Category Archives: Calendar

February 27/28 Leap-Year Observation of 2019


There is a leap-year spotlight observation that takes place on February 27/28 each year. The spotlight was observed in 2018 on those days. This is the return of the sunbeam of light to the tip of Stone b, which the sunbeam last visited the previous October 14. The return of the light is a similar phenomenon to that of the sunbeam on the Sekimen-ishi reported on here and here for 2019.

However, this year it rained and no spotlight could be seen.

We are looking forward to the October 14/15 spotlight on Stone b, which will indicate that the following year (2020) will be a leap year.





Return of the Light to Iwaya, 2019 February 16 and 17




2019.02.16 at 13:04 (L) and 13:22 (R)

In our previous post, we showed the photos taken by Chika-san on 02.21. We have now received photos from Sugisaka-san taken earlier, on 02.16 and 02.17. By comparing them, we can see how the spotlight on Sekimen-ishi changes from day to day. The pair of photos above were taken on February 16th.




2019.02.17 at 13:04 (L) and 13:22 (R)

The photos just above were taken the very next day at the same times. The first pair of photos is closer to the back wall, since the sun’s path on the 16th is lower in the sky than it is on the 17th. When compared with Chika-san’s photo of the 21st, the later day shows a narrow spotlight on Sekimen-ishi. Perhaps on the 22nd or 23rd the spotlight did not reach Sekimen-ishi at all.

The spotlight previously appeared on October 23, 2018. The report is given here. The observation then marked sixty days before the winter solstice.  You can refresh your memory of the Kanayama Megaliths solar calendar here.

We are grateful to Chika-san and Sugisaka-san for sharing their photos with us.





Return of the Light to Iwaya, 2019 February



12:42     12:52



13:02     13:25



13:37     13:42

Sixty days after the winter solstice, the spotlight returns to Iwaya-Iwakage. This is the spotlight that appeared in October of the previous year, sixty days before the winter solstice. See the report for October 2017.

These photos were taken by Chika-san on February 21, 2019. 

The first two photos show the triangular spotlight on the floor of the Iwaya approaching the Sekimen-ishi, which had been hewn out of the megalith thousands of years ago. 

The next two photos show the spotlight changing its shape as it illuminates the Sekimen-ishi.

Finally, the last two photos show the spotlight sinking and disappearing completely.

This beautiful light show takes place for about five days every February. It marks the return of the sun to the north after its sojourn southward to the winter solstice. It heralds that the spring equinox will take place in about thirty days. Such is the Kanayama solar calendar.

Thank you, Chika-san, for sharing your photos!



Winter and Summer Solar Observations at Shrines and Kanayama


Winter at Ise Jingu. Photo by K. Sugisaka taken on 2019.01.27.


As you know from the previous post about welcoming the new year at Asadori Myoujin shrine, the winter solstice ceremony marks the beginning of a new year.

Ise Jingu in Mie Prefecture is an ancient Shinto shrine. Throngs of people visit Ise Jingu, especially in January. To view the sunrise over the Ise Jingu torii in winter is a popular and sacred event from ancient times until even now. 

When we received this photo from Sugisaka-san, although it was taken in the afternoon more than a month after the winter solstice, it reminded us of similar solar observations that take place at the Kanayama Megaliths. On the pages of Iwakage, Okunomichi, and WoshiteWorld, we have described other ways in which ancient people have watched the sun. 


Summer Observations at Kanayama Megaliths

For the readers of Iwakage’s blog, we remind you that the Kanayama Megaliths have solar observations before and after the summer solstice, at Senkoku-ishi.

3/21 – 9/23, 90 days before and after summer solstice, the sun rises over Stone C at Senkoku-ishi.


Sunrise over Stone C, summer.

4/22 – 8/20, 60 days before and after summer solstice, an arrow-shaped spot of light appears in the chamber of Senkoku-ishi, reaching the left end of a stone board on summer solstice day.


Arrowhead of light inside Senkoku Ishi, summer.

5/21 – 7/22, 30 days before and after summer solstice, a dashed line appears in Senkoku-ishi. A striking dashed spotlight appears which is enjoyed by many, year after year.


Dashed spotlight in Senkoku Ishi, summer 30 days before and after

Winter Observations at Kanayama Megaliths

10/23 – 2/20, 60 days before and after the winter solstice, at Higashinoyama, the sunrise is viewed between Stones R and S.


Winter sunrise at Higashinoyama, Stones R and S.

The above four images are from the Guidebook of Kanayama Megaliths.


Twenty-five days before and after the summer solstice in Honolulu, the sun will pass directly overhead at local noon. This, too, can be an indicator of summer solstice day exactly midway between the zenith dates. This event is popularly called Lahaina Noon.


Winter Solstice Sunrise Observation at Ise Jingu

Sugisaka-san has provided the following information about the sunrise event. On winter solstice morning, the sun rises over the center of the eastern torii at Uji bridge. One month prior to, and one month after, winter solstice day, the sun rises from the trees on the left of the torii. This page on the Ise Jingu website shows the winter sunrise event,  



Winter solstice sunrise at Ise Jingu, postcard by Kankan.






Asadori Winter Matsuri 2018


Sacred and Science

The Asadori Myoujin Jinja has been observing a sacred winter solstice ceremony for thousands of years, since Jomon times. The Kanayama Megaliths have been tracking the path of the sun for the purpose of a solar calendar for five thousand years. How are they connected? For a ritual to be conducted exactly on the sacred day, in this case winter solstice day, the people had to know the calendar correctly to one day. Ancient Jomon people constructed the megalithic observatory which serves this purpose. Many old shrines, such as the Asadori Myoujin, have been laid out facing the direction of the winter solstice sunrise, and this also requires knowledge of solar astronomy.

Winter Solstice Matsuri, 2018

The Asadori Myoujin Jinja’s winter solstice matsuri took place at dawn on December 22, 2018. There was a driving rain, but many people were present. There was a bonfire outside the torii, for warmth and light. In clear weather, the rising sun would send its light through the torii to the altar at the small shrine. This morning, a canopy had been erected in front of the altar for some protection from the rain.

The ceremony opened with Baba-san, the negi-san (senior priest), leading with three calls of the Asadori (morning bird):

The group replied:
Senior priest Baba-san explained that they raised their voices joyously to greet the sun as it rises on winter solstice day. The guji-san chief priest recited a norito to Asadori Myoujin in gratitude for blessing the earth with the return of the sun to the northern skies.
After the formal ceremony, Baba-san lauded the kokoro (heart-mind) of those present for braving the heavy rain at dawn. Then, he announced that his 96th birthday would be the following day. After a lifetime of serving in this matsuri, he was stepping down and turning it over to his son.
96 year-old Baba-san
and Guji-san in foreground


Photos by Chika-san.


Winter Solstice 2018

IMGP2424 0904am

Higashinoyama winter solstice sunrise, 9:04 am December 24, 2018.


We reported on winter solstice 2017 at the Kanayama Megaliths. Winter solstice took place on Saturday, December 22, 2018 at 7:22 am in Japan. It was cloudy on the 22nd and the 23rd. On the 24th, a group hiked up Higashinoyama for a successful observation. Above is Chika’s photo of the rising sun as seen from the observing megalith, on December 24, 2018 at 9:04 am. Although the time of sunrise was 6:58 am, it took two hours for the sun to be seen at the megalith, even though it is on top of a mountain, due to the terrain and the trees.


The group returned to Senkoku-Ishi and waited for the sunset. Official time of sunset was 4:45 pm, but the sun sinks out of sight earlier. The view from between Stones B and B’ at 4:03 pm is magnificent, as seen in Chika’s photo below.

IMGP2442 B-B'



The Simulator near Senkoku-ishi models the observation of sun beams at five different times of the year. In the early afternoon of winter solstice day, December 22, 2018, at 13:29:00, the following photo was taken by K.S.








Beginning of Winter at Kanayama Megaliths


There are several new posts at our Japanese counterpart of the the Kanayama Megaliths blog. On 10/23, sixty days before winter solstice, a group trekked up Higashinoyama to see the sunrise. Above is the photo, and this is the 9-meter long stone on which the observer sits.


The group came down the mountain and went to Iwaya-Iwakage. Here is the sunlight entering the chamber at 12:50pm.


On 10/24, this striking pattern appeared on the Sekimen-ishi.


We remind you of the similarity of the Kanayama calendar with the Egyptian calendar. On this date, the rising sun shines into the stone room at the end of the Great Temple of Abu Simbel. Also, the sun rises from the Sphinx on the causeway to the great pyramid of Khafre.

We hope that you have enjoyed these reports of the solar calendar of the Kanayama Megaliths, still operating after 5,000 years!