Restoration of Kominejo Castle stone walls in Shirakawa, Oct. 14, 2018. (白河小峰城 の 石垣修復 を見る 2018年10月14日 )

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Stone walls of Kominejo Castle site in Shirakawa were heavily damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Restoration work began after the disaster and it took more than 7 years to fix the majority of the walls. Today the repaired walls were opened to the public for only a single day and photo above shows the repaired western stone wall protecting the Honmaru or the central area of the castle. The location of the castle was right next (north side) to JR Shirakawa Station.

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Photo above was a map of the castle area posted at the site showing the repaired portion of the stone walls in red and blue. Restoration work was completed for the major parts except for the yellow part in the east. All the work is scheduled to be finished in the next few years when all the area will be open to the general public.

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Photo above shows the northern side of the wall which is the longest. White colored stones show the repaired part of the collapse.

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Photo above shows stone wall at the back side (northern side) of 3-story Yagura or turret building. This stone wall was one of the oldest ones built even before the large-scale reconstruction work between 1629 and 1632 lead by the load Niwa Nagashige.

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Right next to the east side of the castle area there was a large tomb for some of the new government force solders from Satsuma domain who died in the Boshin civil war battle in Shirakawa as shown above.
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Photos above show Shimizumon gate site (left hand side) which was the most important gate for the castle and which was located just in front of the main 3-story Yagura building. A brief description panel stood at the site.

Yanagiya Ryokan site in Shirakawa: Oct. 4, 2018. (白河の柳屋旅館跡 戊辰150年 2018年10月4日)

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I visited Shirakawa City today. Commemorating 150th anniversary of the end of Boshin Civil War, some of the restoration works for historic sites have been done in the city. Former Yanagiya Ryokan site, as shown above, was one of them. This was an upscale inn for high-ranking samurai in Edo Period. After Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Emperor Meiji rested at this place on the way to Tohoku region expedition in 1881 and stayed at here on the way back. The photo shows the front garden and symbolic kura-type or storehouse-type building. The location was 3-minute walk from JR Shirakawa Station as shown in the map below.

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A couple of brief description boards above in Japanese, both of which stood at the site, said the inn was used by a large samurai group of 106 which fought against new Meiji Government forces at Shirakawaguchi Battle on May 1st of 1868. This was the largest battle in Shirakawa.

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A photo above shows a front gate of the former Yanagiya Ryokan.

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Photo above shows a stone memorial for the stay by the Emperor Meiji in 1881.

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A whole appearance of the renovated building is shown above. The original building was built in 1804. Because it suffered damage by the March 11th earthquake in 2011, repair and restoration work began in 2015 and completed on March, 2018.

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A photo above shows the interior which consists of three Japanese-style tatami rooms.

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There was a well in the exterior. The well was 9-meter deep and it was used to provide fresh water for the Emperor Meiji.

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In the map above, which stands at the site, red sign shows the location of Yanagiya Ryokan. It is close to JR Shirakawa Station which is shown in the bottom left. There were about 50 inns in this Motomachi district at the time along the old Oshu Highway, which is now a national route 294.

Shirakawa Dharma Doll Market, February 11, 2018 (白河だるま市 と 歴史探訪2 2018年2月11日)

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Today was February 11, 2018, Shirakawa Dharma Dolls Market Day! People crowded at the venue to buy this year’s new Dharma dolls. The venue was along the main street close to JR Shirakawa Station. The street was part of an old highway “Oshukaido” from Edo Period about 400 years ago. The market as you see in the photo above started about 100 years ago in Meiji Period. In recent years, the market has been held on February 11th (National Foundation Day) of every year.

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A god of the market called “Ichigamisama” was enshrined at a shrine in the center of the market as shown above. Shirakawa City’s local manga character “Komine shiro” on the upper left was also cheering up the market.

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Another similar sales stand is shown above. There were about 30 of these shops as well as many other food stands.

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These are the Dharma dolls I purchased today. The left one is from Watanabe Dharma Workshop, and the right one is from Sagawa Dharma Workshop. These are the two main workshops in the city today. The design is different but the common feature is that both include crane, turtle, pine tree, bamboo, and ume blossoms as symbols of good luck and longevity.

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I stopped at some of the historic heritage in the city. One was Kansenji Temple as shown above, located a few minute walk from the marketplace. A description in Japanese was at the site, as shown in the middle picture above. The temple was first built in 1336 by a Shirakawa lord Yuki Munehiro at the time. His statue was placed in the precinct as shown above. The Yuki family controlled the Shirakawa area for about 400 years between 12th and 16th century.

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Next, I stopped at Shohoji Temple as shown above. The temple was first built around the middle of 14th century by Yuki Chikatomo who was a son of Munehiro, for the memorial of his father.

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In the afternoon, I visited Mahoron as shown above, which was a Fukushima Prefecture Cultural Assets Center. This was located just south of Shirakawa city center, where ancient Paleolithic remains, Ichiridan A site, were excavated.

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Some of the ancient stone tools unearthed from Ichiridan A site were displayed as shown above.

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Within the area of the facility, an old house from Nara Period, some 1300 years ago, was restored as shown above.

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A set of restored harnesses found at Zaruuchi Tumuli site from 7th century, are also displayed in the facility as shown above.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
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