry tree)” is in full bloom. It looks as if it were talking of rise and fall of the castle.
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国峰城跡 Kunimine-jyou-ato Kunimine Castle Ruins

Jp En

This mountain castle is one of the largest in Gunma Pref. It was built some time in the late Muromachi period or the Warring States period. It was first resided by the Obata clan, a retainer of the Uesugi clan, the Kanto Kanrei (the responsible head of the shogun’s executive office in the Kanto region), but after his lord, Uesugi Norimasa, who was attacked by the Hojo clan of Odawara, left Hirai Castle (Fujioka City, Gunma Pref.) in 1552, the Obata clan served for Takeda Shingen as his retainer. In the Battle of Nagashino in 1575, the Obata clan joined Takeda’s cavalry as its leading force. After the Takeda clan was destroyed, the Obata clan served for Oda Nobunaga and expanded its territory. In the Siege of Odawara in 1590, the Obata clan fought to protect Odawara Castle and was defeated by the allied forces of daimyo on Hideyoshi’s side, which led to the dismantlement of Kunimine Castle. The castle area of Kunimine Castle is as huge as 2.5 km from north to south and 2 km from east to west. Time-taking restoration work was given to the residential structures. The remains of castle compounds, vertical moats and front approach are also well preserved.
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2007/7/31


上杉まつり Uesugi-matsuri Uesugi Festival

Jp En

Uesugu Festival is held annually in the castle town of Yonezawa in Yamagata Prefecture. This large-scale spring festival is sponsored by Uesugi Shrine, which enshrines the founder of the Uesugi clan, Kenshin Uesugi, and Matsugasaki Shrine, which enshrines the 2nd generation Kagekatsu Uesugi and 10th generation Youzan Uesugi.

Each year from April 29 to May 3, Matsugasaki Park, the site of the festival, is lined with stalls and overflows with visitors. Wives from every household work diligently yet cheerfully in the kitchen preparing a feast, gathering aralia nuts and cooking sea bream according to traditional custom. A group of dancers numbering no less than one thousand dressed in an array of colorful costumes dance the Hanagasa-odori across the city.

On the final day the famous Battle of Kawanakajima is reenacted with more than 700 men and horses participating in the fight between the Uesugi and Takeda armies, acting as if it is a real battle.
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2007/6/15


榛名神社 Haruna-jinja Haruna Shrine

Jp En

Haruna Shrine in Harunasan-cho, Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture is a historic shrine located in Mt. Haruna. The enshrined deities are Homusubi no Kami and Haniyamahime no Kami. It is one of the Six Shrines in Kozuke province (present-day Gunma Prefecture). It is said that the shrine was founded during the reign of the 2nd emperor Suizei (reigned 581-549 B.C.) and the shrine building was built in 586.

As the god of rainfall and the holy place for mountain practitioners, it has been visited by a lot of worshippers since the ancient times. From the Nanbokucho Period (1336-1392) onward, it had been affiliated with Ueno Kaneiji Temple in Edo, but according to the separation of Buddhism and Shinto during the Meiji period, the Buddhist colors were discontinued and it was restored to the original shrine.

With a national Natural Monument “Yatate Cedar Tree,” at which Takeda Shingen shot an arrow to pray for his victory and the huge Misugata-Iwa Rock behind the main hall, the precinct is filled with solemn atmosphere.

The six buildings including Honden (the main hall), Haiden (the oratory) and Heiden (the votive offerings hall) are designated as national Important Cultural Properties, and an iron lantern, the Sangaku (Japanese methematical votive tablet) of the Seki school and the documents concerning the shrine are designated as prefectural Important Cultural Properties.
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2007/5/24


上ノ国の中世の館 Kaminokunino-chuseino-tate Kaminokuni Fort-Mansion

Jp En

Facing the Sea of Japan in Kaminokuni, Hokkaido, are the remains of a medieval fort-mansion ('tate'). The fort comprised three halls: Hanazawa, Suzaki and Katsuyama halls, all of which are located in Kamino and which have been designated as an important asset of Hokkaido. The remains of Katsuyama hall, the largest of the halls, have helped solve several mysteries about Hokkaido in the middle ages, following excavations and studies of important artifacts since 1979.

Katsuyama hall was built by the father of the Matsuyama clan, Takeda Nobuhiro. In 1457, he overpowered the local Ainu people, and built this fort-mansion as a feudal residence. Excavation of the hall ruins revealed a trench, the remains of a dwelling and some crockery, as well as records showing that more than 200 people of both Japanese and Ainu race lived together here. Such evidence of racial harmony has drawn a lot of attention.

Some 45% of the ceramics and pottery unearthed here was made in China, which shows that there was active trading and exchange with China.

The Kaminokuni fort-mansion is a very important ruin, which not only has an aura of romance, but has helped historians fill in missing links in Hokkaido's past.
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