12 Chapters of Nagoya Tour: Chapter 8 – Atsuta History Course
Welcome back. We move on to Chapter 8: Atsuta History Course. Atsuta Shrine is considered one of the most venerable shrines in Japan second to Ise Grand Shrine or simply called ‘Jingu’ meaning The Shrine. This chapter’s course will introduce us not only to Atsuta Shrine and its treasures but some history around its property. So join me for a bit of a stroll around Atsuta.
1. Atsuta Jingu (Main Shrine). I have visited this shrine more than any other shrines in Nagoya. I am not a shinto believer but do not mind experiencing the many events celebrated in this beautiful temple. Previous visits included last Christmas day when they replaced the shimenawa and in Chapter 3 of the Nagoya Tour which I have written about. The other times I have visited were for other reasons but every time it seemed I discover something new about the shrine.
For this chapter I timed to visit Atsuta when they had a special dance festival on the first of May. The Bugaku Shinji is a ceremonial dance performed with ancient court music since the tenth century during the Heian era. Present day celebrations are just reminders of the bygone monarchy days of Nagoya.
2. Atsuta Jungu (Treasure Museum). Since 1966 the museum collection exceeds 6000 items, of which 95 precious items are designated as national treasures of Nagoya. The items were donated by people from the imperial families to general philanthropists, including a large number of swords.
3. Saidanbashi Bridge (Birthplace of Dodoitsu). This small bridge was a scene of a farewell between a mother and her son on his way to the battle of Odawara, led by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1590. The young man, unfortunately, died during his military service wherein the mother replaced it as a memorial for her lost son. The original ornamental cap on the post was engraved with a touching inscription of the mother’s love and is now kept in the Nagoya City museum. Dodoitsu, a Japanese poetry and a famous ballad played with a three-stringed Japanese instrument-shamisen apparently originated here. The area later on flourished as a literary centre.
4. Miya No Watashi Park. This park was the former site of a ferry crossing along the only sea route on the Tokaido Highway. Known as Shichiri no Watashi, a Japanese phrase which means crossing on seven ri, which translates to 27 kilometres in current measurement. The stone night light marked the departure and arrival of night ferries.
5. Shirotori Garden. This is a beautiful Japanese garden with a theme called ‘a watery story’ to represent the geographical features of the Chubu region. Established in 1991 and spreads through 3.7 hectares. I have visited this garden numerous times as well but never tire of its changing beauty. I have written about previous visits here and here. So for this post I would like to show the garden during different colours.
6. Hoji-ji Temple, Shiratori Tomb. The shrine was built as a small local shrine where Kobo Daishi worshiped Yamatotakeru-no-Mikoto and protects the treasure of Shiratori Tomb, believed to be the tomb of Yamatotakeru.
7. Danpusan Tomb. Danpusan means ‘to be without a husband’ as a reference to Mizuhime, wife of Prince Yamato Takeru, was known for not re-marrying after Takeru died. This is one of the legends behind this burial mound which has not been excavated. Known as the largest key-hole shaped mound, whoever was buried there must have been an important figure in history.
8. Seigan-ji Temple (Birthplace of Minamoto-no Yoritomo). The shrine contains a stone monument as a birthplace of Minamoto-no Yoritomo in 1147, the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate, a Japanese feudal military government. He was the third son of Minamoto-no Yoshitomo, the head of the Minamoto clan, a general during the Heian Period of the Japanese history.
This course was a rather interesting walking tour as it contained a number of historical facts that I would never have known just by visiting the shrine. I hope you enjoyed that as much as I have.
If you would like to trace previous chapters, here they are:
Chapter 1: Nagoya Castle Course
Chapter 2: Course covering region of the Owari Tokugawa family and the Cultural Path
Chapter 3: Oda Nobunaga “Owari’s Foolhardy Youth” Course
Chapter 4: Course Covering the Birthplace of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Kato Kiyomasa
Chapter 5: Course for Experiencing Nagoya Manufacturing
Chapter 6: Nagoya Stroll Course
Chapter 7: Funtown Osu Course