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  • 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 - 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."

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Shrine
    Hasedera - Shrine

    Just behind the main plaza is this Shinto shrine dedicated to the local deity.

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Chart detailing "years of misfortune" (yakudoshi)
    Minatogawa Jinja - Chart detailing "years of misfortune" (yakudoshi)

    Near a counter that sells protective amulets (o-mamori), this chart details the various ages at which men and women are thought most susceptible to misfortune in their lives. Some explanations of the reasoning behind the system rely on the pronunciation of the digits of the age: 4 (shi) and 2 (ni) sounds "shini" or death for a forty-two year old male and so deserves special care; 3 (san) 3 (san) can be read as "multiple disasters," so that a woman of thirty-three had better watch out. Other explanations suggest a more natural understanding in Japanese culture of specific periods in life when many men or women might traditionally be under a lot of biological or social stress. For one not well-versed in the traditional system, the chart is a reminder of when it might be a good time to stock up on protective charms from the shrine or, for extra caution, even to commission a shrine priest to perform a purification ritual.

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

    This ema reads, "May Bun-chan's leg [or foot] heal quickly and may he graduate without any difficulty." Imprinted on the ema to the left is a place for the name and address of the petitioner, which is given in full. The petitioner's name is female; presumably this is a mother praying for her son.

  • Thumbnail for Grave with torii
    Grave with torii

    This old grave site has a large traditional stone and the space is nicely framed by a Shinto torii. This kind of complex shows how Buddhist and Shinto forms merge easily in Japanese sensibility.

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Side entrance
    Minatogawa Jinja - Side entrance

    The side gate is not nearly as elaborate as the main gate. A visitor who felt a need to make a sincere petition would likely enter through the larger main gate.

  • Thumbnail for Main gate of Henjoko-in at Koyasan
    Main gate of Henjoko-in at Koyasan

    This is just one of hundreds of such massive entrance gates to a temple in the town of Koyasan.

  • Thumbnail for Shrine along the path
    Shrine along the path

    This is the same structure as in cocrejpn0163.

  • Thumbnail for Views enroute to Okunoin
    Views enroute to Okunoin

    One of many old stone images in the forest.

  • Thumbnail for Famous three-in-one tree on path to Okunoin
  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Main gate
  • Thumbnail for Before Kobo Daishi's shrine
    Before Kobo Daishi's shrine

    The actual small shrine where Kobo Daishi's body was placed is behind the large mausoleum. These visitors stand between the mausoleum and the shrine while facing the shrine, which is to the right in this photo. The man in the white jacket is the guide, who tells them about the history of the shrine and instructs them how to pray, which they all subsequently do. In front of the shrine, there are always many fresh flowers donated by the faithful.

  • 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 - 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 Shrine to local Kami in Garan
    Shrine to local Kami in Garan

    This Shinto-style shrine stands in the heart of the Garan complex and reflects the importance of the traditions of worship dedicated to the "local" deity of the mountain. It appears that Kukai revered these "kami" deeply and this reverence continues via regular rituals today.

  • Thumbnail for Family and corporate gravesite
    Family and corporate gravesite

    This site appears to be dedicated to a family as well as to a corporation.

  • Thumbnail for Rocket memorial
    Rocket memorial

    This is a corporate site.

  • Thumbnail for Path from Kongobuji to the Garan complex
  • Thumbnail for Corner view of Kobo Daishi's mausoleum
  • Thumbnail for Another Jizo
  • Thumbnail for Pouring water on Jizo statue
    Pouring water on Jizo statue

    Near the end of the path to Okunoin, just prior to crossing the last bridge before going up to Kukai's mausoleum, there is a line of statues with water troughs in front of them. Vistors pour water over the statues as an act of devotion. This ritual action shares something both with the cleansing of the mouth prior to entering a Shinto shrine, where the same sort of ladle and trough is used, as well as the cleansing of ancestral gravestones that is practiced in August during the Obon season.

  • Thumbnail for Mound of Buddha images
    Mound of Buddha images

    In front of the Jizo is an offering box in which faithful can place coins to be used to maintain various features of the Okunoin area.

  • Thumbnail for Museum complex façade
    Museum complex façade

    Ranks of red banners flank the CCP insignia over the entry to the National Museum complex on the east side of tiananmen Square.

  • Thumbnail for View from Tamagawa bridge
    View from Tamagawa bridge

    Across the bridge and down the path we can see visitors gathered at the foot of the stairs to Kobo Daishi's mausoleum.