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Story 01

The Foundation of Hitoyoshi Kuma Culture

700 Years of the Sagara

Throughout the 700-year history of the Sagara clan, a unification of the hearts and minds of the rulers and commoners

The leading role in Hitoyoshi Kuma’s Japan Heritage Story is the Sagara clan. Their governance, which spanned 700 years, started when they were dispatched from the Sagara manor in Totomi Province (now Shizuoka Prefecture) to the Hitoyoshi Kuma region.

At that time, each area in Hitoyoshi Kuma was ruled by its own respective family. The Sagara clan, as was typical for feudal lords of the era, set about eradicating these established families as it expanded its domain. While most feudal lords of the time eliminated every shred of preexisting culture in their domains so that they could build up the community again from a fresh start, the Sagara had an extraordinary technique for winning the hearts of the common people. The Sagara were open-minded towards the culture, buildings, and ways of thinking that already existed in each locality. Although it could be speculated that this was merely an attempt to curry favor among newly conquered subjects, the use of this strategy contributed to the preservation to the present day of cultural assets from before the Sagara clan era.

Rounding out the story of the 700-year period of Sagara clan rule were their loyal vassals, whose work allowed the clan to keep control of the same domain for such an epic span of time. They were adept at analyzing the state of affairs in the region in order to determine the best policies and actions for the ruling clan to take. In this turbulent era in Japanese history, this was a critical combination: skilled assistants who could see which way trends were changing paired with the open-mindedness of the Sagara clan. Good governance in a region leads to financial security, which naturally keeps both the ruling class and the common people happy. During this 700-year period of harmony, the local culture was preserved while new ideas and cultures were integrated. This confluence of the old and the new created a unique culture with an enduring historical legacy.