NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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吉備津神社 鳴釜神事 Kibitsujinja Narukamishinji Kibitsu Shrine Narukami Ritual

Jp En

Kamadono Hall is part of Kibitsu Shrine in Okayama and is designated as an important national cultural asset.

Kamadono Hall is also popular for a peculiar fortune-telling ritual involving a 'kami' (a large metal cauldron) standing on a 'kamado' (a cooking range with a place for fire underneath). In the hall, people seeking to know their fortune, place offerings such as sacred sake in front of the cauldron and pray to the oracle. The fire below keeps the cauldron hot. If the cauldron produces a loud sound, it represents 'good fortune'; if it stays silent or creates a soft sound, it means 'misfortune'.

There is a legend that the head of the ogre Ura (the origin of the Oni demon) is buried under the kamado. Akinari Ueda in the 'Ugetsu' relates the story that, one night, Prince Kibitsuhiko (the model for Momotaro, the legendary Peach Boy) dreamt of Ura's spirit, which tells the prince to have his wife Azome light the fire beneath the cauldron. The spirit says that a 'rich' sound from the cauldron will bring good fortune, while a 'wild' sound will bring misfortune.

From this legend, we can clearly see how Kibitsuhiko's dream became part of the fortune-telling narukami ritual we see today at the shrine.
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吉備津神社 Kibitsu-jinja Kibitsu Shrine

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The Kibitsu Shrine is located in Kibitsu, Okayama Prefecture. It is a guardian shrine for the Bichuu area. The shrine is dedicated to Prince Kibitsuhiko, the model for the famous Japanese folk tale about Momotaro (the Peach Boy).

By the Heian period, the shrine had become known as the Sanbi Ichinomiya ('Shrine Uniting the Three States of Kibitsu') and has been deeply revered by many as a sacred site to pray for success in commerce and for longevity.

The adjoining double gables of the roof of the main building is a characteristic style of the Kibitsu area, and is known as 'Kibitsu zukuri' or 'hiyoku-iromiya zukuri'. Because of this distinctive feature, the shrine is designated as a National Treasure.

There is a 400m-long corridor connecting the main building to the sub shrine, and the view from beside the South Zuijin Gate is overwhelmingly beautiful. The gate is designated a Cultural Treasure by the Prefecture. The hydrangea, peony, and plum gardens inside the shrine precincts are popular among visitors as well. The shrine displays the colorful beauty and contrasts of all four seasons, entertaining the eyes of all who visit.
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矢喰宮 Yaguino-miya Yagui Shrine

Jp En

Yagui Shrine is located at Takatsuka, Okayama City, near the junction of the Chisui and Ashimori rivers. The four rocks of varying sizes in the shrine precincts are related to the folk tale of Momotaro, the Peach Boy.

According to the legend of the Kibitsu Shrine, these rocks are located at the point where two arrows struck each other and fell to the ground. The legend relates that one arrow was shot by Prince Kibitsuhiko, the model for Momotaro, and the other by Onra, the model for the ogre with whom Momotaro fought.

According to the legend of Demon Castle and the shrine's legend, these huge rocks were thrown here by Onra, while nearby bamboos grew from the site where Prince Kibitsuhiko's arrows fell.

Local people love these four granite rocks and the old legends relating to them.
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岡山 三味線餅つき Okayama Shamisen-mochitsuki Okayama Shamisen-mochitsuki

Jp En

In one region of Japan, a traditional event called Shamisen-Mochitsuki takes place.
   There are many theories as to the derivation of this event depending on the region. The one that is shared throughout Japan has it that the event came about following ceremonies for gods which increased in liveliness as they evolved.
   The Kibitsu-jinja Shrine, located in Kibitsu, Okayama-shi, Okayama Prefecture, enshrines the historic deity Kibitsuhikonomikoto (a Shinto god).
   Long ago, great actors and performers came from Edo and Kyoto to enact performances of Miyauchi at certain festivals. During the festivals, mochi (sweet rice-cakes) were made and offered to the gods, but this tradition evolved to the Shamisen-mochitsuki, when talented and powerful performers integrated the shamisen (three-stringed instrument) and drums into the events.
   The event was once stopped, but in the 1940s it recommenced and continues to this day. During the Shogatsu San-ga-nichi (first 3 days of January), the Kibitsu temple hands out mochi to visitors, pleasing the people who come to the temple.
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"Nippon-kichi" leads you to places, people and things that reveal a certain Japanese aesthetic.

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