NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/2/15


室生龍穴神社 Murou-ryuuketsu-jinjya Muro Ryuketsu Shrine

Jp En

Muro Ryuketsu Shrine is an ancient shrine in the Muro Mountains, which lie on the east side of the Nara Basin in Uda, Nara Prefecture. Muro Ryuketsu Shrine is also called the Ryuo Shrine.

Muro Temple, now in Nyonin Koya, is said to be the Jinguuji of the Ryuketsu Shrine and was also called the Ryuo Temple. The temple's spirituality continues to this day since its beginnings in the Muromachi period. At that time, Ryuketsu, the water God was worshipped and highly respected by the Imperial Court, when prayers were offered for rain.

The enshrined deity at this temple is the Takaokaminokami. The shrine, located behind the temple, holds the three Ryuketsu (Myokichijo Ryuketsu, Mochihokichijo Ryuketsu, and Sasharaebisukichijo Ryuketsu). A tradition has it that a Ryujin (Dragon Lord) lives here.

Every year on 15 October, a Fall Festival called 'Owatari' takes place, during which a male lion and a female lion cross from Muro Temple to Ryuketsu Shrine and dedicate a dance to the Ryujin.
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宇太水分神社 Uda-mikumari-jinjya Uda Mikumari Shrine

Jp En

The Uda Mikumari Shrine is located in Utano-ku, Uda, in Nara Prefecture. It is an ancient shrine with a tradition stating that it was founded during the Emperor Sujin era.

Uda Mikumari Shrine is also the East Shrine of the four Daiwa Yoshinomikumari Shrines described in the 'Engishiki Jinmyocho', along with the Katsuragi Mikumari Shrine, the Tsuge Mikumari Shrine, and the Yoshino Mikumari Shrine.

The shrine is deified along the Yoshino River at three points: the Upper Shrine (Yoshino), Middle Shrine (Furuichiba) and Lower Shrine (Shimoidani). The enshrined deities at these shrines are the Amenomikumarinokami, Kuninomikumarinokami and the Hayaakitsuhikonokami, all of which are water gods.

The main shrine (Furuichiba) is made in an Ikenshakasugazukuri Hiwadabuki style, accompanied by the vermilion-painted Mikumari connection structure, making it a national treasure. Kasuga and Munakata shrines are also deified along with Furuichiba. The vermilion-painted main shrine casts light on the 500-year-old cedar tree, creating a calm and soothing atmosphere.
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墨坂神社 Sumisaka-jinjya Sumisaka Shrine

Jp En

Sumisaka Shrine is located along the Uda River in Haibara-ku, Uda, in Nara Prefecture. The shrine used to be located on the west path of the Amanomori (Forest of the Heavens) of Sumisaka, but, in 1499, it was transferred to its present site.

Until the Meiji period, the Amano Temple deified both Buddhist and Shinto gods, giving it alternative names such as Rokusha Gongen and Amano Shrine. The present enshrined deity is the Sumisaka Omiwa God, which is a generic name for the six pillars of the Amenominakanushinokami, Takamimusubinokami, Kamimusubinokami, Izanakinokami, Izanaminokami and the Omononushinokami. Legends told that during Emperor Sujin's imperial reign, an epidemic spread across his empire. However, if the sick person deified the god that appeared in their dreams, which was the Sumisaka Omiwa God, their illness would be cured instantly.

Every year in November, a festival called the Sumisaka Togyo Gyoretsu takes place, where a mikoshi (portable shrine) is carried, along with a red shield and red sword, from Sumisaka Shrine at its current location to its prior location in the Amanomori (Forest of the Heavens).
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2007/2/12


太郎坊宮(阿賀神社) Taroubou-guu(Aga-jinjya) Tarobo Shrine (Aga Shrine)

Jp En

Tarobo Shrine (Aga Shrine) is probably some 1400 years old. Praying at the shrine is believed to bring good luck, protection from ill fortune and business prosperity.

The main deity at Tarobo Shrine is 'Masaka-Akatsukachi-Hayahiameno-Oshi-Homimi-No-Mikoto'. Around the main building, there are peculiar rocks called 'iwaza'. There is also a husband-and-wife rock pair. There used to be a single standing rock, but legend has it that it was smote in two by a deity. It is said that any liar who tries to pass through the gap in the two rocks will become wedged.

From the observation tower, one can see beautiful natural scenery.

Also, the shrine has another name, Tarobo-san.
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門松 Kadomatsu Kadomatsu New Year Decoration

Jp En

The custom of 'kadomatsu' door decoration has been popular all over Japan since olden times.

Kadomatsu are placed in front of houses to welcome the New Year deity, purify the entrance and drive demons and evil spirits out. Originally, they were made from evergreen woods such as pine, cedar, beech and sakaki. But the prevalence of the use of pine has led to their naming as 'kadomatsu' ('gate pine').

'Pine lasts for 1000 years and bamboo for 10,000 years' is an old Japanese proverb. Pine and bamboo are popular materials for kadomatsu because people wish that Yorishiro, the place in which the deity lives, will last forever.

According to custom, kadomatsu should not be set up on 31st December. This is because it is not faithful to have only one day before welcoming the deity on New Year's Day. Moreover, the 29th should also be avoided because 'nine matsu' is the same pronunciation as 'wait for pain'. Usually, kadomatsu are set up by the 28th.
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2007/1/29


両子寺 Futago-ji Futago-ji Temple

Jp En

Futago-ji Temple is located on the slopes of Mt Futago, the highest mountain on the Kunisaki Peninsula in Oita Prefecture. The temple flourished as the main temple in Rokugomanzan.

The temple is said to have been built in the second year of the Yoro period (718) by Ninmon-bosatsu, the incarnation of the deity Usa-hachiman. The name of the temple comes from Futago-daigongen, the son of Usa-hachiman. In the Heian period, a unique religion mixing local gods and Buddhism developed in the Rokugomanzan Buddhist area and many temples were founded along the Kunisaki Peninsula.

On the grounds of Futago-ji Temple are a big hall, the Okunoin building, 100 Kannon sattues, the Ninnou statue and mossy stone steps that give you a sense of the past.

The temple area was designated as the Seto Inland Sea National Park as well as one of Oita Prefecture's Historical Places. It is also one of Japan's '100 best places for bathing in woods'. Many people visit the temple throughout the four seasons.
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瑠璃光寺 Rurikou-ji Rurikoji Temple

Jp En

Rurikoji Temple is the fourteenth of 33 spiritual places of Rokugomanzan in the Kunisaki Peninsula, Oita Prefecture. The mountain is called Mt Cedar.
Ninmon-bosatsu established the temple in the first year of the Yoro period (717).

In old times, Rurikoji Temple had many buildings but most of them were burned down. The present temple is said to have been one of the halls from that time.

Yakushi-nyorai is the main deity in the main building; Amida-nyorai and Shaka-nyorai are on the right and left. Of these, the Amida-nyorai statue has been designated as a National Important Cultural Asset. It was carved from the wood of a Japanese nutmeg tree in the late Heian period. The shape is peaceful and soft.

The crepe myrtle in the temple is a very big tree which spans 2m around and rises 15m high. It is said to be more than 600 years old and the best crepe myrtle in Japan.
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2007/1/25


太宰府天満宮 Dazaifu-tenmanguu Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine

Jp En

The renowned Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine is located in Saifu, Daizaifu-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture, and is famous for enshrining the deity of Sugawara no Michizane (a scholar, poet and politician of the Heian period). The shrine is also known for possessing the national treasure, 'Kanen Kandai Sanju-ichi' ('The Thirty-first Writing of the Kanen').

Michizane was exiled to this land following false accusations by the Fujiwara family and died here in 903. However, the ox-cart carrying Michizane's body back to the city for a formal burial, for some unknown reason broke down on the way and couldn't be moved. Considering this bizarre happening as Michizane's last wish, his body was not sent to the city, and instead buried in a grave on this land.

After Michizane's death, Kyoto experienced many disastrous plagues and abnormal weather; people feared this was Michizane's curse. Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine was built on Michizane's grave to alleviate and break the curse. Since then, Michizane has been recognized as an excellent and brilliant scholar in life, and then posthumously enshrined as the God of Scholarship and Knowledge.

Many people visit the shrine today, and still venerate Michizane as a god. Daizaifu Tenmangu Shrine, along with Kitano Tenmangu Shrine and the Hofu Tenmangu Shrine in Hofu, are considered the San-Tenjin (The Three Great Gods of the Heavens).
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