Category Archives: mountains

Mt Ena and Ena Jinja

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恵那山(えなさん)towers over Nakatsugawa city

Mt Ena 恵那山(えなさん)2,191 m

Mt Ena is a very sacred mountain from ancient Wosite times. The region around Mt Ena contains some important sites in the story of Amateru Amakami. Isanami gave birth to Amateru at the place now known as Chiarai Jinja (lower left side of the map). Chiarai, chi-arai, refers to washing the blood of Amateru’s birth. His placenta (ena) was buried at the top of Mt Ena for safekeeping and for his protection in life. There is a shrine at the peak of Mt Ena, and another at a lower elevation directly to the west. See the map below.

Looking far to the east, we see Achi Shrine Okumiya. This is the burial place of Achihiko Omoikane, Amateru’s brother-in-law and Hiyominomiya, master of the solar calendar. In this region between Mt Ena and Mt Kasagi to its west, many megaliths can be found. There is a distinct possibility that these megaliths form a system for the determination of a solar calendar from Jomon times roughly 5,000 years ago. Maruyama Jinja in the upper left of this map is one possible solar site. Thus we decided to publish this Mt Ena post on this — Iwakage’s — blogsite.

Chiarai to Achi Jinja

Area around Mt Ena, from Chiarai Jinja and Ena Jinja in west to Achi Jinja in east

Mt Ena is part of the Kiso mountain range of the Central Alps and it straddles the border between Gifu and Nagano prefectures at the cities of Nakatsugawa in Gifu and Achi in Nagano. Mt Ena is one of the 100 famous mountains of Japan. Mt Ena can be written 恵那山 or 胞衣山, where both 恵那 and 胞衣 are read ena. When written as the latter, the word 胞衣 means placenta or afterbirth. At the peak is the honsha main Ena Jinja shrine, the Okumiya (deep sanctuary). There are six sessha auxiliary shrines in the vicinity.

Ena Jinja 恵那神社

Ena Jinja is an ancient shrine whose establishment is unknown. It occupies two sites, the Okumiya being at the top of Mt Ena. The more accessible maemiya shrine is in the foothills due west of Mt Ena. A drive up from the valley, alongside tumbling streams, takes us to the parking lot of the shrine where there’s more water gushing out of the slope. We first admire the panoramic view to the west.

 

We immediately spot the first torii which is facing the parking lot. We pass under the torii and climb the steps to the landing. There is another flight of steps, making a right angle, to the prayer hall above.

DSC06559 1st toriiHere is the stairway to the prayer hall. The enshrined kami are Isanami and Isanagi (the parents of Amateru), and Amateru’s advisor the wise Amenokoyane, all very important people in the Wosite documents. Also enshrined here are Toyoke (Isanami’s father and Amateru’s grandfather), Yama-kami, and Tenhaku. To the left and right in front of the haiden are two splendid male-female sugi trees. Presumed to be between 600 to 800 years old, they are a Gifu prefecture natural monument. In the back of the haiden is the nagare-zukuri style honden.

DSC06560 kaidan to 2nd torii

The peak of Mt Ena must be behind the prayer hall, but we can’t see it for all the trees.

When we turn around to go back down, we note that the prayer hall shown above is facing west 240 degrees. This is the direction to the winter solstice sunset! Here is where the winter sun will set: at the notch in the flat mountains beyond.

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On the way down, we pass newly planted rice fields and the rushing Nakatsugawa River.

 

Here is a final view of the splendid — and sacred — Mt Ena.

DSC06546 Mt Ena

 

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Higashinoyama: Sixty Days Before Winter Solstice 2018

2018.10.23 Higashinoyama sunrise

This sunrise photo was taken by Chika-san the morning of 2018.10.23 at 09:44:25 on Higashinoyama. On the right of the sun is S Stone, on the left is the 9-m long R stone which points in the sunrise direction.

This observation heralds the approach of the winter solstice sixty days hence. The sun will occupy the same position on February 20 as it heads north for the summer. These two dates, 10/23 and 2/20 which bound winter, together with the two summer dates of 4/22 and 8/20, divide the sun’s zone in the sky into four equal parts.

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Furthermore, when the winter and summer solstice dates are included, we obtain the six-season Kanayama Solar Calendar.

Six-season chart

 

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Kuraiyama

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Kuraiyama.  Kuraiyama is the sacred mountain to people of Hida. Myths and legends about Kuraiyama abound. Kuraiyama: 2,900m =  9,505ft. This sacred mountain has been defaced by a ski resort called Mont Deus. However, it still retains powerful energy. There have been rumors of strange happenings such as mysterious people, UFOs, electromagnetic effects, and the like. 

DSC04469 On Kuraiyama

When we got to Kuraiyama it was drizzly. So foggy that we were in the clouds most of the time. There was a kind of auto event going on in the parking lot of Mount Deus, ski resort. We found the road up the mountain to our right. We went up a scary mountain road and we had to back up when cars came down. We lost a hubcap temporarily. We finally got to the parking lot. From there we would have to walk. We tried to get a GPS signal but could not.

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We walked to the first megalith on the trail, the Misogi Iwa. It is made of two or more megaliths (not so huge) with a triangular opening in between. We wonder what direction the opening faces. It was too wet to try a compass reading, and we decided to go back to the car.

Misogi Iwa Megalith

At the foot of Kuraiyama, in the paring lot at 888m = 2,980ft elevation, we were able to get a GPS reading. Why not on the mountain? After leaving Kuraiyama, we saw a temperature reading of 9C.

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Minashi Jinja

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View from grounds of Minashi Jinja

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Minashi Jinja  水無神社. The formal name is Hida Ichinomiya Minashi Shrine (飛騨一宮水無神社 Hida Ichinomiya Minashi Jinja). Minashi means mizu-nashi, without water. It refers to the fact that this is the divide, the bunsui or suibun,  where the waters divide. Here, to one side rivers rush to the Pacific Ocean, while on the other side, the rivers drain to the Japan Sea. This is a very sacred place. Minashi Jinja is Hida’s Ichinomiya, the first shrine of Hida Province. The sacred object is Mt. Kuraiyama. Thus, Kuraiyama watches over Minashi and Minashi honors Kuraiyama. Together, they are the must-visit places of Hida.

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It was drizzly when we arrived at Minashi Jinja. Minashi Jinja has a forest behind it and is adjacent to homes next to the river. We started at the bridge over a tributary of the Miyagawa, and then turned toward the shrine. The shrine was facing northwest, between 305 to 320 degrees. The goshintai is Mt. Kuraiyama which is to the shrine’s left (right as we face the shrine), namely southwest. 

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Minashi Jinja is an important Ichinomiya shrine, medium sized, and yet not ostentatious. It feels very comfortable to be here. When we enter the grounds, on our right is an unusual tree that grew in a neji spiral fashion. It is considered sacred because it represents a spiraling energy. 

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DSC04458Off the grounds, on our right we can see the red torii of an Inari shrine. As we wash our hands at the temizuya, we notice that there is a ceremony going on in the haiden.   At first, we thought that there was a blessing ceremony for a worshipper, but it looked more like a regular morning purification ritual by the guji-san priest and a miko shrine maiden.

On our way out we asked the man raking the gravel where is Mt. Kuraiyama? He pointed to the side which would be the southwest direction. In this photo Kuraiyama is topped with clouds; it was only 7km away. We would go there next. Chigi: Male.   

DSC04468 View Kuraiyama

 

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