Fujiwara (Tsuno) Tsunetaka, who cultivated Yusuhara, was born into one of the most politically elite families of the Heian period, but he was driven away from Kyoto to Shikoku because of a conspiracy. Tsunetaka came to the land and, upon discovering water from a spring that reflected sunlight in the woods from atop a hill, drew water from the site and began building the Tsuno estate.
Gathering craftsmen with advanced skills from Iyo Province, he devoted himself to cultivating the land and working to transfer a divided tutelary deity to Mishima Shrine, where the Tsunoyama kagura (sacred music and dance) is performed to this day.
The traditions and foresight that Tsunetaka brought into the area from over 1,100 years ago remain an integral part of Yusuharaﾕs rich culture and continue to be passed on faithfully to future generations.
The people of Yusuhara have long been proud of their heritage as the descendants of Tsunetaka and the Fujiwara clan who served the Imperial Court and governed the region. The many tea cottages (chado) that remain today were built during the Edo period to enshrine the spirit of the Tsuno clan and various buddhas, eventually becoming places to welcome visitors and to gather and share information.
These historical roots are believed to have led to the “one village, serving the emperor” spirit, whereby villagers would unwaveringly support patriots who supported the emperor, at the end of the Edo period. Yusuhara remains in history as the town from which those patriots crossed the ridge and ventured off in the hope of seeing Japan's new dawn.
The culture of Heian embodying the complete harmony of nature, humans and the gods blended perfectly into Yusuhara’s environment, with all of its natural beauty. The outlook on nature and humankind of shinjin waraku, or the state of the world in which gods and humans coexist, continues to blossom in the deep mountains of Yusuhara, in the form of the sacred music and dance of Tsunoyama kagura. The culture continues to nurture the spirit of the people of Yusuhara, who aspire to reach Takamagahara, the ideal world where gods were born.
Yusuhara is a remote town yet is abundant in culture, with a history of nurturing and attracting prominent figures. Tsuno Yukitaka, a lord in the Muromachi period, was highly recognised by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshinori for his literary talent, while Gido Shushin and Zekkai Chushin, Zen priests born in the area, were leading figures of Gozan literature during the Middle Ages. More recently, the town has been connected with folklorist Tsuneichi Miyamoto, author Ryotaro Shiba, religious scholar Tetsuo Yamaori and architect Kengo Kuma.
It is from Yusuhara’s ridge that Sakamoto Ryoma set off in the hope of seeing the nationﾕs new dawn and Ryotaro Shiba envisaged a future for Japan with limitless possibilities. Who will be the next patriots to come with dreams inspired from this beautiful land?