2018年02月11日

'Munakata-taisha' in Fukuoka Prefecture is one of the most prestigious Shinto shrines in Japan.

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Munakata-taisha consists of three shrines, 'Okitsu-miya' in 'Oki-no-shima' island, 'Nakatsu-miya' in 'Chikuzen-oshima' island and 'Hetsu-gu' main shrine in Kyushu. As these three shrines are lined up in a straight line toward Pusan, Korea, they are thought to have had been the transfer points for the sea route between Japan and Korea since ancient times. So, Munakata-taisha is believed to be the guardian spirit for traffic safety. In many cases, a good luck charm for traffic safety is found in a motor vehicle in Japan. This tradition originated from this shrine. Oki-no-shima island four kilometers in circumference, 60 kilometers off the coast, has long been strictly prohibited to enter, so massive precious metals were found by the excavation after the Second World War. They are supposed to have had been used for religious service in the 4th-10th century. More than 10,000 items are on the list of national treasures, some of them were from China, Korea and Persia, and are on display in the museum of Hetsu-gu main shrine. Munakata-taisha also is a World Heritage site. The picture shows 'Takamiya-saijo', the place where the spirit of Heavens descends. This is an ancient site for a religious service, which hands down the original form of Shinto prayer.

Licensed tour guide/travel consultant,
Masahisa Takaki.

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posted by masahisa at 14:30 | Kyushu | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2017年08月08日

'Shimabara Castle' was built in the first half of the 17th century, by 'Matsukura Shigemasa' a newly appointed feudal lord of Shimabara domain.

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The whole area of present Shimabara City in Nagasaki Prefecture had been ruled by 'Arima' clan till the beginning of the 17th century. In 1626, after that, Matsukura Shigemasa was appointed as a new feudal lord from present Nara Prefecture. He built Shimabara Castle as shown in the first picture for his dwelling as well as a stronger fortress than old castles in other parts of Shimabara. As this castle was far too splendid for his states, and it took too much effort for the construction work because of the hard ground made of lava, the construction cost had become unexpectedly great. In order to meet this great expense, he strictly collected more and more land tax from the masses. This triggered 'Amakusa-no-ran' Japan's largest riot. He finally suppressed this riot helped by other feudal lords though, 'Tokugawa' central government beheaded him. He is the one and only feudal lord who was decapitated in the 'Edo' period, the 17th-19th century.
*Other executed feudal lords were ordered to commit 'hara-kiri (seppuku)', which was regarded to be honorable. But beheading was a very much dishonorable way, as it was applied to common people who committed a serious crime.
This beautiful castle was dismantled at the end of the 17th century though, it had been gradually rebuilt since 1960.

Licensed tour guide/travel consultant,
Masahisa Takaki.

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posted by masahisa at 15:39 | Kyushu | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2017年08月04日

'Unzen Onsen', lying in the mountainous area of the Shimabara Peninsula in Nagasaki Prefecture, is a graceful hot spring resort.

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Unzen Onsen hot spring resort is one of the first national parks in Japan, which was designated in 1934 together with two other ones. The origin of this resort dates back to the end of the 17th century, when the first feudal lord of the Shimabara domain built a 'ryokan' with hot spring baths in this area.
*As a passing reference, this ryokan is still running after ups and downs by the name of 'Unzen Yumoto Hotel'.
After the middle of the 19th century, when Japan's modernization had just started, Unzen Onsen was thronged with many Westerners from the International Settlement in Shanghai, China. Present 'Unzen Kanko Hotel', built in the first half of the 20th century, is a Western style classic hotel to accommodate these Westerners. The area called 'Jigoku' inferno, where volcanic steam is gushing out everywhere, offers typical volcanic scenery to the sightseers walking along the promenade. (As shown in the first picture)
This volcanic area has gradually moved little by little, so the extinct volcanic area had changed to the wetlands for rare insects and plants. (As shown in the second picture)

Licensed tour guide/travel consultant,
Masahisa Takaki.

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posted by masahisa at 10:26 | Kyushu | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする