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Tondabayashi Jinaimachi

Tondabayashi Jinaimachi

Tondabayashi Jinaimachi was an autonomous and religious community that developed along with Koshoji Betsuin, a temple that was built in the Eiroku Period (1558-69) by Rev. Shoshu. the XIV Heir of Koshoji in Kyoto, as a branch of his temple.

Jinaimachi is located about 300 meters in the south of the Tondabayashi Station of the Kintetsu Railways Nagano Line. It lies in a 350-meter square area, partitioned off its neighborhood with the terrace on the Ishi River at its southern end and a canal (now an underdrain) at its northern end. The community is divided into seven sections by six alleys, which reminisces of historical flavors dating back to its birth.

Under the Bakuhan (Tokugawa Shogunate and domain) system since the 17th century, Jinaimachi gradually lost its religious color. It then developed as a zaigomachi country town that became a trading center for farming products coming from neighboring areas. Archival records in 1688 tell us that the town prospered with the trading of casks for sake rice wine and cotton textile. It is said that there were 149 stores in 51 different kinds of business operating in Jinaimachi in those days. Magnificent residences of old commercial tycoons, known as the Sugiyama Family and the Nakamura Family, still remain today. They have been designated important cultural assets by the government.

In accordance with the Cultural Assets Conservation Law, Tondabayashi City has designated an area of about 11 hectares in old Jinaimachi a traditional architecture conservation zone in order to hand these cultural relics down to next generations and make use of them in redeveloping the city into a unique one that may suit the new eras to come. Appreciating the cultural value of Tondabayashi Jinaimachi and the city's efforts to make the area what it is today, the government designated Jinaimachi an important traditional architecture conservation zone as a national cultural asset.

Important cultural asset
Old Sugiyama Family Residence

The origin of the Sugiyama Family dates back to the birth of Jinaimachi. Successive heads of the family inherited the name of Sugiyama Chozaemon and every head was committed to town management as one of the Eight Leading Men of Tondabayashi throughout the Edo Period (17th to 19th centuries).

Although it is not clear what line of business the Sugiyama Family was originally in, it succeeded in making sake since it acquired the brewing right in 1685. The family was initially producing 30 koku of sake every year. The annual output, however, remarkably soared to 104 koku in 1697 and jumped to 1,103 koku in 1785.

The premises of the Sugiyama Family residence were large enough to occupy one whole section in the town zoning according to a community map drawn some time in the Edo Period. The premises consisted of 10 or more structures including the family's residence, breweries, rice steaming plants and warehouses. The scale well reflected the family's prosperity.

The residential structure includes additions to older parts of the house. The earth- floored room is the oldest dating back to the middle of the 17th century. The whole structure was expanded around 1747 with the addition of a drawing room and the second floor and it became what it looks like today.

Old merchants' houses in Tondabayashi Jinaimachi use a plane framework design and beams like those found in farmers' houses. The old Sugiyama Family residence is the best and oldest example of all merchants' houses remaining in the area today. It was designated an important cultural asset on 26th December 1983.

Isonokami Tsuyuko (1882-1959)

Isonokami Tsuyuko or, Sugiyama Taka in her real name, was born in 1882 as the eldest daughter of the Sugiyama Family. Since her childhood, she was interested in Japanese and Chinese classical literature and playing the koto, a traditional Japanese 13-string instrument. At 22, she debuted as a poetess of tanka 31-sylable poetry in the Myojou magazine. Her poems were admired for their style based on classical literature knowledge blended with a sensation of brilliance and underlying deep sorrows. She became a quasi-member of the Shinshisha poets' group in 1903. Tsuyuko was called one of the Five Outstanding Poetesses of Shinshisha; the other four being Yosano Akiko, Yamakawa Tomiko, Chino Masako and Tamano Hanako.

Tsuyuko secured her name as a renowned poetess with her Koitabashi anthology in which she expressed her burning passion in her unanswered first love.

Osaka Prefecture-designated cultural asset Old Nakamura Family Residence (not opened to the public)

The Nakamura Family was engaged in sake brewery in the trade name of Sadoya. All successive heads of the family passed under the name of Tokubei.

Since obtaining the sake brewing right in 1715, the family greatly prospered as a brewer with its annual output reaching 2,135 koku in 1785. The head of the family was appointed the chief director of a brewers' guild in Kawachi, present-day Osaka Prefecture, in 1792. The guild controlled sake sale and shipments to the Edo (now Tokyo) market.

It is known from archival housing records that the main structure in the premises of the old Nakamura Family residence was built some time between 1782 and 83. The office in the west of the main building and three separate drawing rooms in the south are found to share these construction dates as well.

Successive heads of the family received many noted men of letters, painters and calligraphers in these drawing rooms. Yoshida Shoin, a military theorist towards the end of the Edo Period, is said to have been among these celebrities.

Koshoji Betsuin

In the Eiroku Period(1558-69), Rev. Shoshu of the Ikko Sect of Buddhism built Koshoji Betsuin, which is also called Tondabayashi Gobo. With this temple as its center, Tondabayashi Jinaimachi developed and prospered. Rev. Shoshu was not a mere priest but was a foreseeing town planner. Determined to build the temple, he acquired a part of uncultivated grassland on top of the Ishi River terrace for 100 kanmon (an ancient unit of money). He requested of 8 shouya village headmen, two each from neighboring 4 villages, to cooperate with him for the building of the temple, the cultivation of fields and the construction of a town. Thus, the prototype of Jinaimachi took shape.

Koshoji is officially called Koryushohoji. It was originally at Yamashina, Kyoto but it was burned down in 1532. Later, Rev. Rensh・renamed Temma Betsuin the principal temple of Koshoji. Since Rev. Shoshu was the son of Rensh・ the temple he built was called betsuin or a branch temple.

Koshoji Betsuin has its Main Gate opening on the east side of the precincts and includes the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower on the south and north parts of the precincts, respectively. Entering from the main gate, you will see the Main Temple in front of you and the Reception Hall and the priest's living quarters including a study on the right-hand side of the main temple. The existing main temple was rebuilt in 1638 and the buildings in the priest's private quarters were renewed in 1810. It is said that the main gate was moved from Fushimi-Momoyama Castle, while the bell tower and the drum tower were relocated to the present places in 1810.

The outer chamber of the main temple is decorated with paintings on the sliding paper doors that were drawn by Kano Juseki Hidenobu, a noted painter of the Kano school.

Although almost all original structures of Koshoji Betsuin have been lost, the present temple stands on nearly the same location of its predecessor. The main temple is the oldest Jodo Shin Sect-style seminary remaining in Osaka Prefecture. It is a priceless structure with the prestige and beauty that suits the history-honored Jinaimachi.

Important Traditional Architecture Conservation Zone (ITACZ)

An important traditional architecture conservation zone (ITACZ) is so designated by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. It is a part or the whole of a traditional architecture conservation zone (TACZ) and is considered by the minister highly valuable for the nation. There are 60ITACZs, including the one in Tondabayashi City, across the country as of Jan2002.

Traditional Architecture Conservation Zone (TACZ)

A traditional architecture conservation zone (TACZ) is an old jinaimachi castle town, shukubamachi post town, port town, farming or fishing village, etc. or an environment forming a high cultural value together with any of them. A TACZ is so designated by a local administration office, such as city, town or village, in accordance with its city planning or by an ordinance, pursuant to Clause 2, Article 83 of the Cultural Assets Conservation Law.