Shirakawa historic sites tour: day 3, Nov. 15, 2018. (白河史跡巡り3日目 古墳群 2018年11月15日)

Today I headed towards eastern part of Shirakawa mainly along the Abukuma River and visited ancient kofuns (tumuli or burial mounds) and demolished temple ruins.

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Photos above show the largest kofun I visited today called Shimousazuka Kofun built in late 500’s. Large mound area spreading on a field in front was the kofun site which was 71.8m long keyhole shape type. It was considered that local powerful clan at Shirakawa at the time was buried in here. Most of the surrounding areas were now rice fields.

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Very close to this kofun site, ancient demolished temple site was excavated which was called Kariyado temple ruins. At the site shown above there were only some remains of foundations left but many artifacts were already taken out and preserved in museums. The temple existed between 700’s and 900’s.

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Earlier in the morning on the way toward east, I visited some more different types of kofuns. One of them was shown above named Yachikubo Kofun estimated to be built in late 600’s. A part of the stone structure was revealed on the surface but the whole shape was round type of 17m diameter.

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Another kofun site was Nojikubo site located very close to the Yachikubo site. The actual kofun was hiding underground and I could only see the location site in a wood as shown above. The type of this kofun, which was round at the top and square at the bottom, was a rare type across Japan. The time of this kofun was considered to be the late 600’s which was the same as Yachikubo.

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The last kofun site I visited today was Zaruuchi Kofun now moved and restored on the ground of Kochinodai Park located close to the original site. It looked as shown above. It was a round kofun of a diameter of 11.5m estimated to be built in 600’s.

Some other historic sites I stopped at today are shown below.

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Photo above shows Utatanenomori site where a powerful general Minamoto-no-Yoshiie (1039-1106) was said to have taken a nap here.

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Photo above shows Otaki Spring where the general Minamoto-no-Yoshiie loved during “Zenkunennoeki” battle in Tohoku (1051-1062).

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Photo above shows foot of Mt. Shinchi which had a nickname “Hitowasurezu-no-yama”. This word frequently appeared in Japanese Waka poem in the old days.

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Finally I stayed overnight at Kitsuneuchi hot spring inn as shown above located in the easternmost part of Shirakawa.

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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Shirakawa historic sites tour: day 2, Nov. 14, 2018. (白河史跡巡り2日目 城下町2018年11月14日)

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Today was the second day and I first stopped at well preserved graveyard of the first lord of Shirakawa domain Niwa Nagashige in Edo Period. Photo above was a small pond called “Shonanko” located at the entrance point for the graveyard.

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Walking up for a while I came to a mausoleum of the lord Niwa Nagashige (1571-1637) as shown above.

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In the same graveyard there were tombs for other lords who served for Shirakawa domain. A brief description board on site, as shown above, explained it.

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There was also a tomb, as shown above, for 23 Nihonmatsu domain soldiers who died in Boshin Civil War in 1868. Why? Because Niwa lord family later moved to Nihonmatsu domain.

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Near the graveyard, there was a historic Daitoji Temple shown above in Umamachi area. The Buddhist temple was originally found in early 800’s at a separate place but later the lord Niwa Nagashige moved to the current place.

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Then I pedaled the bike heading toward Shirakawa Castle site, which was established between 1331 and 1337 by Yuki Munehiro who was a family member of powerful Shirakawa-Yuki clan at the time. The site was located on top of a large hill and the approach looked as shown above. (This site is different from Kominejo Castle which was built later than this one.)

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Climbing up the steps the top ground looked as shown above. Only a small shrine and a monument were there.

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Looking into the small shrine I found the name of the founder Yuki Munehiro as shown above.

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Leaving Shirakawa Castle site I headed to Nanko Park completed in 1801 by Shirakawa domain lord Matsudaira Sadanobu, which was designated as national historic site as well as national scenic site. This was the first official park in Japan and the entrance of the park looked as shown above.

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A Japanese style garden “Suirakuen” made later was located adjacent to Lake Nanko. The late autumn foliage looked as shown above.

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Right next to this garden there was Nanko Shrine where Shirakawa domain lord Matsudaira Sadanobu who developed Nanko Park was enshrined. There was a statue of the lord at the entrance of the shrine as shown above.

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A historic teahouse building “Shofutei-ragetsuan” which was built in 1795 was located within the precinct. The teahouse was originally built in separate place and loved by the lord, but later moved to the current site.

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Another historic teahouse called “Kyorakutei” was located on a small hill on the edge of Lake Nanko as shown above. It was built between 1801 and 1803 after the development of Nanko Park was finished. The name symbolized the basic idea of the lord that everyone should enjoy their life regardless of rank, position or class. Near Kyorakutei there was a tomb for Tanagura domain soldiers who fought and died in Boshin Civil War in Shirakawa battlefield.

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Leaving Nanko Park I headed to Inariyama site where Shirakawaguchi battle, which was the fiercest Boshin fight in Shirakawa between Tohoku region allied forces and the new government forces. Photo above was a grave for Aizu domain soldiers who died in the Shirakawaguchi battle.

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There was another memorial monument shown above for all the victims of Boshin Shirakawaguchi battle.

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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Shirakawa historic sites tour: day 1, Nov. 13, 2018. (白河史跡巡り1日目 大信地区 2018年11月13日)

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I was looking for days when I can go around historic sites in Shirakawa area by bike, and I found that this week was a perfect choice because of mild days before it gets colder.
On the first day, I started pedaling from Koriyama heading toward Taishin which was northern district of Shirakawa. Major topic today was an old Aizu (or Shirakawa) Highway in Edo Period between Shirakawa and Aizu which went through mountainous area of Taishin. Photo above shows late autumn view along the narrow highway.

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I found an “ichirizuka”, a kind of milestone which was placed every 4km in Edo Period along major highways, as shown in the pictures above together with a description board on the site. This site was called Iidoyo Ichirizuka after the name of the location.

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Photo above shows today’s view of Kamikoya village which prospered as one of the post towns along the highway. A map of the village together with history description was posted on the site as shown above. The village was formed in the late 1500’s and since then many high-ranking shogunate officials stayed at here.

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Entering into Taishin from north this morning, I first stopped at an old stone memorial as shown above. This kind of old stone plate memorial was called “itahi”. And this particular one was called Kencho-no-itahi which was inscribed as made in the year 1256.

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The next stop was Nakayama Gishu Memorial Library located in the central part of Taishin as shown above. Gishu Nakayama (1900-1969) was a renowned writer from Taishin who won distinguished literary awards including Akutagawa Award. He always loved and referred to the beautiful landscape of Taishin.

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Kumano Shrine in Taishin, as shown above, holds special treasure called “Mishotai” or “kakebotoke” which combines Shinto and Buddhism. The treasure made in 1433 was designated as a prefectural important cultural asset.

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At the end of old Aizu Highway, there was a place named “Onnaishi” where it was an entry point into the central part of Shirakawa as well as the start (or end) point of old Oshu Highway which led to Edo (Tokyo). In the late 1600’s the population of Shirakawa castle town was about 15,000 and at the same time it was the 27th (last) post town from Edo. Some of the tombs for the victims of Boshin Civil War in 1868 were placed at this location. One of them as shown above was for 150 soldiers from Sendai domain who lost their lives at the battleground of Shirakawa.

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PB137459 (560x424)Another one as shown above was for a woman called Shige who was tragically killed during the war.

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Finally I came to the central part of Shirakawa castle town and found a historic building called Taiko-yagura. This was the only original building left today which was located within Kominejo Castle in Edo Period. It was moved later to this place and preserved.

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Photo above shows the only remain of the main road between Tamachi Gate in the east and Kitakoji Gate closer to the center of the Kominejo Castle.

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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Author:A man who loves Fukushima (福島大好きおじさん)
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