Hi! This past Valentine’s Day was our long-awaited event, the “YGC Global Education Lecture”! Mr. Tom Hassan, the former principal of the renowned Philips Exeter Academy, and Ms. Matsumoto of YGC gave wonderful and insightful presentations on admissions to universities abroad. The event was a huge success thanks to everyone who came! Now this week, we will be introducing Shizuoka Prefecture, which shares possession of the famous Mt. Fuji with Yamanashi Prefecture.
Shizuoka spreads wide and far in all four directions of the compass. To the east of the prefecture we have Mt. Fuji, while Miho no Matsubara, a scenic seaside area recently added to the World Heritage List in 2013 for its breathtaking view of Mt. Fuji, is located within Shizuoka City, the prefectural capital in central Shizuoka. Shizuoka City is also known for its tea plantations. We also have Lake Hamana, the tenth largest lake in Japan, to the west and even hot spring resorts such as Atami, found in the Izu area. As you may have realized, Shizuoka Prefecture has various fascinating faces, or areas, to visit.
Of all the attractive locations in Shizuoka, Hamamatsu City is garnering increased national attention. This might be due to the fact that Yuru-Character “Shusse Daimyo Ieyasu-kun (from feudal lord Ieyasu, who achieved remarkable career advancement in his time)” won the 2015 “Yuru-Character Grand Prix” out of 1,092 regional characters who entered. This victory contributed to Hamamatsu City being chosen as filming locations for several upcoming television shows, which will surely add to its already rising popularity.
You may be wondering why the legendary Ieyasu Tokugawa was chosen as the model for the official character of Hamamatsu City. It seems as though Ieyasu has hardly any associations with Shizuoka Prefecture as he was born in Aichi, and his most notable achievement is the establishment of the Edo Period. However, Ieyasu actually is said to have had close ties with Shizuoka Prefecture throughout his entire life. During his younger years, Ieyasu was held hostage for 12 years by Yoshimoto Imagawa, who was a feudal lord of the Sumpu Domain. This means that Ieyasu actually grew up in Shizuoka and spent his childhood years there. Furthermore, Ieyasu constructed the Hamamatsu Castle, which he made his home for 17 years until he was 45 years old. He then went on to unify the whole country during his time there, which initiated a nickname for Hamamatsu Castle: “Shusse Castle”, or castle of career advancement. After his resignation from the Generalissimo, Ieyasu returned to the Sumpu area and spent his final years in the Sumpu Castle until he reached his death at the age of 75.
The Nikko Tosho-gu of Tochigi Prefecture is widely recognized as the grave of Ieyasu Tokugawa, but there is in fact another grave of Ieyasu in Shizuoka, in a place called Mt. Kuno Tosho-gu. In his will, Ieyasu wrote “Bring my corpse to Mt. Kuno … (abbreviated) … then build a small shrine at Mt. Nikko after the first anniversary of my death.” Consequently, it is said that Ieyasu’s first grave was at Mt. Kuno Tosho-gu, and his corpse was then relocated and reburied later to Nikko. His will, however, has no mention of moving his body to Mt. Nikko, so in reality, we cannot ascertain where his corpse truly lies unless we were to excavate both graves at Mt. Kuno and Mt. Nikko.
Although it is still very much cold outside, since the first day of spring was on February 4th, it is officially spring according to the Japanese calendar. Spring means cherry blossom season and Kawazu City of the Izu Peninsula is acclaimed for its Kawazu Cherry Blossoms. These cherry blossoms are one of the earliest to bloom in Japan and the annual “Kawazu Cherry Blossoms Festival” has already begun. So why not visit Shizuoka and enjoy an early spring?