2017年09月18日

A national treasure building 'Hikone Castle' is an excellent castle together with Himeji Castle.

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Hikone Castle had been resided by the Ii family which produced five chief ministers of the Tokugawa feudal government. The Ii family, a daimyo (feudal lord) in hereditary vassalage to the the Tokugawas, had successively ruled this domain for 14 generations from the beginning of the 17th century to the middle of the 19th century. Most daimyos were frequently ordered to change their domain by the central government controlled by Tokugawa shogun, the perposse of which was to lessen the accumulation of wealth from their domain. However the Ii family was one of the rare families which had never experienced the forced relocation as it was enough trusted. Hikone Castle standing on the top of the hill on the east coast of Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake, the castle tower and three annexed buildings of which are designated as national trasures, and five other buildings are important cultural asset. This castle was designed as a real fortress, thus many elaborate devices, such as hidden loopholes, are found here and there. The picture shows a distant view of the castle tower from 'Genkyu-en' Japanese garden, which was built in 1678.

Licensed tour guide/travel consultant,
Masahisa Takaki.

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posted by masahisa at 13:01 | Kyoto | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2017年01月07日

'Kuramadera' Buddhist temple, known as the place of ascetic practices by 'Ushiwakamaru', the childhood name of 'Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune' a 'samurai' hero in the 12th century, is a base of mountain religion on the teaching of esoteric Buddhism.

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The origin of Kuramadera temple, standing along the south-facing steep slope of Mt.Kurama in the north of Kyoto, dates back to the 8th century. 'Makura-no-soshi' essay, written by a well-known woman essayist 'Seisho Nagon' in the 10th century, described the meandering steep approach way of this temple as an example of 'close yet far'. In a large fire in the 12th century and the repeated fires thereafter, most buildings were gone, however they were rebuilt each time. On the other hand, many precious Buddhist images as well as the historical materials designated as a national treasure or important cultural asset have survived these disasters. 'Niomon' main gate in the picture was rebuilt in 1911, from here a cable car is running up halfway to the main building of this temple.

Licensed tour guide/travel consultant,
Masahisa Takaki.

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posted by masahisa at 10:57 | Kyoto | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2016年11月07日

'Kifune Shinto Shrine' in the northern part of Kyoto, a mountainous region, is the head shrine of 450 kifune shrines throughout Japan.

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The origin of Kifune Shrine is unclear though, a note of the rebuilding of this shrine is found in an old book in the 7th century. 'Honmiya' main shrine as shown in the first picture, 'Nakamiya' second shrine and 'Okumiya' rear shrine are standing in a line along Kifune stream within walking distance from each other.
As this shrine is believed to be a spirit for rain-making, the believers used to donate a black horse for rain, and this offering had gradually changed to a tablet with a horse picture on the back. It is said that present 'Ema' votive tablet found at every shrine in Japan was originated in this shrine. In addition, the people working for restaurant business, water is essential in this field, worship this shrine.
By the way, there are many restaurants along Kifune stream as shown in the second picture. People enjoy 'Yuka' , which means an open-air restaurant temporarily built top of the stream, in hot summer. Many Yuka restaurants found in the heart of Kyoto are originated in this place.

Licensed tour guide/travel consultant,
Masahisa Takaki.

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posted by masahisa at 13:44 | Kyoto | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする