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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Naritasan Temple

Just prior to taking airplane at Narita airport, I visited Naritasan temple (成田山). 

Main hall

Actual name of the Buddhist temple complex is called Naritasan Shinshoji (成田山新勝寺) that was established in AD 940. It belongs to Shingon school Chisan branch (真言宗智山派)

Three storied pagoda taken by Infrared camera
Acala (不動明王), a guardian deity of fire, is worshipped there.

Somon gate taken by infrared camera
This is Weekend Black and White 27th of June entry.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Yaegaki Shrine

Posting Izumo shrines goes on...

Yaegaki shrine (八重垣神社) is the fourth shrine I visited on day one, where Susanoo (素盞鳴尊) and his wife, Kushinadahime (櫛稲田姫), are enshrined. Ohnamuchi/Ohkuni (大己貴命) and Aohatasakusahiko (青幡佐久佐日古命), who appears as Susanoo 's son in Izumo fudoki (= ancient record in Izumo province/出雲国風土記), are also enshrined. Because of that, the shrine was formerly called Sakusa Shrine (佐久佐神社).


According to the Izumo fudoki, Aohatasakusahiko was originally enshrined there. Later on, Yaegaki shirine that had been located in Suga district was moved into the area of Sakusa shrine and Sakusa shrine was incorporated into Yaegaki shrine. Since 1922, the shrine has been called "Yaegaki shrine".

Main Hall with thick shimenawa

Behind the Haiden hall, there is a shrine called "Yamagami shrine (山神神社)", enshrining Iwanagahime (石長姫) and her dad, Ohyamatsumi (大山祇命).

Yamagami shrine
You see the ancient style torii gate (鳥居) and the symbol of man. The enshrined deity, Iwanagahime, has a younger sister called Konohayasakuyahime (木花之佐久夜毘売). Since Konohayasakuyahime is beautiful (bur Iwanagahime is not), she became the wife of Ninigi (ニニギ), a grandson of Amaterasu (天照大神).

Here is the miserable story about Iwanagahime.

Konohanasakuyahime met Ninigi on the seashore and they fell in love; Ninigi asked Ohyamatsumi, the father of Konohanasakuyahime for her hand in marriage. Ohyamatsumi was pleased to hear that because Ninigi is the grandson of Amaterasu, who descended from the heaven to rule Ashiharanonakatsukuni. Ohyamatsumi gladly offered Ninigi Konohanasakuyahime and his older daughter, Iwanagahime, as well. Since Iwanagahime is ugly, Ninigi sent her back to Ohyamatsumi and married only with Konohayasakuyahime. Ohyamatsumi's intention of offering Ninigi his two daughters was to have Ninigi and his offsprings to be long-lived life like hard rock ensured by Iwanagahime  and prosperity like cherry (sakura) blossoms ensured by Konohayasakuyahime. Since Ninigi chose Konohayasakuyahime only, longevity became short and fleeting, like the sakura blossoms, instead of firm and everlasting, like stones.



Due to above incidence, Iwamagahime seeks male and male symbols are dedicated to her...


The shrine is believed to be the place where Susanoo hid Kushinadahime from Yamatanoorochi.

Susanoo slaying Yamatanoorochi (Image from Wiki)


To be continued...



This is Our World Tuesday 24 June entry.



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Kumano Taisha

It's time to post Kumano Taisha (熊野大社), Ichinomiya (= the highest rank) Shrine in Izumo Province (出雲国). It is also called "Hinomotohidezome no yashiro (the birthplace of making fire/日本火出初之社).

At Haiden hall of the Ichinomiya shrine in Izumo province enshrined is "Izanaginohimanako kaburogikumanoookami  kusimikenunomikoto" (伊邪那伎日真名子 加夫呂伎熊野大神 櫛御気野命), decoding something like "A cherished offspring of Izanagi, a holy ancestral deity of foods in Kumano Taisha". The cryptographic name is adopted from Izumonokuninomiyatuko no kannyogoto (出雲国造神賀詞), a sort of letter/poetry submitted to Emperor from the Governor in Izumo Province in 8th century. Later on in 9th century, the enshrined deity is regarded as the same as Susanoo, one of offsprings of Izanagi, according to Sendaikujihonngi (先代旧事本紀).

Yakumo bridge
Having walked across Iu river (意宇川), the second Torii welcomes you.

Zuishinmon gate in front and Haiden hall behind

To the right side Susanoo's wife,  Kushinadahime (櫛名田比売), is enshrined at Inada shrine (稲田神社). Ashinazuchi (Kushinadahime's dad - 足名椎), Tenazuchi (her mom - 手名椎), Misakinokami (御前神), Hayatamao no mikoto (速玉之男命), and Kushiyatama no mikoto (奇八玉命) are also enshrined at Inada shrine. 



To the left there is Izanami shrine (伊邪那美神社) where Susanoo's mom, Izanami (イザナミ), as well as Hayatamao no mikoto (速玉之男命), Kotosakanoo no mikoto (事解之男命), Ohta no kami (大田神), Kunado no kami (クナド神). Haniyamahime no mikoto (埴山姫命), and Amenokoyane no mikoto (天児屋根命) are enshrined. 



When you see red torii gate, then it's Inari shrine (稲荷神社) enshrining Ukano mitama (ウカノミタマ), who is the offspring made between Susanoo and Kamuoochihime (神大市比売). 


White foxes can be always seen at Inari shrine. 



Since Kumano Taisha is located in the middle of nowhere, renting a car is the easiest way to get there...




Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Suga Shrine Part Two

This is the part two entry of Suga Shrine (須我神社), stating the visit to Okumiya (奥宮).

Approximately after 8 min of slow driving (and getting lost), I found a parking space adjacent to the entrance to get into Okumiya. Then it's time for around 400 meter trekking under light rain... In the middle of walking, the first Torii gate is in your sight!


Along the steps, there are quite a few number of stones carved with Japan poetry, again reminding you of this shrine being the birthplace of Waka.


Three rocks that are close together are called Meoto Iwa (夫婦岩/couple rocks). From big to small, these are considered as Susanoo (須佐之男命), Kushinadahime (奇稲田売命), and Suganoyuyamanushiminasarohikoyashima no mikoto (清之湯山主三名狭漏彦八島野命), respectively. 


The faith toward stone is denoted as Iwakura (磐座), one of the style of Nature Worships. Back in Age of the gods (Kamiyo) or even in the 21st Century, Japanese had (or still have) a sense of veneration of the dead (祖霊信仰) and Iwakura is considered to be the sacred object where spirits of their ancestors reside. Probably this place is the heart of Suga Shrine whereby ancient ritual ceremonies took place and worshipped Mt. Yakumo (八雲山) as Kannabi (神奈備), a form of worshipping mountain as sacred one, by using these rocks as a symbol. These three deities are enshrined there after their death by locals who appreciated Susanno's termination of Yamata no orochi...

Although the weather still sucked, I have to admit that I felt really good (sugasugashii/清々しい) by visiting there and this is probably my favorite place during Izumo trip! 




It is definitely worth visiting.

This is Our World Tuesday 9 June entry.



Monday, June 9, 2014

Suga Shrine Part One

One of my dreams has come true!!!

I eventually had a chance to travel Izumo, Shimane (with neighboring cities included) and visited several shrines. My name was bestowed to me from Futaarasan Shrine (二荒山神社) in Nikko where Okuni (大国主命) is enshrined and I made up my mind to visit Izumo Taisha (出雲大社) someday. Okuni is enshrined there, just to let you know...

Izumo is sort of one of the places of Japan Myths and tales with tons of ancient and impressive shrines scattered in an old Izumo Province (出雲国). When compared to Nikko, not so many foreigners were there (as far as I've seen). That is probably due to an inconvenient access from Tokyo and I think that renting a car is the best way to travel there.

Before visiting Izumo Taisha, I went to more than 10 shrines in one day and a half by renting a car from Yamaguchi city. Altogether, I drove 601 km within 48 hours!


The first shrine to upload in this entry is Suga Shrine (須我神社), located in Unnan city (雲南市). Susanoo (スサノオ), as well as his wife, Kushinadahime (櫛名田比売), and their offspring, Suganoyuyamanushiminasarohikoyashima no mikoto (清之湯山主三名狭漏彦八島野命), are enshrined there. Besides, the spirit of Takeminakata (建御名方神) in Suwa Taisha (諏訪大社) is transferred there.


It is said that the shrine was turned from the Palace that Susanoo built after his triumph of the extermination of Yamata no orochi (ヤマタノオロチ). Please visit here for more detail if you're interested in this monster. Since this was the first Palace being made in Japan, the shrine is called Nihon hatsunomiya ( = the first Palace in Japan/日本初之宮). He decided to settle there with his wife because when they arrived there, he felt good (sugasugashii/すがすがしい). That's why it's called Suga (須我).



When I arrived there, I did not feel good, because it was raining... Yes, it's currently notorious rainy season in Japan...


Since Susanoo felt really good, he made a poetry, Waka (和歌). That was the first Waka and due to this fact, this shrine is also known as the birthplace of Japan poetry.


When I got there, it was around 8 AM when the priest just started to work. There was almost nobody there and I had a breakfast after taking photos there.



What it says in the announcement at Haiden Hall (拝殿) in the photo above is that the shrine encourages visitors to visit Okumiya (奥宮), located at Mt. Yakumo (424.1 m). It's around 2 km away from Suga Shrine. I decided to get there by car.

To be continued

Monday, June 2, 2014

Shoin Shrine in Hagi City

I had a chance to visit neighboring cities thanks to the generous offer from Yamaguchi native!



There are two Shoin shirines (松陰神社) in Tokyo and Hagi city in Yamaguchi and I, of course, visited the latter one.
The first Torii gate taken by Infrared camera
I think almost all Japanese can recognize him as one of the indispensable person in achieving Meiji Restration (明治維新).



Probably due to his given name, Sho (松= pine) in (陰), lots of pine trees are planted there.