Skip to main content

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

I have a slightly different take on this shrine for this post. A slight departure from the way how most media portray sacred places in Japan....i.e. this post will not necessarily talk about how cool it is to visit  a shrine, but more about how to appreciate it.  Without going into  history, this post will focus on a couple of points you should take into consideration  when visiting a shrine. 

IMG_7581 

I was treated to a visual expose of an elderly Japanese man teaching the ancient ways of shrine etiquette to a group of kids, apparently he's working for a volunteer group that teaches children how to properly carry on at a shrine.   I didn't know you had to cover your mouth when rinsing and spitting. 

IMG_7587

IMG_7583

IMG_7591

( water trough)

Before you enter a shrine it's  customary to rinse your hands and mouth at a water trough.

1) You take a cup.  Rinse it with water.  Then fill it.

2) Pour water over both of your hands.

3) Fill the cup again.  Pour some water into your left hand.  Put that water in your mouth.  Move it around a bit then spit.  Being careful to cover your mouth during this whole process.

4) Rinse the cup and then place it back on the water trough.  Show that you have rinsed the cup by extending your arms.

IMG_7592

Now you have been purified and are ready to enter the shrine.  Millions of Japanese do these things on a daily basis before entering these hollowed grounds.

IMG_7596

Working your way to the top

IMG_7605

Good to see Japanese kids enjoying themselves and their cultural heritage.

IMG_7606

This inner sanctum where you can see a screen mesh is where special prayers are offered up either to consecrate a marriage or the birth of a child.   Matters related to the death of a loved one is not traditionally handled nor supported by the Shinto faith, but by the Buddhist clergy instead.  The dead are not recognized by Shinto.   The lady in the top right is called a  Miko or a female shaman or a spirit medium, sort of like a go- between for the living dead and the sentient living.  Beautiful girls actually.   In front of this screen there's another trough but for donations this time.  I threw in a coin and prayed. 

IMG_7600

IMG_7618

How much of what's left of Japan can be preserved? 

IMG_7621

Take for example these roof tiles and the long ornate spine columns at the top; an architectural wonder that's been around for 1300 years.  Architects are just now coming to terms with how difficult it is to replicate the same techniques used to recreate these tiles....i.e. temperatures used to melt the clay, the configuration of the molding, and so forth and so on. 

 

Some of you who've visited shrines have seen these exact same roof tiles, others have perhaps seen onigawara style roof tiles here.   These are all marvelous and ornate pieces to behold.  They were made by master craftsmen who were at the height of their skills and ability hundreds of years ago.  The long columns and designs are what a lot of tourist and sight seekers take for granted. 

IMG_7628

I don't know about some of you, but whenever I get around to visiting these huge sacred edifices I always feel so much better after leaving.  Clear mind and body. 

 

Another thing you may consider doing is requesting an oracle.  In Japanese it's called "omikuji."  It's in a wooden box and some shrines have em' in English.  You shake the box then pull out a stick.  The priest hands you your fortune.  If it's good you keep it, if it's bad you tie it to a post and leave it at the shrine to be interceded over.

 

Shrines for me are spiritual places, so aside from the historic value of it, its symbol as a spiritual edifice bares just as much relevance as its architectural wonderment.  I could've turned this post into a history lesson, but not all history is relevant to spirituality.  

 

Good to see that some things never change.  Nice to see history being passed down to future generations.  Good to see Japanese female Miko honoring their cultural legacy.  Good to see that these things still exist and are not commercialized or desecrated. 

Comments

  1. Great post. Beautiful shrine and interesting facts in Shrine Etiquette.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, great photos. I visited Hachiman-gu only a few weeks ago. There were literally thousands of children there and at Daibutsu. It is great that Japanese youth experience these places.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post, and timely for me since I will be visiting Japan in August. I relate to what your saying about how you feel after you visiting a shrine.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Tornadoe,

    Are you living in Japan now? We seem to be in each others footsteps. Good to see you hanging out at these places.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Nancie,

    You couldn't have picked a better time to visit Japan. As you may already know, in August is very humid. If you have any questions feel free to ask.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Shin-Okubo: Little Korea

So I finally got around to going up there to Shin-Okubo,  the land of Seoul via the Yamanote Line.  Been putting this trip off for years for personal reasons;  I am not a fan of Hanlleyu.      I knew why I came up this way, and for none other reason than the food, and maybe to bask in the nausea of Korean romanticist who steal Japanese Jukujo's souls.    But honestly, I like spicy food and stews and pickled vegetables that challenge my taste buds.    I also love the little funky cafes that line the main thoroughfares and alley ways, each with their own little eclectic menus and interior decor.     This place is Korea.  





Shin-Okuba represents more than just a place to relish in Korean culinary delights and K-pop culture, but a place where Koreans can express themselves through their culture.    You can feel the local vibe in the air as you're walking down narrow walkways and footpaths.    I have personally been to mainland Korea six times, so a lot of the nostalgia was there …

August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, especially  in places like Tohoku and Kanto regions.  August is also  the most contentious month of the year in Japan; with the end of the war and war-related guilt.    Then there's the great exodus back home for millions of Japanese.   Obon season is what it's called in Japan, and it's  where families return to their hometowns to remember their ancestors and to spend time with loved ones.  Gravestones are visited, cleaned, and washed; rice or alcohol is often placed on  miniature altars next to a  headstone.  This is a way for Japanese to reconnect with their roots; a way for them to stay grounded and founded in the ways of tradition and cultural protocol.   

For the foreign tourist, some places will be overcrowded and expensive to reach; for Japanese, this is normal and can't be helped.   Wherever you go there will be lines and h…

Japan Board of Education: Amazing Grace...?

Japan Board of Education Textbook.
Amazing Grace
Shuken Shuppan  Polestar textbook English Communication

Preface:  Japanese / Japan is  one of the leading donors in humanitarian aid around the world.   They have donated billions of yen to charities, developing countries, and startup business to just about every country on the globe.  Some Japanese have even taken matters to the extreme  to the point of poking their noses into hotspot areas like Palestine and Isreal, things the Japanese may want to avoid.  Had Japan shared its borders with an ethnic minority with its own government, the relative peace and calm of this country would be questionable.   No other country can be like nor emulate Japan.   So, where does this spirit of charity and altruism come from exactly?   Why do the Japanese feel they need to save the whole world, while caring very little for its own people?   It's the Board of Education...?  The essay below is one such example of what Japanese kids learn in school,…