My latest Post.

This view,this beauty
A tear unbidden
Creeps into my eye.

My stay is short
But I shall return to this place
If only my life is long enough.

Such beauty
Gazing upon it
I hope my years are many.

Bokusui Wakayama.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Shrines and Temples.

   Those of you who have read my hiking/biking trip reports - "Everytrail". "Ride with G.P.S". "Facebook,The Great Outdoors - Japan". - will notice a common denominator in most of my reports. That is, I have included a visit to a Shrine and/or Temple. Let me make it clear, it's not the main reason why I venture outdoors. With some 100,000 Shrines spread throughout Japan and just as many Temples, one can't help but stumble-across one of these complexes while out exploring the great-outdoors. They come in many shapes-and-sizes, each one has it's own uniqueness but, at the same time, they are very much the same. Some, like the famous Fushimi Inari in Kyoto, are extremely popular and a visit to Kyoto wouldn't be complete without a visit to this complex (In 2005, during Hatsumode, some 3.5-million devotees visited this complex over a 3-day period). Then there are the not-so-popular Shrines (these are the ones I prefer), the ones that are so isolated very few know they exist. One of the most spectacular of all the Shrines I have visited is the one atop Atago-san (Mt Atago) Atago-jinja - Everytrail & Atago-jinja - Wikipedia. in Kyoto Prefecture. This magnificent complex sits just below the summit of Mt Atago (986m), which raises the question, if this Shrine is hundreds-of-years-old,how was it constructed? When we consider the machinery we have at our disposal today - cranes,diggers,trucks e.t.c. - back then all they had was physical manpower - sweat & muscle.
 One of my favorite Shrines is this one in the village of Kamocho Takasari. Moriyawatamiya-jinja Shrine was set in amongst rocks just a few meters off a country lane.
After passing-through the vermilion colored Torii, and ascending the hundred or so steps, you reach the Shrine. On the two occasions I have been here, I have stayed about 1-hour and used the time to have a bite-to-eat, check my map and just take-in the surroundings.

   This brings me to the part of this post where I explain to you what a Shrine is. Well I'm not, the people at  Wikipedia are (when you have read this, you will understand why). In Japan, a Shrine is where devotees of the Shinto Religion come to pray. But Shrines are not just unique to Japan, as you will see in the following link

    Shinto and Buddhism are the main Religions practiced in Japan, with a sprinkling of Christianity. Which brings me to a question I would dearly-love  someone to help me find an answer for. In Japan, as I have just explained, a Shrine is home to devotees of Shinto and a Temple is home to devotees of Buddhism. But I have also been told that a Shrine is where one goes to pray to God, and a Temple where one prays to their ancestors, regardless, I presume, of denomination. True - or- false? Now (the plot thickens), if that is the case, what about this situation. On a recent outing to Yamashirocho (Yamashiro Town) I came-across a Temple nestled-amongst the hills and trees overlooking Kizugawashi (Kizugawa City). Gyokudai-ji Temple is a Zen Buddhist Temple but, as you will see in these photos, there is a Shrine on the complex.
On the left is the Torii and, further inside, is the Shrine.

   Well, I think I have about exhausted your time with this topic. In the coming weeks I will post articles covering etiquette, when visiting a Shrine, and the many buildings that make-up the complex.
   Before I sign-off, I will include 2-photos of Isa Grand Shrine, in Mie Prefecture. This makes interesting reading.

   So, until next time, it's been my pleasure to share this with you and I look forward to any comments, suggestions and additions you may have.

                                                    Yours e.t.c.


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