1. The Pagoda Dedicated to
    Ōno Dōken Sai Harutane
  2. The Genna Town Planning and Kazama Rokuemon
  1. Significant Dates in the History of Gatsuzōji
  2. Top Page

The Genna Town Planning and the Magistrate in Charge of Land Allotment, Kazama Rokuemon

元和の町割りと風間六右衛門 In order to proclaim their newly-gained authority over the entire country, the Tokugawa Shogunate changed the era name from Keichō to Genna, or Genna Armistice. The new name was based on a phrase from the classical Chinese book Shu Ching (The Book of History): enbu shūbun, meaning to lay down the weapons and enlighten oneself through learning and respect towards others. This new name suggested the beginning of a period of peace, after more than 150 years of continuous struggles since the Ōnin War.

  After the end of the Winter Campaign, the Shogunate's intentions were to turn Sakai into a trading port. To this purpose, a magistrate with ample experience in foreign trade, Hasegawa Tōkō from Nagasaki was appointed in charge of Sakai city development in December 1614. Half a year later, in June 1615, Hasegawa was ordered to deal immediately with the restoration of Sakai (after the devastating fire during the Summer Campaign), and his retainer Kazama Rokuemon was put in charge of land allotment. Kazama's idea was to excavate the moat of the Doi River (that had been filled in according to Hideyoshi's orders) and to enlarge the scale of the city. He designed the city following the pattern of the quarters of a go board, using as standards the Daidō Avenue, which streches from South to North, and Ōshōji Avenue, which stretches from East to West. Next, he created peasant quarters along the east side of the moat and a temple quarter inside the city, where he concentrated all temples and shrines. The quarters for the various artisan guilds were created along the Kishū Kaidō. All these measures were taken in order to follow Hasegawa's dream of turning Sakai into a trading port that could successfully rival Nagasaki. The districts that were designed at that time still preserve their original names: Hatagochō—the Basket-Makers' District, Teppōchō—the Gunsmiths' District, Zaimokuchō—the Lumber District, Kushiyachō—the Comb-Makers' District. The town planning process itself is known as the Genna Town Planning. 元和の町割りと風間六右衛門

 Shortly after his appointment, Hasegawa Tōkō took to his bed, eventually passing away on October 26th, 1619. Hasegawa's poor health made Kazama Rokuemon the de facto authority in charge of the town planning. Now, Kazama was the descendant of Kazama Nobuaki, a devout believer in the Lotus Sutra, who used to govern the northern provinces of Echigo (current Niigata) and Shinano (current Nagano) and who had protected Nichiren's disciple Nisshō. This was probably the reason why Kazama favoured the temples belonging to the Nichiren sect and allotted them bigger and better plots of land. One example that stands out is that of the Nanshūji Temple, famous for its association with Sen no Rikyū, which was moved from its location within the temple district to the southernmost part of the expanding Sakai. Kazama's actions triggered severe criticism from priests, beginning with the priests from Nanshūji, and on August 14th 1615, the magistrate in charge of temples and shrines sent a messenger to Kazama, ordering him to Edo (Tokyo) on August 15th. At that time, when travelling from Osaka to Tokyo in one day was unthinkable, the order represented the equivalent of a death sentence. Kazama considered it carefully and committed suicide, at the age of 47, on the way to the capital, near the Nanmatsu execution site. His gesture may have also been a way of showing the Emperor that he had done his best to rebuild the city and make it prosper, with no hidden agenda. It is ironic that no alterations were made to Kazama's original designs and the town planning was completed according to Kazama's vision during the Kan'ei era.

  Looking at original maps of Sakai from 1689, 70 years after the restoration of Sakai was completed, we can observe that the streets had been systematically designed and that the temples worshipping the Lotus Sutra had indeed received bigger plots of land than the other temples. Also, the appearance of streets in the Yanagi Temple District does not seem to have changed much since those times.

  Magistrate Kazama's remains were given a proper burial on his suicide site by some Nichiren believers (a group which included both members of the clergy and ordinary people), his posthumous name being Fushaku Shinmyōinden Dōki Nichimyō Daikoji. Some years later, a small shrine named Kazama Hall was erected on the site, and the legend goes that it was continuously enveloped in the smoke of the incense offered by priests and laymen, believers in the Lotus Sutra, who remembered his good deeds. The shrine site is now known as Nichiren Shū Heishōzan Kazamaji (The Nichiren Sect Kazama Temple from the Nanmatsu execution site) and is included in the list of historical spots in Sakai.

 Kazama Rokuemon's grave can be currently found at Gatsuzōji, having been moved here in the beginning of the Meiji era, together with Ōno Dōken Harutane's grave and the daimoku monument, when the execution place in Nanmatsu was closed. In the records of the Gatsuzōji temple there is the following entry: "In 1804, when the main priest was Zenzen'in Nisshō (the 23rd generation), Nakamura Rihei from the town of Jōgen bought about 1,400 square meters of land in Kitanoshō, Sakai, where Kazama Rokuemon's grave was located, and donated it to Gatsuzōji in the memory of his parents." This information might lead us to believe that Kazama's grave was moved to Gatsuzōji at the time when the donation was made. However, the Sakai City Historical Records place his grave in the northernmost part of Naniwa Marukōmoku, in 1801, thus indicating that it was indeed in the beginning of the Meiji era that the transfer occurred. The records from Gatsuzōji also mention that the land in question was sold upon consultation with the parishioners in 1807, when the head priest was Kōsen'in Nichimyō, the money being used for renovations.

  On the front of the grave that can be seen at Gatsuzōji, Kazama's posthumous name, Fushaku Shinmyōinden Dōki Nichimyō Daikoji, and the date of his death, August 15th, the fourth year of Genna, are clearly inscribed. Unfortunately, some of the characters composing his real name, Kazama Rokuemon, which were inscribed on the right side of the grave, are barely visible. In the age when the grave was built, sandstone from Izumi was the common choice, yet this stone has a tendency of shedding off its top layer with the passing of years. To prevent the exfoliation of the surface layer of the grave, we are currently pouring resin over it.

  About 90 years after the Genna Town Planning, due to the fact that the Yamato River tended to cause repeated floods, the Shogunate decided to start excavation works on its bed. However, the New Yamato River carried along sediments into the Osaka Gulf, so 150 years later the Gulf was not longer practicable as a port and Sakai could not fulfill its intended function as a trading port. To that were added the decrease in the demand from Taiping for guns, gunpowder and swords, and the influence of the isolation policy. Thus Sakai of our times became a town quite different from the city in Hasegawa's and Rokuemon's vision.元和の町割りと風間六右衛門

 Sakai was thrice destroyed by fire: first during the Ōei Uprising from 1399, then at the end of the Osaka Summer Campaign in 1616, and finally in 1945, during World War II. Despite suffering a devastating blow about every 300 years, Sakai always managed to recover successfully. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the temples belonging to the Nichiren Sect, to whom Kazama Rokuemon allotted vast estates, paying with his life for his devotion to the Lotus Sutra. During the Meiji era, much of land belonging to temples was requisitioned for the construction of schools. Later, during the post-war reconstruction, the graveyards were moved to Hachigamine, and the temples lost even more land to road construction and enlargement, while some of the estates had to be sold in order for the temples to afford the much needed repairs.

 On the 10th of July 1945, Sakai was almost completely destroyed by an air raid, and the greater part of the halls and other buildings belonging to the temples burnt down. Fortunately, the incendiary bombs that were dropped in the garden and Main Hall of Gatsuzōji failed to explode. Although the graveyard wall caught fire, the temple suffered no other damage, escaping even the flames from the neighbouring buildings. I cannot help but feel that Gatsuzōji was protected by Magistrate Kazama and Ōno Harutane, its appearance being preserved intact since the Edo period.