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Heike no Sato
Yunishigawa Onsen—selected by the defeated Heike as a peaceful place to settle down

A museum intended to preserve for future generations the many cultural and secret stories that have been passed down in Yunishigawa Onsen, the land of the legend of the Heike refugees

Having lost to their rivals the Genji at the Battle of Dannoura in 1185, those Heike warriors who survived fled their persistent pursuers to various places around the country, and began to live new lives in hiding. Yunishigawa Onsen has been famed for centuries as one of the places to which the Heike warriors purportedly fled after their defeat. For more than eight centuries, this land has been known as a place of peaceful settlement. Ever since then, Yunishigawa has retained such customs as not raising carp streamers at festivals and not keeping roosters to herald the dawn: in the lifestyles kept up by the Heike refugees, there are a great many other secret traditions like these ones. Heike no Sato (“Heike Village”) is a reconstructed townscape that preserves these people’s lifestyles for future generations.
Lined with old thatched-roof houses, there are many things to see and do in this recreation of old-fashioned rural life. The Local Culture Heritage Museum convey what is worth preserving of the traditional arts, folktales, and so on, which have been passed down in this region since time immemorial. The Exhibition Room includes exhibits that give a glimpse of life in those days, with items like a specially-gifted facsimile edition of a Tale of the Heike manuscript registered as an Important Cultural Property of Japan and statues of the tyrant Taira no Kiyomori, head of the Heike clan, and Taira no Atsumori, an artistic youth who was killed in one of the Tale’s most tragic stories. In addition to the folk craft workshop where you can see actual tools that were once widely used to make wooden ladles, there is also a cafeteria where you can enjoy the sweet flavors that were the pride of the Heike refugees, with delicacies such as tochimochi and oshiruko. Between late January and early March each year, you can enjoy the special winter scenery of the Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Matsuri, with Heike no Sato as its main venue. Then, in early June, the Heike Taisai is another very lively affair.
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  • 1042 Yunishigawa Onsen, Nikko-shi, Tochigi 321-2601
  • Website
  • About 1 hour (44 km) by car from Imaichi IC on the Nikko-Utsunomiya Road, after taking the Tohoku Expressway as far as Utsunomiya IC
    Right beside Yunishigawa-onsen Station bus stop, accessible by Nikko-koutsu Bus bound for Yunishigawa Onsen from Yunishigawa-onsen Station on the Yagan Tetsudo Railway

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