My latest Post.

This view,this beauty
A tear unbidden
Creeps into my eye.

My stay is short
But I shall return to this place
If only my life is long enough.

Such beauty
Gazing upon it
I hope my years are many.

Bokusui Wakayama.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hida-Takayama - History.

Flag of Takayama.
    Throughout this blog, plus the following blogs attached to this title, I refer to the area as Hida-Takayama and Takayama. To allay any confusion, they are both the same place. Many of the towns & cities in this area use the term Hida  as part of their name, which dates back before the modern Prefecture System was established in Japan. Prior to that the country was divided-up into Tens of Kuni (countries).
Ryomen Sukuna.
Where better to start this series about Hida-Takayama, than with it's history. And what a history it is. There is evidence that the area was settled as far back as the Jomon Period,  from about 300 BC-to-538 AD, where the culture of Takayama was  characterized by the unique patterns on their Earthenware. According to the Nihon Shoki (The Chronicles of Japan, edited in 720 AD) a head of the powerful regional clan, Ryomen Sukuna, was defeated by the army of the Imperial Court in 377 AD. The image on the left is a wooden statue of him, created by Enku, a Buddhist Monk at the Zenko-ji Temple ( We visited this complex back in 2003 during a tour of the area).
Three storied Pagoda
Hida Kokubun-ji Temple.
   Lets come forward to the Nara Period (710 AD-to-794 AD). Because the inhabitants of Takayama were best known for their architectural and carpentry skills, the then central government made a law where 10-men in every 50 households were assigned to work in the capitol city to build Palaces, Gates and Temples ( approximately 100 men went to the capitol every year).
   In the image on the right, is the Three Storied Pagoda that stands in the grounds of Hida Kokubun-ji Temple. The original temple was constructed in 746 Ad by Emperor Shomu (710 AD-to756 AD). Shomu, a devout Buddhist, is credited with establishing the system of Provincial Temples back in 741 AD.
   From 794 AD-to-1573 (the Heian Period to Sengoku Period) Japan, as a nation, went through many changes. In Hida, during the Heian period, the area was governed by the Heike Clan  (Taira was a heredity clan name bestowed by the emperors to certain ex-members of the imperial family when they became subjects) but soon after, during the Kamakura Period (1185-to-1333) the political center was moved to the Kokufucho Area of Northern-Takayama. During the Muromachi Period (1337-to-1573) Lord Taga Tokugen constructed Tenjinyama, Tagayama Castle.
Map Location.
In the Iesyou Era ( 1504-to-1520) Takayama Geki constructed another castle on Mt Tenjin and, from this time, people started calling the area Takayama. Also during this time, Japan's History was going through a time of social upheaval, political intrigue and (nearly) constant military conflict. The era also became known as the "Warring States period". 
Kanamori Nagachika
Let me now introduce you to Kanamori Nagachika, Lord of Hida, who, along with his clan, ruled over the region for 107-years and over six generations, from 1586-to-1692. Nagachike started to build Takayama Castle in 1588 and took almost 16-years to complete. It was considered to be one of the best five castles in Japan. He also devoted his time in the construction of the castle town; the elevated ground surrounding the castle was assigned for Samurai houses while the lower area was for ordinary townsfolk.
Tokugawa Ieyasu
   From 1692-to-1868, during the period when Takayama was under direct control of the Edo Shogunate, the castle, by order of the Shogunate, was destroyed. Today, Shiroyama Park houses the ruins of Takayama Castle and is designated a "Historical Site" and "National Monument".
Meiji Promulgation.

      In this final paragraph covering Hida-Takayama's history, we cover the period from the Meiji Period, or what is sometimes referred to as the Meiji Restoration, (1868-to-1912) to the present day. In 1875 the modern municipality system was introduced throughout Japan and Takayama-cho was formed making it the town with the largest population in Gifu Prefecture. A new modern municipality was introduced when Takayama's population reached 15,385 in 1889. Over the years Takayama City has merged with some 14 towns (-cho) and villages (-mura) throughout the area, the latest being in 2005. 
   Hida-Takayama, like many other cities and towns throughout Japan, has gone to great lengths to preserve and protect their historic past. With regards to the local architecture, there are many sites within the area I could mention ( I mentioned Hida-Kokubun-ji Temple earlier ) but, because there are so many, I can only include one more. 
Map Location.
    Takayama-jinya ( Prefectural and District Governors office), was constructed as a mansion for Lord Kanamori (ruler of the Hida-Takayama Han) however, after the Bakafu Government sought to bring Hida under it's direct control in 1629, it was rebuilt by Ina Tadaatsu to serve as offices for the local deputy administrator. After 1777 it became the local government office. In 1929 it was designated an historical landmark. To learn more of Takayama Architecture, check-out this page from Takayama Guide.
   Festivals is another area Hida-Takayama has gone to great lengths to preserve. If you check-out this "Event Calendar" you will notice that a month doesn't pass without a festival or event taking place. 
Matsuri Float.
The biggest event on the Takayama calendar would be the "Takayama Festivals". Regarded as one of the three most beautiful events in Japan, the festival is held every year on April 14th & 15th (Spring Takayama Festival) and October 9th & 10th (Autumn Takayama Festival). The origins of the festivals are unknown but this link may go someway to  explaining the Background of the Takayama Matsuri or Festival. 
Sake Festival.
   I'm going to squeeze-in one more festival. One I am sure you will be interested in (well I would be) and, the beauty of this festival, it takes-place on most days of the year. It's the festival quite simply known as, the Sake Brewery. I don't think there is much more I can say about this festival than KANPAI.
   In my next blog on Hida-Takayama, I will write about what is available for the visitor to see & experience. And let me warn you, there is plenty. The image below is just a taste.
(Hida Folk Village).
   I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the many websites and images I have used in composing this blog. 

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