The raging Covid-19 pandemic has lessened its hold, and people returned to visiting the Kanayama Megaliths while wearing masks. The tour was led by researcher-guide Shiho Tokuda. The photos you see here were kindly provided by Chika-san.
The Kanayama Megaliths Guidebook shows this diagram on page 52 which exactly matches the photo. Note that the spotlight will move to the right (eastward) over the course of the day.
As the equinox sun set in the west, between stones E and F of Iwaya-Iwakage, Chika caught this iconic scene.
We hope that you have enjoyed these scenes of autumn equinox at the Kanayama Megaliths. Note from the diagram that the next astronomical event will be observed on October 23 at Iwaya-Iwakage. We hope to see you there!
Summer, by the Kanayama Megaliths solar calendar, comes to a close on 8/20 each year. This date forecasts the autumnal equinox around 30 days later. August 20 also marks the start of the 60-day autumn season which will end on 10/23.
Last year, 2020, we posted this long report with photos by Chika. This year, although the regulars were there, it rained all day and no sunlight phenomena could be seen. They said that they nevertheless had a great time together!
Here are some photos from the Guidebook, regarding observations that would have been seen at Iwaya-Iwakage and at Senkoku-ishi.
Guidebook, pages 31 for Senkoku-ishi (left) and 40 for Iwaya-Iwakage (right).
Let’s look forward to seeing the fall equinox observations!
The dashed spotlight returns to Senkaku-Ishi for several days around 30 days after the summer solstice. This year, those days were 17 through 22 July, 2021. These photos are contributed by Shiho Tokuda and Chika. The photo above shows where the spotlight enters the upper grotto.
The dashed line varies slightly from day to day. Photos taken by Chika can be compared on two consecutive days, 7/18 and 7/19, at the same clock time of 13:04.
When the beam of sunlight reaches the bottom of the triangular piece, it splashes on the floor of the grotto. The familiar oval shape was seen at 13:13 on 7/18.
The view from the outside is shown in the following photo by Shiho Tokuda.
This solar event marks the end of the middle 60 days of summer. It is reported on the Hida Kanayama blog by Shiho Tokuda here. She concludes:
The observation of the dashed light, which signals the 30th day after the summer solstice, has withstood earthquakes for thousands of years and has continued to function as a calendar. I think this is due to three-dimensionally creating a method that can be observed in the field, rather than constructing it according to a blueprint.
However, I feel the strength of the technology lies in incorporating small and highly accurate functions in this huge stonework, such as the triangular stone surface. The Jomon people have taught us that, despite the technical mysteries of dealing with megaliths, the solar-powered calendar cycle can be read by any human being.
It is not a given calendar, but a universal calendar that you yourself can grasp. Even now we can experience it and share it.
June 21, 2021 solstice sun rising. Photos by Chika.
People are beginning to visit Kanayama Megaliths again. Many arrived for the summer solstice tour of the Senkaku group. At first they were disappointed because it was cloudy in the morning. However, the rising sun did make an appearance between Stones B and C.
The sunlight was bright enough to cast a dark shadow of Stone C onto the surface of Stone A, lighting up the grotto beneath.
Viewing Stone C by facing east, Chika took this photo of the sun peeking over the midpoint.
Inside the chamber formed by Stones A and A’, the oval spotlight appeared. Notice how the sunbeam hits a surface in three places in this photo: at the top, on the rim of the stone board near the yellow arrow, and then it splashes on the ground. As it travels across the floor, it will form an oval like that carved outside Stone A’.
Chika shows us where the beam of sunlight enters the chamber, at the opening between Stones A and A’. Here are three views of that opening, depending on where one looks. While there is ample space between the two stones, sometimes one sees only a very narrow gap.
According to the Kanayama solar calendar, the late summer season has begun. It will last until 8/20. These summer phenomena are illustrated in the Kanayama Megaliths Guidebook, pp 28-37.
There are several sakura cherry trees blossoming on the side of the road of the megaliths in the photo shown above. You can also see sakura in front of Iwaya Dam, south of the tennis court. And there have been cherry blossoms for several days now on the lakeshore of nearby Hassaka. After they finish blooming, it will be time for a fresh green season.
The bats are approaching the preparatory period for childbirth and parenting. At the Research Center in town, parent swallows have come to look for a nesting site today. Swallows follow the sun cycle more than the calendar we use.
As we investigate the ancient sun path of the megaliths of Seki City, we can see that the people of the Jomon period lived as a part of nature. The strange megaliths have been left unattended in the mountains for thousands of years. They are an extension of our survey of the giant stones in Nakatsugawa City.
It has snowed a lot in Japan in recent days. Kazuo Sugisaka sent us two of his photos taken just a few days ago. The photo above looks as if taken in black and white, since usually our Iwaya-Iwakage photos show green grass and trees. Kazuo has even captured the falling snowflakes.
Below is a shot of the road where we usually park. The stream flows on the right of this scene. On the left side is the building which simulates the light entering the Iwaya-Iwakage at different times of the year. Somewhat to the front of it is the pyramidal snow-covered shape of northstar-watching Stone J. We are looking toward Higashinoyama, Eastern Mountain.
As the stones have predicted in the previous post — that winter solstice would arrive in sixty days — the solstice occurred on 21 December this year.
We are fortunate that, even in the midst of a pandemic, Chika went out to three sites to photograph and report on winter solstice in Central Japan.
21 December 2020
Here are two scenes from the Asadori shrine’s ancient winter solstice sunrise matsuri on 21 December 2020. The bonfire greeting the rising sun is shown below. Above is the priest conducting the ceremony. Although the matsuri is conducted by a Shinto priest, villagers believe that the event is so ancient that it may have originated as a folk custom long before there were any Shinto priests.
22 December 2020
The setting solstice sun is seen between the two halves of the B-B’ megalith at Kanayama Megaliths, Senkoku-Ishi site. The time is around 4pm.
23 December 2020
Higashinoyama is the mountain site for observing the morning winter solstice sun as it clears the surrounding terrain. It was not possible to take a decent photo until 8:59 am. It certainly was worth the climb, wasn’t it?
Thank you, Chika, for letting us see your photos!
P.S. There is a related winter solstice post on Okunomichi, here.
October 23 is the standard date of the “Sixty Days Before the Winter Solstice Observation.” This year, it was rainy on 10/23. The next day, 10/24, a group of four led by Shiho Tokuda hiked up Higashinoyama to the winter solstice stones R and S. The photos in this post are compliments of Chika.
Good observations were made on 10/24 and 10/25 at Senkoku-ishi and Iwaya-Iwakage. Since we have reported on the Iwaya October observations in previous years, we are showing only the Senkoku setting sun between stones B and B.’
The Kanayama Megaliths Research Team made a field trip to Sengeyama in the Nakatsugawa area on September 27, 2020. The purpose was to observe and record the autumn equinox sunset for the first time. It was reported by Shiho Tokuda on their blog. The following are edited excerpts from the post.
“This Mt. Senge is a low mountain just north of Maruyama Shrine in the Naegi district, and the stones are rugged even from a distance. The survey of megaliths on this mountain began in March last year, and in April of this year, the survey was carried out during the period of about a month.
“There are multiple megalith assemblies at Sengeyama. This is the layout of the giant stones. We observed the autumn equinox sunset at the megalith located in the westernmost part on the left end (colored ochre).
“The sunset photo was taken by Kazuo Sugisaka from the east side, facing west. There is a slit between two giant stones, height 5.5m. Depth of slit (thickness of megalith, distance from west side to east side) 2.4m. Although it is a small gap, it is not a straight slit in the vertical direction, so the gap cannot be seen in a straight line from top to bottom. However, the direction indicated by this slight gap is the true west direction. Light should pass through at sunset time at the autumnal equinox.
“This observation was made on September 27, five days after the autumn equinox because we were at other sites on equinox day. The position of the sun has moved about 2.5 degrees to the left (south) during these five days. We wondered if we would observe the sunlight through the slit between the two megaliths. We could see the sun setting on Mt. Kasagi in the west.”
Iwakage thanks Kazuo Sugisaka for sharing with us his vivid photo of the Sengeyama autumn equinox sunset.
Autumn 2020 has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere. The above photo of Shiho Tokuda was taken by Chika on autumn equinox day, 2020. It can be compared with the image from the Guidebook showing the beam of light on 3/21 and 9/23.
Autumn equinox in Japan arrived at 10:30 pm on September 22. Here are some photos taken by Chika in Iwaya-Iwakage. For reference, we show three images from the Guidebook. Chika’s photos give us a good perspective of the layout of the enclosed space, and how the spotlight moves across the floor from left to right during the day.
In the map of the floor, the huge boulder F is in the back (top) at the north of the chamber. Stone E is the boulder on the east side, and G is the one on the west side. We enter from the bottom of the map. At 9:30 am on an equinox day, a spotlight strikes the edge of stone a embedded in the floor. The light reaches the right end at around 1 pm. The “right end” would be to the right of Shiho Tokuda in the above photo.
This image labelled 9:30 from the Guidebook shows Yoshiki Kobayashi at Stone a. Chika has photographed the starting position of the spotlight on Stone a.
Then she shows how the spotlight moves to the center of the floor, with Stone a in the background.
Here is a close-up of the triangular spotlight of autumn. We thank Chika for the photos. And we wish all a happy autumn season!