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Kunozan Toshogu Shrine and Sunpu Castle JAN.2024


Although it is a mild winter, it is still cold. The Kanto Plain has almost exhausted all the places I went on a sunny day, but there are still many places in Shizuoka that I haven't experienced yet. It's about 200km one way, so if you start in Tokyo, I think this area is the west-limit you can go on a day trip. Last year's taiga drama was ``What to do, Ieyasu'', so I think all the tourist spots associated with Ieyasu Tokugawa were crowded, but as the new year started and the heat had cooled down, I'm ready to go to the tourist spots associated with Ieyasu.  


If you go to Mt. Kunozan, there is a ropeway that connects it to Toshogu Shrine at the foot of the mountain, and it is a fun place for history and geology buffs as it has interesting terrain. Many of you probably know that Japan sits on four tectonic plates, and this area (Sagami Bay, Izu Peninsula, and Suruga Bay) is at the tip of the Philippine Plate, which still meets the plate on the northwest. It is pushing the continental plate hard while sinking. This plate moved at a fast speed (4-5 cm/year), carrying the Izu Peninsula, which was once an island, from the south, pushing up Mt. Fuji, Hakone, and the Southern Alps, and forming the deep Suruga Bay.

As the ropeway guide's young lady mentioned, Mt. Kuno was formed about 100,000 years ago when the ocean floor rose up and was subsequently eroded by rain and wind. Thanks to such complicated earth's crusts structure, we can enjoy hot springs over a wide area and eat many kinds of delicious fish, but on the other hand, we are also at huge risk of large earthquakes and volcanoes. Japanese people regard natural objects as gods and offer prayers to them, but they have lived their lives accepting the pros/cons of these blessings and disasters.  


Ieyasu is often called Gongen-sama, but Gongen is a common noun that refers to the appearance of a Buddha in the form of a god, and to be more precise, he is called Tosho Daigongen. In the first place, Japan is based on the syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism, so the anti-Buddhist movement after the Meiji Restoration was a nonsense and barbaric act, and the five-storied pagoda built by Iemitsu was also destroyed after the Meiji Restoration, and the remains of it remain today. A little further up from the main shrine, which is a national treasure, is the tomb of Prince Ieyasu, which is located inside a large, sturdy stone jar, and is said to have been buried in a sitting position, facing west, and was later moved to Nikko. It seems that it is a mystery whether it was left as it is or not. Ieyasu was a man who took control of the country for 17 years until the Battle of Osaka, so I think that he gave instructions on how to dispose of his own grave with various thoughts in mind. I think he gave instructions to leave his body behind. Considering the fact that he lived in Sunpu, where he spent his childhood, as his final home, supposing that he wanted to watch over his former home base of Mikawa and Totomi, and Kyoto and Osaka where he took over the whole country, and he also wanted to glare at potential enemies coming from the western countries and not allowing them to enter Edo, I imagine that he wanted to become the guardian deity of the Tokugawa shogunate.  


Sunpu Castle seems to have been built on the site of the Imagawa clan's mansion, and excavation of the remains of the castle tower is currently underway, and the remains of the Imagawa mansion have also been found, so I look forward to future discoveries. As a result of the Meiji Restoration, most of the castles of the Edo period were abandoned and destroyed, but this one also seems to have been destroyed considerably after attracting army regiments. The people of Shizuoka might probably get angry, but because the land has long been Tenryo(Shogunate land) and ruled by the Suruga castle lords dispatched from the shogunate like transferred tribes, the unique culture and art typical of a castle town have not developed, and the city has lost its individuality. (perhaps it's the arrogant feeling of Kanazawa people like myself?). This is one of the places I would like to explore in the future, including ruins from the Imagawa era.

Ieyasu placed his 10th son Yorinobu in Sunpu, but after he passed away, Yorinobu became the lord of the Kishu Wakayama domain, and after becoming Tenryo for a while, Iemitsu's younger brother ``Suruga Dainagon Tadanaga'' became the lord of the Sunpu domain. Ieyasu's children in his later years were not much older than Hidetada's children.

【Year of Birth】

1601: Yoshinao (9th son of Ieyasu, Owari domain)

1602 : Yorinobu (10th son of Ieyasu, Wakayama domain)

1603: Yorifusa (11th son of Ieyasu, Mito domain)

1604: Iemitsu (second son of Hidetada, 3rd shogun)

1606: Tadanaga (third son of Hidetada, Sunpu domain)


Iemitsu was surrounded by potential rivals; the three branch families were the children of the god Ieyasu, and Tadanaga was his younger brother from the same mother, and Iemitsu probably doubted whether all of them were sincerely loyal to him. When Hidetada died in 1632, Iemitsu was 28 years old, and Tadanaga, who was two years younger than him, was his greatest rival and a target of caution, but it is also said that Hidetada disowned Tadanaga because of his strange behavior. In the end, a few months after Hidetada's death, Tadanaga was forced to commit seppuku the following year. Since then, Sunpu Castle has had the above-mentioned castle lords, and did not have a lord until after the Meiji Restoration, when Iesato inherited the Tokugawa family were confined to the 700,000 koku domain of the Sunpu domain. Needless to say, Sunpu Castle is an important base on the Tokaido road, and is also a sacred place where Ieyasu is enshrined, so it must not have been left to others easily, and was established as Tenryo.

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