NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/5/31


月山 Gassan Mt Gessan

Jp En

Mt Gessan is one of the three mountains in the Dewa Sanzan group, and is located in Tagawa, Yamagata prefecture.

Mt Gessan is 1984m high and stands almost in the middle of Yamagata prefecture. It lies in the northern part of Bandai Asahi National Park and is a treasure house of nature that includes animals, plants and primary forest like beech.

The name of Gessan ('moon mountain') derives from the fact that it appears to be as enormous as a half-moon. The mountain has always been linked to religion and there is a shrine at the top dedicated to Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto, a brother of the goddess Amaterasu-omikami.

The mountain has also been a place for ascetic training. Many practitioners have visited here to worship Gessan-okami, but most of them have not felt ready enough and have gone back. Their route back is still known as the 'Return of Practitioners' although hikers take this road today. Mt. Gessan is a spiritual mountain with great views and alpine plants.
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2007/2/14


橋本院 Hashimoto-in Hashimoto Temple

Jp En

Hashimoto Temple is a Koya-san Shingon temple located in Nara Prefecture. The priest Gyogi established this temple under the order of the Gensho Emperor.

Hashimoto Temple was burnt down once, but after reforming, it was transformed to the present place. It is also called Hashimoto-in because the former temple once had a bridge ('hashi').

Hashimoto Temple is one of the seven Tenporin temples. It is notable as the temple where the priest Ganjin was once resident. There is a 5.4m tall statue of the eleven-headed Kannon, which is the center of worship every 21st day of the month and during the Higan Hoyo, which takes place in spring and autumn.
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笛吹神社 Fuefuki-jinjya Fuefuki Shrine

Jp En

Fuefuki Shrine is located in Fuefuki, Katsuragi, Nara Prefecture. The official name of the shrine is Katsuragi Niimasu Hono-Ikazuchi Shrine. Its main gods are Honoikazuchi and Amenokaguyama.

Fuefuki Shrine was established during the Jinnmu Emperor period. It is recorded in the 'Engishiki Jinmyo Notebook' which was probably made in 927.

Many musicians and fire fighters visit the shrine due to the presence of gods of music and fire. In the New Year, a dedication musical performance takes place.

Within the shrine grounds there is a natural monument, the Ichiigashi Forest, as well as giant ancient trees.
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2007/2/1


千光寺 Senkou-ji Senkoji Temple

Jp En

Senkoji Temple is located on Mt Narukawa in the town of Heguri, Koma district, Nara Prefecture. It is a temple of the Daigo sect of Shingon Buddhism.

The temple's full name is Motoyama-kami Senkoji Temple. It is also known as the temple where Enno-Gyoja (a shaman who founded the Shugendō and who lived between the Asuka and Nara periods) stayed to train before going to Sanjyo-Gadake, until he was 42 years old.

Another name for the temple is Motoyama-kami and it is still a place for Shugendō training. A further name is Nyonin-Kamiyama, which refers to the story in which Enno-Gyoja’s mother came to visit him.

Senkoji Temple was built to enshrine an image of Sahasrabhuja-arya-avalokiteśvara. Senko means 'thousand lights' because the bodhisattva is famously reputed to emit 1000 lights. In the Jizo Hall, there is a guardian deity of children, which has a bamboo hat on. There is a saying that by worshiping this deity, any sickness can be cured.
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2007/1/26


高塚愛宕地蔵尊 Takatsuka-atago-jizouson The Takatsuka Atago Jizo Statue

Jp En

The Takatsuka Atago Jizo statue is located in Amagase-cho, Hita in Oita Prefecture, and is a rare example of a statue merging Buddhist and Shinto elements. It is also in unusually good condition despite its age.

The existence of this statue is clearly mentioned in the 'Takatsuki-engi', which records that, in the 12th year of the Tenpei era of the Nara period (740), on his way home from Chikugo, Gyoki-bosatsu stopped in Takamatsu to pray under a ginkgo tree for the nation's peace and prosperity. Here he received an oracle and, in gratitude, carved a Jizo image and had a structure built to enshrine it.

The Takatsuka Atago Jizo statue is reputed to grant any kind of wish, and the 2.3 million people who visit every year ensure that the temple and its precincts are always bustling. The approach to the shrine is always lined with shops selling local goods such as royal fern, bracken, shiitake mushrooms, chestnuts, and many more goods, adding to the bustle. The Takatsuka Atago Jizo statue is regarded with great fondness by all the locals.
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2007/1/24


最上稲荷 Saijo-inari Saijo Inari Shrine

Jp En

Saijo Inari Shrine is one of the three most famous Inari shrines in the country, and is a noted Buddhist shrine for prayer. The shrine is located in Okayama, Okayama Prefecture, a city famous for its picturesque views of the Kibi Plains.

The shrine was built around 1200 years ago by Houon Daishi. The main building of the shrine suffered losses from fire when Toyotomi Hidetoshi attacked the Bichuu Takamatsu Castle during the Warring States period. Yet, since the patron deity of the shrine was hidden under the building in a secret compartment 8 tatamis large, and covered by rock slabs, it was kept safe from harm.

Since that time, the patron deity became famous across the country for its miraculous efficacy, drawing the faith of the masses. The deity is famous for answering prayers for success in business, traffic safety, and for increased scholastic ability. Every March during the Hatsuuma Festival, the shrine overflows with people who have come to pray for luck and good health.
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2007/1/23


伊勢神宮内宮 Isejinguu-Naiku Ise Jingu Inner Shrine

Jp En

Ise Jingu Inner Shrine (Naiku), officially known as Kodai Jingu, is in the center of the precepts of the Ise Grand Shrine, in Mie prefecture. It is sacred to Amaterasu Omikami, the main guardian god of Japan. The god holds the Yatano Mirror, which is one of three sacred national treasures.

While Ise Grand Shrine is the headquarters of the Association of Shinto Shrines, it is handled separately and isn't graded. Kodai Jingu is more commonly known as Naiku, and Toyouke-dai Jingu as Geku. Geku is sacred to Toyouke-no-omikami. In a different way, Tokyo's Meiji Jingu Shrine includes a separate shrine, a sub shrine, a small shrine and a management shrine.

The broad approach to the Naiku is paved with large ballast stones, and lined with cedar trees that are hundreds of years old. The garden is about 93 square meters and it is at the foot of Mt. Kamiji and on the right bank of the Isuzu River.

The shrine was founded some 2000 years ago and today remains a sanctuary and a place of worship for Amaterasu Omikami.
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2007/1/22


宇治橋 Uji-bashi Uji-bashi Bridge, Ise

Jp En

The path to the Inner Shrine (Kotai Jingu, or Naiku) of the Ise Grand Shrine crosses the Uji-bashi Bridge. The Ise Grand Shrine is near the town of Ise in Mie Prefecture. The bridge is also known as the Mimozuso-bashi and is not associated in any way with the Uji-bashi Bridge in Kyoto.

Made of cypress wood, the bridge spans the Suzukawa River, and is 101.8m long and 8.42m wide. It used to be rebuilt each year during a ceremony known as Shikinen Sengu, when the transfer of a deity took place. During World War II, there was a time gap, and after that, the bridge was rebuilt every four years for the Sengu.

Two torii gateway, standing 7.44m high, are placed at either end of the bridge. The outer torii is made from the old pillars of the Geguu-Seiden (Outer Shrine Main Hall) and the inner torii is made from the old pillars of the Naiku-Seiden (Inner Shrine Main Hall). When the Uji-bashi is rebuilt, the outer torii becomes the torii of the Kuwana-no-nanasato-no-Watashi and the outer torii becomes the torii of the Suzukatouge-no-kan-no-Oiwake. These torii must endeavor to function as building materials for a total of 60 years.

The Uji-bashi acts as a spiritual bridge and is said to sit on the border between the world and a holy place.
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