Shinto is the native religion of Japan. In keeping in line with the theme and essence of my blog I present Sumiyoshi Taisha, which was popularized in one of Japan’s greatest novels “ The Tale of Genji,” like this curved bridge and pond for example, which are illustrated in the original Tale of Genji. ( second pic.).
The day I went to this shrine was on a very pleasant Sunday afternoon. There were some low flying birds soaring overhead, wings out stretched. The aroma of grilled squid and dumplings filling the air around the entrance was intoxicating for me. Images of a time long forgotten were evoked in my mind. Small children playing and screaming merrily around grandpa. (“ It must’ve been a good day to be a grandpa”).
A closer look. Bridge over water leading up to a shrine is commonly found through out Japan, which represent a portal.
By the way, I chose this shrine over Shitennoji, which is the oldest temple in present day Osaka, for esoteric reasons. I think it can be argued that shinto is purely Japanese, at least more Japanese than temples.
Two national treasures making their way down the stairs give you an idea of how careful you have to walk in order to go up and own these steps.
Zukuri-style, which is where two beams intersect at the top, is called okichigi , is so Japanese for me. This is the main hall, or honden in Japanese.
Inner shrine. Beyond the partitions, where the Kannushi or shinto monk is standing, are the sacred objects, which are kept away in secret from the general public.
Another example of the cross beams at the top.
An authentic zukuri style shrine, one of the truest symbols of real Japan. More forked beams.
I also love the ornate designs along the roof’s main beam. The central beam running the entire length of the roof has small logs on them called katsuogi, which too is also native to Japan, even predating Buddhist influence.
This beautiful half dog/lion is called Komainu, which is usually found around the entrance of the shrine. It’s the guardian of the shrine. Some shrines have half dogs, foxes, or even cats.
This is called a purification trough, and they are usually located at the entrance of the main shrine. You are supposed to wash your hands and rinse your mouth before entering the main shrine. The neat thing about Sumiyoshi Taisha is that there are so many of these troughs located on the premises. I must’ve washed my hands 4 or 5 times.
The tassel hanging from the door is called shimenawa in Japanese, which marks the boundary to something sacred. This rope also ward off evil spirits.
What you are looking at now is called the Imperial regalia, one of three of the most important sacred tools in shinto. The mirror in shinto is regarded as the symbol of Amaterasu, Goddess of the sun and ruler of heaven. The mirror is called kagami.
The other two are the sword and the jewel.
What you are looking at now, above, are what’s called sakaki tate leaves which are symbolic in Shinto religious practices for display. Sakaki trees are difficult to find outside of Japan. For many real Japanese these leaves symbolize an abundance of energy and wholesomeness.
This is Japan. This is the soul of Japan.