Obuse Town located in the northeast of Nagano Prefecture is a small town with a population of about ten thousand. Being developed as a "shoen" manor in the 12th century, this area became a "tenryo", which means a special territory under the direct control of the Tokugawa shogunate in Edo, present Tokyo, in the 17th century. Takai Kozan, a wealthy local merchant as well as a rich farmer, invited Katsushika Hokusai, from Edo to here in the mid-19th century. Katsushika Hokusai was a great painter of "ukiyo-e" woodblock prints. It is said that he visited Obuse five times to paint several works of art under the considerate support of Takai Kozan. The ceiling paintings of the main hall of Gansho-in Buddhist temple, standing on the outskirts of the town, is an outstanding masterpiece he left in Obuse, and is opened to the public. Speaking of Obuse, we can never leave without confectionery made of chestnuts, because chestnuts are the specialty of Obuse. All the chestnuts harvested here were not for the locals but for the shognate family in Edo in those years. The first picture shows "Yakushi-do" hall of "Joko-ji" Buddhist temple standing within walking distance of Gansho-in. This hall is the oldest existing building in Obuse, built in the 15th century, and is on the list of important cultural assets. The second picture is a guardian god of a local market, commonly called "ichi-gami". This kind of god used to be found throughout the country though, this one still remains here to be worshipped by the locals.
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