Ancient bones found in Mikkabi and the Toro Ruins in Shizuoka city stand as evidence that humans have been attracted to the geography and climate of Shizuoka since the Stone Age. The founder of the Tokugawa Dynasty, the legendary Tokugawa Ieyasu, chose to live in Suruga (now Shizuoka city) which made it the unofficial capital during the 17th century.
Come and visit the castles where samurai warriors once lived and fought. As you roam through the precincts of these faithfully restored and reconstructed castles, you’ll think you can hear the clash of swords and armor!
Memorial of Tokugawa Ieyasu
Glimpses of the era of the first shogun. Tokugawa Ieyasu was raised in Shizuoka when it was the castle town of Sumpu in the heart of 16th century Japan. He was regarded as one of the gods after his death. Kunouzan Toshogu Shrine is originally dating from 1617 but was reconstructed in 1636. The city holds several sites that bring to mind leyasu’s single-minded devotion and towering achievements.
Kunozan Toshogu Shrine (Kuno-zan Tosho-gu)
In keeping with his last request, the first Tokugawa sliogun. leyasu, is enshrined at this shrine erected by his son, Tokugawa Hidetada. The splendidly lacquered, brilliantly colored buildings and other items are designated as important cultural properties. The cable car from the shrine to the Nihondaira Plateau affords excellent views of the seasonal colors.
Kunozan Toshogu Shrine is at the top of Mt. Kuno (270 meters) was built at the time of the 6th century Emperor Suiko. The visitor who goes to the summit will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Suruga Bay and the Izu Peninsula. Takeda Shingen, a legendary military commander during the Warring States Period, recognized the strong strategic position of this mountain and built a fortress here. Captured by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the castle was destroyed.
Later the Toshogu shrine was built, as Ieyasu had requested in his will, to hold his remains. The shrine, built in the Gongenzukuri style, is a fine example of building techniques that have been practiced since medieval times. Lacquer coating on the detailed decorative woodwork through the structure shows the richness of the designs. The museum at the shrine has on permanent exhibit a collection of swords, armor and documents, and other artifacts belonging to Ieyasu. The shrine, along with its mausoleum, has been designated as an important cultural property. A festival is held here every April 17th. 35 minutes by bus from Shizuoka Station.
Eyeglasses of Tokugawa Ieyasu – Important cultural property, housed in the Kunozan Toshogu Museum.
Address and Contact- Kunozan Toshogu Shrine 390 Negoya, Shizuoka City (Shizuoka-shi), Suruga Ward, Shizuoka Prefecture 422-8011, Japan TEL: 054-237-2438 FAX: 054-237-9456
Ruins of Sumpu Castle (Sunpu-jo)
This castle, covering 52,000 square meters, renowned in history for its beauty, was built in 1585 and served as the residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu who spent the last ten years of his life here. Although the castle towers were destroyed by fire and wars, the stone walls and outer moats remain as a testament to a proud past. Sumpu Castle now serves as a city park. The castle grounds have been made into Sumpu Park (“Sumpu” being the name of Shizuoka when it was a castle town), where the townspeople go to play and relax.
In 1989, Tatsumiyagura (the southeast tower) was reconstructed to commemorate 100 years of the present city administration. At the inner citadel of the ruin, a statue of Ieyasu stands next to a mikan tree planted by the great shogun himself. These mandarin oranges are harvested annually in December. The reconstruction of the East Gate has recently been completed. It was also referred to as Fuchu Castle (Fuchu-jo) or Shizuoka Castle (Shizuoka-jo).
The castle is a 10 minute walk from Shizuoka station.
Higashigomon Gate Tastumi-yagura Turret
The east gate of the outer citadel of Sumpu Castle, reconstructed in traditional fashion without the use of nails, consists of a bridge, gabled gate, a turret gate, and a pair of guard houses. The southeast turret of ‘Tatsumi-Yagura, a three-story double structure, is a reconstruction of the tallest element of the castle complex.
Having grown up in Sumpu as a hostage of the Imagawa family, leyasu began building Sumpu Castle in 1589 and’ later lived there in retirement as the doyen of national politics.
Address and Contact – Tokugawa Ieyasu and Sumpu Castle Park
East Gate (Higashi-gomon Gate)/Tatsumi Yagura(Turret)
Facility Management office of Sumpu Castle Park 1-1 Sunpukoen, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka 420-0855 Japan TEL: 054-251-0016 FAX: 054-251-0056
Tokugawa Ieyasu and Sumpu Castle Park Website: http://www.sunpu-park.jp/gomon/
Momijiyama Japanese Garden in Sumpu Park: http://www.sunpu-park.jp/
Shizuoka Festival (Shizuoka Matsuri)
On the first Saturday in April, at the height of the cherry blossoms, this festival reenacts the blossom viewing procession of Tokugawa leyasu. Activities include a parade of 400 costumed participants past rows of trees and around Sumpu Park (Sumpu Castle Ruins) and lively evening dances. Some people also call this Festival the “Shizuoka Spring Cherry Blossoms festival”. This colorful event, goes back in time to the Edo Era for the duration of the festival.
Address and Contact – Shizuoka Festival Executive Committee, Shizuoka City Tourism Promotion Division 1-1 Sunpukoen, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka City (Shizuoka-shi), Shizuoka Prefecture (Shizuoka-ken) 420-0855, Japan TEL: 054-221-0182 FAX: 054-251-1286
Daidogei Street Performance Festival (Daidogei World Cup)
Probably the biggest event on Shizuoka’s Calendar, held annually in early November, jugglers, mimes, magicians and other performers from around the world gather to pit their skills against each other in this grand contest of entertainment. More Details: Daidogei Street Performance Festival (Daidogei World Cup) in Sunpu Park (Sunpu kouen)
The young Matsudaira Takechiyo (later leyasu), was educated at the Imagawa family temple by the head priest, Taigen Sessai. The main hall of this temple is an important cultural property and the garden is famed for its scenic beauty.
Contact – Rinzai Temple 7-1 Oiwacho, Shizuoka, Aoi Ward, Shizuoka Prefecture 420-0885, Japan
Shukubamachi Settlement is an echoes of footsteps on the old highroad. Culture and custom flourished with the merchants and innkeepers of the relay towns. Pretty rows of shop buildings and tradition of warmth in ancient mood and eloquently retain the settings of old highway. Little about Shukubamachi Settlement in the Edo period: http://www.aisf.or.jp/~jaanus/deta/s/shukubamachi.htm
Utsunoya Row Houses
In a quiet village just before the Utsunoya Pass the shop signs hanging from the eaves of each house maintain the atmosphere of the official relay stations of the Edo period. On display in Utsunoya is a coat given to a local resident by the 16th century warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Address and Contact – Utsunoya Row Houses 171 Utsunoya, Suruga Ward, Shizuoka, Shizuoka Prefecture 421-0105, Japan Tel: 054-258-1488
Shizuoka Sengen Shrine (Shizuoka Sengen Jinja)
An ancient place of Shinto worship, the shrine was entirely rebuilt during the 19th century. It includes 26 buildings that are designated as important cultural properties. The Hatsukae Festival held from April 1 to 5 is one of the important annual events in Shizuoka.
The name Sengenjinja comprises three shrines: Kanbe, Asama and Otoshimioya. This shrine has been the center of worship in the Suruga district since the Heian Era (794-1191). The shrine was a treasured place of the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, who twice oversaw major reconstruction. And expensive undertaking, the present halls of the shrine were constructed from 1804 to 1864.
The spacious precincts of the shrine cover 45,000 square meters. All the halls have richly decorated and lacquered designs. The Daihaiden (the great hall of worship) is a well-preserved example of Sengen-style.
The 24 halls of the shrine were designated an important cultural property in 1971. From April 1-5 every year, the Hatsukaesai Festival is held here. Come and see children in traditional court performances of dance and music that has remained unchanged since the shrine was originally built. Cherry Blossom Viewing is held here the first two weeks of April.
Address and Contact – Shizuoka Sengen Shrine (Shizuoka Sengen Jinja) 102-1 Miyagasakicho, Shizuoka, Aoi Ward, Shizuoka Prefecture 420-0868, Japan TEL: 054-245-1820
Togeppo Saioku-ji Temple
The poet Socho (1448-1532), a master of linked verse who served the Imagawa family, passed his final years at the hermitage here. A designated historic site, the temple is renowned for its dry landscape garden modeled on that of Ginkakuji in Kyoto. In keeping with its name (Togeppo means “moon peeking from mountains”) it is famed as a moon-viewing spot. It is also known for its bamboo forest. A walk through here will take you back to the old Edo.
Address and Contact – Togeppo Saioku-ji Temple 3316 Mariko, Shizuoka, Suruga Ward, Shizuoka Prefecture 421-0103, Japan TEL: 054-259-3686
This is a difficult 3 kilometer pass on the old Tokaido highway, between the relay stations of Okitsu and Yui. The breathtaking view of Mt. Fuji, as splendid today as it was centuries ago, was made famous in a Hiroshige print.
The route to go over Satta Pass has changed several times, but the route just below the cliff dashed by wild waves was the most difficult. Mt. Fuji and Suruga Bay in Hiroshige’s work on Yui is commanding from this pass and the same scenery still remains. Also see: Satta Pass – Mt. Fuji and Nature
Contact – Satta Pass in Yui Open Season: May 1 through November 30 (open every day during the season), 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tel: 054-354-242 (Shizuoka City City Tourism Promotion Division)
Seiken Temple and the 500 Stone Sages
This temple, one of the most famous on the old Tokaido Road, was originally built in the Nara Period about 1300 years ago. The complex contains many designated cultural assets, including the temple gate made without a single nail, a garden nationally designated as a place of scenic beauty, the “garyu-bai” plum trees cultured by Shogun Tokugawa leyasu, the temple bell, and many ancient scrolls.
Outside the temple stand the “500 Stone Sages,” each said to bear a different expression, fn the Edo Period, representatives from the kingdoms Chosun and Ryukyu (the present day Korean Peninsula and Okinawa islands) would stay at Seiken Temple on their way to the capital at Edo. Many relics of these embassies, including calligraphy samples and frames by the Chosun missions, or the grave of a prince of Ryukyu, remain as a testament of foreign diplomacy during the Edo Era.
Address and Contact – Seiken Temple and 500 Stone Sages 418-1 Okitsuseikenjicho, Shizuoka, Shimizu Ward, Shizuoka Prefecture 424-0206, Japan TEL: 054-369-0028 FAX: 054-360-0033
Yui Honjin Park
Located in the center of Yui, the Honjin Park is found within the Yui Lodging Station complex, which dates back to the Edo Era. Travelling dahnyo (regional lords) and their retinues would stay in the honjin inn and a wakihonjin inn. With these and 32 other inns for common people, it is said this place showed great energy and bustle.
The gate, stone and wooden walls, and the horse-watering hole closely resemble their original appearance. Within the park is a building known as Miyukirei, where the Emperor Meiji once rested, which has been restored as a memorial hall for Yui Honjin Park. The tea room and tea kitchen have been built in traditional Japanese style, and serve as excellent places of rest and relaxation.
Lunch suggestion in Yui Honjin Park: Hamano-Kakiageya Tel: 054-376-0001 Within a walking distance from JR Yui. http://www.jf-net.ne.jp/soyuikougyokyo/p_kakiageya.html .
Enjoy a bowl of thick green tea in a tea room in Yui Honjin Park – “Miyuki tei” . You can feel a relaxed mood with a bowl of “Japanese tea”, viewing the rock and landscape gardens. Nearest train station: JR Yui – about 5 min. by car (the time required: about 40 min.)
Tokaido Hiroshige Art Museum in Yui Honjin Park
This museum holds Japan’s first collection of the artworks of ukiyo-e master Utagawa Hiroshige. Over 1,300 ukiyo-e works are stored here, including Nakatsugawa of the 69 Stations of the Kiso Kaido Series, of which very few still exist today. Visitors will be inspired by the dignified beauty of these works.
Address and Contact – Tokaido Hiroshige Museum 297-1, Yui, Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka 421-3103 Telephone: 054-375-4454 Hours: 9:00-17:00 Admission: 500 yen
Japanese website: http://www.yuihiroshige.jp/
Springtime sees this entire mountain transformed by the cherry blossomes. Visitors will have the opportunity to traverse its walking paths and obstacle courses, and to look out over Sumga Bay and the Izu Peninsula from Sakura Suspension Bridge and Gotenyama Square on the summit. Gotenyama receives its name from a residence known as’Goten” that belonged to shogun Tokugawa leyasu.
Address and Contact – Gotenyama (Mt. Goten) 1-21-1 Kanbara Shinden, Shizuoka, Shimizu Ward, Shizuoka Prefecture 421-3211, Japan Access: A 25-minute walk from JR Shin-Kambara Station to Mt. Goten Square
Tel. 054-385-7730 (Shimizu City Office Kambara Branch)
This former merchant family home and trading house, rebuilt around 1855, is a nationally registered tangible cultural property. Known as the “Yamaroku”, this old-style building still preserves the atmosphere and relics of trades made and deals done long ago.
Address and Contact – Shida Residence 3-19-28 Kanbara, Shizuoka, Shimizu Ward, Shizuoka Prefecture 421-3203, Japan Tel: 054-385-7557