An offering is money that you will pay to gods or Buddha for fulfillment of your wish. In olden times, Japanese dedicated more valuable stuff like rice, gold and silver instead, but as the money economy developed, money replaced them.
In the Muromachi period, a box was placed at Shizuoka Hachimangu Shrine so that offerings would not litter the ground. This box is said to be the origin of the offering box.
After that, in the Edo period, as the trip to the Ise Shrine got more popular, offering boxes spread across Japan and developed into this present style.
A common offering box has wooden frames on its upside. But there are some strange-shaped boxes such as the one with 19 slits in Fukagawa-Enmado,or the money-pouch box in Hetsunomiya of Enoshima Shrine.
The Ancient Road of Kumano is a beautiful stone-paved road in Higashi-Kishu, Mie Prefecture.
The Ancient Road of Kumano is one of the pilgrimage roads included in the World Heritage's 'Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range'. The road was made for pilgrims to visit the Three Shrines of Kumano, the Grand Shrine of Kumano Hongu, the Grand Shrine of Kumano Hayatama, and the Grand Shrine of Kumano Nachi.
In ancient times, the Kumano area was revered as a holy land where gods and goddesses dwelled, and also as a place of rebirth where the dead gather.
After the Shirakawa Emperor's royal visit to Kumano in 1090, more visitors came to the Three Shrines of Kumano. Visiting Kumano became so popular in the Edo period, that it was known as the 'Kumano ant pilgrimage'.
Due to the separation order of Shinto gods and Buddhist images after the Meiji Restoration, the number of shrines along the Ancient Road of Kumano dropped sharply. The custom of visiting Kumano almost disappeared.
The Ancient Road of Kumano still lives today in the region and is known as the road to Kumano and the place of Pure Land Buddhism and rebirth.
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.
The Ookubo-ji is a temple located in Sanuki-shi, Kagawa Prefecture, and is the eighty-eighth temple of the eighty-eight pilgrimage sites scattered across Shikoku (smallest of the four main islands of Japan).
These eighty-eight pilgrimage sites were established by Kobo-Daishi Kukai (Japanese monk, scholar, poet and artist) as places of enlightenment and training, and also as holy places for people to get rid of their misfortunes and sorrows.
It is said that the number 'eighty-eight' represents the number of worldly desires humans have, and that by navigating the eighty-eight pilgrimage sites, a pilgrim can be liberated from these desires while his true ambitions and hopes can be granted.
The eighty-eighth temple, the Ookubo-ji, is considered to be the final destination of the religious process. At this temple, the deity of the Buddha of Healing (Yakushi-nyorai) is enshrined. Normally, the statue is holding a medicine vase in his right hand, but the statue at this temple is holding a triton. This is because the triton is supposed to strike away people's suffering and distress.
A gorgeous double Tahoutou pagoda stands behind the main temple. Even further behind the site, lies a cave in which Kukai reputedly trained. Pilgrims who cleanse themselves of the eighty-eight desires and finish the whole religious process at this temple, leave their canes here as a tribute and to show that they have safely finished the transformation. The number of canes left at the temple is innumerable.
Unpenji Temple belongs to the Omuro school of the Shingon Buddhist sect. It is located in Ikeda-cho, Miyoshi, Tokuyama Prefecture, and is the 66th temple out of 88 on the Shikoku Pilgrimage. The principal image (gohonzon) of the temple is of the bodhisattva Senju Kannon (Sahasrabhuja).
The temple is on Mt Unpenji (927m high) and is also known as Shikoku-Kouya. The temple site covers a 40ha2 area and is surrounded by ancient cedar, cypress, fir and hemlock trees.
Unpenji was founded by the then 16-year-old monk Kukai (Kobo Daishi), who was moved by the aura of the mountains here. In the year 807, Kukai received an order from the Emperor Saga and climbed up the mountain to the temple again. There, he sculpted the Senju Kannon figure and enshrined it with Buddhist relics and gems. The area thus became a place of pilgrimage.
Later, the temple became famous as an academic institution, then as a monastery, and finally as a prayer hall for the Minesuga clan. The temple declined, however, over the years, and is now much smaller. The temple lies in a world above clouds. Mists cover the surrounding mountains and create a mysterious atmosphere for this pilgrimage site.
Ryozenji is a temple belonging to the Koya school of the Shingon sect. The temple is dedicated to Gotama Siddhattha. It is the first temple on the Shikoku pilgrimage.
The Emperor Shōmu initiated construction of this temple after its inauguration by Gyōki Bosattsu in the Tenpyo period. In 815, Kōbō Daishi stayed here for 21 days and practiced his ascetic training. Later he invoked the creation of the 88-temple Shikoku pilgrimage. It is believed that during his training, he carved the Gotama Siddhattha figure, marking it as the first point on the pilgrimage. He founded schools that could teach the Taizoukai Mandala of the Dainichi Nyorai buddha in the Shikoku area. Each of the four regions of Shikoku was to establish schools of religion, training, Buddhahood and Nirvana.
He founded a total of 88 schools. Ryozenji was destroyed by fire at one point, but rebuilt and remains today a magnificent example of architecture.
Nowadays it is known as the starting point of the Shikoku pilgrimage. Throughout the year, it is crowded with pilgrims wearing the sedge hat and white costume of the henro.
Mount Ontake is an active single peak volcano that lies 3,067m above sea level between the boundaries of Nagano and Gifu Prefectures. It is also designated as one of Japan’s 100 famous mountains. Mount Fuji, Hakusan and Mount Onntake have been, since ancient times, giants who have towered over believers, commanding fear and awe. Since the 5th year of the Hoki period (774) when the ruler of the State of Shinano, Nobuashi Ishikawa enshrined the two Gods, Oomunachinomikoto and Sukunahikonanomikoto, and prayed for the purification of the land from plague, the mountain has thrived as a dojo for monks. Even now, people dressed in white can be seen heading for the shrine at the peak to show their faith and have their wishes granted. Mount Onntake is also famous for mountain climbing, skiing, and other attractions that draw many tourists to its slopes every year.