NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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ずいきまつり Zuiki-matsuri Zuiki Festival at Mikami Shrine

Jp En

Mikami Shrine is at the foot of Mt. Mikamiyama in Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture. The enshrined deity is Amenomikage no Kami, the god of Mt. Mikamiyama. Historic buildings including the Romon gate, Honden (the main hall) and Haiden (the oratory) stand quietly in the deep forest. Honden is designated as a National Treasure for its unique architectural style called “Mikami-zukuri,” which is the combination of the architectural styles used for a shrine, a temple and a nobleman’s residence.

Zuiki Festival is held at this shrine on the 2nd Monday of October every year. The word “zuiki” means the stem of a taro potato. Every year five Mikoshi (portable shrine), which are made of zuiki and decorated with vegetables and persimmon leaves, are dedicated to the shrine to express gratitude for the year’s crop. It has been held for over 400 years and was designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Property by the national government in 2005.
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御上神社 Mikami-jinja Mikami Shrine

Jp En

Mikami Shrine enshrines Mt. Mikami or popularly called Omi-Fiji, a 432 m conical mountain in Shiga Prefecture, and Amenomikage no Kami, the guardian deity of old Omi province and the deity of blacksmith and blade smith.

The main hall constructed in the Kamakura period (1192-1333) is a very unique building in the style called Mikami-zukuri, in which the architectural styles for shrines, temples and residences are combined together. The Buddhism architectural style can be seen in its 3-bay structure, the Irimoya-zukuri roof, white walls and lattice windows. As one of the oldest shrine building in the Irimoya-zukuri style, it was designated as a National Treasure in 1952. The Haiden Hall (oratory), the main gate, the main hall of an attached shrine, Wakamiya Shrine, and the wooden Chinese dog are nationally designated as Important Cultural Properties.

Zuiki Festival is held at this shrine in the middle of October every year. The word “zuiki” means the stem of a taro potato. Every year five Mikoshi (portable shrine), which are made of zuiki and decorated with vegetables, persimmon leaves and chestnuts, are dedicated to the shrine to express gratitude for the year’s crop.
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住吉の火祭り Sumiyoshi-no-hi-matsuri Sumiyoshi Shrine Fire Festival

Jp En

The fire festival is held on the 2nd Saturday of January every year at Sumiyoshi Shrine in Moriyama City in Shiga Prefecture. On the same day, another fire festival is held at Katsube Shrine in the city. Both are prefecturally designated as intangible folk cultural properties.

The festivals are based on the story dating back about 800 years. When Emperor Tsuchimikado fell into a critical condition, it turned out that the illness was caused by a huge centipede living in Mt. Mikami. Then Fujiwara no Hidesato shot three arrows at the same time and they hit the huge centipede. Its head fell into the precinct of Sumiyoshi Shrine, the body into Katsube Shrine and the tail onto the ground near Karahashi Bridge in Seta village. The parts of the body were burned down at the places they fell; hereby the festivals are held at the two shrines.

On the morning of the festival day, the Shinto ritual and the arrow shooting ceremony are held at the shrine. Then the huge straw torch is brought into the precinct by men in loincloth in the evening. The torch is about 6 m long and weighs about 40 kg.

The men set the fire to the torch and dance wildly around the blazing fire with the powerful calls of “Heiyu! Heiyu!” which means “May an illness be cured!”
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三上山 Mikami-yama Mt. Mikami

Jp En

Mt. Mikami is a beautiful mountain located in Nosu City to the south of Lake Biwa (Shiga Pref.). With an altitude of 432 m, it is not a very high mountain but completely independent from other mountains, forming a clear circular cone. It is called “Ohmi Fuji” from its gentle ridgeline. The Okumiya (back shrine) of Mikami Shrine at the foot is placed at the top of this mountain and the mountain itself is considered a holy place where a god resides. It has another name of “Mukade-yama (centipede mountain),” which comes from the legend that the warrior, Tota Tawara used bow and arrows and fought off the giant centipede with a length that went around the mountain seven times and a half. As the mountain can be seen not only from the south side of the lake but also from the north side, it is a good landmark for the people sailing on the lake. It is also known as the good spot for seeing the New Year’s first sunrise and mushroom-gathering from the late September through the early November.
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