Goryo-jinja,Shinmachi-doori & Yoshinogawa
Before creating a list of the Eighteen Scenes of Gojo, I believe that it is important to establish criteria for the judging of places. From my point of view, it is necessary to take into consideration all that I have learned this past year as a member of the Gojo Youth Forum as well as that which I bring to the group as an individual. I am an avid fan of history, and I enjoy the enrichment and satisfaction that comes from learning about the history of my surroundings. Based on historical importance, it would be simple to compile a list of places for the Eighteen Scenes of Gojo. Such a list might include Shinmachi-doori, Sakurai-ji, Eisan-ji, Goryo-jinja, and maybe some of the many ancient tombs scattered throughout present day Gojo. The opposite of the Eighteen Scenes of Gojo based of past civic and social and therefore historical significance would be a list of presently civicly and socially important places in Gojo. Honjin intersection, Ookawa-bashi, Benten in Nohara and Nichii shopping center are just a few of the places that play important roles in the life of modern day Gojo citizens. One other list might be based upon the natural beauty of certain places -- Otonashi-gawa, Gojo as seen from any of the surrounding mountains, the Yoshino River in Taki and Ada, and any of the outlying rural areas of Gojo. Still, any list based solely on one of these criteria would be incomplete. I have chosen the following three places for the Eighteen Scenes of Gojo based not only on their historical importance, modern day civic and social significance, and natural beauty, but also on the fact that they have, do, and will continue to play a role in the shaping of Gojo City.
Goryo-jinja was established in 800 under the orders of Emperor Kanmu to quell the spirit of Empress Igami who fell victim to a political "war" for control between the Fujiwara clan and Imperial line. It is all that remains of the once powerful Ryoan-ji temple and is attributed with being the birthplace of Goryo-shinko, an off-shoot of Shintoism whose purpose it is to quell the angry spirits of individuals who have been done injustices. Presently Goryo-jinja preserves the tradition of its harvest festival (Aki-matsuri), acts as a place where many visit to pray for the new year, and holds the Chijin-no-mori Concert every year. On top of all this it is the main shrine for the twenty-some Goryo-san shrines scattered throughout Gojo. Many of these sub-shrines play an important part in the lives of Gojo citizens.
Shinmachi-doori, the main road between Futami and Gojo during the Edo period, was established as the economic center of Gojo when Matsukura Shigemasa, the head of Futami Castle for 1608 till 1616, began distributing licenses for the production and selling of sake, soy sauce, lamp oil and the managing of ryokan. With the economic growth this brought about, Gojo grew into an important center, and it became the basis for the Gojo we know today. Not only does Shinmachi preserve a part of Gojo from the Edo period, but its active citizens play a leading role in working to make Gojo a better place to live. Through their efforts, Kageroza, an annual flea market, has come into existence and the level of awareness of Gojo citizens towards the history of their town has risen greatly. Other local Shinmachi events include the Ebisu-san festival in February.
3. Yoshinogawa and Ookawa-bashi:
Traditionally, boat trade on the Yoshino river brought goods up the Wakayama coast and helped to establish Gojo as an economic center. Over time a river blockade due to a dispute over the salt trade stopped the river transport but worked to strengthen Gojo`s role as the trading center for southern Nara. As the largest and most trafficked of the six bridges which cross the Yoshino river in Gojo, Ookawa-bashi plays an important role in the lives of Gojo citizens. Each summer the fireworks of the Yoshinogawa-matsuri, held in the shadows of the bridge, attract thousands of spectators from all around the area and remind one of the fact that Gojo once was, and in many ways still is the center for the southern part of Nara prefecture.