Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year

During winter in Japan, myriad of illuminations take place all over Japan to cheer visitors up! Illumination at JR Hakata station, which is decorated with around 800 thousands LED lights, signifies "hope" of our new era, Reiwa (令和).

The kanji characters for Reiwa (令和) are derived from the Man-yohshu (万葉集), an anthology of waka poetry (和歌), compiled in the 8th Century. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan provided an English interpretation of Reiwa as "beautiful harmony".

Symbol tree
According to Fukuoka city official website, they claim their city as a town of light (光の街・福岡) and the symbol tree accounts for it. Illuminated colors of the tree represent those of nature in four seasons.

LED Sky Walk
It takes place from 6th of November to 7th of January (starting from 17:00 till midnight).

Wishing you a Happy New Year 2020!


Takachiho Shrine

I might as well introduce Takachiho shrine (高千穂神社) where night kagura performance takes place. Please visit part one and part two entries if you are interested in night kagura performance.

Main Hall at night
The enshrined deities are Takachiho sumegami (高千穂皇神) and Jussha Daimyojin (十社大明神). Both Takachiho sumegami and Jussha Daimyojin are collective terms of deities.

Torii gate

Takachiho sumegami includes so called "Himuka Sandai/日向三代 (Three generations of deities settled in Himuka (日向)" and their spouses. That is:

Jussha Daimyojin (十社大明神) are Mikeirinomikoto (三毛入野命) who is a brother of the first Emperor Jimmu (神武天皇), his spouse, Unomehime (鵜目姫) and their offsprings (Mikotaro/御子太郎, Jiro/二郎, Saburo/三郎, Unemi/畝見, Teruno/照野, Ohto/大戸, Reisha/霊社, and Asarabe/浅良部).

Inside of Main Hall
According to the local narratives, Mikeirinomikoto exterminated demon named Kihachi (鬼八) and settled palace there. On the other hand, according to the shrine's articles, a son of Emperor Jimmu rooted Kihachifushi (demon) out. Later on offsprings of Emperor Jimmu were enshrined as Jussha Daimyojin.
Alternatively, Mikeirinomikoto rescued his future wife, Unomehime, from the demon Kihachi and they were married later on, another narrative depicted.

It is widely recognized that the shrine initiated its history when Mikeirinomikoto enshrined Himuka Sandai deities by building Himorogi (sacred altar/神籬). Since then descendant of Mikeirinomikoto's offsprings worshipped enshrined deities. Later on Mikeirinomikoto himself and other Jussha Daimyojin deities were also included as enshrined deities. Eventually during Emperor Suinin (垂仁天皇)'s reign (29 BC- 70 AD), the buildings were made.

Cedar tree named "Couple cedar/夫婦杉" is well known for benefiting a couple (1) happy marriage, (2) family safety and well-being (3) prosperity after making circle around the tree three times. The nickname came from the fact that two independent-looking cedar trees were branched from the same root.


Takachiho Kagura Performance Part 2

This is the part 2 entry of Takachiho Night Kagura performance. If you are curious about it, please visit part one entry to get to know more about it.

The night Kagura performance goes on to the last chapter:

(4) Dance performance of Goshintai (御神体の舞)
The performance was considered to depict the process of formation of the country (called Kuniumi/国産み) that was conducted by Izanagi and his spouse, Izanami in Japan myths (Kojiki and Nihon Shoki). They are enshrined in several shrines in Takachiho because they are parents of Amaterasu.

However, it is said that the performance was originated from the ritual ceremony of bumper crops called Niiname-sai (新嘗祭 = harvest festival). Needless to say, crop means rice in Japan and the sake is made from rice. That's why the performance was also called "the dance performance of brewing sake", where a pair of male and female deities (Izanagi and Izanami in the case of Takachiho night kagura) cooperate to make sake from freshly harvested rice for devoting to Shinto deities.

After the ceremony we mankind are allowed to eat devoted rice and sake. Through this process of sharing the same foods with shinto deities mankind feel their worshipping deities as a part of their flesh and soul, ancient Japanese believed.

According to Japan mythology, Izanagi and Izanami appear in two chapters called Kuniumi (formation of the country) and Kamiumi (birth of gods/神産み). However, they didn't make sake, as far as I am concerned. Sukunabikona (スクナビコナ) is a deity of brewing rice.

That's why, unlike previous 3 kaguras described here, this dance performance is not based on mythologies, instead, it's more oriented toward entertainment and comedy. 

Izamagi (male deity with red mask on the left) and his wife Izanami (white mask on the right) appear on stage by carrying instruments/tools for brewing rice.  

They make booze cheerfully

and comically

time for Kanpai (cheers)

one more kanpai

me too

me three

Izanami has had enough but her drunk husband wouldn't let her go...

She spilled

but not that much

That's the consequence 

Izamagi doesn't behave himself. He found a pretty lass in a crowd.

Izanami said to Izanagi "She is taken. Give it up."

Now it's her turn!
God's punishment for an innocent mankind

Sake tastes much better after the punishment

If so, then please go ahead, my Darling

BTW, do you know the meaning of Kanpai? Kan(乾=dry=empty)-pai (杯=glass=barrel in this case).

That's the shinto deity's way of "Kanpai= Empty it out." 

Confidential ritual ceremony???

Are you all right my Dear?

For sure, he's got a mission of sharing rice with us.



Takachiho Kagura Performance

Takachiko (高千穂) is well-known as a town of Myths where traditional dance performance called "Kagura (神楽)" takes place for visitors almost every night at Kagura-den Hall (神楽殿) of Takachiho shrine (高千穂神社).

Amano Uzume

In the first palace of Takachiho shrine, Takachiho sumera-gami deities (高千穂皇神) are enshrined whereas in the second palace Jyusha daimyojin deities (十社大明神) are enshrined.

Takachiho sumera-gami deities are said to be a general term of so called deities of Himuka sandai and their spouse deities. "Himuka saidai (日向三代)" means three generations of deities settled in Himuka/日向 where Takachiho locates that include Ninigi (ニニギ : grandchild of Amaterasu and the first generation of Himuka and Konohana sakuyabime/木花之佐久夜毘売 is his wife), Hoori (ホオリ: second son of Ninigi- second generation whose spouse is Toyotamahime/トヨタマヒメ) and Ugayafukiaezu ( 鸕鶿草葺不合尊: son of Hoori and hence the third generation, who is also the father of the first Emperor, Jimmu. His spouse is Tamayoribime/タマヨリビメ who is a younger sister of Toyotamahime).

Jyusha daimyojin (= ten great shining deities) include the older brother of Emperor Jimmu, Mikenuno-mikoto (三毛入野命), his spouse (Unomehime/鵜目姫) and offsprings, who are Mikotaro (御子太郎), Jiro (二郎), Saburo (三郎), Unemi (畝見), Teruno (照野), Ohto (大戸), Reisha (霊社), and Asarabe (浅良部).

According to the shrine's narrative, the shrine launched its history when Mikenuno-mikoto built Himorogi (神籬) to enshrine Takachiho sumera-gami deities (they are his ancestors). During Emperor Suinin (垂仁天皇) 's era, the shrine building was made.

In Kaguraden hall, night kagura takes place almost every night. It costs 700 JPY, consisting of 4 famous stages that are based on Japan mythologies. Along with traditional instruments orchestra, following performances are provided. It is registered as List of Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties.

(1) Dance performance of Amano Tajikarao (手力雄の舞)
     Due to the conflict made between Amaterasu and her younger brother, Susanowo, Amaeterasu hid herself into  cave called "Amano Iwato". His dance depicts the scene where Amano Tajikarao tries to find where Amaterasu hid.

(2) Dance performance of Amano Uzume (鈿女の舞)
     Thanks to Amano Tajikarao's efforts on finding Amaterasu, it is clear where Amaterasu hides herself. Now Amano Uzume tries to draw Amaterasu's attention by dancing in a funny way that made numerous deities bursted into laughter.

(3) Totori dance performance (戸取の舞)
     Again, Amano Tajikarao appears with red mask. He tries to break the door and eventually take it away so that Amaterasu can get herself out from the cave.

Note that Amaterasu (shrine) revealed eventually

(4) Dance performance of Goshintai (御神体の舞)
      This is bit unusual. A couple of deities, Izanagi and Izanami make sake (Japanese wine), dedicate and enjoy drinking it cheerfully.

I will post photos taken during (4) in the following post. 

Have a wonderful weekend.