Nen-neko Matsuri is a festival held at Konoha Shrine in Kushimoto Town, Higashimuro-gun, Wakayama Prefecture, on the first Sunday in December. The festival is designated as an intangible folklore cultural asset by Wakayama Prefecture.
Konoha Shrine is known to enshrine the deity that protects infants and the festival is based on historical anecdotes of Empress Jinguu who loved and nurtured her son. The religious ritual begins at 6 AM and visitors pray at dawn. It is followed by ceremonies related to nurturing infants and the festival ends with planting rice seeds to pray for a good harvest.
The whole ceremony unfolds at an unhurried pace. It begins with a ritual of bowing towards the sun at the sacred area which is placed on top of a stone alter and enclosed with straw festoon, which invokes an ancient festival.
Following the festival there is a demonstration of shishi-mai (a legendary lion-like creature performs a dance) which is accompanied by a fantastic acrobatic routine by children who dress as Tengu, a long-nosed goblin. The shishi-mai is very unique to the region and attracts a large audience who applaud the enchanting performance and even throw loose change.
Nen-neko Matsuri is a solemn and tranquil religious ritual.
Inashimo Shrine, or popularly called “Shimo no Miya,” located in Matsuzaki-cho, Kamo-gun, Shizuoka Pref. is the shrine of business success and traffic safety. The enshrined deity is Hikohohodemi no Mikoto. It is said that during the reign of Empress Jingu, Emperor Chuai’s wife, who led an army in an invasion of Korea, a man from Korea came to Izu via Toyoura in Nagato province (present-day Yamaguchi Pref.) and enshrined Sumiyoshi no Mihashira Okami and named it “Kara (Korean) Myojin.” Legend has it that the place where the main hall is located used to be a large waterfall basi and two dragons lived there. In the precinct are A 1,000 year-old huge gongko tree with a circumference of 8 m and a height og 25 m, a stone monument of “Matsuzaki Omote (local kind of tatami omote),” and fine spring water of “Sinmei-sui.” At the side of Haiden, a small hall to enshrine Oashi Daimyojin. If you desicated a pair of Japanese slippers, you will be a good walker. The huge gingko tree has been the landmark for sailors since the ancient times.
Kumohachiman Shrine located at Yabakei Town in Nakatsu City, Oita Pref. enshrines Kumo no Yahata no Okami and Myoken Okami. In the precinct stand a huge cedar tree, which is called “sennen Sugi (The 100-year-old cedar). The origin of the shrine dates back to the 3rd century, when legendary Empress Jingu, who was on her way back from the Korean invasion, took a rest on a huge stone at the foot of a mountain. Since then miraculous events including a white cloud rising up out of it had happened around this stone. In 703, a lot more clouds suddenly rose up from the stone and the light like arrows of lightening flashed and it took the shape of a small child-like god, which then disappeared. Having the feeling of awe at this miracle, the village people built a small purple shrine beside the stone and worshipped it respectfully. This is the origin of Kumohachiman Shrine and the Kumoishi Stone. The main building was relocated to the present place by Masataka Kiyohara (the lord of the province) later in 983. The shrine is famous for “Kappa Festival,” or formally named “Miyazonogaku,” in which traditional music is played to dedicate to the gods. The legend has it that Heike refugees, who had been defeated in the battle with Genji clan, transformed into a Kappa and brought harm to people, so the villagers began to play music to appease their spirits.
Hakozaki-gu Temple is located in Higashi-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture and is one of Japan's three great Hachimangu temples. It also has one of Japan's three great 'romon' two-storey gates. In addition, the temple is a 'Shikinai-sha' (a temple listed in the Engishiki--a list of all temples in the nation which received offerings from the government). Its status as a temple was Myoujin-taisha (or Myoujindai--a temple which enshrines major and remarkable gods).
The enshrined deities at Hakozaki-gu are Emperor Ojin (the main deity at the temple, the 15th imperial ruler of Japan and the guardian of warriors), Empress Consort Jingu of Japan (empress consort and mother of Ojin), and Tamayori-hime-no-mikoto (mother of Emperor Jimmu).
Hakozaki-gu was first established in 921 during the Heian period, under the authorization of Emperor Daigo. A magnificent temple was built here and, in 923, was transferred from the Chikuzendaibu-gu.
In the mid-Kamakura period, when the Mongols tried to invade Japan and came close to Hakozaki-gu, a 'divine wind', or 'kamikaze', rose up to repel them. As a result, the deities at Hakozaki-gu were worshipped as gods of charm against misfortune, as well as for success, overseas transport and communication and protection overseas.
Hakozaki-gu is a cherished and highly regarded temple, and fills the four seasons with captivating, enjoyable festivals, such as Tamatori Sai and Hojoya Taisai
Tamaseseri is a festival held in Fukuoka city's Higashi ward. Every year on January 3, groups of men compete over large balls called houju. Out of the two wooden ying and yang balls, the yang one (with a diameter of 28cm and a weight of 8kg) is said to have lucky powers. Once the yang ball is held above a person's head, he will be destined to have success in everything. A total of 250 men fight over the balls after dousing themselves in cold water.
There are many theories concerning the origin of the balls. Although it is not certain, one theory states that the idea came from the 'manjusenju' balls offered to the dragon god during the battle of the shinkou-kougou-sankan. All legends agree that both balls were dedicated to the Hakozakigu shrine because, without the ying ball, the yang ball would make sounds while glowing and queer things would happen. For 500 years, the Tamaseri has been a strangely masculine but gallant festival and a grand sight to see.
The Ochozu-no-taki Waterfall is in the upstream of the Numagawa River that runs through Tateishi-machi in Tosu City, Saga Pref. It is a beautiful waterfall with a height of 10 meters. The name “Ochozu (wash basin)” is derived from an old story that yamabushi (mountain ascetics) who performed the ascetic practices in the mointains around this waterfall often visited the waterfall to purify their hands and bodies in the water. The images of Nyoirin Kannon, Dainichi Nyorai, and Fudo Myoo placed on the clif beside the faterfall show that this was the holy place in the old days. The area around the waterfall is now developed and maintained as a city’s sightseeing spot, where visitors can enjoy swimming in the pool made in the river, walking along the trail, and camping.
Sumiyoshi Taisha has the history of 1800 years. It is the headquarters of Sumiyoshi-sha Shrines nationwide. The buildings are designated as National Treasure.This shrine an institution to worship Smiyoshi San-sin (three sea deities) and Empress Jingu. In 211 A.D., Sumiyoshi Oo-kami Sanctification Offeringwas held by Empress Jingu and Tamomi-no-sukune, who is said to have been the chief of a local clan, related by blood to Owari family descended from Amenoho-akari, a god turning up in Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters). Deities worshipped at Taisha are mainly sea gods because they believe that the sea is the source of all the lives on the earth. The layout of the four sanctuaries, from First to Forth Sanctuaries is very unique. The sanctuaries stand as if they were a fleet going ahead through the ocean. It has been handed down by word of mouth that three sanctuaries going longwise represent Gyorin (fish scales) and one sanctuary spread sidewise represent Kakuyoku(crane wings); therefore this layout embodies Hachijin-no-Ho (Law of eightphalanx). One of the main ceremonies, Hattatsu Mairi, which used to be held once ayear, is presently held on the first day of every month. Also, Otaue-shinji(the ceremony of transplanting) in June and Natsu-Matsuri (Summer Festival) in July and August are famous.
Ureshino Hot Springs is known as one of the finest hot springs in Kyushu. Affluent hot water gushes from 17 springheads in the town. Legend has it that when the Emperor Jinko dropped in at this place on his way back home from a battlefield during the Kofun period (250－538), he saw a white crane bathed in the river. After bathing for a while, the crane was refreshed and flew away. Then the emperor ordered his soldiers, who were injured in the battle, to get into the river. Actually there was a hot water springing out in the river and the soldiers were healed of their wounds. When the empress heard this, she felt glad and said, “Ana Ureshino! (Oh, what a wonderful thing!),” from which the name “Ureshino” is said to have been derived. This hot spring is also known as one of Japan’s Three Bihada (beautiful skin) Hot Springs. The achromatic transparent hot water is rich in carbonate and salt chloride material. As its constituent sodium makes skin smooth and rejuvenated, it is very popular among women. The Onsen yu-dofu (cooked with hot spring water) is also very popular. Soft and creamy on your tongue, it’s the best delicacy of this town.