Saturday, December 18, 2010

Oharetsu Mountain shrines

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When I am planning my walks I usually spend quite a lot of time studying maps. I usuallu use a combination of Google maps and the Japanese geologic survey map

One of the things I look for are shrines that cannot be reached by car. For some reason I think that such places are likely to be more traditional, less likely to have been modernized, so some years ago when I was planning a walk in the Asuka area I was intrigued by 3 shrines up the northern slope of Mount Oharetsu.

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The path begins off a narrow mountain road between the settlements of Kitayama and Imaidani which lie in the mountains east of Asuka.

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The red color of the Torii is intiguing. Red torii usually indicate either an Imperial connected shrine or an Inari shrine. Usually, but not always. I have seen Atago shrines and Ebisu shrines with red torii.

There was nothing at any of the three shrines to indicate Inari, and if it was an Imperial shrine it would probably be listed in the Engi Shiki, a tenth century document, and I could not find them listed. There was no signboards or nameboards at any of the three, so I know absolutely nothing about them

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This is something I have never seen before. Cutouts of tools used by forest workers. Obviously the people up here made their living from the forest, and as tools, until recently anyway, are considered to have their own spirit, they are obviously used in some ceremonial or ritual way. If any reader can shed any light on it I would appreciate it.

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The path still existed and was not too overgrown, so the shrines were not abandoned, but probably not visited very often.

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As can be seen from the photos, the forest on this mountainside seems to have been planted no more than 30 years ago, and is a typical post-war tree farm.

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