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Kunozan Tosho-gu

Kunozan Tosho-gu

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The is a Shintō shrine in Suruga-ku
Suruga-ku, Shizuoka
is one of three wards of Shizuoka, Shizuoka, Japan, located in the southern part of the city. The north east of Suruga-ku faces Aoi-ku; the north west faces Shimizu-ku; the south west faces Yaizu city and south east faces Suruga Bay....

 in the city of Shizuoka
Shizuoka, Shizuoka
is the capital city of Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, and the prefecture's second-largest city in terms of both population and area. It became one of Japan's 19 "designated cities" in 2005.-Geography:...

 in Shizuoka Prefecture
Shizuoka Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūbu region on Honshu island. The capital is the city of Shizuoka.- History :Shizuoka prefecture was formed from the former Tōtōmi, Suruga and Izu provinces.The area was the home of the first Tokugawa Shogun...

, Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. It is the original burial place of the first Shōgun
A was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...

 of the Tokugawa Shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

, Tokugawa Ieyasu
Tokugawa Ieyasu
 was the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan , which ruled from the Battle of Sekigahara  in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Ieyasu seized power in 1600, received appointment as shogun in 1603, abdicated from office in 1605, but...

, and is thus the oldest of the Tōshō-gū shrines in the country. The main festival of the shrine is held annually on April 17, although its spring festival from February 17-18 is a larger event.


Mount Kunō (216 meters) is a steep peak on Suruga Bay
Suruga Bay
Suruga Bay is a bay on the Pacific coast of Honshū in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. It is situated north of an imaginary line joining Omaezaki Point and Irōzaki Point at the tip of the Izu Peninsula and surrounded by Honshū to the southwest and west and the Izu Peninsula to the east.-Geology:Suruga...

, and the site of an ancient Buddhist temple called dating to at least the early Nara period
Nara period
The of the history of Japan covers the years from AD 710 to 794. Empress Gemmei established the capital of Heijō-kyō . Except for 5 years , when the capital was briefly moved again, it remained the capital of Japanese civilization until Emperor Kammu established a new capital, Nagaoka-kyō, in 784...

. The temple prospered during the Kamakura period
Kamakura period
The is a period of Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura Shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura by the first shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo....

 under the famous prelate Enni
Enni Ben'en was a Japanese Buddhist monk who studied various forms of Mahayana under the Rinzai teacher Wuzhun Shifan in China. When he returned to Japan, he founded Tōfuku-ji monastery in Kyoto, and practiced zazen as well as other types of Buddhism. His disciples included Mujū.It is believed...

, who introduced the cultivation of green tea
Green tea
Green tea is made solely from the leaves of Camellia sinensis that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing. Green tea originates from China and has become associated with many cultures throughout Asia. It has recently become more widespread in the West, where black tea is traditionally...

 to the region. After the conquest of Suruga Province
Suruga Province
was an old province in the area that is today the central part of Shizuoka prefecture. It was sometimes called . Suruga bordered on Izu, Kai, Sagami, Shinano, and Tōtōmi provinces; and had access to the Pacific Ocean through Suruga Bay.-History:...

 by the warlord Takeda Shingen
Takeda Shingen
, of Kai Province, was a preeminent daimyo in feudal Japan with exceptional military prestige in the late stage of the Sengoku period.-Name:Shingen was called "Tarō" or "Katsuchiyo" during his childhood...

, the temple was relocated to what is now Shimizu-ku
Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka
is one of three wards of the city of Shizuoka, in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, located in the eastern part of the city.-Geography:Shimizu is located on the coast of Suruga Bay of the Pacific Ocean and covers a wide area from a coastal plain to the hills...

, and the mountain top fortified into a mountain castle
Japanese castle
' were fortresses composed primarily of wood and stone. They evolved from the wooden stockades of earlier centuries, and came into their best-known form in the 16th century...

 (. After the fall of the Takeda clan, Suruga Province came under the control of the Tokugawa clan
Tokugawa clan
The was a powerful daimyo family of Japan. They nominally descended from Emperor Seiwa and were a branch of the Minamoto clan by the Nitta clan. However, the early history of this clan remains a mystery.-History:...


After Tokugawa Ieyasu retired to Sumpu Castle, he continued to maintain the fortifications on Mount Kunō. After his death, Tokugawa Hidetada
Tokugawa Hidetada
was the second shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty, who ruled from 1605 until his abdication in 1623. He was the third son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate.-Early life :...

 ordered that he be buried on its peak, and had the first shrine buildings erected. The 3rd Shōgun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, relocated Ieyasu’s grave to the Nikkō Tōshō-gū
Nikko Tosho-gu
is a Shinto shrine located in Nikkō, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. It is part of the "Shrines and Temples of Nikkō", a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Tōshō-gū is dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. Initially built in 1617, during the Edo period, while Ieyasu's son Hidetada...

, but a portion of his deified spirit was held to still reside on Mount Kunō. The shrine was kept in good repair by the Sumpu jōdai until the Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
The , also known as the Meiji Ishin, Revolution, Reform or Renewal, was a chain of events that restored imperial rule to Japan in 1868...


With the overthrow of the Tokugawa by the new Meiji government, and the subsequent separation of Buddhism and Shintō
Haibutsu kishaku
is a term that indicates a current of thought continuous in Japan's history which advocates the expulsion of Buddhism from Japan...

, the Kunōzan Tōshō-gū suffered the loss of a number of its structures and much of its revenue. At the present, most of the surviving buildings of the Kunōzan Tōshō-gū are protected by the national government as Important Cultural Properties
Important Cultural Properties of Japan
The term is often shortened into just are items officially already classified as Tangible Cultural Properties of Japan by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs and judged to be of particular importance to the Japanese people....

 and the whole mountain is protected as a National Historic Site.

Enshrined kami

The primary kami
is the Japanese word for the spirits, natural forces, or essence in the Shinto faith. Although the word is sometimes translated as "god" or "deity", some Shinto scholars argue that such a translation can cause a misunderstanding of the term...

of Kunō-zan Tōshō-gū is the , the deified spirit of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Secondary kami , enshrined after the start of the Meiji period
Meiji period
The , also known as the Meiji era, is a Japanese era which extended from September 1868 through July 1912. This period represents the first half of the Empire of Japan.- Meiji Restoration and the emperor :...

, are the spirits of Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Toyotomi Hideyoshi
was a daimyo warrior, general and politician of the Sengoku period. He unified the political factions of Japan. He succeeded his former liege lord, Oda Nobunaga, and brought an end to the Sengoku period. The period of his rule is often called the Momoyama period, named after Hideyoshi's castle...

 and Oda Nobunaga
Oda Nobunaga
was the initiator of the unification of Japan under the shogunate in the late 16th century, which ruled Japan until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. He was also a major daimyo during the Sengoku period of Japanese history. His opus was continued, completed and finalized by his successors Toyotomi...


A subsidiary Hie Shrine
Hie Shrine
The is a Shinto shrine in Nagatachō, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. Its June 15 Sannō Matsuri is one of the three great Japanese festivals of Edo...

 dedicated to Ōyamakui-no-kami was established during the Meiji period.

Notable structures

The Japanese government has designated 13 structures of the Kunō-zan Tōshō-gū as National Important Cultural Properties (ICP). These include the Honden
The , is the most sacred building at a Shinto shrine, intended purely for the use of the enshrined kami, usually symbolized by a mirror or sometimes by a statue. The building is normally in the rear of the shrine and closed to the general public. In front of its usually stands the haiden, or...

and Heiden
- People :* Anton Heiden , former water polo player from The Netherlands* Bernhard Heiden , German-American composer and music teacher* Beth Heiden , American athlete...

which were built in 1617, and show the flamboyant, colorful style of the late Momoyama period, with extravagant wood carvings, gold leaf
Gold leaf
right|thumb|250px|[[Burnishing]] gold leaf with an [[agate]] stone tool, during the water gilding processGold leaf is gold that has been hammered into extremely thin sheets and is often used for gilding. Gold leaf is available in a wide variety of karats and shades...

 and painted decorations over black lacquer.

In addition to these buildings, Kunō-zan Tōshō-gū also has a number of art treasures, which are on display at its museum. These include a number of tachi
The is one type of traditional Japanese sword worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan.-History and description:With a few exceptions katana and tachi can be distinguished from each other if signed, by the location of the signature on the tang...

(Japanese swords), one of which is a National Treasure
National treasures of Japan
National Treasures are the most precious of Japan's Tangible Cultural Properties, as determined and designated by the Agency for Cultural Affairs...

, and 12 of which (including one wakizashi
The is one of the traditional Japanese swords worn by the samurai class in feudal Japan.-Description:...

) are Important Cultural Properties. Additional Important Cultural Properties include two suits of armor, pair of eyeglasses and a clock owned by Tokugawa Ieyasu, along with 73 documents in his own handwriting.

See also

External links