NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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くしふる神社 Kushifuru-Jinja Kurufushi Shrine

Jp En

Kurufushi Shrine is located in Takachiho-cho, Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture.  The shrine is dedicated to Amatsuhikohikohono-niniginomikoto.
In earlier days when there was no building erected on the site, the mountain itself was the subject of worship and it was counted as one of the Eighty Eight Takachiho Shrines.  In 1694, the shrine was built by the lord of the Nobeoka Clan and the people of the village, who were deeply devoted to their faith.
According to Kojiki, the oldest surviving book, Niniginomikoto descended to the top of “Mount Kujifuru” in Takachiho. This Mount Kujifuru is believed to be today’s Mount Kurufuru where, halfway up the side, the Kurufushi Shrine stands.  In the vicinity are some other mythological sites including Shioujiga-mine which is said to be the birth place of Emperor Jinmu’s brothers, as well as theTakamagaharayouhaisho and Takachioho-hi Monument.
Kurufushi Shrine is a tranquil place surrounded by woods. Visiting this shrine, along with theTakachiho Shrine and the Amanoiwato Shrine is called sansha mairi (three shrines visit) and the practice has been popular since the old days.  
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弥彦神社 yahiko-jinjya yahiko Shrine

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At the foot of Yahiko mountain soaring high in the middle of the Chikugo plain in Niigata pref. stands the Yahiko(Iyahiko) Shrine. The grounds are covered by a dense grove of aged trees, such as cedars and Japanese cypresses. Though the exact year of construction is not known, the shrine is referenced in Manyoshu, an old poetic anthology dating back to 750 AD, so it certainly predates that time. The shrine is devoted to Ame no Kagoyama no Mikoto. Ordered by Emperor Jinmu (the legendary first emperor), Ame no Kagoyama no Mikoto taught the people of Echigo region of Niigata pref. various agricultural methods of fishing, salt making, rice farming, and sericulture amongst others, and contributed greatly to the development of the region. The shrine was once affectionately called Iyahiko-sama and flourished as a spiritual home of the mind and the soul for people in Echigo. In its museum, shrine treasures such as Shidano-Ootachi, a prominent long Japanese Katana and designated as an Important National Property, and armors that are said to have once belonged to Yoshiie Minamto and Yoshitsune Minamoto, both being legendary warriors from 12th century, are exhibited. The hall was rebuilt in 1961after being destroyed in a large fire.
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都農神社例大祭 Tsuno-jinja-reitai-sai The Annual Festival at Tsuno Shrine

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It is said that Tsuno Shrine located in Tsuno-cho, Koyu-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture, was founded in 666 BC, when Emperor Jinmu offered a prayer for his military success and national stability at this place before he left Takachiho in Hyuga province to conquer the Yamato region. Since then the shrine has close association with the successive emperors.

The precinct together with the gravel lane to the shrine building is filled with solemn atmosphere. Surrounded by magnificent cedar tree groves, you will feel yourself purified at this shrine.

The annual festival of the shrine is held on December 4 and 5 every year. The 4th is the festival eve and the 5th is the main festival day. It features various events such as the Tsuno So-odori parade, in which a lot of people dance together in a huge circle, the Hyuga Hyottoko Dance, which is a comical dance performed by dancers with Hyottoko masks, the Shihanmato archery tournament and the dedication of kagura dance. The visitors to the shrine are treated with amazake (sweet sake wine), shochu and tonjiru (miso soup with pork and vegetables) in the precinct.
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国見ケ丘 Kunimi-ga-oka Kunimigaoka Hill

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Kunimigaoka located in Takachiho Town, Miyazaki Prefecture, is a hill, the summit of which is at 513 meters above sea level. It commands a panoramic view of Mt. Sobo in the north, Mt. Amanokaguyama, Takamagahara, Mt. Shikojimine and Takachiho Basin in the east, Mt. Aso in the west and the Gokase River below.

The name of the hill derives from a mythology. When Tateiwatatsu no Mikoto, a grandson of Emperor Jinmu, pacified Kyushu, he stood at the top of this hill at the sunrise and the sunset and performed the Kunimi ritual, which is an early Japanese ritual of “gazing down upon the land” performed by emperors or chieftains to pray for a rich harvest in autumn.

On cold autumn mornings from late October to early November, the villages in the basin below are folded in dense fog and the dramatic “cloud ocean” can be seen.
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大倉の役人田植踊 Ookura-no-yakunin-taue-odori Yakunin Taue Odori in Okura

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Yakunin Taue Odori (Yakunin Rice Planting Dance) is open to the public at the summer festival of Johgi Nyorai Saihoji Temple in Okura, Aoba-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, on July 6 on the lunar calendar every year. It is designated as a prefecture’s folk cultural property as a precious traditional folk performing art that has been handed down in a community. It is said that a mountain practitioner named Genso from Kyoto taught this dance to the people in this area in 1833.

The word “yakunin” used for the name of this dance indicates “to play a part.” In the Yakunin Taue Odori dance, the part called Yajuro is supposed to be a half-ogre man, and the head of Yajuro plays a part of the god of rice paddy. He wears a hikitate eboshi cap (a cloth cap pulled upright) with the sun and moon marks and a junbaori jacket with the kanji charcters representing Emperor Jinmu (Japan’s first emperor) on the back and join the rice planting dance danced by women dancers called “Saotome,” exchanging the words of compliment and responses with each other.

The words uttered by Yajuro and the song and movements of Saotome dancers are typical to this rice planting dance, which can’t be seen in any other similar dance in the country.
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宮崎神宮 Miyazaki-jinguu Miyazaki Jingu Shrine

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Miyazaki Jingu Shrine (Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture) is a historic and prestigious shrine surrounded by huge untouched forest. The total area of the precinct is 260,000 sq m. The enshrined deity is Emperor Jinmu, the first emperor in Japan. It is said that the shrine was founded by Takeiwatatsu no Mikoto, a grandson of Emperor Jinmu and the founder of Kyushu, but the exact era of the foundation is unknown.

The shrine hall is uniquely made only of Japanese cedar wood from the town of Sano (Takaharu-cho, Miyazaki Prefecture), where, it is believed, Emperor Jinmu was born. Old wooden building in Shinmei-nagare-zukuri style (an ancient shrine architectural style) gives a stately impression.

In the eastern side of the front approach stands a huge wisteria tree (Wisteria floribunda f. alba), which is designated as a national Natural Monument. It is estimated to be over 400 years old, but some say 800.

The shrine is the site of many festivals throughout the year. The biggest is the “Gojinko Festival,” or formally “Miyazaki Jingu Taisai,” held every October. During this festival, there is a parade of richly decorated “Shan Shan” horses (so named due to the sound of the bells they wear) and 1,000 people dressed in traditional Japanese clothing, marching the 5 km way from the shrine to the middle of town.
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宮崎神宮大祭 Miyazaki-jinguu-taisai Miyazaki Jingu Taisai

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Miyazaki Jingu Taisai, or popularly called “Jinmu-sama,” is an annual festival held at Miyazaki Jingu Shrine in Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture. The festival represents a Shinto ritual in which Jinmu-sama, or the enshrined deity Emperor Jinmu, pays a visit once a year to the people that live in the distance and therefore cannot visit the shrine.

During this festival, a parade of 1,000 people disguising themselves as ancient people or deities marches the 5 km way from the shrine to the tentative shrine placed in the middle of town. The highlight of the festival is the parade of richly decorated “Shan Shan” horses (so named due to the sound of the bells they wear). This represents a newly married couple visiting Udo Jingu Shrine (Nichinan City), which was a custom of the local people in the Nichinan area. The parade reproduces the scene of the tired couple on their way home from a long journey over many mountain passes. The spectators along the course erupt into cheers and applause to see the bridegroom taking the reins in his hand and the bride on the horse, which makes shan-shan sound.
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湯之宮座論梅 Yunomiya-Zaronbai Yunomiya Zaronbai Plum Garden

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Yunomiya Zaronbai is a plum garden in Yunomiya, Nyuta, Shintomi-cho, Koyu-gun, Miyazaki Pref. It is said that the original stock of plum tree extended its branches, which went underground, and has multiplied into about 80 stocks now. The plum trees are said to be 600 years old and are nationally designated as a Natural Monument. The trees bear small white single blossoms from the beginning to the middle of February, when a plum festival is held.
There is a story that the name “Zaron-bai (Zaron plum)” originated in the word “Zamiro,” a breed name of plum. Another version of the story holds that the name dates back to the Edo period, when the Sadowara domain and the Takanabe domain disputed over the ownership of the plum garden, the representatives of the both domains got seated (“za” in Japanese) and talked over (“ron”). Legend has it that the plum tree grew out of a branch that Emperor Jinmu (reigned 660-585 BC) shoved into the ground after he took a bath in this village. Yunomiya Zaronbai plum garden is a scenic spot pertaining to the legend of Emperor Jinmu.
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