Enzu-no-wari is a traditional lunar new year festival held in Miyato, Matsushima of Miyagi Prefecture. The festival includes the 'tori-oi' in the Tsukishima area of Miyato. This is a festival to pray for a good harvest, good catch of fish, family safety and success in business. The Enzu-no-wari is designated as an important intangible cultural folk asset of Japan, since it is a valuable example of an historical festival held today.
Every year, for seven days from 11-16 January, boys from 2nd grade in elementary schools and 2nd grade in junior high schools of the Tsukishima area stay at a grotto under the Isuzu Shrine. The boys eat, sleep and go to school together, and live by themselves during this period.
On the night of the 14th, all the boys visit every house in the Tsukishima area. As they walk, they strike their pine staffs against the ground chanting 'enzu-no-wari, touryouba, kasurawatte, suotsukete, enzogashimasanagase' ('When you go after the vicious bird, crush its head, and send it away to the island of Ezo').
On the next day, they wake up early and make a fire from gathered wood, then chase the birds by calling 'Ho-i, Ho-i'. The boys roast their bellies with the smoke and pray for their good health that year.
By respectfully following tradition, these children will hand down a tradition to future generations.
Kashihara Jingu Shrine is located at the southeastern foot of Mt. Unebiyama in Kashihara City, Nara Pref. It was constructed in 1890 at the site of Unebi Kashihara-gu, where, according to Nihon Shoki (the Chronicles of Japan), Japan’s first emperor, Jinmu, is said to have acceded to the throne. The deities enshrined are Emperor and Empress Jinmu and his consort, Hime-Tatara-Isuzu-Hime no Mikoto. The precinct has an area of as much as 500,000 square meters. Emperor Jinmu’s Tomb and many other imperial tombs are located in the surrounding area. Shinka-den Hall, the Kashikodokoro (imperial sanctuary) of Kyoto Palace was relocated to this place and used as the Main Hall. The Inner Haiden Hall (a hall of oratory) is used for New Year’s visit and Kigen-sai Festival (the regnal day of Emperor Jinmu and the National Foundation Day set up by the Meiji government). On the day of Jinmu-sai Festival, which is held on April 4 every year, a lot of people come to see a large-scale parade of people including several groups in ancient costume going through the town and appreciate Noh, Kyogen, and Kuzuso (an ancient dance performed at Imperial court).
Hibara Shrine located at the foot of Mt. Miwa in Sakurai City, Nara Pref. is one of sessha shrines (attached shrines) to Omiwa Shrine. This shrine is also called “Moto-Ise” because the place in which the shrine is located is considered to be a village named “Yamato no Kasanui-mura” of Wa (a name of ancient Japan), where Toyosuki Irihime no Mikoto, a daughter of Emperor Sujin, enshrined Yata no Kagami, which is the sacred mirror presumably housed at Ise Shrine and is considered to be Amaterasu Omikami (the Sun Goddess) itself. After the shrine was attached to Omiwa Shrine, Amaterasu Omikami is still enshrined as its main saishin (the enshrined deity). As is the case with Omiwa Shrine, the shrine has no Honden, which contains the Goshintai (the sacred body of the god) because Mt. Miwa itself is considered to be the Goshintai, which visitors worship from Mitsu-dorii Gate. The ancient-styled Torii-gate at the entrance to the precinct is made of straw-rope tied up to the two pillars. Taken up in many poems of Manyoshu, this place is filled with deep and mysterious atmosphere of the ancient times.
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.
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.
Oharai-machi is a town located at the main entrance to the Ise Shrine in Mie prefecture. The town is famous for its array of traditional souvenir shops and restaurants.
Oharai-machi extends from Uji Bridge, near the inner shrine, along the Isuzukawa river. It grew and developed into a town beginning from the main torii (gateway) at the entrance to the shrine, and up to the Naiku (the inner shrine).
Oharai-machi has a wide variety of stores, including gabled souvenir shops, shops for mothers- and wives-to-be, famous longstanding candy stores, as well as inns and hotels. Many historic buildings can be found here, including the shrine dojo (training center) and the house of the master of religious rites.
Some 800m from Uji Bridge, in one corner of the town, was where the Okage-mairi (pilgrims arrival path to the shrine) once flourished in the Edo period. This road has since been restored as a resort spot lined with souvenir shops and restaurants, which has become known today as the Okage-yokocho (Okage Lane).
Time passes quickly as one walks past the town's traditional restaurants and souvenir shops lining the roadsides of Oharai. Indeed, Oharai-machi is a place where you can forget time, and appreciate the pure enjoyment and gratifications the town has to offer.