Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Second Suwa Shrine in Itano Town


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Only about 3k from another Suwa Shrine, this second one in Itano Town, Tokushima, has a huge camphor tree at the entrance.

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Believed to be around 700 years old, this venerable kusonoki grows to more than 35 meters in height.

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The enshrined kami at Suwa shrines are Takeminakata, the son of Okuninushi who refused to hand over Izumo to the Yamato, and his wife Yasakatome. By the Heian Period the kami was called by the name of Suwa Myojin, the "bright shining deity of Suwa.

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The cult of Suwa Myojin spread far and wide due to its association with, among other things, wind, hunting, and battle, though its spread is most likely due to the samurai who worshipped it as a kami of battle.

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2 comments:

  1. Japan has some incredibly old/large trees. I wonder if this is where they got the idea for the camphor tree in Totoro? There's a giant pine on my island with 5 different trunks. Looks like a huge bonsai. They really rever the big trees, and its no surprise why.

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  2. It is telling that the Japanese word 森 mori, meaning "a wood", can be written 杜 (a sacred grove) or 社 (a shrine) (represented by different Chinese characters, but with the same pronunciation), and that there is a special term for "the grove of the village shrine" - chinju no mori 鎮守の杜 or 鎮守の森. Just gives a sense of the special status of such trees or groves in traditional Japanese culture.

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