Kamochi Shrine is located in Kamochi, Hino-cho, Hino-gun, Tottori Prefecture. The enshrined deities are Ameno-Tokotachi no Mikoto, Yatsuka Mizuomi Zunu no Mikoto, and Omizunu no Mikoto. It is said that in 810, when the second son of a shrine priest in Izumo province passed by this place on his way to Ise Shrine, the precious stone that he wore as a talisman suddenly got heavy and he received a divine order to build a shrine at this place.
The village of Kamochi was the production center of Japanese steel, which was thought to be more precious than gold in the ancient times. Also iron was called “kane” in ancient Japan, so the village was called Kamochi, which meant the village with many valleys where “kane (iron sand)” could be obtained.
It is the only one shrine that bears such a lucky name as “Kamochi (金持),” the kanji writing of which can also be read as “Kanemochi (a rich man).” Hoping to be a rich person, people from all over the country visit this shrine to offer a prayer.
In the precinct are the two of 100 Fine Trees of Tottori Prefecture, sawara (a natural tree in a cypress group) and Chinese cedar tree, both of which are said to be over 600 years old.
There is a custom in Japan in which people purchase or receive a hamaya (evil-repelling arrow) on a visit to a shrine for the first time (hatsumode) in the new year (oshogatsu). The arrow is a good luck charm for good fortune in the coming year. Sometimes the arrow comes in a set with a hamayayumi (evil-repelling bow).
The origins of the hamaya come from a ritual called 'jarai', a customary ceremony that took place at new year in the imperial courts to exhibit people's abilities with bow and arrow. The target used during this ritual was called 'hama', hence the names 'hamaya' ('the arrow that hits the target') and 'hamayumi' ('bow used for the target').
Originally, jarai only took place in imperial courts, but during the mid-Heian period, the word 'hama' ('ha' means 'destroy' and 'ma' means 'evil') changed its meaning. The ritual then became a custom at new year in which common people gave a toy bow and arrow to any family with a male child.
Other customs that developed include setting up a hamaya on a ridge in the direction of the 'demon gate' when building a new house, and sending hamaya and hamayumi to relatives and friends on the 'hatsu sekku' (first annual festival) of a newborn baby.
A hishaku is a utensil traditionally used to scoop water. Hishaku used to be made from bamboo with the handle fashioned from a branch of a tree. These days, they are mostly made of metal or plastic.
The size and use of hishaku vary. Although the wooden magarimono hishaku can only be seen at Temizusha (purification buildings where water is drawn) of shrines and temples, and sometimes at houses that admire Japanese elegance, it used to be a part of everyday life.
The origins of hishaku come from a hisago (gourd), which was broken in half. The word 'hisago' was pronounced in a different accent, becoming 'hisaku', which was then changed again into 'hishaku'.
It was traditionally thought that divine spirits dwell in places that are dented, or caved in, thus the hishaku was treated as a holy container.
Before wakamizumukae (meeting of the first water) on new year's day, people have prepared new hishaku for the drawing of water from a well or spring. The water that is drawn is then placed before the new year's deity, and used to rinse out the mouth, as well as to make ozoni (vegetable soup with rice cakes in it).
Since the hishaku is thought to have special powers, the water that it scoops is used in other ways, for example as holy water to be sprinkled in front of one's house as a talisman against evil and sickness. A hishaku hung from a pot hook acts as a charm to prevent fires.
Kannon Temple is a Yuzu Nembutsu temple on Mt Otowa in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture.
Kannon Temple is the 8th temple of Amadera Sanju-Rokkasho. In the Hakuho period, when Nakatomi no Kamatari's son, Jo-e, enshrined his father at Myoraku Temple, he established Kannon Temple to exorcize devils. The temple includes a statue of Sahasrabhuja-arya-avalokiteśvara, which was carved from a single tree by Kamatari.
During the Heian period, Kannon Temple prospered and was known as Otowa Hyakubo. In 876, however, much of the temple was destroyed in a flood.
The temple's principle deity is, of course, Sahasrabhuja-arya-avalokiteśvara, which is known as Otowa's Kannon. The temple grounds feature several special spots, such as Otowa spring (said to be good for eye diseases), and a ginkgo tree (said to bring good fortune).
Takashiba Deko House is a village in Takashiba, Nishida Town, Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture.
Deko house is a general name for five houses that have kept making Miharu dolls and spinning tops for many generations. The word 'deko' comes from 'deku', another word for a doll.
Takashiba Deko House makes Miharu spinning tops and red cattle dolls (one of Fukushima's symbols), as well as many talismans and good-luck charms like long-nosed goblins, droll fellows and stone-carved shrine dogs.
In the studio of Takashiba Deko House, visitors can observe working craftsmen who have inherited this 300-year-old tradition. Moreover, visitors can try painting, too.
Takashiba Deko House is a small village that preserves Fukushima's doll culture, and is a place that we should continue to preserve.
Kito is a Japanese word meaning to dedicate a ceremony and make a prayer for the protection of gods or Buddha. In Mikkyo Buddhism (esoteric Buddhism), the Goma Fire Ritual is performed while the sacred sutras are being chanted to make a prayer to Buddha for various benefits in the present world such as recovery from illness or driving away the ill luck. In Shinto a priest invokes to a god by reciting norito prayers. Ritual forms are different according to religious sects, purposes, or what is asked for, but it is common in all rituals that they are performed in pursuit of protection, which may be true of all the religions in the world. In Japan prayers are made not only to gods or Buddha but also to one’s ancestors. It can be said that visiting temples or shrines on New Year’s Day, buying a talisman, bon-dancing, and seasonal festivals are also the act of making a prayer in the broad sense of the term. It may be very natural to the Japanese people, who grow up in the heart of nature's bounty, to make these various prayers to Shinto and Buddhist deities that coexist in their lives.
Omamori is a kind of amulet offered by shrines. 'Shinsatsu', another kind of amulet, comes with a small pouch that holds a sacred object called 'goshinji' inside it.
People carry omamori with them as an assurance that their wish will come true or as protection from misfortune. Shinsatsu are mainly used for family prayers, while omamori are more often used for individual prayer.
Because omamori are for one particular year only, they lose their power at the end of the year. In the New Year, they may assume a different spiritual power, so old omamori are purified to remove their souls and burnt at this time.
There are omamori for many purposes like safe driving, safe delivery, good luck in studies and exams, happiness in marriage, as well as strange ones, such as protection for pets or IT equipment.
The mikinokuchi is a folk craft article that dates back more than 300 years. It is presented in symmetrical pairs within a tokkuri and placed on the household Shinto altar of each district in order to celebrate the gods. It is also sometimes seen at weddings and ridgepole-raising ceremonies for good luck or as a charm.
Although the origin of the mikinokuchi is unclear, it is believed that it may have developed from a gohei (a white decorative item used mostly in Shinto rituals), or that it is an 'antenna' for receiving a god.
Mikinokuchi are made from bamboo, cypress or paper depending on the district, but mikinokuchi from Shimoichi in Yoshino, Nara Prefecture, are made from Yoshino cedar. Mikinokuchi are made by weaving thin slats of wood that are cut by a kanna and notched on the surface. They are flame shaped, which represents the wish that all evil and filth be burned away.
In Shimoichi, the mikinokuchi is burned after New Year, during the Dontoyaki (a rite which terminates New Year celebrations in Japan) in order to wish for perfect health for everyone throughout the year.