NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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門川町 中山神社大祭 Kadogawa-cho Nakayama-jinja-taisai The Grand Festival at Nakayama Shrine in Kadogawa

Jp En

Nakayama Shrine in Kadogawa Town, Miyazaki Prefecture, is said to have been founded in 857, when the deity at Izumo Taisha Shrine was transferred to this shrine.

Onamuchi no Mikoto and three other deities are enshrined. Onamuchi no Mikoto is another name for Okuninushi no Mikoto. As Okuninushi no Mikoto is known as the god of nation-building, farming, business and medicine as well as love stories with many princesses, the shrine was famous for the divine power of marriage tie. It was believed that if a young man and a woman passed each other in the front approach of the shrine, they would fall in love with each other.  

As there is a song about the shrine, which goes, “Nakayama-san is a good god because if you don’t have any kimono, you can visit him naked, and if you don’t have any sandals, you can visit him with bare feet,” it is said that, in the ancient times, men were allowed to visit the shrine even only in loincloth, and women in koshimaki (waist wrap).

The grand festival held on January 7 every year is famous as a naked festival, in which both toshi-otoko (men whose zodiacal sign corresponds to the year's sign) and men of Yaku-doshi (the unlucky age) wearing only white loincloth, white tabi (Japanese socks) and white headbands run up the stone steps to the precinct, shouting loud encouragement. In the precinct, they pour cold water onto the head and all over the body to purify themselves and pray for the safety and a good health of their family.
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佐倍乃神社 Saeno-jinja Saeno Shrine

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Saeno Shrine in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine. According to the shrine record, it was founded by Yamato Takeru, a legendary prince of the Yamato Dynasty, who was ordered by his father Emperor Keiko to set out for the eastern land to put down the barbarians in 110. Sarutahiko, known as Dosojin (the guardian deity for a community and the god of road), accompanied him at this time as the guide, he enshrined Dosojin at this shrine; hereby it used to be called Kasama Dosojin Shrine.

The other enshrined deity, Ameno Uzume no Kami, is the deity of marriage, namely the deity who leads our family life. Hence the shrine is famous for housing the god who leads our way of life.

At the annual festival held on April 20 every year, Dosojin Kagura, which is a kagura dance in Izumo style and a prefecturally designated intangible cultural property, is dedicated to the deities.

As the shrine was faithfully revered by the successive lords of the domain including Date Masamune since Honden (the main hall) was constructed in 1522, the shrine possesses several cultural properties such as the votive plaque with Masamune’s writing and several old swords.
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島田飴まつり Shimada-ame-matsuri Shimada Candy Festival

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Shimada Candy Festival takes place every December 14th at Yoshioka-Hachiman Shrine in Taiwa-cho, Kurokawa-gun, Miyagi Prefecture.
Yoshioka-Hachiman Shrine is said to date back to 1618 when Date Munekiyo, the third son of Date Masamune, and founder of Sendai Clan, moved from Shimokusa to Yoshioka and the shrine was transferred as well and re-built in the current location.
The festival is said to have begun on December 14th sometime between 1615 and 1623 when the priest of the shrine fell in love with a bride with a Shimada wedding hairstyle and he became ill. Villagers, worried about the priest, donated candies in the shape of the Shimada hairstyle to the shrine, and that led to the priest recovering from his illness.
It is believed that the shrine makes love come true and many people, wishing for luck with love, visit the shrine to seek candies.
Shimada Candy Festival is a lively festival crowded with stores selling Shimada hairstyle candies and with many young people wishing for good matchmaking.
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メノウ浜 Menou-hama Meno Beach

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“Meno Beach” is another name for Motochi Beach, which is located in Kafuka-mura, Rebun-cho on Rebun Island in Hokkaido. As rude ores of agate are washed ashore, it is called Meno (agate) Beach. The beach is across the island from the village of Kafuka, the main settlement on the east coast, but there are also a lot of houses standing side by side near Meno Beach. As there is a bed rock of agate offshore, a large ore of agate is sometimes found when the sea is rough. Along the beach rises a huge rock with a height of 50 m. It is called Jizo Rock because it looks like a Jizo joining his hands in prayer. As Jizo Rock is said to have a power to bring good fortune in study and marriage, a lot of people come to worship it and leave money in the chap of the rock.
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縁桂 Enkatsura Enkatsura

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Enkatsura is a gigantic Japanese Judas tree standing in a state forest in Otobe-cho, Hokkaido. The tree is more than 500 years old and towers to a height of over 40m with a trunk circumference of 610cm. It’s a majestic and imposing tree.
   Enkatsura actually comprises two Judas trees standing next to each other, connected by a branch 7m above the ground, and over time it became known as “the tree where a matchmaking god resides” and it has become a popular symbol of love. The tree is well protected by the locals and celebrated by a festival called “Enkatsura Festival” every September 23rd.
A fine shrine was build in front of the tree and a wooden bridge over the stream in front of the shrine was restored. A bell hangs where people pass the bridge and recently it became a place for people who wish to wed in front of the tree.  
Enkatsura was selected as one of “the One Hundreds Giants in woods” in 2000.
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青島神社 Aoshima-jinja Aoshima Shrine

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Aoshima Shrine is located on Aoshima Island (Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture), a small island with a circumference of only 1.5 km. The island is one of the representative scenic spots in the prefecture. Surrounded with endless water and sky, Aoshima Island is the treasure trove of sub-tropical plants. As the island had been off limit to the general public and protected as a holy place since the ancient times, natural features including plants and rocks remain intact on the island. The wavy rocks that surround the island are designated as a national Special Natural Monument and the communities of sub-tropical plants are as a national Natural Monument.

Aoshima Shrine is said to have been founded 1,200 years ago. The enshrined deity is Hikohohodemi no Mikoto, popularly known as Yamasachihiko of Japanese myth “Umisachihiko, Yamasachihiko.” Hoderi no Mikoto (Umisachihiko) is enshrined at Ushiodake Shrine in Kitago-cho. Aoshima Shrine is believed to have divine power to bring luck of marriage, safe delivery, safe navigation and traffic safety.
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おみくじ Omikuji Omikuji

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Omikuji are fortunes written on paper at Shinto shrines and temples. The word “o” is usually put at the top of something honorable, and “mi” literally means “sacred” and “kuji” means “lottery”, however, as to the part that reads “mi” of the word, a Kanji meaning “god” is used for the ones at shrines, while a Kanji meaning Buddha is used for the ones at temples. The fortune written on a piece of paper is divided into one’s whole fortune, chances to find a lost item or find a match, and general matters about health, money, and life, which can be described as any one of the following: Great blessing (dai-kichi), Blessing (kichi), Middle blessing (chū-kichi), Small blessing (shō-kichi), and Curse (kyō). Or more precisely, Great blessing (dai-kichi), Blessing (kichi), Middle blessing (chū-kichi), Small blessing (shō-kichi), Half-blessing (han-kichi), Near-blessing (sue-kichi), Near-small-blessing (sue-shō-kichi), Curse (kyō), Small curse (shō-kyō), Half-curse (han-kyō), Near-curse (sue-kyō), and Great curse (dai-kyō). After reading Omikuji, it is a custom to fold up the strip of paper and tie it up to a tree in the precincts. The reason for this custom is the idea that tying means marridge tie. So this custom should have been originally practiced only at a shrine where a marridge deity was enshrined, but nowadays it is practiced at every shrine and temple.
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御箱崎 Ohakozaki Cape Ohakozaki

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Cape Ohakozaki is at the tip of Hakozaki Peninsula in Kamaishi City, Iwate Pref. The cape consists of a large granite rock formation called “Senjojiki” and the rias coast, which impresses visitors with the beauty of coastal erosion. Facing the outer sea, the color of the ocean is especially beautiful. When the sea is rough, a high splashes of water overwhelms the viewers. From there visitors can command a panoramic view of ocean.
Senjojiki is a scenic spot where uniquely shaped granite rocks overlap each other and form a huge rocky ground.
Hakozaki Peninsula is known for Shirahama Shrine, which enshrines the god of fertility and safe deliveries. Near the tip of the peninsula are Hakozaki Lighthouse and Hakozaki Shrine, both of which are unattended.
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