Harunotsuji Archeological SiteIki
The archeological site of Harunotsuji in Fukaetabaru lies on the second largest plain in Nagasaki Prefecture. It is one of Japan’s best examples of a Yayoi-period moated settlement, a type of settlement that flourished from the Yayoi period to the early Kofun period (about 2,200 to 1,650 years ago), and has been designated as a national Special Historical Site. Iki Island appears as Ikikoku (Iki Province) in the Chinese historical text, Records of the Three Kingdoms, specifically, the Gishi Wajinden, or Account of the Wa People As Recorded in the Books of the Kingdom of Gi. The island played an important role as a prominent center of trade in the Yayoi period.
Artifacts excavated from Harunotsuji Archeological Site in Nagasaki PrefectureIki
More than 100,000 articles have been excavated from the Harunotsuji Archeological Site, 1,670 of which have been designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan. Japan’s oldest glass beads, brought to ancient Iki Province from over the seas, bronze parts that would have been attached to a horse-drawn carriage, a bronze weight for use on a steelyard balance, Japan’s only stone face statue, earthenware vessels made on the Chinese mainland and the Korean peninsula, and bronze coins used there – these are just some of the many artifacts that have been discovered at Harunotsuji, telling the tale of the area’s history of interaction with East Asia.
Artifacts excavated from Sasazuka Tumulus Artifacts in Nagasaki PrefectureIki
The ancient burial mound, Sasazuka Tumulus, is a two-level structure, with the burial mound built on top of a base level. The base is 70 meters in diameter and 3 meters high, while the mound section is 40 meters in diameter and 10 meters high. Many gilt bronze saddlery items have been excavated from Sasazuka Tumulus, including a tortoise-shaped horse brass, gyoyo saddle decorations, uzu crupper ornament, and tsuji-kanagu belt clasps. Besides the saddlery items, Silla earthenware was also discovered in the tomb, informing us of its connections with the Korean peninsula. 162 of the excavated items have been designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan.
Artifacts excavated from Soroku Tumulus in Nagasaki PrefectureIki
Artifacts excavated from Soroku Tumulus include a nisai ceramic bowl, which is Japan’s oldest surviving piece of nisai ceramics made in China’s Hokusei, earthenware made in the Korean kingdom of Silla, a semi-circular glass bead, one of only two discovered in Japan, and a gilt bronze tanhoukantou sword pommel, similar to ones discovered on the Korean peninsula. These items show how close the area’s connection was with the Chinese mainland and the Korean peninsula. 412 of the items excavated from Soroku Tumulus have been designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan.
Katsumoto Castle RuinsIki
A branch castle built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi when he invaded Korea (The War of the Bunroku and Keicho Eras), designated as an Historical Site of Japan. It was built on Mt. Joyama at Katsumoto Bay at the northern-most tip of Iki Island, with the cooperation of local feudal lords such as Matsuura Shigenobu (Hirado), who played a central role, Arima Harunobu (Shimabara), Ōmura Yoshiaki (Ōmura), and Goto Sumiharu (Goto Islands). Katsumoto Castle played a role as a military base that supplied food, weapons and repairs to the soldiers crossing over to the Korean peninsula.
Uchime Bay was the gateway for ancient ships visiting Harunotsuji, the capital of the kingdom of Iki Province. An illustration of Uchime Bay appears in Iki Meisho Zushi, a book of maps of Iki scenic beauty spots created in 1861, at the end of the Edo Period. This is a valuable record of Fukae Village, which gained its name from the way the village stretches out deep into the inlet of the bay, and the many vessels sailing in and out of Uchime Bay. The bay contains mysterious islands on which a path to Kojima Shrine emerges from the sea only at low tide. It is a place that has fascinated people throughout the ages.
Takenotsuji is the highest point (212.8 m) on Iki Island. Historical archives show that it played an important role as a strategic point of national defense, with beacons and look-outs located on the mountain’s peak since ancient times. A latitude marker, established by the Japanese Navy’s Waterways Canals and Waterways Division in May 1889, can be found on the summit. Of the numerous latitude markers that were established at that time, the stone marker on Takenotsuji is one of only two that still survive; the other is on Banshonotsuji on Madarashima Island (Karatsu City, Saga), which can be seen from Takenotsuji. We know from the inscription of the date carved into the stone that the marker on Takenotsuji is the oldest of its kind in Japan.
Karakami Archeological SiteIki
These are the ruins of a moated settlement that flourished in the Yayoi Period (about 2,000 years ago) along with Harunotsuji Archeological Site. Karakami was an intermediary trading post, acquiring iron goods and materials from overseas and supplying iron goods to the rest of Japan. It also existed as a blacksmith workshop, producing the kind of ironware that is representative of the Yayoi Period. It is easy to imagine what an important role the settlement of Karakami played in trade with East Asia.
Namaike Castle SiteIki
Namaike Castle was a mountain castle believed to have been built by Minamoto no Ichi, who was a member of the Matsuura Band in the mid 16th century. Vestiges of a double dry moat that circled the summit, which was the site of the feudal lord’s castle, and earthen bridges are still evident. Historical records show that Minamoto no Ichi, who resided at Namaike Castle, was held in high regard by the Korean royal household, and that he had official dispensation to conduct trade. His name also appears in the records of the restoration of the Korai-ban Daihannya-kyo (Goryeo Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra) conducted by Ankokuji Temple in 1539.
Kaneda Castle (Kanata-no-ki) RuinsTsushima
Kaneda Castle was a mountain castle built on the southern side of Asō Bay in 667. The castle is mentioned in Nihon Shoki (The Chronicles of Japan). After Japan was defeated in the Battle of Baekgang (663), where Japanese forces went to support the Baekje restoration forces, the castle was built on Tsushima as a front-line defense post in readiness for an attack by the Tang Dynasty and Silla. What is worth noting about the islands’ interaction with Korea is that, even amidst such a relationship of tension between Japan and the Korean peninsula, a strong influence from Korean styles of mountain castles can be seen in the way in which this castle was built. The association of exiles from Baekje with the castle is notable.
Tsushima’s Kiboku (Tortoise Shell Divination)TraditionTsushima
The word kiboku refers to a religious ritual in which the underside of a tortoiseshell is heated and the fortune for the coming year is told by interpreting the pattern of cracking on the shell. In the Edo period, this ritual was apparently performed every year on the third day of the New Year, and the outcome was reported to the headquarters of the Tsushima domain. This practice is also believed to have come over from the Korean peninsula. According to the Tsushima Kiboku Denki, a chronicle of this practice on the island, Ikatsu Omi, an ancestor of the Tsushima Urabe Clan (an ancient Tsushima priestly clan that practiced kiboku), sailed to the peninsula at the behest of Empress Jingu, where he learned the art of tortoiseshell divination and brought it back to Japan. Today, the practice is preserved only in the area of Tsutsu, where it has been passed down for generations.
Tsutsu Red Rice FestivalTsushima
The Tsutsu Red Rice Festival is a religious rite held to worship as a kami, or god, the spirit that dwells in akamai (red rice). Akamai is said to be an original strain of rice plant brought over to Japan, which did not have its own, native rice plants, from the continent in ancient times. The akamai grown in Tsushima has been classified as a descendant of the strain that came to Japan from China’s Jiangnan region via the Korean peninsula in the late Jomon period through to the Yayoi period (2,000-2,500 years ago). The rites performed at this festival show a strong influence from various regions in East Asia. Tsutsu is the only place on Tsushima where this festival continues to be held.
Cemetery for the Heads of the Tsushima Domain’s So ClanTsushima
The graves of successive heads of the Tsushima Domain are enshrined in Banshoin Temple. This cemetery was first established to bury the first head of the domain, So Yoshitoshi (1568-1615). Successive heads of the clan faced the challenges of interaction between Japan and Joseon (Korea) that only Tsushima could experience, and developed friendly relations with the Korean kingdom. In particular, Yoshitoshi acted as an intermediary between Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the Kingdom of Joseon, and it is likely that the Joseon missions to Japan in the Edo period would not have eventuated if it had not been for Yoshitoshi. The cemetery holds the graves of the 14 domain heads after Yoshitoshi as well as their wives and concubines, and other figures who made major contributions to diplomatic relations with Joseon.
The Three Implements for Worship of Banshoin TempleTsushima
In Buddhism, an incense burner, vase and candle-stand (the “three implements for worship”) are placed before the altar, and incense, flowers and flame are given in offering. The three implements held at Banshoin Temple are believed to be from the Joseon era. They incorporate the designs of old Chinese bronzeware and are said to have been presented by a Joseon king. The incense burner is in the shape of a shishi lion with its left foot raised slightly. The incense smoke comes out of the lion’s mouth. The candle-stand represents a turtle looking up with a sweet expression and an elegant crane standing with a majestic pose.
Bronze Seated Nyorai (Kurose Kannondo Temple)Tsushima
This bronze statue of the Nyorai (Tathagata) Buddha, created on the Korean Peninsula during the Unified Silla era (8th century), now rests in Kurose Kannondo Temple. The statue shows very advanced techniques, such as casting the body and the garments separately and then joining them together. The figure’s graceful facial expression and the delicately flowing folds of the garments are particularly splendid, even among the Buddhist statues created on the Korean peninsula. It is unknown when the statue was brought from the Korean peninsula to Tsushima, but it has continued to be protected with great care by the people of the Kurose district over the centuries, and is worshipped as a “goddess.”
Shimizuyama Castle RuinsTsushima
Shimizuyama Castle was built on Shimizuyama (Mt. Shimizu) in Izuhara in 1591 during Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s Korean campaign. Three concentric castle walls were built along the mountain’s ridges from the 260-meter high summit out to the east. The stone walls standing in a row present a magnificent sight. The peak offers a panoramic view of the castle town of Izuhara, the harbor, and out across the ocean to Iki Island. What did So Yoshitoshi think as he gazed out at that view at the end of the 16th century in his torment at being caught between Japan and Joseon?
Kaneishi Castle RuinsTsushima
The shogunal castle of the So clan of the Tsushima Domain, Kaneishi Castle was located on the southern foot of Shimizuyama. In 1528, the original residence of the So clan, Ike-no-Yakata in Imayashiki, was burned down during an internal conflict within the clan, after which the island head, So Masamori, moved the clan residence to this location. Kaneishi Castle was used as the shogunal castle until the completion of Sajikihara Castle in 1678, after which, as the gateway to Japan, it played a role as an official guesthouse for envoys from Joseon. Today, the yagura-mon (watchtower gate) has been rebuilt, and parts of the stone wall still survive. From these remnants, along with illustrations of the castle from the Edo period (held by the Prefectural Tsushima History and Folk Customs Museum), one can easily imagine the imposing scale of the castle.
Kaneishi Castle GardenTsushima
Garden originally built in the premises of Kaneishi Castle, the shogunal castle of the Tsushima Domain’s So clan in the late 17th century, in the Edo Period. The Mainichi-ki, a daily journal that forms part of The So Clan Documents (a collection of records of the So clan’s involvement in diplomacy and trade with Korea in the Edo Period), records the construction of the “Shinji Pond” in the “Castle” between 1690 and 1693. After World War II, the garden was almost completely buried, but with its designation as a Place of Historic Beauty, an archeological dig was conducted between 1997 and 2004, and it was restored to its former glory. The Tsushima Domain would have welcomed envoys from Joseon here and, while wishing to the moon reflected on the pond’s surface for eternal friendship between Japan and Joseon, forged friendly relations with them around the garden.
Joseon Missions EmakiTsushima
Two Emaki (picture scrolls) about the Joseon missions from Korea remain in Tsushima. They depict the Tsushima Clan leading and guarding a procession of the mission envoys. After Japan-Joseon interaction had been cut off due to Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s invasion of Korea, the Tsushima Domain worked hard to reinstate that interaction, and from 1607 to 1811, welcomed a total of 12 missions from Joseon to Tsushima. One of these Emaki scrolls was produced in the 17th-18th century, and the other in the 19th century. In 2015, they were designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan as “Records of Tsushima’s So Clan.” Even amid the heightened atmosphere of this kind of procession, the scrolls also depict people tying the laces of their straw sandals and dogs barking, giving a tranquil, genial air to the scene.
Tsushima Clan Ofuna-e RuinsTsushima
A dry dock built by the Tsushima Domain in 1663, in a man-made cove built into Kutaura Inlet, south of Izuhara Harbor. In the Edo period, trading ships that had cross the seas in all directions would call into this dry dock for repairs. Kaito Shokoku Ki, a book from the Joseon era published in 1471, contains a reference to “shipbuilding in Kutaura,” which suggests that the area already functioned as a dry dock before the Tsushima Clan’s Ofuna-e was built. There is no other extant example anywhere in Japan of a dock of such a large scale and so closely resembling its original form. This makes the Tsushima Clan Ofuna-e Ruins a very valuable remnant of the Edo Period.
The Goto Islands lie at the westernmost tip of Japan. In ancient times, when diplomatic missions were dispatched from Japan to Tang Dynasty China, Goto was their final port of call immediately before crossing the East China Sea bound for the continent. Hizen-no-Kuni Fudoki, (Chronicles of Hizen Province), contains a reference to “Mineraku no Saki” (Mineraku promontory), and nearby, there are several spots with a connection to the missions to Tang China. These include Fuzengo, a well that is said to have supplied drinking water to the missions’ ships. In the 10th century journal, Kagero Nikki, Miiraku is referred to in a waka poem, as “The island where one can meet the departed – the isle of Mimiraku.” In later generations, Miiraku became the subject of many poems and songs, as an island on the border with foreign lands and as the island of the Western Pure Land (the Buddhist paradise).
Myojoin Temple Main HallGoto
Myojoin Temple is the oldest temple in the Goto Islands. In 806, the Buddhist monk, Kukai (also known as Kobo Daishi), is said to have stayed in this temple on his way home to Japan from Tang China, where he saw the morning star, or myojo, shining in the eastern sky as an auspicious sign and gave the temple the name Myojo-an. It was the main temple of worship for generations of the Goto Clan, the head family of the Goto domain. The Main Hall was rebuilt in 1778, at which time, the coffered ceiling was adorned with 121 panels of richly colored paintings of flowers and birds painted by artists of the Kano school of painting.
This boulder, located in Shiraishi in Kishiku-cho, the last port of call of mission ships to Tang China, is said to be the stone to which these ships tied their mooring lines while in port for ship repairs, replenishment of food supplies, and to wait for the wind. In honor of the stone’s great work, in which the lives of the envoys to Tang were at stake, the locals built a small wayside shrine around the stone and prayed to it as a god of fisheries and maritime safety. Even today, the stone continues to be valued and protected by the local residents.
A cluster of stone monuments erected from the Middle Ages through to early modern times. The sight of the more than 70 pagodas lined up together is a breathtaking one. Many of the stones used have been brought to the island from other parts of Japan, including granite from the Kansai region and Hibiki-ishi stone from the Wakasa region in Fukui Prefecture. It is said that, when trading ships came home after transporting goods from continent to the Japanese mainland, they would load these stones into their holds as ballast and bring them home to the Goto Islands. This site tells the tale of the area’s history as a center of sea trade between the capital and the mainland.
Historical Sites of the Japanese Missions to Tang ChinaShin-Kamigoto
Nakadori Island has several sites that are associated with the Japanese diplomatic missions to Tang China (photograph: Hime Shrine). Around the inlet called Mikanoura (three-day inlet), so named because the missions’ ships would stop there for three days, there are Kinpose, a cape where it is believed the missions’ ships had their sails repaired, and Mifune-sama, a ship-shaped stone to which the envoys are said to have prayed for the safety of their voyages. Also, around the areas now known as Aiko and Aokata, which are referenced in the Hizen-no-Kuni Fudoki (Chronicles of Hizen Province) as harbors where the missions’ ships waited for the wind, there are the ruins of Hime Shrine, where the envoys are said to have prayed for safety on their voyage, and the Tomojiri Stone, where the mission ships are said to have moored.
Sannozan (Mt. Sanno)Shin-Kamigoto
The Buddhist monk, Saicho, who traveled to Tang China on one of the diplomatic missions, established a shrine on this mountain on his return to Japan in gratitude for the success of his journey. It consists of Ichinomiya Shrine in the foothills of the mountain, Ninomiya Shrine on the side of the mountain, and Sannomiya Shrine on the summit. Mirror offerings in a cave next to Ninomiya Shrine include mirrors brought over from China and Korea, indicating that the area had interactions with the continent.
The old name for this shrine was Sannogu, and it is said to have been a remote shrine of Sannozan. It is one of the oldest shrines in Shin-Kamigoto Town. The Kami-goto Kagura, a ritual performance of Shinto music and dance that is performed at the shrine in November every year, has been designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property of Japan.