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2007/11/13


兵主祭 Hyouzu-matsuri Hyozu Festival

Jp En

Hyozu Festival is held from May 3 to 6 every year at Hyozu Shrine in Gojo in Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture. Hyozu Shrine is a historic shrine founded around the late 3rd century, when the capital of the country was relocated to present Otsu City. Later in the 6th century during the reign of Emperor Kinmei, the shrine was relocated to the present place and the shrine building was constructed here. The enshrined deity is Omunachi no Mikoto.

On May 5, after the Shinto rituals are performed at the shrine in the morning, about 30 Mikoshi (portable shrine) and the drum floats carried by shrine parishioners from 18 sub-towns get together in the front approach to the shrine, where the parade of Mikoshi starts in the afternoon.

Large and small Mikoshi and drums in various styles are carried with powerful cry of “Choito Sa!” along the 300 meter front approach lined with pine trees. The climax is the gallant performance known as “U-no-ikinuki (Rest of Cormorant),” in which Mikoshi carriers roughly lift up and down the Mikoshi and run about to the sounds of drums.
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2007/10/17


兵主大社 Hyouzu-taisha Hyozu Taisha Shrine

Jp En

It is said that Hyozu Taisha Shrine in Nosu City, Shiga Prefecture, was founded during the Nara period (710-794). As its name Hyozu literally means “the master of soldiers,” it had been worshipped by the Imperial Court and the warrior class.

The shrine treasure varies from weapons to Buddha’s ashes, which is the reminder of Shinbutsu Shugo (the fusion of Shinto and Buddhism). The vermillion main gate magnificently awaits visitors. It is said to have been dedicated by Ashikaga Takauji and the Japanese ink writing on a rafter shows that it was constructed in 1550. It is a 1-bay and 1-entrance well-balanced gate in Irimoya-zukuri style, which is prefecturally designated as a tangible cultural property.

Beyond the gravel path is the Haiden Hall (oratory). The red thick rope hanging from Waniguchi (the bronze gong) is very impressive. Its magnificent garden was constructed in the Heian period (794-1192). It is a pond-stroll garden. The ground covered with a moss carpet looks superb especially in the rainy season. From the middle to the end of November, the tinted autumn leaves are lit up for night visitors.
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2007/9/14


行縢神社 Mukabaki-jinja Mukabaki Shrine

Jp En

Mukabaki Shrine located at the southern foot of Mt. Mukabaki in the western part of Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture, is a historic shrine founded in 718 by transferring the deity from Kumano Taisha Shrine in present Wakayama Prefecture. The enshrined deities are Izanagi no Mikoto, Izanami no Mikoto and Yamato Takeru no Mikoto. Being called Mukabakidake Sansho Daigongen (the Great Three Gods of Mt. Mukabaki), the shrine was worshipped by the successive lords of the Hyuga domain.

The huge precinct is covered with densely grown trees, among which the main hall stands in the tranquil atmosphere. The trail up Mt. Mukabaki starts from the precinct.

Mt. Mukabaki (813 m) is a fine mountain with precipitous flat cliff, which looks like a folding screen. It was named so when Yamato Takeru visited this place to conquer the Kumaso tribe and said that the mountain looked like a “mukabaki,” which was a fur to wrap around the waist.
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2007/8/9


今山八幡宮 Imayama-hachiman-guu Imayama Hachimangu Shrine

Jp En

Imayama Hachimangu Shrine is located at the top of a hill, which commands a view of Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture. Enshrining 10 deities, the shrine is worshipped by local people as the guardian god of the city. It is the largest shrine in the northern part of the prefecture

Going along the front approach, which is surrounded with densely grown trees, you will see the two-storied vermillion main gate standing atop the steep stone steps. The huge precinct is dotted with several historic shrine buildings including the impressive Honden hall. The stone statues of Chinese lion-dogs on either side of the entrance of the main hall tell of the shrine’s long history.

It is said that Tsuchimochi Naotsuna, the local lord of this area transferred the deity of Usa Hachimangu Shrine (in present-day Oita Prefecture) and founded this shrine in 750 as the god to guard the ominous direction of the Castle. According to the book “Usa Kagami,” this area was a part of the territory possessed by Usa Hachimangu Shrine and annual tribute was collected by the shrine. As Usa was far away from the town and it was very difficult for local people to visit Usa Hachimangu Shrine, the foundation of Imayama Shrine was welcomed by local people. The shrine had been protected by the successive lords of the domain during the Edo period (1603-1868).
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2007/7/24


熊野速玉大社 御船祭 Kumano-hayatama-taisha Mifune-matsuri Mifune Festival at Kumano Hayatama Grand Shrine

Jp En

Mifune Festival takes place every October at Kumano Hayatama Grand Shrine, one of the Three Kumano Grand Shrines, located by the estuary of Kumano River, Wakayama Prefecture. Mifune Festival, or Boating Festival, dates back an amazing 1,800 years. It is designated as intangible folklore cultural asset by Wakayama Prefecture.
The festival’s inspiration is said to come from the pirate ships of Kumano in the mythological age, and was also influenced later from the fact that technologies of shipbuilding and navigation were developed in Udonomura, a neighboring village of Mie Prefecture.
The festival is to dedicate a dance called “Hari Hari Dance” to the local deity. It starts by transporting the spirit of the deity on the portable shrine to Shinkousen Boat at the riverbed of the Kumano River , then nine speed boats leading the Shikousen Boat and Morotobune, race each other around an island three times. On the Morotobune rides the parishioner of Toritono Shrine at Udomura dressed as a seaman who swings a red painted oar and demonstrates a dance along with the rhythm of oarsmen. As he chants “Hari, Harise”, the dance became known as the “Hari Hari Dance” and the ritual has been handed down over the centuries.
The Mifune Festival is an ancient ritual that bring scroll paintings of the age of the gods alive today.
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