Category Archives: Seasonal observations

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 written by a person named Isono.  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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Summer Solstice.  June 21, 2017

DSC03812 Summer solstice mornng

Summer solstice day, June 21, 2017, was drizzly all day. There was no hope of seeing a spotlight. However, we went to the megaliths anyway. And we were glad we did.

The megaliths were dark and glistening with rain. They were absolutely magnificent!

Looking down into the upper grotto, the signboard is seen but it is quite dark inside.

DSC03820 Upper grotto is darkDSC03822 umbrella dayDSC03845 Children between Stones A and B

So let’s run in the drizzle instead!

Children amongst the boulders, little ones and the giants.

We found a carpet of wet leaves — and an astonishing type of plant!

DSC03827 wet leaves

DSC03826 unusual plants

 

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May 23 Sunrise over Stone C

During the summer observational season, the sun clears the top of Stone C, as seen from Stone A, near the middle. As page 31 of the Guidebook shows, the sun is at the exact center on summer solstice day, 6/21. That is as far north, i.e., to the left, as it can go.

The three photos above were taken by Chika-san on May 23 from 8:25 to 8:26 am. The sun on that day appeared slightly to the right of center because there are still around 29 days to go before summer solstice.

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May 23 Morning Sunlight on Lower Grotto

These photos were taken by Chika-san at sunrise on May 23, 2017 at Senkoku-ishi. We are looking at Stone A, standing near Stone C with our back to the rising sun. The first two photos were taken at 6:22 and at 6:28 am. Notice that the sun has risen and shines on the upper right part of Stone A, but the grottos are not yet illuminated. The third and fourth photos were taken at 6:36 and at 6:42 am. The shadow of Stone C on A is now clearly seen, and the lower grotto is still in shade at 6:36 but it is lit at 6:42am. The final photo is a close-up of the opening of the lower grotto at 6:42.

Please refer to page 30 in the Guidebook. The three photos shown on that page are dated 4/22, 6/21, and 8/20. The date of 4/22 is about 60 days before the summer solstice. The lower grotto is in deep shadow. The date of 6/21 is the summer solstice when the grotto is fully illuminated.

The photos we show above were taken around thirty days before the summer solstice. They show us how the lower grotto is gradually illuminated, minute by minute.

 

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May 22 and 23 at Senkoku-ishi

May 22, the second day of the dashed spotlight.

Today, the dashed light is clearer than it was yesterday. The bottom dash is slight, but it hits the corner. From tomorrow the width of this light becomes thicker and stronger; the light can be regarded as a dotted line until about the fifth day, the 25th of May.

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May 23, the third day of the dashed spotlight.

The observation is impressive today. A dash starts appearing one by one from the top. It takes about three minutes for up to six dashes to appear (see closeup below).

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この三角状の石面の凹凸も計算されているのでしょうか!? 完全に遊んでますね。

Is the roughness of this triangular stone surface deliberate? It plays perfectly!

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The dashed lights move downward. Approximately 3 minutes until the sixth dash appears. The six dashes will eventually disappear, one by one from the bottom. The show time of the dashed line spotlight continued for 30 minutes after it started.

 

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