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.