The Katsuragi-mitoshi Shrine is located in Gose City, Nara, and it honors Mount Mitoshi, a beautiful mountain located right behind it. Its deity is known to govern harvests and guard rice grown in the alluvial fan at the foot of Mount Kongou.
The deity Mitoshi was said to have been first named at the Toshigoi Festival, which is held in the Imperial Court in February, to pray for rich harvests.
Katsuragi-mitoshi Shrine was one of the shrines where the Kamo family held religious rituals for generations. There are three such shrines in Gose: Takakamo Shrine, also known as Kamigamosha (Upper Kamo Shrine), Kamotsubajin Shrine, also known as Shimogamosha (Downtown Kamo Shrine) and Katsuragi-mitoshi Shrine, also called Nakagamosha (Middle Kamo Shrine), or Nakagamo-san - affectionately.
The current main building is painted vermillion and it was transferred from the Kasuga Taish Shrine.
During the first three days of the New Year, to invoke good health, visitors to the shrine receive mochi rice cakes called “otoshidama” which have been blessed by the deity Mitoshi.
The current New Year’s customs of presenting mochi rice cakes to a household shrine and giving “otoshidama” (now, with small amount of cash inside) to children are said to be based on rituals from the Katsuragi-mitoshi Shrine.
Kamo Shrine on the top of a hill located to the south of the Nanakita River in Izumi-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, is composed of two shrines; Kamigamo Shrine and Shimogamo Shrine, just like Kamo Shrine in Kyoto. All the shrine structures including the main torii gate and the middle torii gate are painted in vermillion; hereby it is popularly called Akagami-sama (the Red God).
In 1695, Date Tsunamura, the 4th lord of the Sendai domain, built Shimogamo Shrine in this site, using the building of Tadasunomiya Shrine, which had been one of the attached shrines of Shiogama Shrine and was dismantled when Shiogama Shrine was reconstructed. Kamigamo Shrine was built next to Shimogamo Shrine at the same time.
The one on the right is Shimogamo Shrine, formally named Kamo Mioya Shrine according to Tosatsu (the wooden plate to state the record of the construction) and popularly called Higashinomiya (East Shrine), and the one on the left is Kamigamo Shrine (Kamo Wake-Ikazuchi Shrine, or Nishinomiya (West Shrine). The two buildings stand symmetrically facing the south. Only difference is the carved decoration given to the frog-leg struts; the hen for Shimogamo Shrine and the rooster for Kamigamo Shrine.
The usually quiet precinct is bustled with visitors on New Year’s Day and the day of Donto Festival, in which the New Year’s decorations brought by visitors are burned in a bon fire to pray for a good health.
Choyo-no-Shinji and Crow Sumo Wrestling is Shinto rituals performed on September 9 at Kamigamo Shrine, which is famous as the oldest shrine in Kyoto. According to the concept of Yin and Yan, the odd number is the number of Yan (shine). Thus 9 is considered to be the number that Yan reaches to an extreme. As September 9 is the day when the extreme Yan overlaps, it was called Choyo (Double Yan) and was celebrated as the auspicious day since the ancient times. Since September is the blooming season of a chrysanthemum by the lunar calendar, it is also called the Chrysanthemum Festival.
In the old days, people drank chrysanthemum wine and purified themselves with dew on chrysanthemum petals in hope of a long life. Today, people in Kyoto visit Kamigamo Shrine on this day and offer chrysanthemum flowers to the deity and pray for the healthy life.
After the Choyo Shinto rituals are performed‚ a Shinto priest called “Tone” places a bow and arrow and a sword against a cone-shaped hill of sand. He then utters the cry “kaa‚ kaa‚ kaa‚ koo‚ koo‚ koo,” imitating the cawing of crows. After this ritual‚ children, divided into two teams of “Negi-kata (priests)” and “Hori-kata (people who cerebrate),” wrestle each other in matches. The sumo wrestling originates in an ancient Shinto rituals performed in the Heian period (794-1192) and it is designated as an intangible cultural property of Kyoto City. Free chrysanthemum flower sake will be offered that is believed to be effective for healthy longevity.
The deer dance and the sward dance handed down in the Kamiyagari area in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a kind of Nenbutsu Odori (a Buddhist invocation dance), which is performed to commemorate ancestors, prevent disasters, get rid of harmful insects and pray for a rich harvest. The dances are dedicated to the deities at the festivals of Kamo Shrine held in May and October every year.
The origin of these dances date back to the Keian era (1648-1651) in the Edo period, when a man named Tokuro living in front of Ryuhoji Temple in Yawata Town began these dances. The two dances have been handed down as one set of performing art. It is designated as a prefecture’s intangible folk cultural property.
In the deer dance, dancers are required to use high skills to beat the drum hung at the waist and to sing and dance all at once. In the sword dance, dancers wear different masks and Zai (a wig of long hair).
Chigo-mai Dance held at Kamo Shrine is a traditional folk performing art handed down in Shimomura town in Imizu City, Toyama Prefecture since the ancient times. Shimomura Kamo Shrine was founded in 1066 in the manor possessed by Kamo Mioya Shrine in Kyoto.
Chigo-mai Dance is performed on September 4th as a part of the shrine’s annual festival, in which four boys, aged from 10 to 11, dedicate nine dances such as “Hoko-no-mai,” “Hayashi-uta,” “Kocho-no-mai” and “Ama-no-mai” to thank for rich harvest and pray for national peace and safety of families. Still innocent-looking little boys in imperial court style costume and with serious countenance dance elegantly on the tentatively built stage. Along with elegant tunes of music played on the stage, their performances lead the spectators to the world of the nobility at the Heian court.
The renowned Isame spring wells out at Kamo Temple in Samegai, Maibara, in Shiga Prefecture.
The spring is mentioned in the 'Kojiki' (Japan’s oldest extant chronicle) and the 'Nihon-shoki' (second-oldest book about the ancient history of Japan). It is said to be the holy water that washed away and cleansed the poison which had induced fever in Yamato-Takeru-no-mikoto (famous for slaying a violent deity at Mt Ibuki on his way back from the East). Legend has it that, in gratitude, Yamato-Takeru named the spring Isame-no-Shimizu.
The source of the spring is on Mt Ryozen and it is said that, as the water wells out and passes through the mountain rock and soil, the flavor as well as the mineral content of the water change.
Isame spring wells out from under a stone wall in the precinct of Kamo Temple to feed into a river which flows along the old 'nakasando' (road through the central mountains). The spring water of Isame, along with the nearby waters of the Saigyosui and the Jyuosui, has become an essential and indispensable source of water for the people of Samegai and can also be said to be 'oasis' water that relieves the tiredness and tension of travelers to this resort.
The famous spring water of Isame has been praised through the ages for its healing and soothing properties since time immemorial.
Edo Kimekomi Dolls are made in Tokyo and Saitama. They are made by tucking and fixing cloth (usually brocade) costumes to grooves on the doll's body.
The first doll of this kind is said to have been made by a priest at the Jogamo Shrine in Kyoto, who fixed scraps of cloth to a notched piece of wood.
After that, kamo-hina dolls spread to Tokyo, where they came to be called Edo Kimekomi. By the end of the Edo period, many dolls of this type were being made.
The body of the doll is made from toso, which is paulownia powder mixed with wheat starch glue. Then, the body is notched and the costume is fixed to the grooves.
Edo Kimekomi Dolls have long, lean shapes and fine, delicate features: the contrast with the plumper Kyoto dolls is very interesting.