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EX-WIMPIE's Photo EX-WIMPIE Posts: 4,572
6/8/10 2:18 A

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It sounds lovely! emoticon

~ Pam
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6/8/10 1:06 A

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It would be a very beautiful pilgrimage ... must have lots of little inns to stay at and some pretty good local food also !!! Have to keep your strength up !

Shikoku is a very special island ... WW2 completely missed it ..

rioriogirl

Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.

- Louisa May Alcott, author


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EX-WIMPIE's Photo EX-WIMPIE Posts: 4,572
6/7/10 3:02 A

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Holy smokes! One should also plan on saving up 2-3 months of vacation time. I think I'll have to pass on that pilgrimage as I've been downgraded to walker/rollenator status, but it sounds amazing.
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~ Pam
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6/6/10 12:30 A

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Shikoku Island has an "88 Temple Pilgrimage" that retraces the route of Kukai, the founder of the Shingon Buddhism .... lenght of this pilgrimage is 1100km or 700 miles ..average time to complete is eight weeks ... and a excellent pair of walking shoes !!



rioriogirl

Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.

- Louisa May Alcott, author


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EX-WIMPIE's Photo EX-WIMPIE Posts: 4,572
4/22/10 2:43 A

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I know we can put 50 pics on our SparkPage, but I don't know about the maximum we can post to the team photos.

I'd love to see some photos, even just a few! Let me know if you post some on your SparkPage.
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~ Pam
OPUS1LOVER's Photo OPUS1LOVER SparkPoints: (51,561)
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4/19/10 6:22 A

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If I could figure out a decent way to post pics here could put up an album for ya, I have one on FB, but not sure how to post a big album here.

4/25 Johnston Half Marathon 1:47:03 (My first!)

6/26 Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon 1:45:57 (13.3 miles, i had to weave a lot, 1:44.45 at the 13.1 on my Garmin). A new PR!
EX-WIMPIE's Photo EX-WIMPIE Posts: 4,572
4/19/10 3:12 A

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Oh, what a wonderful trip! It sounds really fun. I've never been to Japan, so I have to travel vicariously.
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~ Pam
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4/18/10 8:10 A

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Ahhhh...now I am missing Japan!! I took my 17 year old daughter to Japan for 2 weeks last summer. We went all over, and saw many shrines and temples. Was so fun. Usually I only spend time in Tokyo so was fun!!

4/25 Johnston Half Marathon 1:47:03 (My first!)

6/26 Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon 1:45:57 (13.3 miles, i had to weave a lot, 1:44.45 at the 13.1 on my Garmin). A new PR!
EX-WIMPIE's Photo EX-WIMPIE Posts: 4,572
3/18/10 6:26 A

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TSURUGAOKA HACHIMANGU

Courtesy of japan-guide.com:

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is Kamakura's most important shrine. It was founded by Minamoto Yoriyoshi in 1063, and enlarged and moved to its current site in 1180 by Minamoto Yoritomo, the founder and first shogun of the Kamakura government.

The shrine is dedicated to Hachiman, the patron god of the Minamoto family and of the samurai in general. The deified spirits of the ancient Emperor Ojin who has been identified with Hachiman, Hime-gami and Empress Jingu are enshrined at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

The shrine is reached via a long, wide approach that leads from Kamakura's waterfront through the entire city center, with multiple torii gates along the way. The main hall (Hongu or Jogu) stands on a terrace at the top of a wide stairway. The main hall includes a small shrine museum, which displays various treasures owned by the shrine, such as swords, masks and documents.

To the left of the stairway stood until 2010 a large ginkgo tree, which predated the shrine, and was once used as a hideout in an ambush attack on a shogun. Every autumn, the tree turned beautifully golden, but it did not survive a winter storm in March 2010. At the base of the stairway stands the Maiden, a stage for dance and music performances. Other structures on the shrine grounds include the Wakamiya Shrine, a secondary shrine to the right of the stairway and various auxiliary buildings.

Flanking the main approach to the shrine are two ponds. One pond represents the Minamoto Clan and has three islands, while the other represents the Taira Clan, the Minamoto's arch rivals, and has four islands, as the number four can be pronounced the same as "death" in Japanese. A garden, known for its peonies, surrounds the Minamoto Pond halfway. It is open seasonally in spring and winter (500 yen).

Various events are held at the shrine throughout the year. During the New Year holidays, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is with over two million visitors one of the country's most popular shrines for hatsumode (the year's first visit to a shrine), and in mid April and mid September, horseback archery (yabusame) is performed along the main approach to the shrine.

SHOW ME:
Check out the Photos tab at the top of the main Everything Japanese team page! There is a photo of the temple and the ginkgo tree.

Edited by: EX-WIMPIE at: 3/18/2010 (06:27)
~ Pam
EX-WIMPIE's Photo EX-WIMPIE Posts: 4,572
1/28/10 2:58 A

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Alas... emoticon

~ Pam
NEXTYEAR's Photo NEXTYEAR Posts: 2,997
1/27/10 1:33 P

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I especially liked the dove cote. Fort Wayne is not very bird friendly. Used to be pigeons downtown, but they were eliminated. Next the city brought in hawks because too many sparrows. Sigh. Hawks are no better than I at discriminating between a sparrow, wren, red poll, and our many other common looking birds.

Shirley
EX-WIMPIE's Photo EX-WIMPIE Posts: 4,572
1/27/10 4:05 A

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emoticon

So envious...

~ Pam
RIORIOGIRL's Photo RIORIOGIRL SparkPoints: (0)
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1/26/10 11:40 P

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I stayed down the hill from this shrine and went to the shrine(antique)fairs with my friend and visited all the museums, tea garden, sumo ring and the Edo castle across the street...just walk over the bridge..and great exercise walking up to the shrine !

rioriogirl

Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.

- Louisa May Alcott, author


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EX-WIMPIE's Photo EX-WIMPIE Posts: 4,572
1/26/10 2:39 A

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That sounds like an AMAZING shrine!
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~ Pam
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1/25/10 12:16 A

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Yasukuni Shrine

Yasukuni Shrine
靖国神社

The haiden or hall of worship
Information
Type Imperial Shrine
Dedicated to those who lost their lives while serving Japan
Founded June 1869
Founder(s) Emperor Meiji
Priest(s) Takaharu Kyogoku
Address 3-1-1, Kudankita, Chiyoda
Tokyo 〒102-8246
Phone +81 (03) 3261-8326

Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社, Yasukuni Jinja?) is a Shinto shrine located in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. It is dedicated to the kami (spirits) of soldiers and others who died fighting on behalf of the Emperor of Japan.[1] Currently, its Symbolic Registry of Divinities lists the names of over 2,466,000 enshrined men and women whose lives were dedicated to the service of Imperial Japan, particularly to those killed in wartime.[2] It also houses one of the few Japanese War Museums dedicated to World War II. There are also commemorative statues to mothers and animals who sacrificed in the war.

Yasukuni is a shrine to house the actual souls of the dead as kami, or "spirits/souls" as loosely defined in English. It is believed that all negative or evil acts committed are absolved when enshrinement occurs. This activity is strictly a religious matter since the separation of State Shinto and the Japanese Government in 1945. The priesthood at the shrine has complete religious autonomy to decide to whom and how enshrinement may occur. They believe that enshrinement is permanent and irreversible. According to Shinto beliefs, by enshrining kami, Yasukuni Shrine provides a permanent residence for the spirits of those who have fought on behalf of the emperor. Yasukuni has all enshrined kami occupying the same single seat. The shrine is dedicated to give peace and rest to all those enshrined there. It was the only place to which the Emperor of Japan bowed.

The site for the Yasukuni Shrine, originally named Tōkyō Shōkonsha (東京招魂社?
) was chosen by order of the Meiji Emperor.[3] This shrine was to commemorate the soldiers of the Boshin War who fought and died to bring about the Restoration.[4] It was one of several dozen war memorial shrines built throughout Japan at that time as part of the government-directed State Shinto program. In 1879, the shrine was renamed Yasukuni Jinja. [5] It became one of State Shinto's principal shrines, as well as the primary national shrine for commemorating Japan's war dead. The name Yasukuni, a quotation from the classical-era Chinese text Zuo Zhuan, literally means "Pacifying the Nation" and was chosen by the Meiji Emperor.[6] The name is formally written as 靖國神社, using obsolete (pre-war) kyūjitai character forms.

After World War II, the US-led Occupation Authorities issued the Shinto Directive. This directive ordered the separation of church and state and effectively put an end to State Shinto. Yasukuni Shrine was forced to become either a secular government institution or a religious institution independent from the Japanese government. People decided that the shrine would become a privately funded religious institution. Since that decision in 1946, Yasukuni Shrine has continued to be privately funded and operated.[7]

Shinto rites are performed at the shrine, which, according to Shinto belief, houses the kami, or spirits, of all Japanese, former colonial subjects (Korean and Taiwanese) and civilians who died in service of the emperor while participating (forced or willing) in the nation's conflicts prior to 1951.

Annual celebrations

The Mitama Festival at Yasukuni Shrine
Yasukuni Mitama LanternsJanuary 1 - Shinnensai (New Year's Festival)

February 11 - Kenkoku Kinensai (National Foundation Day) Anniversary of the day on which Japan's first Emperor, Jinmu, is said to have founded the Japanese nation.

February 17 - Kinensai (Spring Festival for Harvest)

April 21-23 - Shunki Reitaisai (Annual Spring Festival)

April 29 - Showasai (Showa Festival) Emperor Showa's birthday

June 29 - Gosoritsu Kinenbisai (Founding Day) Commemoration of the founding of Yasukuni Jinja

July 13-16 - Mitama Matsuri - A mid summer celebration of the spirits of the ancestors. The entry walk is decorated with 40 foot high walls of 29000 or more lanterns, and thousands of visitors come to pay respects to their lost relatives and friends.

October 17-20 - Shuki Reitaisai (Annual Autumn Festival)

November 3 - Meijisai (Emperor Meiji's Birthday)

November 23 - Niinamesai (Festival of First Fruits)

December 23 - Tenno gotanshin Hoshukusai (Birthday of the Current Emperor)

The first, 11th and 21st day of each month - Tukinamisai

Every day - Asa Mikesai, Yu Mikesai, Eitai Kagurasai (perpetual Kagura festivals)[8]

Enshrined kami
There are over 2,466,000 enshrined kami currently listed in the Yasukuni's Symbolic Registry of Divinities. This list includes soldiers, as well as women and students who were involved in relief operations in the battlefield or worked in factories for the war effort.[2] Enshrinement is not exclusive to people of Japanese descent. Currently, Yasukuni Shrine has enshrined 27,863 Taiwanese and 21,181 Koreans.[9] There are numerous enshrined kami who were all people in the world, died at wars or incidents at Chinreisha.[10]

Eligible categories
As a general rule, the enshrined are limited to those who died while serving Japan during armed conflicts, so civilians who died during wars are not included, apart from a handful of exceptions. In order to be considered to be added to the list of enshrined, the dead must fall into at least one of the eligible categories:

Military personnel, and civilians employed by the military, who were:
killed in action, or died as a result of wounds or illnesses sustained while on duty outside the Home Islands (and within the Home Islands after September 1931)
missing and presumed to have died as a result of wounds or illnesses sustained while on duty
died as a result of war crime tribunals which have been ratified by the San Francisco Peace Treaty
Civilians who participated in combat under the military and died from resulting wounds or illnesses (includes residents of Okinawa)
Civilians who died, or are presumed to have died, in Soviet labor camps after the war
Civilians who were officially mobilized or volunteered (such as factory workers, mobilized students, Japanese Red Cross nurses and anti air-raid volunteers) who were killed while on duty
Crew who were killed aboard Merchant Navy vessels
Crew who were killed due to the sinking of exchange ships (i.e. Awa Maru)
Okinawan schoolchildren evacuees who were killed (i.e. the sinking of Tsushima Maru)
Officials of the governing bodies of Karafuto Prefecture, Kwantung Leased Territory, Governor-General of Korea and Governor-General of Taiwan
Although new names of World War II-dead are added to the shrine every year, no deaths due to conflicts occurring since Japan signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951 have qualified for enshrinement. Therefore, the shrine does not include members of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces who have died on duty in subsequent conflicts.

Enshrinement is carried out unilaterally by the shrine. Some families from foreign countries such as South Korea have requested that their relatives be delisted on the grounds that enshrining someone against their beliefs in life constitutes an infringement of the Constitution.[11] The Yasukuni priesthood, however, has stated that once a kami is enshrined, it has been 'merged' with the other kami occupying the same seat and therefore cannot be separated

There are a multitude of facilities within the 6.25 hectare grounds of the shrine, as well as several structures along the 4 hectare causeway. Though other shrines in Japan also occupy large areas, Yasukuni is different because of its recent historical connections. The Yūshūkan museum is just the feature that differentiate Yasukuni from other Shinto shrines. The following lists describe many of these facilities and structures.

Shrine structures
On the shrine grounds, there are several important religious structures. The shrine's haiden, Yasukuni's main prayer hall where worshipers come to pray, was originally built in 1901 in order to allow patrons to pay their respects and make offerings. This building's roof was renovated in 1989. The white screens hanging off the ceiling are changed to purple ones on ceremonial occasions.[17]

The honden is the main shrine where Yasukuni's enshrined kami reside. Built in 1872 and refurbished in 1989, it is where the shrine's priests perform Shinto rituals. The building is generally closed to the public.[18]

The building located directly behind the honden to the east is known as the Reijibo Hōanden (霊璽簿奉安&
#27583;?). It houses the Symbolic Registry of Divinities (霊璽簿, Reijibo?)—a handmade Japanese paper document that lists the names of all the kami enshrined and worshiped at Yasukuni Shrine. It was built of quakeproof concrete in 1972 with a private donation from Emperor Hirohito.[19]

In addition to Yasukuni's main shrine buildings, there are also two peripheral shrines located on the precinct. Motomiya (元宮?) is a small shrine that was first established in Kyoto by sympathizers of the imperial loyalists that were killed during the early weeks of the civil war that erupted during the Meiji Restoration. Seventy years later, in 1931, it was moved directly south of Yasukuni Shrine's honden. Its name, Motomiya ("Original Shrine"), references the fact that it was essentially a prototype for the current Yasukuni Shrine.[20] The second peripheral shrine is the Chinreisha. This small shrine was constructed in 1965, directly south of the Motomiya. It is dedicated to those not enshrined in the honden—those killed by wars or incidents worldwide, regardless of nationality. It has a festival on July 13.[21]

There is a temizuya; main purification font. The temizuya is called as Ōtemizusha (大手水舎?). Ōtemizusha was established in 1940.[22]


Daiichi Torii (Great Gate)
Chumon Torii: Torii and gates
There are several different torii and gates located on both the causeway and shrine grounds. When moving through the grounds from east to west, the first torii visitors encounter is the Daiichi Torii. This large steel structure was the largest torii in Japan when it was first erected in 1921 to mark the main entrance to the shrine.[23] It stands approximately 25 meters tall and 34 meters wide and is the first torii. The current iteration of this torii was erected in 1974 after the original was removed in 1943 due to weather damage.[24]

The Daini Torii is the second torii encountered on the westward walk to the shrine. It was erected in 1887 to replace a wooden one which had been erected earlier.[23] This is the largest bronze torii in Japan.[25] Immediately following the Daini Torii is the shinmon. A 6-meter tall hinoki cypress gate, it was first built in 1934 and restored in 1994. Each of its two doors bears a Chrysanthemum Crest measuring 1.5 meters in diameter.[26] West of this gate is the Chumon Torii, the last torii visitors must pass underneath before reaching Yasukuni's haiden. It was recently rebuilt of cypress harvested in Saitama Prefecture in 2006.[27]

In addition to the three torii and one gate that lead to the main shrine complex, there are a few others that mark other entrances to the shrine grounds. The Ishi Torii is a large stone torii located on the south end of the main causeway. It was erected in 1932 and marks the entrance to the parking lots.[28] The Kitamon and Minamimon are two areas that mark the north and south entrances, respectively, into the Yasukuni Shrine complex. The Minamimon is marked by a small wooden gateway.

Memorials
Statue of War Widow: This statue honors all mothers who were forced to raise children in the absence of their husbands who were killed in war. It was donated to the shrine in 1974 by these mothers' children.[29]

Statue of Kamikaze Pilot: A bronze statue representing a kamikaze pilot stands to the left of the Yūshūkan's entrance. A small plaque to the left of the statue donated by the Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association in 2005 details the 5,843 men who died while executing attacks for the Tokkōtai.[30]

Statues of Dog, Horse & Carrier Pigeon: These three life-sized bronze statues were all donated at different times during the second half of the 20th century. The first of the three that was donated, the horse statue was placed at Yasukuni Shrine in 1958 to honor the memory of the horses that served in the Japanese military. Presented in 1982, this statue depicting a pigeon atop a globe honors homing pigeons used by the military. The last statue, donated in March 1992, depicts a German shepherd and honors the soldiers' canine comrades.[31] Opened, full bottles of water are often left at these statues.

Statue of Ōmura Masujirō: Created by Okuma Ujihiro in 1893, this statue is Japan's first Western-style bronze statue. It honors Ōmura Masujirō, a man who is known as the "Father of the Modern Japanese Army."[32]

Irei no Izumi: This modern looking monument is a spring dedicated to those who suffered from or died of thirst in battle.[33]

Monument of Justice Radha Binod Pal: This recent monument was erected at Yasukuni Shrine in 2005. It honors Indian judge Radha Binod Pal, the lone justice on the International Military Tribunal for the Far East's trials of Japanese war crimes committed during World War II to find all the defendants not guilty.[34] On April 29, 2005, New Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said to Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro "The dissenting judgement of Justice Radha Binod Pal is well-known to the Japanese people and will always symbolize the affection and regard our people have for your country." [35]

Yūshūkan: Originally built in 1882, this museum is located to the north of the main hall. Its name is taken from a saying -- "a virtuous man always selects to associate with virtuous people."[36] The museum houses many war relics, including a Zero Fighter plane and Kaiten suicide torpedo. It glorifies sacrifice and bravery, and like most war museums makes little mention of human suffering on both sides. The former prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, has had to clarify in the Diet that Yūshūkan's interpretation of history differs to that of the government due to its nationalistic interpretations of the war.

Dove Cote: Almost 300 white doves live and are bred in a special dove cote located on the grounds of Yasukuni Shrine.[37]

Shinchi Teien: This Japanese style strolling garden was created in the early Meiji Era. Its centerpiece is a small waterfall located in a serene pond. It was refurbished in 1999.[38]

Sumo Ring: In 1869, a sumo wrestling exhibition was held at Yasukuni Shrine in order to celebrate the shrine's establishment.[39] Since then, exhibitions involving many professional sumo wrestlers, including several grand champions (yokozuna) take place at the Spring Festival almost every year. The matches are free of charge.

Nōgaku-den: Noh plays were first presented on the Shrine premises in 1878. The support of Empress Dowager Eishō and Empress Consort Haruko (now known as (Empress Shōken) ensured a permanent home for Noh at Yasukuni.

I have visited many times

rioriogirl

Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.

- Louisa May Alcott, author


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EX-WIMPIE's Photo EX-WIMPIE Posts: 4,572
1/8/10 3:48 A

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TODAIJI (GREAT EASTERN TEMPLE)

Todaiji ("Great Eastern Temple") is one of Japan's most famous and historically significant temples and a landmark of Nara.

Todaiji was constructed in 752 as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan and grew so powerful that the capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka in 784 in order to lower the temple's influence on government affairs.

Not only is Todaiji housing Japan's largest bronze Buddha statue (Daibutsu), but it is also the world's largest wooden building, even though the present reconstruction of 1692 is only two thirds of the original temple's size.

A popular attraction of Todaiji is a pillar inside the temple which has a hole in its base the same size as the Daibutsu's nostril. It is said that those who can squeeze through this opening will be granted enlightenment in their next reincarnation.

Along the approach to Todaiji stands Nandaimon gate, a huge wooden gate watched over by two fierce looking statues. Representing the Nio Guardian Kings, the statues are designated national treasures together with Nandaimon gate.

Todaiji's grounds cover most of northern Nara Park and include a number of smaller buildings in the hills to the east of the main hall. These include Hokkedo (also known as Sangatsudo) and Nigatsudo. The Nigatsudo hall offers nice views of the city from its balcony, and is the site of the spectacular Omizutori Festival, that is held annually March 1 through 14.

SHOW ME!
Check out the Photos tab at the top of the main Everything Japanese team page! There are photos of the temple and of the buddha (Daibutsu).

~ Pam
EX-WIMPIE's Photo EX-WIMPIE Posts: 4,572
1/7/10 2:21 A

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GINKAKUJI TEMPLE (SILVER PAVILION)

- Wabi sabi elegance.
- Located in northeast Kyoto.
- A World Heritage Site.
- Not covered in silver leaf.
- A must see.
- Also known as Jishoji.
- Rinzai Zen temple.

Restraint, elegance, wabi sabi. Ginkakuji is perhaps the pinnacle of Japanese artistic expression. Best known for its stone gardens (built to reflect the moon) and simple buildings, the fifteenth century temple was originally a villa for the artistic Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, a poor ruler in a time of conflict and instability but a great patron of the arts.

Located at the end/beginning of the Philosopher's Walk, Ginkakuji is discussed in detail in Donald Keenefs book, Yoshimasa and the Silver Pavilion: The Creation of the Soul in Japan.

It was scheduled to be painted silver, but because of the disruptions of the Onin War this part of construction never took place. In the upper floor of the temple is gilded figure of Kannon (the goddess of Mercy).

The Togu-do houses a tiny 4-and a half mat tatami room known as the Dojin-sai and designed by Murata Shuko (1423-1503). The simple but classic design served as a model for many future tearooms and is said to be the oldest in Japan. The room contains a sunken hearth and tokonoma alcove. The Main Hall or Butsuden (Hall of the Buddha) contains an image of Sakyamuni but is closed to visitors.

The stone gardens are thought to have been designed by master gardener Soami (1455-1525).

Today Ginkakuji ranks with Kiyomizu Dera and Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) as one of the most visited sites in Kyoto.

SHOW ME! emoticon
Check out the Photos tab at the top of the main Everything Japanese team page!

TELL ME! emoticon
Wondering what "wabi sabi" elegance is? I was too.

"Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered--and it reveres authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent. Wabi-sabi is underplayed and modest, the kind of quiet, undeclared beauty that waits patiently to be discovered."

Edited by: EX-WIMPIE at: 1/7/2010 (02:27)
~ Pam
EX-WIMPIE's Photo EX-WIMPIE Posts: 4,572
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SHIMOGAMO SHRINE

- One of the oldest shrines in Japan.
- Located in north central Kyoto.
- A World Heritage Site.
- Setting for Aoi Festival.
- Dedicated to Kamo Wake-ikazuchi, the God of thunder.

Shimogamo Shrine dates from the 17th century. The site of the shrine occupies a narrow strip of wooded green north of Keihan Demachiyanagi Station in north central Kyoto.

Kyoto's famous Aoi Matsuri festival originates at Shimogamo Shrine. Aoi Matsuri, a period costume procession, takes place each year on May 15, moving from Shimogamo Shrine to its sister shrine Kamigamo Shrine a few kilometers directly to the north.

The Shimogamo shrine grounds consist of some fine, brightly colored, vermillion, wooden buildings and are a peaceful place to stroll throughout the day or night.

Shimogamo Shrine was built within the Tadasu no Mori,"the forest of truth." This is one of only a handful of primeval forests remaining in Kyoto. According to legend, lies will be found out in this forest.

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Check out the Photos tab at the top of the main Everything Japanese team page!

~ Pam
NEXTYEAR's Photo NEXTYEAR Posts: 2,997
12/6/09 9:27 A

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No kidding! They got Sparked in Japan hundreds of years ago. emoticon

Shirley
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12/5/09 9:59 P

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After climbing the 1100 steps, I'd just be lying on the ground, wheezing and gasping!
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Yamadera - The Mountain Temple, in Yagamata

Commonly known as Yamadera, Houjusan-Risshakuji situated north east of Yamagata city in Yamagata prefecture is not a well recognized tourist venue outside of Japan, and indeed the majority of Japanese may have not heard of it either. However, just about any guide book which covers Touhoku in depth will tell you that Yamadera is one of Touhoku's holiest places, and a must see for tourists. The temple precincts stretch high up into the mountains overlooking the town of Yamadera below, and several of the buildings sit right on top of the cliff faces.

The story goes that in 860 AD, a priest of the Tendai sect based at Enryakuji on Mt. Hiei in Kyoto, Jikaku Daishi Ennin, who founded many of the important temples of Touhoku, made his way into what would become Yamadera. There, along the banks of the river atop a large rock he encountered Banji Bansaburou, the lord of the area. Daishi, who was impressed by the splendid natural beauty of the scenery, expressed his desire to develop the region as a Buddhist site, and requested an end to the killing of animals there. Although a hunter, Banji was more than co-operative with Daishi, and quickly agreed. It is said that the wild creatures of the area were so delighted with Banji's decision to cease hunting that they danced for him. This legend is carried on in Yamadera's Banji-Matsuri (festival), held on the morning of the 7th of August. Incidentally the large rock upon which the two men met became known as the Taimen-seki, or "Meeting rock", and sits at the bottom of Risshakuji.

When entering the temple complex at the foot of the mountain, the first building one sees is Konpon-Chudo, Risshakuji's main temple, which has been designated a national treasure. Rebuilt in 1356 by the first lord of Yamagata Castle, Shiba Kaneyori, it is said to be the oldest structure in Japan made of beech. Inside, a statue of Yakushi Nyorai supposedly made by Daishi is enshrined there. Also, when the temple was first established, the religious fires from Enryakuji in Kyoto, which had originally been brought from China, were transferred to Konpon-Chudo, where they are said to have now burned for more than 1100 years without dying out once. Later, when the warlord Oda Nobunaga had Enryakuji razed to the ground in 1571, the religious fires there went out, but after Enryakuji had been rebuilt, the fires were restored by reciprocally using those from Risshakuji.

Alongside the path to the left of Konpon-Chudo, there are various monuments to some of Yamadera's famous visitors, including Matsuo Basho the Haiku poet, the Taisho emperor, as well as the Seiwa Emperor, by whose decree Jikaku Daishi came to establish the temple at Yamadera. The Hihou-kan also contains some precious artifacts. Pass by the Shourou (bell tower) and you come to San-mon gate, which marks the start of the stone steps leading up the mountain. Soon you find yourself surrounded by ancient cedar trees, soaring upwards around you. After a short climb, you will come across the Uba-do. Here you can purify yourself with water, as the area above this point is said to be paradise (below is hell). From here the climb gets a little steeper, and you can see the Hyakujou-iwa precipice looming above. The Nokyo-do, Kaisan-do, and Godai-do structures are nestled on top of this rock face, but still out of sight. Continue up the path and you will pass through Yonsun-michi, so named because it is only about 4 sun wide (about 12 centimetres) at one point.

A short distance past Yonsun-michi, you arrive at Semi-zuka which marks the site where a scroll on which Matsuo Basho wrote his famous Haiku poem was buried. The Haiku Shizukesa ya, iwa ni shimi iru, semi no koe which translates roughly as "In this serenity, the voices of cicadas penetrate the rocks", became part of Basho's collection entitled Oku no hosomichi ("On the narrow road to the deep north") which he wrote while travelling around Touhoku, and helped make Yamadera famous.

Continue on, and you soon come across a vertical stone wall, which has been carved both by human hand and years of wind and rain. This is Mida-hora, and it is said that good fortune will come for those who can make out the figure of Buddha which nature has inscribed in the wall. Turning to your left, you can see the beautiful Nio-mon gate between the cedar trees. The two Deva king statues situated within will prevent those with wicked souls from passing by. In Spring and Summer, the flowers blooming in front of the gate make it the most picturesque building in the precincts.

After passing through Nio-mon, the path forks out in two. You can either continue on directly to the Oku-no-in, or you can take the branch to visit Nokyo-do, Kaisan-do, and Godai-do. These three structures are situated atop the Hyakujou-iwa, as mentioned earlier. Kaisan-do is the biggest, and was most recently reconstructed towards the end of the Edo period (1600-1868). Every morning and night priests offer food and incense to Jikaku Daishi's statue which is enshrined there. The tiny building on the left is Nokyo-do, where sutras are stored. It is the oldest structure at Yamadera, and was taken to pieces, then reassembled in 1988. Looking up to your right, the Godai-do protrudes off the face of the cliff. Jikaku Daishi is reputed to have prayed for tranquility on earth from within, where the five great Myo-o deities are enshrined. Also, the views from the Godai-do are the best to be had at Yamadera.

Eventually after you have climbed the 1100 steps, you will find yourself at the Oku-no-in. (Well done!) Standing in front of the building is one of Japan's 3 largest bells. Within, a beautiful golden Buddha is enshrined.

One last curiosity before you begin your descent, look out for signs pointing towards the Sanju-no-tou (Three storied pagoda), another Yamadera structure designated as a cultural treasure. Take care though, you'll find it only where you least expect to: It's actually a mini tower, located in a tiny cave in the rock.
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Shirley
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11/29/09 3:10 A

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DAIGOJI TEMPLE - Kyoto

- Founded by Shobo in 874.
- Located in southeast Kyoto.
- A World Heritage Site.
- Sanboin Garden.
- Shingon sect.

HISTORY
Founded in 874 by the Buddhist monk Shobo, Daigoji Temple began its existence as a hermitage on the top of the Kamidaigo mountain. It is there that Shobo discovered a well that contained “spiritual water.” Thanks to the financial and spiritual support of various emperors, the temple grew. Yakushi Hall was constructed in 907, Sakyamuni Hall was built in 926, and a five-story pagoda was completed in 951.

Daigoji is the main temple of Shingon school, Ono sect, of Japanese Buddhism. It has also played an important role in more temporal things as well. Minamoto Toshifusa, a direct descendant of one of the heads of Daigoji, seized power from the Fujiwara family during the late Heian period. This guaranteed prosperity for the temple.

Fire, however, during the Onin War destroyed everything in the complex except for the pagoda.

WHAT TO SEE
Today it is a World Heritage Site, primarily because of the treasures within. Sanboin, for example, is an Imperial temple. Its Karamon gate is opened only when Imperial messengers visited. Within this is the Sanboin Garden, which is a National Treasure. Next is the Gojonoto, or five-story pagoda, which was completed in 951. Third, the impressive Niomon Gate was, following a fire, rebuilt in 1605.

Finally is the Reihokan Hall, which contains 10 national treasures, and 50 Important Cultural Properties.

SHOW ME!
Check out the Photos tab at the top of the main Everything Japanese team page! It shows the 5-story pagoda built in 951.


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KAMIGAMO SHRINE (KAMIGAMO JINJA) - Kyoto

- One of the oldest shrines in Japan.
- Located in north central Kyoto.
- A World Heritage Site.
- Setting for Aoi Festival.
- Dedicated to Kamo Wake-ikazuchi, the God of thunder.

Kamigamo Jinja lies up against the northern hills, in a quiet residential area of Kyoto, and is therefore often less-crowded than shrines in the city centre, though no less impressive.

The shrine is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, and most of the shrine buildings are classified as Important Cultural Properties.

HISTORY
Established in the 7th Century, a hundred years before Kyoto was founded, it is nevertheless about one hundred years younger than its sister shrine, Shimogamo Jinja.

Both shrines being built by the powerful Kamo family who ruled over this area of mainly immigrants from the Korean Peninsula.

When the Imperial capital moved to Heiankyo (present day Kyoto) the Kamo shrines enjoyed imperial patronage and support that has continued to the present.

The present building was constructed in 1863 by the Emperor Komei, retaining its classic Heian design. As an excellent example of a nagare-style shrine structure, it has been designated as a National Treasure. Gon-den is an exact replica of the main shrine building and serves as a kind of reserve or emergency shrine, to house the deity in the event that main shrine building is destroyed or damaged. The other 34 buildings on the shrine grounds, Iast restored in 1628, have all been designated as Important Cultural Propereties.

WHAT TO SEE
One approaches the shrine across a large open space that is lawn, rather than the more usual gravel, and this gives it the feel of a park.

The most unusual thing about the shrine is the 2 large sand cones that flank the entrance to the main shrine building. Known as Tatesuna, opinion differs as to their original meaning, but the most commonly accepted is that they represent the sacred mountain just to the north of the shrine. The cones of sand are said to have purification powers. Small cones of salt outside restaurant entrances are said to derive from the Tatesuna.

MAIN FESTIVALS OF THE SHRINE
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Kurabe-uma-e-Jinji "The Ritual of the Racehorses"
May 5

The horse race (in Japan) is said to originate from this shrine. This ritual became popular during the reign of Empror Horikawa in the 11th century and has continued until today. It is designated by the City of Kyoto as an "Intangible Cultural Property."
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Kamo-sai (Aoi-matsuri) "Hollyhock Festival"
May 15

The Kamo-sai is one of the three biggest imperial festivals in Japan and the most important festival in the shrine. Since aoi (hollyhocks) are offered at the festival, and all the shrine buildings and attendants are decorated with hollyhocks, the event is also known as the Aoi Matsuri. According to the chronicle Kamo Engi (History of Kamigamo-jinja), the festivals originated at the time of the Emperor Kinmei (539-571), when the country was suffering a spell of disastrous weather. Even today, the Emperor sends a messenger who worships on his behalf. The procession of this festival, which is 800 meters long and in which, 500 people participate to start at the palace of Kyoto, is like elegant scroll painting.
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Nagoshi-no-harae "The Summer Purification Ritual"
June 30

In this ritual held for the safety of one's household and life, one passes through a grass ring called "Chi-no-wa" ,and throws human effigies made of paper (hito-gata) into the river both to rid oneself of impurities and restore purity. This celebrated ritual is mentioned in the Tanka poem called "Nara-no-ogawa",found in a collection of poems .from the Kamakura period (1192-1333) called "Hyaku-nin Isshu". (The cards of one hundred famous poems)
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Karasu-zumo "Crow Sumo (wresling celemony)"
September 9

In this very unusual ritual, shrine officials imitate the voice of crows and their manner of jumping to the side, then young boys perfom sumo for the entertainment of the Kami. It has been designated by the city of Kyoto as an "Intangible Cultural Property".

SHOW ME!
Check out the Photos tab at the top of the main Everything Japanese team page! I've added a photo of the Kamigamo Shrine, showing the two cones.

Edited by: EX-WIMPIE at: 11/22/2009 (02:08)
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BYODOIN TEMPLE - Kyoto

- Founded in 1052.
- Located outside of Kyoto in nearby Uji.
- A World Heritage Site.
- Full of national treasures and cultural properties.
- A must see.

Featured on the Japanese ten yen coin, this exquisite temple is actually in the city of Uji next east from Kyoto city.

HISTORY
Built in 998 AD during the Heian period, Byodoin was originally a private residence (like most Japanese temples). In 1052 it was converted into a temple by a member of the Fujiwara clan, the Regent Fujiwara Yorimichi (a 'regent' being one who governed in the name of the Emperor). The Phoenix Hall was added in 1053 to house the Amida Buddha image.

The temple complex was once much larger; most of the additional buildings burned down during the civil war in 1336. Originally, the pond's beach stretched up to the Uji River, with mountains on the opposite side of the river as a background. The entire scenic area encompassing the temple was a representation of the Western Paradise (or Pure Land) on earth.

Today, the Phoenix Hall is virtually all that remains and Byodoin is one of the few examples of Heian temple architecture left in Japan. Japan has commemorated the longevity and cultural significance of Byodoin by displaying its image on the 10 yen coin. The Phoenix Hall, the great statue of Amida inside it, and several other items at Byodoin are Japanese National Treasures.

WHAT TO SEE
The most famous building in the temple is the Phoenix Hall (Ho-oh-Do/Hoohdo) or Amida Hall, built with the sole purpose of housing the Amida Buddha image. It has three wings, creating an image of the mythical bird of China, the phoenix. The central hall is flanked by twin wing corridors on both sides, plus a "tail" corridor. The roof of the hall is surmounted by bronze phoenixes.

The central hall houses a revered statue of Amida Buddha, who is accompanied by 52 wooden statues of bodhisattvas placing musical instruments and dancing on clouds. Seated at the western edge of a pond, the golden Amida statue catches the first rays of the rising sun. These are the sole remaining Buddhist statues from the 11th century.

On the grounds is Byodoin's temple bell, one of the most famous bells in Japan. A National Treasure, it bears no inscriptions but has reliefs of maidens and lions; it is thought to display Korean influences. The grounds also contain a monument to Minamoto Yorimasa, who took his own life here after being defeated by the rival Taira clan.

Finally, Byodoin boasts the most beautiful of Japan's few remaining Pure Land Gardens, a garden type which was popular during the Heian Period. It was unearthed in 1997 as part of an archeological dig.

SHOW ME!
Check out the Photos tab at the top of the main Everything Japanese team page! I've added a photo of the Byodoin Temple. Pretty...
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Edited by: EX-WIMPIE at: 11/19/2009 (00:30)
~ Pam
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I'll start with:
JAPANESE TEMPLES AND SHRINES - KNOW THE DIFFERENCE (Courtesy of Jillian Michelle Williams, BellaOnline's Japanese Culture Editor)

Temples and shrines. Which one is which, and how do you know when to use either word? It’s really not that hard to tell the difference between the two different places of worship. The biggest difference between Japanese shrines and temples is that shrines are Shinto, and temples are Buddhist.

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SHINTO SHRINES
Shrines are where the kami, or Shinto gods, live. Unlike Buddhist temples, their entrance is marked by one or more torii gates, which are commonly made of wood that has been painted orange and black. A pair of guardian dogs or lions, called Komainu, often sit on each side of the entrance as well. Before entering the main hall, visitors rinse their hands and mouths with water from a purification fountain, located out front. Once inside, they can pay their respect to the kami through prayer. Inside the innermost chamber of the main hall lies a sacred object, which represents the kami, but visitors do not pray in its presence. Because the sacred object of worship cannot be seen by anyone, a separate hall, called the offering hall, is reserved for visitors to pray, make offerings, or to ask for good fortune.

Depending on what type of fortune the visitor is seeking, there are many different types of shrines in Japan that are dedicated to a specific kami. Tenjin shrines are popular among students studying for entrance exams, for they are dedicated to the kami of Sugawara Michizane, who was a scholar and politician during the Heian Period. There are also numerous Hachiman shrines, dedicated to the kami of war, Hachiman, and Inari shrines, dedicated to the kami of rice.

Shrines are also a popular destination during certain holidays, festivals, or other special times of the year such as New Year’s, weddings, and even the birth of new babies. Because death is considered impure in Shinto, funerals and cemeteries are not located at shrines, but they can easily be found at temples, for Buddhism has no problem dealing with death.

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BUDDHIST TEMPLES
Temples are a part of the Buddhist faith, which follows the teachings of the Buddha, Gautama Siddhartha. Initially, there were many complications between Shinto and Buddhism, but eventually, the two religions were able to exist together harmoniously. Many followers of Buddhism even view the Shinto kami as manifestations of Buddhas. Most Japanese follow both Buddhism and Shinto, regularly visiting both temples and shrines.

Like shrines, temple entrances are marked by gates, but they are nothing like the torii gates that clearly indicate the presence of a Shinto shrine. Temples also do not have a purification fountain, as shrines do, but they do, often, have a large incense burner located out front. Visitors purchase their own incense bundles, which they light and place in the burner. By waving their hand in front of the incense, the flame is extinguished, and a trail of smoke is created, which is said to have healing properties. For this reason, visitors fan the smoke towards themselves before entering the temple.

Inside the temple, a sacred object of worship is located inside the main hall. The most widely recognized temple structure, however, is probably the pagoda, which is usually three or five-stories tall and contains the remains of the Buddha, though usually in the form of a representation.

Temples are especially popular during Obon, an annual Buddhist event which commemorates one’s ancestors and is based on the belief that ancestral spirits will return to the living world for a week in order to visit their relatives.


Edited by: EX-WIMPIE at: 11/17/2009 (03:07)
~ Pam
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Let's take a tour of Japanese shrines and temples! Personal experience and stories are great if you have them, otherwise let's get information from books and the Internet.

Things to include if possible:
(1) Name of shrine or temple - and whether shrine or temple
(2) Location of shrine/temple
(3) Description of shrine/temple, including any interesting features
(4) Age and History of shrine/temple, including any stories or legends
(5) Historical context of shrine/temple, if any
(6) Any personal stories or anecdotes


~ Pam
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