NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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今山八幡宮 Imayama-hachiman-guu Imayama Hachimangu Shrine

Jp En

Imayama Hachimangu Shrine is located at the top of a hill, which commands a view of Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture. Enshrining 10 deities, the shrine is worshipped by local people as the guardian god of the city. It is the largest shrine in the northern part of the prefecture

Going along the front approach, which is surrounded with densely grown trees, you will see the two-storied vermillion main gate standing atop the steep stone steps. The huge precinct is dotted with several historic shrine buildings including the impressive Honden hall. The stone statues of Chinese lion-dogs on either side of the entrance of the main hall tell of the shrine’s long history.

It is said that Tsuchimochi Naotsuna, the local lord of this area transferred the deity of Usa Hachimangu Shrine (in present-day Oita Prefecture) and founded this shrine in 750 as the god to guard the ominous direction of the Castle. According to the book “Usa Kagami,” this area was a part of the territory possessed by Usa Hachimangu Shrine and annual tribute was collected by the shrine. As Usa was far away from the town and it was very difficult for local people to visit Usa Hachimangu Shrine, the foundation of Imayama Shrine was welcomed by local people. The shrine had been protected by the successive lords of the domain during the Edo period (1603-1868).
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武田八幡神社 Takeda -Hachiman-jinja Takeda Hachiman Shrine

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Takeda Hachiman Shrine is located in Kamiyama-machi, Nirasaki City, Yamanashi Prefecture. It was founded in 822, when the deity of Usa Hachiman was transferred to this place under the order of Emperor Saga.

It is said that the shrine is the birthplace of the Takeda clan, because Genpuku (a traditional Japanese coming-of-age ceremony) of Minamoto no Nobuyoshi took place at this shrine and he renamed himself Takeda Nobuyoshi and became the founder of the clan. Four deities including Takeda Take no Okami and Honda Wake no Mikoto are enshrined.

From the Torii gate, the front approach runs straight to Honden (the main hall) at the foot of the mountain. Honden (the main hall), which was reconstructed in 1541 by Takeda Shingen, is a 3-bay building in Nagare-zukuri style with a cypress bark roof. Elaborate decorative designs are given to every part of the building. It is designated as a National Important Cultural Property.
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夏越祭り Nagoshi-matsuri Nagoshi Festival

Jp En

The Nagoshi Festival is held to wish for good harvest and good health and is the largest festival held at Usa Shrine. The Nagoshi Festival is also called 'Battle Festival' because during the event, miniature shrines 'battle' with each other to become the leading shrine. Another name for the festival is Oharaie/Misogie.

The climax of the Nagoshi Festival is the battle of the three miniature shrines. On the first day, the three shrines head to the Tongu from the Uenomiya (or Okudari). Men dressed in white carry the miniature shrines and march through the shrine precincts, making a powerful sight.

When the shrines finally reach the Tongu, a time-honored ritual, the Suganukigyoji, takes place. It places three 'Heigushi' in the Mikegawa. On the second day, the miniature shrines do not play a holy role, so they are carried around for display. On the final day, the shrines are returned to the Uenomiya.
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四日市東別院 Yokkaichi-toubetsuin Yokkaichi East Branch Temple

Jp En

There are two towns in Usa: Usa-cho that has the Usa Shrine, and Yokkaichi-cho. In Yokkaichi-cho, there are two large temples: the Shingon Otani school of Buddhism Yokkaichi branch temple and Jyodoshinshu Honganji school of Buddhism Yokkaichi branch temple.

As seen, Usa used to be a temple town. The latter was a central temple of Jyodoshinshu in the Kyushu area. The former was established in 1562 and was called Ohigashisan. It burned down once in 1868, but was reconstructed in 1889. The original huge gate, however, has survived and stands today. Combined, the two temples form the largest wooden architecture in Japan.
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双葉の里 Futaba-no-sato Futaba's Hometown

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Futabayama Sadaji is the only sumo wrestler who was ever dubbed 'Extraordinary Yokozuna'. His legend has never been surpassed. He won 69 victories in a row in sumo. Futabayama Sadaji was undefeated champion 8 times, and he won a total of 12 competitions.

He is still remembered as a famous sumo wrestler in his hometown Usa, where a statue of him stands. His old house has become a monument to pass on his achievements to the next generation. In the harbor of the town, there are also statues, as well as the former sumo wrestling stable: inside, it is like a museum with exhibits of sumo implements. There is also a room where movies of the famous Yokozuna are shown.

Since its opening, this sumo place has been crowded with sumo and Futabayama fans.
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鶴見古墳 Tsurumi-kofun Tsurumi Ruins

Jp En

Officially designated as an historical site, Kawabe Takamori Ruins consist of 6 large keyhole-shaped tomb mounds, surrounded by 120 graves. All of them have a large keyhole-shaped tomb mound facing different directions.

The ruins have lost their shapes over time due to the increase of surrounding paddy fields. However, this is the only place which has several ruins concentrated in Oita Prefecture. Even in Kyushu, these ruins comprise the the second largest burial site after the Saitobaru Ruins (320 graves) in Miyazaki Prefecture.

The Tsurumi Ruins were the last tombs to be made for the headman of Usa area in the mid-6th century. Furthermore, they are an important historical record of the burial system during the late Kofun period.
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宇佐神宮 Usa-jingu Usa Shrine

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Usa Shrine, a National Treasure, is the mother shrine of the 40,000 Hachiman shrines located all over the country. The shrine stands, along with Ise Shrine, as the two main shrines of the Imperial Court, and was built in its current location in the year 725 during the Nara period.

The structure of Usa Shrine was rebuilt from 1855 through 1861 and was restored in 1985. The shrine features crimson pillars, white walls and uses Japanese cedar bark. The inner structure and the outer structure are of Kiritsuma-style roofing and between them, a gold-colored rain trough, more often known as the Golden Trough of Usa, runs through.

The architecture of Usa Shrine is representative of Hachiman-style architecture. Apart from the religious structures, there are countless ancient remains and graves excavated here, along with remains of the airstrip and aircraft hangars of the Usa Naval Air Corp used during World War II. Here, at Usa Shrine, history from ancient to modern times can be felt.
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手向山八幡宮 Tamukeyama-hachiman-guu Tamukeyama Hachiman-guu Shrine

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Tamukeyama Hachiman-guu Shrine celebrates the Shinto deity Hachiman and is located in Zoushi Town, Nara. In 749 (the Nara period) Emperor Shoumu transferred part of the spirit of the Hachiman deity from Usa Hachiman-guu Shrine (the head Hachiman shrine in Kyuushuu) and founded Tamukeyama Shrine to act as a  guardian of Toudai-ji Temple. The Tamukeyama Shrine became the first branch of the Hachiman shrine. Later, in 1250, Houjyou Tokiyori relocated the shrine to its present site. The main building was burned down by fires during various wars and was rebuilt in 1691. Its treasure storehouse built in the Azekura-zukuri construction style also contains elements of Tempyou architectural style from Toudai-ji Temple, and is designated as an Important Cultural Asset by the Japanese government. The shrine contains many other assets, including Karakura (National Treasure) and Bugaku-men (Important Cultural Asset).  The shrine also hosts various annual Shinto religious rituals such as Tegaie on January 5th and the Otaue Festival in February.  Tamukeyama Shrine has been surrounded by beautiful red and yellow autumn leaves since ancient times and Sugawara Michizane, a scholar and a poet who is enshrined as a deity of scholarship, composed a poem about the shrine which appeared in One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets.

At the present time,
Since I could bring no offering,
See Mount Tamuke!

Here are brocades of red leaves,
As a tribute to the gods.
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