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map of Kuroki Imperial Residential Site

Kuroki Imperial Residential Site

How to get

Get off Bus #1 (Hon-sen) at "Izumi" bus stop. There is a traffic light on Ryotsu side. Turn that corner to the north. As you move towards the mountain, you will see Shoho temple with kindergarten on right hand side first, and then Honko temple on left hand side. Soon you get to the site that looks as Photo.27.1. In front of the site, there is a small post office.

Photo.27.1 Kuroki Imperial Residential Site

The site is not a wide space. And you cannot get into the central part as shown in Photo.27.2 because of the fence surrounding the center. In the site, there are a lot of boards standing and showing you much poetry. It is just next to a house, but quiet and filled with nice atmosphere. If the sky is clear, you will see the nice view of Kimpoku Mountain at the back of the site.

Sado is an island that is far from the ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto. So the Japan's ancient and medieval government used Sado as a place to take people into remote custody as a punishment. The first person was Hozumi Ason Oyu in 722. Then Sado was designated as five custody places in Japan with Oki, Izu, Awa, Hitachi, and Tosa in 7241). Since then 76 detainees are on the record2). Those were the high ranking people and political matters were involved. Later in the Edo era in 17-19 century, not a high society people but ordinary people were sent to Sado as a labor. They were called "Mushuku"; some of them were criminals, and others were people who were erased from family registrations3). Those Mushuku(s) were different from the remote custody in medieval era.

Juntoku-joko (1197-1242) was forced to live in Sado because of his responsibility in Jokyu-Incident in 1221. "Joko" is the title for a person who retired the status of an Emperor. What was remarkable about Jokyu-Incident was that three emperor retirees 'Joko's were sent to remote-custody after the failed attempt. They were Gotoba, Tsuchimikado, and Juntoku-jokos.
That period was a big change in Japan’s history. Aristocracy in Heian-era ended, and the reigns of Samurai warriors had started in 1192. Those strongmen’s governments "Bakufu" had the long history in Japan. Started with Kamakura Bakufu in 12th century, Muromachi Bakufu, The civil war era, and then Edo Bakufu. It was in 19th century when the Bakufu systems was over.
When Juntoku Joko was sent to Sado was in 1221, so it was still in the early days of Bakufu systems. Probably the three Jokos had thought it would be possible to get the power back from Bakufu in Kamakura to Emperor Family in Kyoto.

In May, 1221, Gotoba-joko decided to fight against Kamakura Bakufu. Bakufu's strong man Houjou Yoshitoki ordered his two sons to go and fight through three routes towards Kyoto. Although Joko side made counterattacks in Mino and Owari, they were severely beaten by Bakufu forces. Yoshitoki punished three jokos by sending Gotoba-joko to Oki, Tsuchimikado-joko to Tosa first and then to Awa later, and Juntoku-joko to Sado 4).

Photo.27.2 Kuroki Imperial Residential Site

"Kurokino Gosho Ato" meaning Kuroki Imperial Residential Site, is thought to be where Juntoku-joko lived in a building made of raw materials of woods. Actually the word "Kuroki" of the site's name means "black wood". The word "black wood" is not just telling you the color of wood, but it also means that the wood has not been peeled off, let alone being finished as a timber. So the name "Black wood palace" may give an impresson that the building was shoddy. However, one book says5) that the Emperor's resident was used to be made of black wood in ancient time, implying that the words "black wood" do not necessarily mean the palace is shoddy.

Juntoku-joko was sentenced to remote custody on July 20. The following day, July 21, he left Kyoto for Sado with three men and two women. There is no exact record remaining, only handed down stories tell the followings; the group moved on land from Kyoto to Teradomari that is the nearest opposite shore on Honshu side. One man returned to Kyoto because of illness, one man died in Teradomari, only one man and two ladies came to Sado together. A book says Juntoku-joko got to the island in the middle of August6). Another says that the season was already in autumn when the group reached Teradomari. They made a place to be at Kikuya of a wealthy man Mr. Ikarashi in Teradomari in order to spend whole winter. And then they left there in early spring for Sado7).

He lived in Sado for 22 years since he was 25 years old, until he died at age of 46. The story goes on to the page of Juntoku-Joko Cremation Site.