Hojo Soun was born in Ebara no Sho, the son of Ise Morisada, lord of Takagoshiyama Castle in Bitchu Province (the area that today makes up the western portion of Okayama Prefecture), and is said to have lived in the area from his childhood until he was a young man. He was in the service of Ashikaga Yoshimi, the younger brother of Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the ruling Shogun of the Muromachi Bakufu (the military government during the Muromachi period). After the outbreak of the Onin War, he set out for Suruga Province (now eastern Shizuoka Prefecture), where his younger sister had married Imagawa Yoshitada, the lord of the province. He successfully mediated a succession dispute within the Imagawa Clan, and thereafter continued to grow in influence in the service of the Imagawa family and the Ogigayatsu branch of the Uesugi family. Later in life, he went on to unify Sagami Province (western Kanagawa Prefecture). He actively sought to expand and solidify control over his domains, through the establishment of a family code and conducting land surveys. He is sometimes called the first “Sengoku Daimyo" (warlord of the warring states period).
Nasu no Yoichi
Nasu no Yoichi is known as one of the heroes of the Genpei War. Nasu no Yoichi was a warrior from the Kanto region in the service of the Minamoto clan, and fought alongside Minamoto Yoshitsune during the battles of the Genpei War. During the battle of Yashima, he shot down a fan that had been placed on a boat belonging to the enemy Taira clan, instantly ensuring his name would go down in history.
Following his great deeds during the war, in later years Nasu was made lord of five locations across Japan, including Bitchu Ebara no Sho. Within Ibara City a number of historic sites connected to Nasu survive to this day, such as Sodegami-inari shrine, where the shoulder guard Nasu discarded before loosing his arrow at the battle of Yashima is believed to be enshrined, as well as the Nasu family Bosatsu temple of Eisho-ji, and Nasu no Yoichi's gravestone.
Sesshu is believed to have been born in Akahama, Soja City. He entered the temple of Shokoku-ji in Kyoto before moving to Suo Province (eastern Yamaguchi Prefecture) and then accompanying an embassy to the Ming emperor in China, where he studied Chinese-style ink painting. His numerous paintings include not only landscapes, but also portraits and paintings of flowers and birds. According to the records of the Tofuku-ji magazine and “Kibi Monogatari", Sesshu is said to have died at Chogen-ji in Yoshii-cho, but there is much uncertainty about Sesshu's life, and other traditions put his final resting place at Unkoku-an in Yamaguchi City or Taiki-an in Masuda City.
Nevertheless, Chogen-ji holds a large number of paintings identified as Sesshu's, including a red-clothed daruma statue. In addition, in 1996 a document called the yasoku geshu was discovered, linking Sesshu with Senmyo Osho, the founder of Chogen-ji.
Hirakushi Denchu was born in Nishi-Ebara Village, Shitsugi County (present-day Nishi-Ebara-cho), and after being adopted by the Hirakushi family, studied woodcarving in Osaka under the puppet master Nakatani Seiko. Later, he visited the noted sculptor Takamura Koun in Kyoto, yet continued to study on his own. From the end of the Meiji period to the beginning of the Taisho period (around 1912), he was apprenticed to another famous artist, Okakura Tenshin, and became one of modern Japan's most noted sculptors for his realistic artistic style.
In 1944, he became a professor at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (now the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music), and produced Kagamijishi, one of his most representative works, in 1958. He won the Order of Culture in 1962.
Hirakushi lived to be over 100, yet continued working right up to this death. Hirakushi was also a prolific reader, reading through innumerable works of Chinese literature, Buddhist scriptures and works of philosophy. He also left many proverbs and haiku poems expressing his thoughts and ambitions, which continue to touch people's hearts today.
Uchiyama Kanzo was born in Yoshii Village, Shitsuki County (now Yoshii, Yoshii-cho). At the age of 12, he was sent out for his apprenticeship to Osaka, and later worked for 10 years for a merchant family in Kyoto. However, at the age of 28 he moved to Shanghai as the overseas representative of Daigaku Megusuri Santendo (a pharmaceutical company), at the introduction of Makino Toraji, a priest in the Kyoto Christian church and later President of Doshisha University. In 1917, he opened a bookstore in Shanghai, and his store was frequently visited by Chinese and Japanese intellectuals, such as Lu Xun, Guo Moruo, Tanizaki Junichiro, Sato Haruo and Hayashi Fumiko, allowing Uchiyama to set up a salon. Despite anti-Japanese activities in response to Japan's expansion into China, Uchiyama continued to win the friendship of a wide range of Chinese people, and after the war became the first head of the Japan-China Friendship Association, and continued to work to restore friendship and diplomatic relations between Japan and China.
Sakatani Roro was born in Kumyo Village, Kawakami County (now Meiji, Bisei-cho). After studying Chinese literature in Osaka and Edo (the old name for Tokyo), he returned home and, on the advice of his uncle, Yamanari Dainen, he opened the Sakuradani Juku in Yanase, Yoshii-cho in 1851. With this Chinese literature tutoring school, Sakatani aimed to contribute to the upbringing of young people. Sakatani attracted followers among scholars of Chinese literature and idealists from all over the country. Sakatani was invited to become a teacher at a public school established by the Hitotsubashi Ebara municipal office from donations raised by the local population. Sakatani pressed to have the school recognized as a “university", gave it the name Kojokan, and became the school's first superintendent. He continued to educate people for the next 15 years, until 1868, and educated many talented people who went on to make great contributions to the development of his hometown and to modern Japan.