Shirakawa historic sites tour: day 4, Nov. 16, 2018. (白河史跡巡り4日目 建鉾山 2018年11月16日)

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Today was the last day of Shirakawa historic sites tour series. Leaving Kitsuneuchi hot spring inn, I pedaled the bike toward southwest. Mt. Tatehoko (402m), located along the old Tanagura Highway, had been a place of worship since 400’s. Photo above was a view on top of the mountain with a large sacred stone and a small shrine beside it. It took less than 30 minutes to get to the summit by foot from Mimori trailhead.

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A panoramic view from the top expanded among the eastern plain of Shirakawa as shown above.

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The shape of Mt. Tatehoko looked as shown on the left hand side of the picture above. It was a typical cone shape which was best for the descent of god. The river in front was the Abukuma River.

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Very close to this mountain there was a large zelkova tree which was 600 years old as shown above. This sacred tree was called “Tsukiyomizakura” and was designated as natural monument of Shirakawa City.

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And then I came to a branch, as shown above, for a special road dedicated for a bus service between Tanagura and Shirakawa. The bus travels on this exclusive road and no other traffic is allowed including cars, bikes, and even pedestrians. This road was originally a railroad track called Hakuho Line (1916-1944) between tanagura and Shirakawa, but later it was changed to JR bus line.

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Photo above shows one of the bus stops along the route.

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The next stop was a very rare natural habitat for a plant called Byakkoi, as shown above, located at Kaneyama village of Omotego district. This was the only known natural habitat for this plant on this planet except for Sweden.

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Then I pedaled further north and stopped at Jozaiin Temple, as shown above, which was famous for one of three Sesshoseki stones or killer stones. Zen priest Genno founded this temple in 1376.

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Sesshoseki killer stone originally located at Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, was poisonous at first, but Genno turned it to a good one and the stone was split into three pieces, one at here in Jozaiin backyard, as shown above, the other in Aizu.

Some other sites I stopped today are shown below.

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Photo above was Chodenji Temple established in 1635 in Kamako village. This area was once governed by Echigo-Takada domain instead of Shirakawa domain, but prospered as a post town in 1800’s

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Photo above shows Hozen-in Temple established in 1400’s and this temple holds an old round casting copper plate called “Unban” made in 1467. It was designated as a prefectural important cultural asset.

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 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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