Showing posts with label tsuyama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tsuyama. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Nakayama Shrine


It is said that the torii at Nakayama Shrine is unique. At the time of my visit i didn't notice, but now I can see it.

An Ox statue usually signifies Tenjin, the deified spirit of Sugawara Michizane, and he is not one of the main kami enshrined here, but there must be a secondary Tenjin shrine.

Nakayama Shrine is located north of Tsuyama in the area of Ichinomiya, so named because the shrine was the ichinomiya, highest-ranked shrine, in Mimasaka Province.

The Shinmon gate was relocated here from Tsuyama Castle when the castle was dismantled in the early Meiji Period.

Nakayama Shrine was founded in 707. For much of its history it was known as Chuzen Shrine.

The three main kami enshrined are Kagamitsukuri no kami, Ame no nukado no kami, and Ishikori-dome no mikoto, with the first and third of these being associated wit mirrors. In the meiji period the names were changed but then changed back after 1946.

The shrine was destroyed by the Amago Clan in 1533 when they invaded and took over the territory.

Amago Haruhisa rebuilt the shrine in 1559.

The main buildings date from this time and are considered to be nakayama-zukuri, a style unique to the immediate vicinity.

The previous post was Tsuyama Snapshots, photos taken on my way to the shrine.

A large sacred keyaki tree, zelkova in English, is said to be 800 years old. It has a trunk diameter of 8 meters.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Tsuyama Snapshots


Early August, 2014, and I set off from my hotel and start the fifth day of my walk along the Chugoku Kannon Pilgrimage. I will walk north out of Tsuyama and then head west. I had celebrated my 60th birthday recently, and while walking with a heavy backpack in the hot and humid weather was not exactly fun, it was certainly bearable,  now nine years later I cannot imagine doing it today. Near the hotel I passed a small roadside Inari Shrine.

The Yoshii River runs along the southern edge of Tsuyama.

With the early morning light, the impressive ruins of Tsuyama castle were clearer.

Near the station is the Tsuyama Manabi Railway Museum hosed in an old Roundhouse with turntable. I believe the museum has been somewhat improved since I was there, and there is a single steam locomotive and about a dozen other trains most dating back to the 1960's and 70's. Quite nostalgic as I was a trainspotter myself till I became a teenager.

My guess would be that this abandoned building was once a ryokan.

This area, formerly Mimasaka Province, has many legends and stories of Kappa, the mythical water sprite, and the main street of Tsuyama has a series of small statues depicting them.

The previous post was the historic Kajimura Residence I visited at the end of the previous day.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Kajimura Residence Tsuyama


The former Kajimura Residence in the Joto Historic District along the Izumo Kaido in Tsuyama is now known as Joto Mukashi Machiya which basically means "Joto Old Townhouse".

It is open to the public for free as a kind of local history museum.

The original structure dates back to the Edo Period but some of the other buildings were built in subsequent times up to the 20th century.

The storehouses have been turned into museums with typical glass cases displaying historic artifacts.

The garden is quite large and includes two teahouses, one of which can be looked into.

The wealthy merchant family who lived here operated a kind of bank. According to the class system, samurai were at the top, and merchants were at the bottom, below farmers and artisans.

However, as the Edo Period progressed many samurai became poorer and poorer and merchants became wealthy, and in return for financially supporting the samurai were given marks of status reserved technically only for the samurai.

The garden is also recognized nationally, and combined with the teahouse makes this traditional property well worth a visit.

The previous post in this series on Tsuyama while walking the Chugoku Kannon Pilgrimage was  the Joto Preservation District.

Friday, June 9, 2023

Joto Historical District Tsuyama


Dentoteki Kenzobutsu-gun is a category of historic preservation in Japan that translates as "groups of traditional buildings" and there are currently more than 120 of these groups scattered throughout Japan but for brevity's sake I refer to them as either Preservation Districts or Historic Streetscapes.

In recent years I have become more intrigued by them and have sought out some of the more remote examples on my walks around western Japan.

Tsuyama in the mountains of central Okayama Prefecture was a former castle town that is home to two of these Preservation Districts, the more well-known one called Joto.

It's about 1.2 kilometers of the old Izumo Kaido that connected Izumo with the old capital area of Kyoto and Osaka and hence on to Edo.

It was a popular road used by pilgrims visiting Izumo Taisha and had many inns for travellers as well as a wide variety of commercial properties, some of which remain today.

Mostly machiya, traditional townhouses, with many having namako-kabe, literally "sea cucumber walls". the diagonal dark tiles with raised white grouted joints that reminded people of sea cucumbers, as well as  koshiirimado and mushikomado latticed windows.

Theer are, of course, the obligatory sake breweries, as well as shops selling traditional confectionary, including the local specialty kirigasane, and local varieties of tofu, and shops selling tradional craft products using local indigo dye. There are also cafes, restaurants, and teahouses.

Several;properties  are open as museums including the Archives of Western Learning dedicated to local men who introduced various aspects of western knowledge into the area. The biggest open house I will cover in the next post.

Overall it's not a bad street to wander, with lots of traditional architecture without becoming too over touristy.

This was the end of my 4th day walking along the Chugoku Kannon Pilgrimage, and Tsuyama had struck me as being well worth another visit when I have the time to explore more. The previous post was the Chiyo Inari Shrine below Tsuyama Castle.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Chiyo Inari Shrine Tsuyama

Chiyo Inari Shrine Tsuyama

Chiyo Inari Shrine is literally right at the base of the massive stone fortifications that made up Tsuyama Castle.

It was originally a sub-shrine of Tsuyama Hachimangu which stood on the hill, and is said to have been founded in 934, but when the Mori Clan took over the domain and started constructing the castle in 1604 it was moved.

Actually it was moved several times but in 1683 made its final move to the current location.

Being an Inari shrine, the guardians are foxes, with red hats and scarves rather than bibs.

I visited at the end of July and a Chinow was in place inside the torii. These purification hoops can be found at different times of the year nowadays, but as I encountered one a few days earlier it seems that this time of the year is the norm in Okayama.

The roosters on the ema suggest they have been hanging there for nine years.

The main hall dates back to when the shrine was moved here in 1683 and is an Important Cultural Property of the city.

The Hanya carving is quite unusual and is there for protection.

As is common at Inari shrines, there are a lot of smaller, Inari shrines in the grounds.

I visited on the 4th day of my walk along the Chugoku Kannon Pilgrimage and the previous post in the series is Tsuyama Castle.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Tsuyama Castle Okayama

Tsuyama Castle 津山城

Tsuyama Castle Okayama.

Tsuyama castle, in the mountains of Okayama prefecture, is not a very well-known castle, but during the Edo period it was considered one of the greatest in all of Japan.

Its claim to greatness came from the sheer number of fortification structures that were ued in its construction. It was in a real sense extremely over-engineered.


Covering the flat hilltop, it was built on three levels with a total of 77 turrets (yagura), 26 gates, and topped with a 5-storey tower/keep.


The impressive stonework remains, but all the wooden structures were destroyed in the early years of Meiji, when most Japanese castles were dismantled. A few years later, however, some of the gates were reconstructed, and in the 1930's a fake keep was built but it was taken down during WWII as an obvious landmark for bombers.


In 2005 the rather grand Bitchu Turret was rebuilt and the tatami-floored interior is open to the public.


500 cherry trees have been planted in the castle grounds and are now a very popular cherry blossom viewing spot.


A castle was built on this site in the mid 15th century by the Yamana clan, but it was abandoned. In 1603 the domain was given to Mori Tadamasa and it was he who spent 12 years constructing the new, massive fortress.


According to Shogunate regulations, 5, or more, storey keeps were not allowed, but when the inspectors came to view the new castle Mori had the roof removed from the fifth storey and therefore claimed it was only 4 storeys. Apparently, he got away with it.


At the end of the 17th century, the castle passed to the Matsudaira Clan who held it until the end of the domains in the late 19th Century.


Tsuyama is a Hirayamajiro-style castle, a flat hilltop castle, as opposed to a Hirajiro, flatland castle, or a Yamajiro, mountain castle. Other notable Hirayama-style castles include Himeji and Matsuyama.

Tsuyama is a Hirayamajiro-style castle.

I visited on the 4th day of my walk along the Chugoku Kannon pilgrimage. The previous post in this series was Bridges of Shurakuen Gardens.

Tsuyama is a Hirayamajiro-style castle.