|Dates||Destinations (Full descriptions below table)||Depart||Return|
|July 10||Matsudaira-go, Asuke Castle, Okutono Jinya, Ryuukeiin||08:00||17:30|
|July 11||Kiyosu Castle, Ruins of Azuchi Castle, Shigaraki, Omi Hachiman||07:00||N/A|
|July 12||Omi Hachiman, Suigo Meguri||N/A||20:30|
|July 13||Azukizaka, Shomanji, Daijuji, Takisanji, Takisan Toshogu||08:00||16:30|
|July 14||Hozoji, Nagashino & Shitagahara||08:00||17:30|
|July 15||Komaki Castle, Inuyama Castle, Cormorant Fishing||10:30||21:30|
|July 16||Sekigahara, Kunitomo, Shizugatake, Mount Hiei, Gion Festival||07:00||N/A|
|July 17||Gion Festival, Teramachi, Nijo Castle, Yogen-in, Hoko-ji, Mimizuka, Fushimi & Momoyama||N/A||21:00|
Day 1: July 10th – Matsudaira-go, Asuke Castle, Okutono Jinya, Ryuukeiin.
We begin with a visit to Matsudaira-go, a small and isolated valley north of Okazaki City. It was here during the late 14th century that a clan of samurai warriors came to prominence under the leadership of the Matsudaira family. The hills and forests provided a degree of protection, constant fighting with neighboring clans provided experience, and the shogunate of the time did not possess central control over the regional parts of Japan. It was from this secure base, that Matsudaira Kiyoyasu (Tokugawa Ieyasu’s grandfather) captured Okazaki castle in 1524.
We next visit Asuke castle. During this period, most of what are referred to as castles were forts built on hilltops to provide protection. Matchlock muskets and other smooth bore muzzle loading firearms did not start entering Japan until 1543 (the year of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s birth), when Portuguese traders began arriving from China and South East Asia. Although quickly followed by the Spanish, and eventually the Dutch and English, the diffusion of firearms was a slow process. For many years after it was the spear, arrow and sword that decided the outcome. It was not until towards the end of the 16th century that the majority of quality firearms were being manufactured domestically, in places such as Kunitomo. The country was in chaos, the Ashikaga Shogunate having effectively lost authority, and local warlords constantly fought each other for territory, control of domestic trade routes, and for access to the sea for trade (and therefore, more firearms).
Asuke castle is a good example of the kind of fortifications these local rulers constructed to protect and extend their borders. Built mostly of earthworks and utilizing the terrain to the maximum, these were difficult to approach, and relatively inexpensive to defend. Asuke had good sightlines of the road from Shinshu (and providing early warning of approaching forces, using beacons etc), and providing protection for those gathering taxes and tolls from the road below.
Our next destination is Okutono Jinya. Not built until 300 years ago, only 1 of the original 22 buildings remains. The building itself has a fascinating history, and the garden is beautiful, but we are here mainly to climb Mount Murazumi (weather permitting). It is a relatively short climb and not too steep. At the top, the view to the west extends across Nagoya city to the Suzuka mountains in Mie Prefecture. In the days of Matsudaira Kiyoyasu, the flat, agriculturally rich and valuable rice farmland of the Nobi plain that he would have observed from here, was increasingly under the control of the Oda family, based primarily at Kiyosu Castle (amongst other fortifications).
If time permits, we will visit Ryuukeiji, a Soto sect zen temple dating from 1444 (known as Okazaki’s “moss temple”), and rebuilt by Matsudaira Hirotada (Ieyasu’s father) it is approached through a strand of majestic cedars, and is a good example of a yamadera.
Day 2: July 11th – Kiyosu Castle, Ruins of Azuchi Castle, Shigaraki, Omi Hachiman.
We begin with a visit to Kiyosu castle. Once a massive fortification, it was built early in the 15th century to control trade routes, and prior to its enlargement, was also an outer fortress of Orizu castle. When the later was burned down in battle, the local military governors moved to Kiyosu. Captured by Oda Nobunaga in 1555, the area around it grew quickly as a market town with separate districts for samurai and townspeople. It was a good example of building not on mountaintops, but on strategic routes. Defense was enhanced by skillful use of water, with multiple moats.
It was here, after the death of Oda Nobunaga in 1582, that his vassals met to decide on his successor. Hideyoshi turned out to be the most astute politician in the room. After Tokugawa Ieyasu secured power, he decided to have Nagoya Castle built (establishing the Owari branch of the Tokugawa family, with his 9th son, Tokugawa Yoshinao (1601–1650) as daimyo).
The castle, and almost the entire castle town, was dismantled and moved. The donjon (main keep), became a turret on the northwest corner, and this building is still there. One of the few to escape the firebombings by B29 aircraft during 1944-45. The current building at Kiyosu is a reconstruction which hosts a pretty good museum.
We then head to the ruins of Azuchi castle in Shiga Prefecture. Azuchi castle was built in 1576 by Oda Nobunaga as he approached the peak of his powers. By this stage, he was in control (close, highly centralized control) of much of central Japan. Built close enough to Kyoto to control it, as well as the important trading port of Sakai and markets of Osaka respectively. Azuchi was the first example of what we now consider to be a “Japanese castle”. Built with high stone walls, skillful use of terrain, located close to water and transportation routes, it included brilliant artwork by Kano Eitoku (amongst others) and architecture (the donjon, or “tenshu”, was 7 stories high) as demonstrations of power and prestige. It became the model for Oda Nobunaga’s successors.
On clear days you have beautiful views over Lake Biwa, with views to the east extending to Nagahama and Hikone. To the west you can see Mount Hiei, the location of the great Enryakuji monastery complex. Participants in Option B will visit Enryakuji on Wednesday, July 16th.
The history period “Azuchi-Momoyama” 1582-1600 (or 1576-1615 depending on the writer) derives from Oda Nobunaga’s Azuchi Castle, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s massive Fushimi Castle, built on a hilltop near Kyoto long known as Momoyama. The massive Azuchi Castle was destroyed just 6 years after it was built, when Akechi Mitsuhide betrayed Oda Nobunaga and tried to seize power, but was defeated by Hideyoshi.
We now head to nearby Shigaraki. Once the site of an Imperial Residence (built in 745, but abandoned due to the threat posed by forest fires), it is a small village known for being one of the famous “six kilns” of Japan. These days modern kilns are in use (powered by LNG mostly), but historically the pottery known as Shigaraki-yaki was fired in anagama and noborigama (climbing) kilns. Although wood and charcoal fired, a noborigama (a technique introduced from Korea) can produce temperatures in the upper chambers well in excess of 1000 degrees celsius. What hasn’t changed at all is the quality of the local clay. Half-melted bits of white feldspath and quartz are common, producing brownish pottery with a rough surface. We will spend the rest of the day here working with master potters, mostly on powered wheels. As with Seto, the fame of Shigaraki-yaki spread far and wide. Items (especially for the tea ceremony) were highly sort after, particularly amongst the aristocrats and courtesans of Kyoto. After Japan re-opened to foreign trade and visitors, Shigara-yaki quickly became popular in the new trading ports such as Kobe and Yokohama. The British potter Bernard Leach came and spent some time here, and in more recent times, potters and ceramic artists from around the world have come to experience the clay, and to learn, share and collaborate with others.
We will spend the night in historic Omi Hachiman.
Day 3: July 12th – Omi Hachiman, Suigo Meguri.
“Those who control Omi control Japan” – Omi is the name of the region around Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest freshwater lake, and one of the world’s oldest lakes.
With its strategic location at the “cross roads” of eastern and western Japan, the area was secured by Oda Nobunaga when he defeated the Rokkaku clan in 1568 during his march to Kyoto. Omi Hachiman (then just called Hachiman) became a very prosperous marketplace. Created as a castle town by Toyotomi Hidetsugu (Hideyoshi’s nephew) in 1585, he chose to build a new castle, closer to the lakeshore (as his uncle had at Nagahama) since both Azuchi and Kannonji (the mountaintop castle of the Rokkaku) had both been destroyed. Canals and warehouses were built, taxes and tariffs lowered, and standardized measures enforced.
The merchants (Omi Shonin) began as traveling salesmen. Easily able to travel anywhere across the lake, or down river to Fushimi & Osaka, they quickly learned of the variety of regional products, became masters of logistics, and using their growing experience of the shipping businesses connecting Osaka to western Japan via the Seto Inland Sea, soon eventually learned how to extend that network northwards to Edo (now Tokyo).
We can enter the houses and warehouses of many of these merchants. They had to hide their wealth (burying silver, wearing poorer looking kimono over their fine silks when traveling and so on) but the Omi merchants were involved in the creation of new financial and manufacturing businesses in the newly re-unified Japan. Experience that would prove essential when Japan was re-opened to foreign trade in the mid-19th century. Even today, many well known firms such as trading companies (Itochu, Marubeni and Tomen), department store chains (Takashimaya, Daimaru and Seibu), Textiles (Nisshinbo and Toyobo) amongst others, have their origins in Omi Hachiman.
Apart from the merchant houses, we’ll see the Hachiman-bori canal (the cheapest way to move bulk goods was by boat) and the Kawara Museum.
Next is the Suigo Meguri, to experience how people traveled by water in the days before engines. These are shallow draft, largely flat bottom boats, which we will ride in as we explore the wetlands and lagoon just northeast of town.
Depending on time and weather, you then have the choice of visiting either Choumeiji (a famous temple on the lake shore, and part of the 33 temple “west country” pilgrimage route), or Nagahama, the castletown of Toyotomi Hideyoshi at the eastern end of the lake. We then return to Okazaki.
Day 4: July 13th – Azukizaka, Shomanji, Daijuji, Takisanji, Takisan Toshogu.
We begin with a quick visit to the battlefield of Azukizaka. Two battles were fought here in 1542 and 1560 respectively, and while small in scale (compared to Nagashino, Sekigahara or Osaka, these were “large skirmishes”), had significant outcomes. These days you can still see the gradient of the land and the reason why it was selected as a battlefield, but visually it is now dominated by a large supermarket, enormous funeral hall, and a Catholic Girl’s High School. Progess.
In 1542 the clash was between the Oda and the Matsudaira. There was not a conclusive outcome, but the lesson learned by Matsudaira Hirotada (Ieyasu’s father) was that he needed assistance if he was going to have any chance of holding on to Okazaki and the Matsudaira lands, and so eventually became a retainer of the more powerful Imagawa clan in what we now call Shizuoka. If this had not occurred, The young Ieyasu (then named Takechiyo) would not have been sent as a hostage to the Imagawa, nor captured enroute by the Oda, nor developed the close ties with various members of the Oda clan and their retainers that led to the alliance that protected Ieyasu in the 1570’s.
By 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto, the well educated leader of the Imagawa clan, had consolidated power over two domains (quite significant at that time), had promulgated an advanced code of law, and decided to march on Kyoto to restore order (under his leadership). Leading about 20,000 men, he marched through Okazaki into the territory controlled by the Oda. Tokugawa Ieyasu led a detachment to attack a frontier fort (not dissimilar to Asuke Castle), and was therefore not present when the heavily outnumbered Oda Nobunaga launched a surprise attack on Imagawa Yoshimoto’s main force and annihilated the Imagawa leadership at the Battle of Okehazama.
Ieyasu, still a teenager, was thus free of his obligations to the Imagawa, and led his small force of men to Okazaki in order to re-establish Matsudaira control of Okazaki castle and the rich farmland surrounding it. This didn’t go as smoothly as he may have hoped. The armed farmers and warrior monks of the militant Buddhist Ikko-Ikki sect were causing all sorts of problems for the samurai classes throughout Japan. In what is now called Kanazawa, the farmers and monks succesfully drove the military caste out, establishing a “peasant’s kingdom”. For Oda Nonunaga, the clergy were a constant thorn, and led to the destruction of Kyoto’s Enryaku-ji, amongst other massacres.
Assisted by loyal retainers, Ieyasu set about trying to establish his tax base. Apart from fighting the Ikko-Ikki at Azukizaka and elsewhere, he managed to get shot (the bullet didn’t fully penetrate his armor), and on occasion, outnumbered and surrounded, he sought refuge in the Matsudaira friendly temple Daijuji, where he decided to commit suicide. The Chief Priest talked him out of it. The fighting was bitter, and while the Matsudaira/Mikawa warriors had the advantage of cavalry, the peasants were often able to obtain weapons picked from the battlefield, or in some cases from deserters.
We next briefly visit Shomanji. Located on the flat alluvial floodplain, Ikko-Ikki supporters entrenched themselves and savage fighting took place for several months. Eventually, Ieyasu had control of Okazaki.
Next is a visit to Daijuji. Established in 1475, it became the Matsudaira family temple, and then that of the Tokugawa family when Ieyasu change his name again, in order to be able to claim descent from the Minamoto family. The temple includes the graves of Ieyasu’s ancestors (placed here in 1602, after his victory at the Battle of Sekigahara), and some interesting buildings. The Taho tower, a very unusual design, was built in 1525 by Ieyasu’s grandfather, the bell tower, by his grandson Iemitsu. Inside the main hall, the beautiful screen paintings by the noted artist Reizei Tamechika have been carefully preserved, as have the “ihai”, the burial tablets of Ieyasu, and all of the subsequent Tokugawa shoguns, with the exception of the last (Tokugawa Yoshinobu, probably as he didn’t die in office). The amount of history here is incredible. The enormous tree at the back of the main hall was personally planted by Ieyasu. And looking through the main gate, you can see Okazaki Castle. To this day, the building codes of the city ban any construction between Daijuji and the Castle that could obstruct the viewline.
Our next destination is Takisanji. Dating from the late 7th century when it was known as Kishokiji, the current structures were built by a priest named Kanden, an elder cousin of Minamoto Yoritomo (1147-1199), the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate. A year after Yorimoto’s death, Kanden built a Zen temple here and enshrined Yoritomo’s hair and teeth inside the Goddess of Mercy. Restored in 1222, the main hall is considered to have the perfect Kamakura roofline. The Sanmon gate is also considered perfect, but it does have a sad history.
The connection to Minamoto Yoritomo is wwhat brought Tokugawa Ieyasu here. Being a descendant (no one was brave enough to argue) of Minamoto Yoritomo was considered essential in order to become Shogun. After Ieyasu’s death, to further consolidate Tokugawa power, he was deified. Given the posthumous name Tosho (Light of the east), a series of Toshogu shrines were built by the shogunate and daimyo, to venerate the new deity. The first 3 built were At Kunozan, Nikko, and next to Takisanji. Know as the Takisan Toshogu, it is brilliantly colored and elegantly designed, with a Karamon (literally Chinese style gate) reflecting the influence of Ming Dynasty China on Tokugawa commissioned architecture.
Day 4 finishes a little earlier (4:30pm) than the other days, in order to enable members of the History Program tour to participate in the evening’s optional trip to Nagoya Dome for the baseball match.
Day 5: July 14th – Hozoji, Nagashino & Shitagahara.
We begin with a visit to Hozoji, said to have been founded by an ascetic priest named Gyoki in 701. Located very close to the old Tokaido road (which linked eastern Japan with the capitals of Nara and then Kyoto), the main hall was built in the 14th century, and it was here that the young Ieyasu (then named Takechiyo), was educated. Although he was a hostage of the Imagawa, he was raised to become a samurai, in accordance with his family status. Many of the cultural properties here are related to this time. Ancient pine trees where the child hung his scrolls to dry, the well that provided the water for use in calligraphy. Later in life, Ieyasu owed much of his success to his alliance building and prolific letter writing. These skills began here.
Unsurprisingly, right next to the main hall of Hozoji there is a Toshogu shrine. Due to the patronage of the shogunate, the temple prospered and the wooden buildings were well maintained. An unusual feature commemorates Kondo Isami, the leader of the Shinsengumi during the bakumatsu period which saw the shogunate fall from power in 1868. After his execution (near Tokyo) a burial mound was made to contain his severed head, which had been displayed on a spike in Kyoto. A statue were erected much later.
Our next destinations are in the Toyokawa valley, where from 1573 to 1575, Tokugawa Ieyasu and allies, battled against the armies led by Takeda Shingen and his son. The battlefields are fairly well preserved. We start with a visit to a small museum next to the ruins of Nagashino castle, which contains many artifacts (from muskets to drums with visible blood stains), before having a look around. You can see from the topography how the small garrison was able to hold out for as long as they did, and there are some interesting sites, such as the place where the captured Torii Suneemon called across the river, urging the garrison to keep fighting (and was executed for his trouble.)
From Nagashino, we head to nearby Shitagahara, where the final battle was fought between the Takeda with their powerful cavalry, and the heavily reinforced Oda-Tokugawa forces. It is still farmland, and though the rice paddies now have straightened bunds (due to land reform and mechanization of rice agriculture), and the small stream that meandered through the valley in 1575 now has reinforced walls, everything is still very easy to visualize. A section of the barricades that Nonunaga has prepared to protect his infantry against the rampant cavalry has been reconstructed.
If time and weather permit, we will end the day with a visit to the Horai Senmaida.
Day 6: July 15th – Komaki Castle, Inuyama Castle, Cormorant Fishing.
For our final day, we will begin with visits to Komaki Castle and Inuyama Castle. Both were originally controlled by the Oda (Komaki was built by Oda Nobunaga), and they became better known for their role in the Battle of Komaki and Nagakute fought between Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1584. The battle was inconclusive with neither prepared to risk defeat.
Inuyama castle is one of only 12 castles in Japan that predates Sekigahara, and is listed as a national treasure. Apart from stunning views, it has a beautiful garden, and a very famous tea house.
In the evening we will board a boat for dinner, and to enjoy watching the cormorant fishing.
Day 7: July 16th – Sekigahara, Kunitomo, Shizugatake, Mount Hiei, Gion Festival.
Today we begin an overnight visit to Kyoto. Enroute, we visit a number of historically important sites in modern day Shiga Prefecture (and will have a fantastic lunch).
It isn’t possible to visit the sites in historically chronological order, so our first destination is the Battlefield of Sekigahara. Located on the western edge of the flat plain currently dominated by the sprawling metropolitan area of Nagoya, the narrow pass was a choke point between eastern and western Japan. Even today, the shinkansen, expressway and Tokaido main line pass through here. In 1600, the valley was the site of the largest and bloodiest battle in Japan’s long history of civil war. The victory here by Tokugawa Ieyasu, filled the power vacuum that had been created by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s death in 1598. We will observe the battlefield from the viewpoint of Ishida Mitsunari, Ieyasu’s rival, who purported to be acting in support of Hideyoshi’s young heir, Hideyori. This battle (and many others such as the sieges of Fushimi Castle) effectively marks the beginning of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
We next visit the Kunitomo Matchlock Museum. The mass production of firearms domestically at Kunitomo, Sakai (Osaka) and a handful of other foundry centers tipped the balance of power towards the Oda, Toyotomi, and later Tokugawa. At Kunitomo, good quality ore was mined, and high grade charcoal obtained from the nearby forests. When Oda Nobunaga bequeathed the Kunitomo district to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the expansion of armaments production became one of his top priorities. A brilliant organizer, Hideyoshi knew this area well, having fought under Oda Nobunaga during the battles fought in 1570 & 1573 at nearby Anegawa and Odani Castle during the fighting against the Azai and Asakura clans.
In 1582, following the betrayal and death of Oda Nobunaga and his heir, Hideyoshi outwitted and defeated his rivals. In a series of battles, meetings and treaties, he was able to consolidate power and win over most of the Oda clan and supporters. Our next destination is the Battlefield of Shizugatake, where in 1583 after a typically speedy Hideyoshi forced march, he defeated Shibata Katsue. The battlefield itself is a mountain, with exceptional views over the northern reaches of Lake Biwa and Lake Yogo. After taking in the views, we will enjoy lunch at nearby Gennai (gennai.jp). Some seriously awesome food.
Our next destination is Enryaku-ji on Mount Hiei. Overlooking the cities of Kyoto and Otsu at the western end of the massive lake, Enryaku-ji remains an important spiritual center to this day, and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage listings. The monastery was famous for it’s militant warrior monks, who constantly interfered in the politics of the capital, and enraged Oda Nobunaga through their alliance with the Azai and Asakura clans. In 1571, Nobunaga surrounded the mountaintop temple, before slaughtering all of the monks, and razing the complex to the ground.
In the evening we descend into Kyoto for the Gion Festival. An ancient and colorful festival, this is a good chance to wear your yukata, and take in the many floats that are prepared for the parade the following day. Tonight is Yoiyama, the night before the great parade. There is music, dancing (it is a good chance to see Geiko perform) and many of the streets of Gion and Teramachi and closed to traffic and lined with food stalls. Tonight is essentially free time, though we will visit Yasaka Jinja. We are staying in a traditional ryokan in the heart of Gion, literally 10 meters from the entrance to Kennin-ji, Kyoto’s oldest Zen temple.
Day 8: July 17th – Gion Festival, Teramachi, Nijo Castle, Hoko-ji, Mimizuka, Yogen-in, Fushimi Port & Canals, Momoyama.
If you are an early riser, you have the chance to visit Kennin-ji before watching the Yamaboko Junko (parade). The massive floats are hauled through the city, it is a great spectacle, dating back to the 9th century. The parade takes place around Teramachi, the temple district where Hideyoshi concentrated many temples and shrines inside a protective town wall. In Hideyoshi’s day, the city (and therefore the wall) was on the west bank of the Kamogawa. The Great Buddha, Hoko-ji, and what is now the Gion district, lie across the river at the foothills of the Higashiyama. From Teramachi we will walk via the site of Honnō-ji, the temple where Oda Nobunaga was staying when he was betrayed, on our way to Nijo Castle.
For 260 years, Nijo was the base of administration for the Tokugawa Shogunate in Kyoto. After the mass executions that followed Sekigahara, Tokugawa Ieyasu was wary of staying in Kyoto without adequate security. The Nijo Palace within the castle is the original building, with nightingale floors and beautiful artworks. It was in this palace that Ieyasu and his son Hidetada, met Hideyoshi’s young heir (Hideyori).
From Nijo we will head southeast to Yogen-in. This will give you a good idea of how complicated some samurai family histories in the Sengoku Jidai could become. When Oda Nobunnaga and Hideyoshi destroyed Odani Castle in 1573, the wife (Oichi) and three daughters of the defeated daimyo were allowed to leave. Oichi married Shibata Katsue, and was killed during the fighting with Hideyoshi in 1582. The eldest of the three daughters (Yodo) became Hideyoshi’s concubine, then second wife, and mother to Hideyori. She and Hideyori died in 1615 during the siege of Osaka Castle, when Tokugawa Ieyasu destroyed Toyotomi Hideyori and his supporters. The temple was built by Yodo to commemorate her father (Asai Nagamasa), and rebuilt by the youngest of the three daughters (Oeyo), who married Tokugawa Hidetada. Just to make it more complicated, Oeyo’s children included the 3rd shogun (Iemitsu), who was present at the battle of Osaka in 1615, and her daughter married Hideyori (but survived 1615).
One of the interesting things about Yogen-in is that it contains memorials to the Asai, Toyotomi and Tokugawa. It also has an unusual ceiling. When Oeyo had the temple repaired, she ordered that the ceiling use timber taken from the floors of Fushimi castle. The garrison of Fushimi castle had fought to the last man in 1600, buying Tokugawa Ieyasu badly needed time to assemble his forces. You can still see the blood stains when you look up.
From Yogen-in, it is a short walk to Hoko-ji and the Toyotomi Jinja, and nearby Mimizuka. Hoko-ji was the site of the Great Buddha (Daibutsu) constructed by Hideyoshi (ostensibly using melted down weapons confiscated from the peasantry), and has the famous bell that Tokugawa Ieyasu used as a pretext to destroy Hideyori in 1615. We will also visit the Mimizuka, a legacy of Hideyoshi’s invasions of Korea. Traditionally samurai warriors would sever the heads of their enemies and display them to their leader. The logistics of transporting heads across the Tsushima strait separating Kyushu from Korea proved too difficult, so noses were severed instead. This mound shaped memorial is believed to contain some 38,000 noses of Korea and Chinese Ming dynasty troops.
We now head south to Fushimi. When Fushimi castle was built, enormous resources were used to create the moats and canals connecting Fushimi with the rivers connecting Lake Biwa with Osaka and the inland sea. As Fushimi was positioned at the tidewater mark, it rapidly became an important market town and distribution center. Goods were transshipped from river boats to sea going vessels, and the production of heavy, bulky goods (such as sake) became an important industry. Fushimi sake remains famous to this day, so if time permits, we’ll visit the Gekkeikan brewery. We end the day with a visit to Momoyama, the location of Hideyoshi’s castle.