This is a continuation of a previous post
Lower Imbe is a small hillside village that is cut off from the main road (Route 24) by a small resevoir created on the Imbe River. Here I found one of the things I am always on the look out for, a sacred grove of trees with a Kojin shrine. You can see the rope snake wrapped around the tree in the back.
These shrines are never marked on maps as they are "folk" shrines, and there are hundreds of them but you have to go looking for them. I imagine this sacred grove and shrine has been here since the village was first settled.
Carrying on up the valley I stick to the side road that runs along the hillside above the main road. The road follows the ins and outs of the hills so mean longer to walk, but the sound of rustling bamboo and the occasional farm machine is preferable to the buzz of traffic.
In the village of Imbe is the main shrine for the area. At the top of a long flight of steps.
In the Heian period 22 local shrines were gathered together here, and then again in the Meiji period more local shrines were transplanted here making a large complex.
I chatted with a young man carrying his daughter. I noticed he was carrying a flute so I asked if he played kagura. he said no, but that he played in the shrine as he was the priest. Priests, like policemen, seem to be getting younger and younger :)
The valley narrows and the road steepens as it gets closer to the pass. No more settlements. only an occasional hillside farm.
At the pass there was a small folk altar in the weeds at the side of the road. The beckoning cat is not a religious symbol, but "folk" practises make use of anything. The bottle of sake left as offering and the gohei mark it as a shrine.
Over the pass and I can now look over the eastern part of the Hi River watershed. This is Okuizumo, Inner Izumo, and is home to all the legends concerning Susano and the 8-headed serpent Yamata No Orochi.........
I am pleased that my way is now downhill.......