Category Archives: Jomon

Leap-year Observation Spotlight of February 27 and 28

金山巨石群 閏年観測のスポット光

Kanayama Megaliths Leap-year Observation Spotlight of February 27 and 28

The topic of this post at the Kanayama blogsite is the leap-year observation at Stone b  in Iwaya-Iwakage. It takes place on 10/14 and 10/15 and is repeated on 2/27 and 2/28.   The photos for 2/27 and 2/28, when the light returns to the stone, are shown .

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Of further interest is the ongoing study of the 128-year leap-year cycle. The  measurement of 6 cm was recorded. 

52 years have elapsed in the current 128-year cycle of the Kanayama Megaliths calendar. It will next be revised around the year 2094, 76 years from now. We consider the position of the light (in the photo) is as expected. This is in accordance with the theory described in the Guidebook, page 66, as shown at the top of this page.

The post’s concluding remarks were:

Although it is still cold this year, since the sun is steadily heading for spring, there is nothing to worry about. People in the Jomon period must have grasped the changing period of vegetation as well. Nevertheless, their power to build such a calendar building is great ….

 

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Why are the Vedic and Jomon Calendars Identical?

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The Hindu calendar which comes from the Vedas of 1200 BCE has six seasons called ritu.  The seasons and their dates are listed here.

Vasant     Spring         2/18 – 4/19

Grishma  Summer     4/19 – 6/21

Varsha     Monsoon     6/21 – 8/22

Sharad     Autumn       8/22 – 10/23

Hemant   Prewinter   10/23 – 12/21

Shishir     Winter        12/21 – 2/18

Six-season chartThe Jomon calendar of the Kanayama Megaliths has these six seasons.

Spring                           2/19 – 4/22

Early Summer            4/22 – 6/21

Late Summer              6/21 – 8/20

Autumn                        8/20 – 10/23

Early Winter               10/23 – 12/22

Late Winter                 12/22 – 2/19

The dates 2/19, 4/22, 8/20, and 10/23 are astronomical cross-quarter days. Compare the corresponding dates of the two calendars and we find that they differ only by 0, 1, 2, or 3 days. The summer solstice date is exactly right for India and for Japan. The winter solstice dates are 12/21 for India and 12/22 for Japan, so they do agree. The spring and autumn equinoxes are the middle date of both the Vedic and the Jomon calendars.

How the Jomon determined the seasonal dates.  You may be wondering what is the rule for the dates of 2/19, 4/22, 8/20, and 10/23 in the Jomon calendar. These are the dates when the sun’s altitude at noon is half-way between those of the winter solstice and the equinoxes for dates 10/23 and 2/19; half-way between those of the summer solstice and the equinoxes for dates 4/22 and 8/20. These dates are called yontobun in Japanese. It means dividing the zone of the sky between the highest and lowest altitudes into four parts.

How did the Vedic calendar determine the seasonal dates? Of the Hindu calendar it can be said:  Seasons follow the sun; months follow the moon; days follow both sun and moon. The seasonal dates of the Vedas roughly correspond to seasonal weather patterns, as can be seen from Monsoon as the late summer season. But why these exact dates? The calendar of the solar year is important for scheduling religious festivals. The ancient people of India were excellent astronomers who carefully studied the skies. They were familiar with the planets and the stars. So they must have had a good reason for selecting these particular dates. What was their reason?

Discussion.  From Internet articles about the Hindu religious calendar, we learned that government astronomers studied the position of the sun as it rose against the distant stars in order to determine the seasonal dates. This is not unlike the Jomon astronomers who used the position of the sun in the daytime sky to determine their seasonal dates. Once the Jomon people had set up the working megalithic observatory at Kanayama, they could simply watch the sunlight patterns to calibrate their calendar. They constantly monitored and updated their solar calendar so that it remained accurate to within one day.

While the dates of the six seasons of the Vedic and Jomon calendars agree closely, it is only a matter of time before the Vedic dates will drift slowly away, the effect of earth’s axial precession relative to the distant stars. The Jomon calendar may still be keeping good time, since it is watching the sun relative to Earth.

 

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Himukae Ceremony on Winter Solstice 2017

Asadori ritual

Chika-san attended the Asadori Myoujin Himukae ceremony for the revival of the sun’s power. It took place as the sun rose in the south-east on the morning of winter solstice, shining directly into the center of the altar. Below is the altar before the sunrise, and then immediately as the sunlight illuminated the sacred object within.

Above is a photo of the priest explaining the ritual. He shouted the cock-crowing “Ko-ki-ko!” three times as a greeting to the sun. The group recited “Oh!”. This is a cry of joy that the sun is returning. Chika-san said that this ritual that musters life-force is very moving. The bright lights are the flashlights people are holding while it is still dark before sunrise.

Sun stones.  Once, there were behind the hokora, a Sun Stone and five stones behind it. Now there are only three, because two of them were moved. The two men who touched the stones were subsequently afflicted with illness. That is why there are only three stones behind the Sun Stone, and no one is permitted to move the other two back. Lining up each of the three stones with the Sun Stone is the way to view sunrise at three distinct times of the year. In the photo below, the Sun Stone is indicated by a red dot, and the three alignment stones are marked with blue dots.

太陽石と3つの石

 

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Taki Jinja

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Taki Jinja 瀧神社(たきじんじゃ)

Taki means waterfall. This is a Seoritsuhime shrine in a truly lovely secluded place. This shrine is simple and mysterious, in a shady forest. It is very peaceful here, listening to the sounds of birds and running water. This site is located in Mino, in Gifu Prefecture.

The shrine grounds are a level area with a slope to the right as we face the buildings from the parking lot. This is the slope from which the taki falls to the valley below, which its waters have created so long ago. Surely, the sacredness of this site was recognized by the ancient people. The taki itself is the goshintai sacred body. The named kami is Seoritsuhime, the guardian spirit of waterfalls and white water streams. There is another Taki Shrine in Kyoto, also dedicated to Seoritsuhime. The river formed by this taki is Itadori-kawa, a tributary of Nagara-kawa

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The waterfall was the original sacred object and then the spirit of the waterfall was identified as Seoritsuhime no Mikoto. Other gosaishin are identified as Minasame no Mikoto, and Yaoroyorozu no kami, a panoply of kami. There is no chigi on the prayer hall. The direction is 263 degrees, which does not seem to be significant. After all, the main sacred object is the waterfall itself.

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Jomon Heroes: Ryoumen Sukuna and Aterui

Introduction

The Kanayama Megaliths were built in the land of Hida long ago. We have been running articles on Hida and its history. We have shown you a shrine by the name of Hidakinomiya in Shiroi in the Nyuukawa district of Takayama. The name, Hida, probably came from the practice of Hidaki. Hida folklore says that the nation of Nihon originated in Hida, and that they came from Mt. Norikuradake.

The residents of Hida, who consider themselves descended from the Jomon, still speak of a local hero from long ago named Ryoumen Sukuna. He lived here, he prayed there, he went to Mt. Norikuradake, he stood up to the powerful Imperial court, and so on go the stories.

Iwakage has already posted two articles about Ryoumen Sukuna, the hero of Hida. Just who was he? Why is he admired in Hida but described as a demon in Nihon Shoki?

In researching his story, we came upon the name Aterui. Aterui was the hero of Mutsu and Oshu (now Tohoku). His story is similar to Sukuna’s.

Jomon Period

To understand, we will review what was going on at the end of the Jomon period. The Jomon were the original inhabitants of the Hinomoto Japanese archipelago, since 14,000 BCE. Far from being barbarian hunter-gatherers, these people soon developed agriculture and sedentary lives in villages. Although they spoke different languages, they were unified in speech through the efforts of Isanami and Isanagi. The Jomon had at least one form of writing, called Woshite

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Motoake Woshite chart by S. Sakata

The Jomon lived peaceful lives. It is said that Jimmu Tenno unified the land in around 660 BCE.

Yayoi Period

During the Yayoi period, 300 BCE to 300 CE, there was turmoil on the Asian continent, and droves of toraijin arrived on the shores of Hinomoto from China and Korea. These toraijin became powerful in society and created a court system. Their leaders had huge mounds (kofun) built as their burial places. The Kofun period was followed by the Asuka and Nara periods.

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Nintoku’s tomb in Osaka

Around this time, an Imperial Court was formed and referred to as Yamato Choutei. The leaders were the toraijin who had assumed superiority and harbored an antipathy toward the indigenous Jomon. The provinces of Hida and Oshu were resistant to give up thier Jomon culture. Yamato Choutei sought to put down all dissenters.

Ryoumen Sukuna

In the fourth century, Ryoumen Sukuna was the leader of the people of Hida. He performed the Hidaki meditation practice at various sacred sites in Hida called Hidakinomiya, including in the Nyuukawa area near Takayama, and even on Mt Norikuradake. Sukuna would not yield to outsiders. Yamato Choutei went after Ryoumen Sukuna. With their greater numbers and strength, they eventually succeeded in killing Sukuna and bringing Hida under their control. Later, Oda Nobunaga would enter Gifu and take over a castle in the present city of Gifu.

The name, Ryoumen, translates to double-faced. He is described in the Nihon Shoki as a demon with two faces and four arms. However, in Hida, Ryoumen always looked after his people, and they much admired and respected him. This double view of Ryoumen is probably the reason for his name. To the victor belong the rights of writing history; thus Ryoumen is described as a villain in the official chronicles.

Far from being a monster, Sukuna was a pious man. He is well-remembered in Hida Kanayama, especially at Chinjyusan, the little yama (san) temple-shrine where he went to pray for peace. Chinjyu means shizumeru mamoru. Thus it is a place of shizumeru becoming calm, to be at peace, and mamoru, to protect. Thus, this mountain is a place which provides solace for the soul and sets it at peace, a secluded place for rest and contemplation.

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Ryoumen Sukuna by Enkuu

Aterui

Aterui was the hero of Oshu, now called Tohoku, at the end of the 8th century. At that time, the people of Oshu were the indigenous ones who have been deridingly called Ezo and Emishi. You may have heard of Ezo/Emishi in the negative view of those in power.

When Yamato Choutei in 724 established the kokufu government office at Tagajo in Michinoku, they were ready to control the Ezo with military power. Aterui formed a coalition of the Ezo tribes to protect their homeland and their way of life. That way of life was to respect the kami of nature and ancestors. Their seasonal foods consisted of salmon, deer, and rice cultivation. In contrast, Yamato had paddy rice agriculture, metalware, burial mounds. The Ezo resisted the domination of Yamato. They wanted to maintain their identity and independence.

Yamato Choutei went after the rebels. Emperor Kanmu sent the famous Sakanoue Tamuramaro with a large troop after Aterui’s small band. Aterui’s stronghold was in Iwate, and they resisted. Finally, in 802, Aterui was captured and beheaded even though Sakanoue protested that he be spared to help govern the land. The area received the name, Hitokabe, human neck. There is a river by the same name. And his son, named Hitokabemaru, also resisted and was slain. Later, there was a castle in Esashi, Iwate, called Hitokabe-jo, Hitokabe Castle. Now on the hill, grass grows over the remains of the castle.

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Aterui

Commentary

In most of the literature we have seen about the transition from Jomon to Yayoi to Nara periods, scholars and other “authorities” claim that the transition was peaceful. Having learned of these two cases, one can hardly say that the transition was peaceful or compassionate.

The cases of these two freedom-fighters and the suppression of the Woshite writing of the Jomon attest to this.

Links:

Hidakinomiya

Chinjyu-san

Hida: Roots of Nihon

Hidakaido: Sukuna and Aterui

Aterui: Great Hero of Emishi

Hitokabemaru

Wosite was Deliberately Erased

 

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A Visit to Asadori Myoujin

DSC04552 hokora & stones

October 16, 2017.  This is the report of our visit to the Asadori Myoujin shrine. We have reported that a Himukae winter festival takes place here on winter solstice mornings to welcome the sun. Our specific purpose was to study the layout of the stones which are said to mark directions to sunrises on solstices and equinoxes.

We visited Asadori Myoujin in the rain. The site is raised slightly above the surrounding plain. We parked in the lot with a sugi grove to the southeast. We turned to face the torii, and we could see that the path led straight to a second torii on the grounds. This would be the path of the sunlight on winter solstice morning. The azimuth angle was verified by our analog and digital compasses.

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We pray at a small hokura in front of a mound. See photo at top. Directly in front of us is the sun-stone draped in shimenawa. Beyond it we see the top of another stone. Here is a close-up so that you can see the stone behind the shimenawa sun-stone.

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Distance measurements were taken with a laser measure. The distances found are:  from second torii to hokura base, 5.1m; to the sun stone,  11.0m; and to the winter solstice stone, 19.0m.

It has been reported that there are four or five stones lined up in a row, the one furthest west of the winter solstice stone would be the summer solstice stone. We are unable to see the other stones due to the topography and the growth of plants, plus the area behind the hokura is cordoned off with bamboo. We would have liked to take measurements of the distances between the stones. Unfortunately, we could not do it. So we will have to return another time when there is less vegetation and we can see the other stones.

This is the alignment on winter solstice morning: sunlight streams through the first torii, the second torii, the hokura, the sun-stone, and the winter solstice stone. Here is the view looking from the inner torii to the place where the winter solstice sun will rise. 

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We noticed that the rising winter solstice sun would be blocked by the grove of tall sugi on the other side of the parking lot, in the background of the above photo. Perhaps the winter Himukae festival takes place after the sun has cleared the trees.

 

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The Revival of the Sun’s Power on Winter Solstice Morning: Asadori Myoujin

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The Asadori Myoujin is a shrine in the Mino area of Gifu-ken that goes back to very ancient times. It observes a solar calendar in which the year begins on winter solstice day, when the sun in the northern hemisphere is as far south as it gets and begins its annual journey northward again. It is a cause for celebrating the return of the sun.

We found a description of the festival on a blog on musublog.  Our free translation below helps us to understand a little better the people’s reverence for the Hi no Kami, Kami of the Sun.

朝鳥明神の冬至祭(岐阜県揖斐川町)

The Winter Solstice Matsuri of Asadori Myoujin (Gifu-ken Ibigawa-machi)

There is an unusual festival reminiscent of an ancient winter solstice ceremony from the Ibukiyama and Ikeda mountains nestling in the Yoro Ranges, along the Ibigawa River in the north.

朝鳥明神 Asadori (Asatori) Myoujin was founded as an old shrine 古社, listed in the national history book about 1500 years ago, from around the 4th century. It is the oldest shrine in the prefecture in which an ancient ritual remains. This shrine became the base of the making of the country of Mino-no-kuni.

The shrine is set in a luxuriantly forested sacred mountain, and even now has the appearance of ancient shrine creation.

The white wooden torii is called Shime Torii, a gate where the 朝鳥明神 Asatori Myoujin enshrines 日の神, the Kami of the Sun, on winter solstice morning as the sun shines through the gate that determines the azimuth of the sun. This festival is held for 明神さま Myoujin-sama every year on the early morning of the winter solstice.

Originally there was no shrine, and an Iwasaka (rock border) is enshrined as a divine body in the hilly area behind it. Right behind that is the 朝烏古墳群 Asadori Burial Mound Group; it is the center of the worship of the Hi no Kami (Kami of Sun) of the ancestors.

This festival (日迎えの神事, Himukae ceremony) for greeting the revival of the power of the sun at sunrise  began before the founding of Japan. On the day of the festival, local members will ignite fires from early dawn, give a norito and wait for the winter solstice sun to rise.

Before one’s eyes, spreading from the direction of the Noubi Plain (direction of Seto), the sun shows its face. The beginning light passes through the torii directly to the goshintai in the rear, and the center of the iwasaka’s remarkably huge Sun Stone is illuminated.

This ends our report on this blog. We are hopeful of visiting the shrine and bringing you photos of the torii and the sun-stones.

 

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