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AshikagaAshikaga is the city located at the southwestern end of Tochigi Prefecture, and next area is in Gunma Prefecture.
It is located about 45 km southwest of Utsunomiya.

Since the 12th century, Ashikaga family had governed this area.
By that time, this area was already called "Ashikaga". And they overthrew the Kamakura government in the early 14th century, then they founded Muromachi government in Kyoto.

Around the period, Ashikaga School was founded, and it had become the highest educational institution in east Japan until around the 17th century.

As a result, this city has held some historical spots.

Ashikaga School /1/

Ashikaga SchoolIt is the medieval school, and the site is located about 0.5 km northwest of JR Ashikaga station.

It is uncertain when the school was founded. But a lord of Ashikaga reconstructed the school in 1432 after its decline period, then it had become the highest educational institution in east Japan for a long time.
This school had taught Confucianism, art of divination, art of warfare and medical science.
At its peak, it had more than 3,000 students from all over the country.
In the 16th century, Francis Xavier, the first Christian missionary in Japan, introduced this school to Europe as "the largest and most famous academy in Japan".
But since around the 17th century, other new learnings had advanced, so this school had declined.

In the site, three gates and Temple of Confucius built in 1668 are the original constructions. And the other buildings were restored in 1990.

Ban'naji temple /2/

Bannaji templeIt is a Buddhist temple of Shingon sect, and is located just northwest of Asikaga School.
It was built in 1196 by Yoshikane Asikaga, a lord in Ashikaga of the day.
He built the temple in his residence. So the site has earthworks and moats, and it traces back to a residence of samurai.
"Ban'na" is the Yoshikane's posthumous Buddhist name. The first kanji charcter is very rare in Japanese language.

Orihime shrine /3/

Orihime shrineIt is a Shinto shrine located about 0.8 km west-northwest of Ashikaga School.
This shrine is on the hillside of "Orihimeyama".
"Orihime" means "princess of weaving". This hill has been the guardian deity of Ashikaga where weaving has been the main industry since the 8th century.
This original shrine was built in 1879, but it had been destroyed by fire in the following year.
After that, a temporary shrine had been used for a long time, then the current shrine was rebuilt in 1937.
The main shrine is bright vermillion and beautiful.

Kurita Museum /4/

Kurita MuseumIt is a private museum displaying only porcelains, and is located about 6 km east of Ashikaga station.
It was founded in 1968 by Hideo Kurita who had had a seat in Diet.
The collections of the museum were collected by him, and this museum houses about 10,000 articles.
It's notable that all articles are only Imari and Nabeshima porcelains. It is one of the world's largest collections in the field.
In the wide site, there are many exhibition pavillions, Japanese gardens and some other buildings.

It is close to Tomita station (the next station of Ashikaga) on JR Ryomo Line.

Ashikaga Flower Park /5/

Ashikaga Flower ParkIt is a flower park located just south of Kurita Museum.
In the park, we can enjoy to see many beautiful flowers throughout the year.
But most of all, the best plant to see here is the great Japanese wisteria trellis.
Four big wisteria trees about 140 years old were successfully transplanted here in 1996 for the first time in Japan.
The countless blossoms cover about 517 square meters over our heads. We can see them from late April to early May.

Scenic or Nature / Park or Garden / Resort / City, Town or Village / Quarter or Street /
Temple or Shrine / Museum or Laboratory / Market or Commercial facility / Factory /
Other Building or Construction / Historic place / Remains / World Heritage Site

How to get to here

By railroad

  • By Tohoku-Shinkansen, about 43 minutes from Tokyo to Oyama.
    Then by local train on JR Ryomo Line, about 42-49 minutes from Oyama.
  • By limited express "Ryomo" of Tobu Railway. About 1 hour and 10 minutes from Asakusa.
    From the station to Ashikaga School, about 15 minutes walk. (About 1 km)

By car

Run the Tohoku Expressway, and exit at Sano-Fujioka Exit. About 70 km from Tokyo. About 20 km from there to central Ashikaga, about 30 minutes.

Ashikaga School
Photo by Nihonrettou-Okunijiman
Gakkomon gate in Ashikaga School
Photo by Nihonrettou-Okunijiman
Restored buildings in Ashikaga School
Main gate of Ban'naji temple
Main temple of Ban'naji
Kyodo temple in Ban'naji
Orihime shrine
Kurita Museum
Ashikaga Flower park
Great wisteria trellis

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