Showing posts with label Tsuwano. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tsuwano. Show all posts

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Torii Tunnels


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Lines of red torii placed so close together they form a tunnel are a common sight throughout Japan. The most famous and most photographed are at the Fushimi Inari Shrine near Kyoto, but smaller versions can be found all over at shrines and temples.

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They are usually made of wood, occasionally steel, but more often nowadays plastic pipe is being used. Each torii will have been paid for by a donation, and the name of the donor is usually written on each, similar to how some shrines will have lines of more expensive stone lanterns.

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The top photo is from the Inari Shrine in the grounds of Suwa Shrine, Nagasaki. The second photo is at Tadaji Temple in Hamada. The third is a small Inari hokora near Kokura Castle.

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The photo above is an Inari shrine in the grounds of the Hitomaro Shrine in Masuda.

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If the Inari shrine is on a hillside, like at Fushimi, then the torii tunnels will switchback up the hillside like the photo above taken at the Taikodani Inari Shrine in Tsuwano.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Soreisha Tsuwano

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A soreisha is usually a small shrine dedicated to the ancestral spirits of parishioners who have received a shinto rather than buddhist funeral.

Until 1868 shinto funerals were extremely rare, and only really came into existence with the separation of the buddhas and kamis in 1868.

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Soresha were usually small and located in the grounds of the local shrines, and sometimes in private homes.

The daimyo of Tsuwano, however, decreed in 1868 that all of his subjects would receive shinto funerals.

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From 1886 to 1945, soreisha became illegal within the grounds of regular shrines as they were deemed private and shrines were supposed to be public. Possibly this one in Tsuwano did not as everybody had to have shinto funerals, therefore the soresiha was public.

I have heard that to this day a large percentage of people in Tsuwano still have shinto funberals.

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The daimyo of Tsuwano, and several other scholars of National Learning from Tsuwano were instrumental in creating the national policy of shinbutsu bunri as well as the persecution of buddhism. Anti-christian thought was also strong which is probably why "hidden christians" were sent here for "re-education"

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Washibara Hachimangu

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Washibara Hachimangu is a couple of kilometers outside of the town center of Tsuwano, so doesnt get as many visitors, which is a shame as its quite a beautiful shrine, especially in the cherry blossom season.

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The thatched gate is very unusual.

The shrine was founded in the 13th century when Tsuwano castle was first built.

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The kami, Hachiman, is the god of war and the protective deity of the samurai.

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The shrine does get hundreds of visitors in early April when Yabusame, horseback archery, is performed. In the grounds of the shrine are the only remaining yabusame grounds from the kamakura period.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Taikodani Inari Shrine

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Its possible to drive up to Taikodani Inari Shrine in Tsuwano, but its better to walk up through the more than 1,000 torii that make a tunnel that switchbacks up the hillside.

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The shrine is modelled on the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine near Kyoto, the head shrine of all Inari Shrines in Japan.

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It was founded by the local Daimyo Kamei Morisada in 1773 to protect Tsuwano's castle from the NE, the direction of evil. It was a private shrine until the 1870's when the public were first allowed in.

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Most of the shrine is of modern concrete construction, but one of the secondary shrines is still made of wood.

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There are numerous smaller shrines, all dedicated to different Inaris.

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This where we came to the Shunki Taisai Festival earlier this year.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yasaka Shrine, Tsuwano

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The Yasaka shrine in Tsuwano is a branch of the Yasaka Shrine in Gion. Originally known as Mototakimoto Gionsha, it was part of the importation of kyoto culture by the lords of Tsuwano.

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Its located on the riverbank below the castle and the Taikodani Inari Shrine. For most of the year it seems to be abandoned and not much goes on there. There is a wonderful huge tree in the grounds though.

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The shrine is the home of the Sagimai, the heron dance, and that is when the shrine comes alive and is bedecked...... though the dance is now held a few hundred meters from shrine in the main street of the town

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The main kami enshrined here is Susano, though many of his family are also enshrined here. the Linkfull list can be found in the post of the original Yasaka Shrine.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kagura Interlude

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Got the chance to see a little Iwami kagura when we were at the Shunki Taisa down in Tsuwano a few weeks ago. A group from Masuda were performing, and as I had never seen any kagura from this area I stopped in while Jinrin was being performed. This is Takamaru the aide to Tarashinakatsuhiko, the name of the "emperor" known posthumously as Chuai. They are the good guys.

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The bad guys are a horde of demonic invaders from a "foreign" country led by Jinrin. In this dance there were just 2 demons, this one is not Jinrin.

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A furious and frenetic battle ensues.....

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Until evil is defeated by the good guys....

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The next dance was Kakko, and he wore a style of mask I hadnt seen before.....

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More ceremonies at Shunki Taisai

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As well as the main ceremony at the Shunki Taisai there were several other ceremonies going on during the day. In one of the secondary shrines Miko Mai was performed several times during the day.

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Three priests also took part in the ritual and no-one else was within the shrine.

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As is obvious to anyone reading this blog, I am quite fascinated by Miko and their costumes. Lots of previous posts can be found here.

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In the main hall of the shrine there was a continuous set of purification ceremonies going on all day for those wishing to pay for the service.

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Down below the main shrine was a special shrine just for cars. Most areas will have a shrine or temple that specializes in rituals for car blessing and driving safety, but this was the first time I had seen an area specifically set up for it.

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The number of ceremonies and services offered by shrines has increased in the post-war years as shrines do not have access to the lucrative funeral business that funds Buddhism.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Shunki Taisai

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Yesterday was the Grand Spring Festival down in Tsuwano at the Taikodani Inari Shrine. Before the main ceremony could begin the miko assisted the participants with water purification, starting with themselves.

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As well as the 4 miko there were 8 priests (or 6 priests and 2 trainee priests) and 4 representatives from the town taking part.

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After everyone was ready the Guji (head priest) came out and then lead the procession to the ceremonial area.

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The ceremony took place in a Himorogi, a sacred enclosure which probably is the form earliest shrines took before buildings were introduced after the introduction of Buddhism. The big umbrella is for the head priest.

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The ceremony was short, and as far as I could tell there were no norito (prayers)

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The Miko were holding sprigs of cherry blossoms, though as the cherry blossoms had passed 3 or 4 weeks ago these were plastic, fitting perhaps as most of the shrine is concrete.

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Then everyone headed inside the main building which was full of paying customers who had paid handsomely for the privilege of a purification ceremony.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sagi Mai in Tsuwano

This is a follow-up to the videos I posted yesterday.

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Every year on July 20th and 27th the Sagi Mai is performed as part of Tsuwano's Gion Matsuri.

Though known as the Heron Dance, the birds being imitated are in fact Egrets.

The dance, like the Gion Matsuri itself, was originally from Kyoto, but during the time that Kyoto was a burned out, war-destroyed, ghost town many aristocratic refugees fled to Yamaguchi, and it was from here that the dance was introduced into Tsuwano.

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The people of Tsuwano faithfully kept the dance in its original form and in 1953 they went to Kyoto to teach the dance and it is now performed there again.

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As well as the 2 dancers dressed as egrets, there is a full complement of other dancers, musicians, singers etc all dressed in period costume. The music accompanying the dance seems to be based on ancient Chinese-derived court music rather than any folk tradition.

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On both days the dancers perform at various sites around the center of the town, starting in the afternoon.

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Also performed is the Egret Chick dance, a recent invention of the town. The young girls didnt smile much, which may be due to the solemnity of the dance, or the summer afternoon heat.

As the dates for the festival are fixed they often fall on weekdays which means that the events are not too crowded.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Heron Dance (Sagimai)



Just got back from Tsuwano where I watched the Sagimai, the Heron Dance. Tomorrow I will post details and photos, but for now here is a short video.


There was also the Heron Chick Dance, of much more recent vintage.

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What was intriguing was just before the dances were to begin a real heron landed and strutted around seemingly quite immune to the dozens of photographers taking its photo.

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