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  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Old tree stump enshrined
    Ikuta Jinja - Old tree stump enshrined

    An old tree stump within the Ikuta Jinja is herein celebrated by having its own enclosed space. Wrapped around it is a "himorogi," which is a rope with stylized paper strips hanging from it that traditionally demarcates any sort of sacred space. Large old trees are frequently honored in this regard; the presence of the himorogi will prompt some Japanese visitors to place their hands together and bow briefly before such a tree. This particular tree, however, is unique because it survived the ravages of war. See the explanation accompanying the photo of the wooden plaque pictured in cocrejpn0087.

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Prayers for college entrance
    Minatogawa Jinja - Prayers for college entrance

    The petitioner asks specifically for success in his applications to six universities, the first two spelled out nearly in full and the last four in extreme shorthand (either for lack of space or as an indication of lessened importance), that is nonetheless recognizable for any one who lives in the greater Kansai (Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto) area. The ema includes the date and the petitioner's name and address.

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Entrance to grove marking Kusunoki's death place
  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Shrine fortune telling
    Ikuta Jinja - Shrine fortune telling

    This is a "mikujior&quo box, from which one draws a paper packet in which is written a fortune. The fortune is printed on a small piece of paper and, if it is auspicious, a visitor will usually fold it into a long, thin strip and then tie it around a small branch of a tree in the shrine compound. It is as if this act also ties a bond between one's future and the deity of the temple: one wishes that the kami will help fulfill your good fortune. If the fortune does not bode well, the visitor has the option of taking another mikuji (which usually costs less -- this box says, "first fortune 200 yen," a little under $2).

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Plaque describing historical origins of the shrine
    Minatogawa Jinja - Plaque describing historical origins of the shrine

    This plaque tells of the founding of Minatogawa Shrine. It notes that the shrine was created by order of the Meiji Emperor in 1868 in honor of Kusunoki Masanari, who died here in 1336 along with fifteen of his family members, all of whom committed suicide.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Banner on main gate of Ikuta Jinja
    Ikuta Jinja - Banner on main gate of Ikuta Jinja

    This banner advertises an upcoming festival, on July 15th, that will feature the lighting of a thousand lanterns, the rope circle through which one may walk (chinuwa kuguri), and a purification rite aimed at "countering obstacles, eliminating illness and vanquishing troubles."

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Fortunes tied onto branches
    Ikuta Jinja - Fortunes tied onto branches

    Just outside the main entrance gate is a makeshift tree (constructed because the natural tree was full!) of long, thin hanging wooden dowels, on which many white paper fortune strips (mikuji) are folded.

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Cabinet of historical souvenirs for sale
    Minatogawa Jinja - Cabinet of historical souvenirs for sale

    A variety of quality items here, many related to the martial character of much of Kusunoki's life, are displayed for interested buyers (all reproductions).

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Samurai helmet
    Minatogawa Jinja - Samurai helmet

    This warrior helmet is priced at 30,000 yen (roughly $250).

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Subsidiary shrine within the compound
  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Circle of rope leading to main shrine building
    Ikuta Jinja - Circle of rope leading to main shrine building

    The explanation of this uncommon structure is not legible. All that I know is that this rope is made of miscanthus reed, which is common for tradtional thatching in Japan, and that a banner at the main gate of the shrine announces that this "miscanthus circle" is part of a festival.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Enshrined tree
    Ikuta Jinja - Enshrined tree

    Another photo of the tree that survived WWII.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - An ema with a wish
    Ikuta Jinja - An ema with a wish

    This ema, signed by a man and a woman with different last names, says, "May the two of us get along well this year." Appended to the left is also a note saying, "Please also watch over littleTaro!!"

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - An ema and a wish
    Ikuta Jinja - An ema and a wish

    This ema reads, in the center, "May I find someone I really like and keep a good relationship for a long time." To the right is also written," May I find a man."

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Circle of rope at Ikuta Jinjpn
    Ikuta Jinja - Circle of rope at Ikuta Jinjpn

    Unfortunately I do not have a photo of the plaque describing the reasons for placing this rope circle here!

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Central courtyard of Ikuta Jinjpn
    Ikuta Jinja - Central courtyard of Ikuta Jinjpn

    Between the large entrance gate and the main shrine hall is a large circle made of rope.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Instructions for worship at a shrine
    Ikuta Jinja - Instructions for worship at a shrine

    This sign instructs those (probably of younger generations) who need a reminder how to worship (from right to left): "First you bow twice with back bent to ninety degrees and head lowered. Then you clap your hands twice at chest level. Then bow one last time."

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Main shrine hall
    Minatogawa Jinja - Main shrine hall

    This is the newly constructed main hall. It was destroyed in the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, and rebuilt in reinforced concrete.

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Cast statue of Kusunoki
    Minatogawa Jinja - Cast statue of Kusunoki

    This image of Kusunoki in full warrior regalia on a horse is priced at 80,000 yen (roughly $600).

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Main shrine hall from a distance
    Minatogawa Jinja - Main shrine hall from a distance

    The two large lanterns flanking the approach are noteworthy.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Woman praying before main shrine hall
    Ikuta Jinja - Woman praying before main shrine hall

    After clapping her hands, ringing the bell and bowing up closer to the hall, in the traditional manner, this young woman backed up several steps and stood with her head bowed for many minutes while facing the shrine.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Inside the main entrance of Ikuta Jinjpn
    Ikuta Jinja - Inside the main entrance of Ikuta Jinjpn

    Just inside the first torii gate, which here is gray concrete, is this vermillion second torii. The cars parked here are likely affiliated with the shrine. If the open areas of the shrine were available for parking they would always be full in this crowded city.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - An ema with a wish
    Ikuta Jinja - An ema with a wish

    This ema reads, " School: I pray that I may easily get into school." From a young age, Japanese children take what are often very competitive tests to enter both public and private schools. In the month of May, petitioners will post such ema around exam time, whether they seek to enter a junior high, high school or college.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Main gate of Ikuta Jinja
    Ikuta Jinja - Main gate of Ikuta Jinja

    This large and famous shrine is just uphill from the main shopping area of Sannomiya in downtown Kobe. Its quiet grounds present a great contrast to the thriving cosmopolitan center just outside the gate. Many Japanese shrines preserve some of the only undeveloped land and large trees in urban areas.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - An ema with a wish
    Ikuta Jinja - An ema with a wish

    This ema reads, "May my family be happy and live joyously and brightly. May we all be happy."