The custom of Mizushugi (Water Celebration) has been passed down in the Koizumi area in Kami Town, Miyagi Prefecture. It is a water celebration ceremony held on February 2 every year.
Mizushugi used to be held in many places in the prefecture but most of them were already discontinued. It is now preserved in the original form only in the Koizumi area and this custom is prefecturally designated as an intangible folk cultural property.
Newly married couples and the couples who have lived in the village for 1 full-year are invited to the ceremony. They are all formally clothed. When they walk under the torii gate made by the locals reaching each other’s arms and worship Dosojin (the guardian deity of the community) enshrined in the hall, they are allowed to be the members of the locals.
After that, the kanji representing “water” is written on the foreheads of all the participants with Japanese ink. Then all the participants drink sake together to celebrate the new membership and to pray for household safety and safe delivery.
When the ceremony is over, all the participants visit each house in the village and throw up water at the roofs with dippers, calling words for fire extinguishment.
Mt. Kirishima is a generic name for the volcanoes in the border of Kirishima City in Kagoshima Prefecture and Ebino City and Kobayashi City in Miyazaki Prefecture. It is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Mountains. It is presumed to be a post-caldera volcano formed in the southern rim of Kakuto caldera basin.
Mt. Kirishima is composed of many peaks including the highest peak of Karakuni-dake (1,700 m), Takachiho-no-mine, Naka-dake, Ohata-yama, and Ohachi. There are a lot of crater lakes such as Onami-ike, Ohata-ike, and Rokukannon-ike. The mountain area is a part of Kirishima- Yaku National Park. The communities of Kyushu azalea can be seen in the highlands.
Mt. Kirishima is the land of Japanese mythology concerning its creation. “Amano Sakahoko,” the three teeth fork-shaped weapon is staked upside down at the top of Mt. Takachiho-no-mine, which is believed to be where the Heavenly Descendant Ninigi no Mikoto descended from Takamagahara Field (Heavenly Hill Field).
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.
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.
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.
Hyoji Kitagawa (born 1936) is the second son of Heirô Kitagawa, the 17th generation head of the Tawaraya (and holder of this important intangible cultural property). In 1988, he succeeded his father and became the 18th generation head of the Tawaraya.
Kitagawa works for the imperial household as a brocade artisan and is acclaimed for his sophisticated weaving skills. He testified his brilliant techniques to the world when reproducing the ancient Kajyu-Shishi-Jinbutsu-Monaya brocade for the Shosoin repository in Nara. Usig a magnifying glass, he studied the original brocade pattern in great detail to make a thread-by-thread transcript on a cross-section. He accomplished this extremely precise work in only three years.
In 1989, he made complex gauze brocades, such as 'nishiki', 'ra' and 'sha', to be used with votive objects at the Ise Shrine. In 1990, he made the ceremonial costumes 'gosokutai' and 'jyu-ni-tan' for the marriage of prince and princess Akishino, and also for the Emperor's coronation. In 1993, he made wedding costumes for the marriage of crown prince Naruhito to princess Masako.
In 1999, he was honored as a Living National Treasure.
Big Cedar is a tree in Small-Cedar district, and is near the village of Sakegawa, in Mogami County, Yamagata prefecture.
Although the great cedar tree might look like a couple of trees, it is in fact a single tree standing among paddy fields. Its base is 6.3m in circumference and it is 20m tall. It is said to be more than 1000 years old.
Because it has two big trunks, it is also called the 'Couple Cedar' or 'Marriage-Tie Cedar'. In addition, owing to its resemblance to a tree seen in the movie, 'Tonari-no-Totoro', it has lately gained more fame and come to be called 'Totoro's tree'.
The tree is venerated by the village and a mountain deity has been enshrined at its base.
Usually, a cedar tree tends to grow narrow and high in order to get more sunshine and survive. But, because there has been nothing other than rice fields around the tree, it has leisurely spread out to receive much sunshine.