domestic fowl - master of iminomiya jinja
domestic fowl - master of iminomiya jinja
News 055 : webmaster's column - Shimonoseki Present & Past No.4

This time, I will talk about Chôfu, historical town where Kyokuyo Shipyard was born and resides today. (note : click a link with this mark will open relevant page of wikipedia online encyclopedia in a separate window).

Street of Samurai Houses
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The name of Chôfu derived presumably from abbreviation of Chôshû, or Nagato (name of ancient province with territory similar to the western half of today's Yamaguchi Prefecture) + "Kokufu" (= Capital). In fact, there used to be seigneur's fortified residence, or shiro castle, at Chôfu, although it is barely a sub-area within Shimonoseki city now, at least in administrative sense. Rich in historical buildings, our town attracts lots of tourists. It has conserved some of clay walls and wood houses that were built for "samurai" retainers of the lords. A short walk through that quarter will take you on a time travel to the Edo Period (1603-1867).

Kôzanji, zen temple founded 14C
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Just off the street of samurai houses, you will find a famous buddhist temple called "Kôzanji", founded in 1327. Its sanctum, the oldest example of original Zen style construction with direct influence of Chinese culture in the Tang dynasty, was designated as a national treasure in 1953. The temple is also known as the place where Shunsaku Takasugi, local hero who contributed to the Meiji Restoration, started civil war in 1865 with 80 followers. Its spectacular cherry blossoms in April and beautiful colored leaves in November are really worth the journey.

"Iminomiya Shrine" claims an even longer history. It was founded in 2C, if you believe the legend, at the temporary residence of Chûai Emperor who stayed 193-200 to attack Kumaso, ancient Kyushu-based peoples. The shrine has kept some strange festivals or matsuri, which include Suhôteisai, 7 days summer festival. During the period of this matsuri, local people gather here to dance around a giant stone, with very tall bamboo labarum in hands (sounds barbarian enough?). Those unlucky people whose trip doesn't fall in a festival period will be comforted by a troupe of domestic fowls, freely coming and going around as if they were proprietors, despite the presence of cats, dogs and humans.

tuna processing show at morning market
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Okay, now let's come back to daily life in modern times. I recommend you to pay a visit to morning market hosted by fishermen's union. Every sunday, from 6 o'clock in the morning, a wide variety of fresh fishes (caught earlier on the same day) will be waiting for you, with attractive price tag. Not widely known outside Shimonoseki, it's surely an interesting place that you should not miss. Once a month, wild tunas - processed on the spot - are on the market, too.

You may also try local style casual restaurants that open around the market. The specialties include udon noodle, onigiri rice bowls, oden stew, and fish fry and tempura, of course! With cooperation from the fishermen's union, Kyokuyo has just started to offer fresh seafoods to its employees at company cafeteria once a month. We are happy and thankful to be able to enjoy friendship with fishermen, who share the same sea with us.

See you next time ! [Photos & Text by T. Miyoshi. 2006/03/05]

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