Yum Yum

This is a part two entry of Itsukushima shrine (厳島神社) in Miyajima island (宮島).


Deers are thought of as sacred in the native Shinto religion because they are considered messengers of gods. 

Yum Yum!

Deers in Miyajima island have lived on island for 6,000 years. After the world war II when Japan was under the GHQ's occupation, deers were hunt by the occupation army and their population fell drastically down so that deers were transferred from Kasuga Taisha (春日大社) in Nara. Since then they have been half-domesticated and fed by natives and tourists, the population recovered. 

Yum Yum Yum!

Well, now it seems over-populated and they are notorious for eating maps!!!


Torii Gate At Itsukushima Shrine

One of my dreams has come true again!!!

Ever since the time of birth, my life has been related to shinto somehow. My name was bestowed at Futaarasan shrine (日光二荒山神社) in Nikko where Ohkuni (大国主/大己貴命), Tagorihime (=his wife/田心姫), and Ajisukutakahikone (their offspring/味耜高彦根命), are enshrined. Last year I had a visit to Izumo Taisha where the ruler of Izumo province, Ohkuni, is enshrined. It was an amazing experience and I would like to revisit someday...

This year, I headed for Miyajima island (宮島) in Hiroshima Prefecture. According to Wiki, there are no traffic lights in this 2,000 inhabited island. My intention was to see one of his wives (Ohkuni committed bigamy that resulted in 180 or 181 offsprings!), Tagorihime, enshrined in Itsukushima shrine (厳島神社).

Actually Tagorihime is not the only enshrined deities in Itsukushima shrine. Her sisters, Ichikishimahime (市杵島姫命) and Tagitsuhime (湍津姫命) are enshrined there, too. They are called "Munakata sanjoshin (= three female deities of Munakata/宗像三女神) and they tend to be enshrined altogether in shrines such as Munakata shrines (宗像神社), Itsukushima shrines (厳島神社), Manai shrines (真名井神社) and so on. Since they are deities of water, above mentioned shrines tend to be located nearby water and are distributed all over Japan. They were born when Susanoo (their dad) and Amaterasu did ritual ceremony called "Ukei (誓約)". Since it's obvious that the name of the island came from Ichikishimahime, she must be the primary enshrined deity there... 

Itsukushima shrine is the most prestige shrine, called ichinomiya (一宮), in Aki Province (=western part of present Hiroshima Prefecture) and, as you are already aware of, the shrine was registered in UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. 

The photo of big torii gate is something like cover page type of photo in travel magazines featuring Japan tourism, as it represents a beauty and spirit of Japan. Itsukushima shrine gained solemnness and prestige when Kihomori Taira (平清盛) was assigned as the Governor of Aki Province in AD1146. 

The current torii is the 8th generation that was build in 1875. The 16.6 meter, weighed 60,000 kg big giant is taller than Buddha statue (東大寺盧舎那仏像) in Todaiji Temple (東大寺), Nara!!! The style of this torii is called Ryohbu Torii (両部鳥居) that belongs to myojin torii (明神鳥居) family. The roof-looking post is called kasagi (笠木) that is attached to the post called shimagi (島木). Inner spaces of both Kasagi and shinagi are originally empty but are filled with tons of fist-sized stones and sands, weighed around 5000kg. Although two main pillars are pinned down to the foundation, the giant torii is able to stand by itself mostly due to the weight imposed from the top. Even by typhoon attacks!!!

To be continued...


The 400th Anniversary of Spring Festival in Nikko Part 2

This is a part 2 entry of the Spring Festival in Nikko. 

On May 18th there is a procession called Hyakumonozoroe sennin musha gyoretsu (百物揃千人武者行列), depicting "the procession of 1000 warriors dressed in 100 different costumes". Although I didn't count exact numbers of costumes and participants, it is said that there are 53 types of traditional costumes (they haven't been changed over 300 years) and around 1200 local guys were in the procession today. 

Among 53 costumes I assume the most popular and the most expensive one must be samurai. It seems around 100 local guys were cosplaying samurai!!!

In the spring festival, three mikoshis (portable shrines) appear. On average 50 guys carry 800kg weigh mikoshi and walk 1 km (one way).

It is announced that enshrined deities in three mikoshis are - Ieyasu Tokugawa (徳川家康), Hideyoshi Toyotomi (豊臣秀吉), and Yoritomo Minamoto (源頼朝). However, personally I don't agree with it at all. I think it is still controversial. Since it's a loooong story, I will mention what I think in the following entry. So stay tuned:)

I bet the most beloved costume must be this - Chigo gyoretsu (稚児行列/little boy's procession).

Look at me! Am I cute?

At 11 AM, the procession left Futaarasan shrine (日光二荒山神社) and headed for Toshogu shrine, then arrived at Otabisho (御旅所/sort of inn for portable shrine). After a couple of ritual ceremonies being taken place in Otabisho, it was time for return trip, which started at 1 PM. Number of audience went down to half when it's returning. I personally like return procession. 

Participants are almost composed of men, except these two who are real Miko (巫女) dispatched from Futaarasan shrine, I assume.

To be continued


The 400th Anniversary of Spring Festival In Nikko

This year 2015 is a special year for Nikko Toshogu (日光東照宮). The enshrined deity, Ieyasu Tokugawa, a founder of Tokugawa shogunate in Edo period passed away on May 17th, 1615. Nikko was originally developed by Monk Shodo (勝道) in 766 AD but today Nikko locals as well as Tokugawa relatives celebrate 400 year anniversary for Ieyasu's death in Toshogu shrine. Based on his last will, his spirit was transferred from Kuno-zan (久能山) to Nikko. The procession called "1000 warriors" represents the process of his spirit transfer. 

Fortunately the first day hit on Sunday this year and, because of that, lots of tourists- Japanese and foreigners- were there under the beautiful blue sky and we had a terrific traffic jam!!! It took me about an hour to get from JR Nikko station to Shinkyo bridge (around 2 km) that corresponds to the same time as I spent to get from my hometown (Utsunomiya city) to JR Nikko station (around 42 km).


Yabusame performance started at 14:30 and finished around 15:15.

Bingo 2!!

I assume there are 4 archers shooting targets. Some but not all are very skilled!

Am I beautiful?

The little boy is called Chigo (稚児), local elementary school boys dressed in a traditional kimono and make-ups.

Whoops! Did I kill photographers???

There are three targets along Omote sando (表参道/main street to Toshogu first torii gate) and only  one or two archers could manage to shoot them all.

BTW, it was also a special day for me as I launched a new lens, M. Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO. All the images in this entry are taken by this!!!