Category Archives: Seasonal observations

Sun Shines into Iwaya-Iwakage on Winter Solstice Day

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This is the second part of our three-part series on the winter solstice post from the Kanayama Megaliths blog site.

By 10:15, the group is down to the lower site. The sun is just rising over the mountain. It starts to bathe the central megalith of Iwaya-Iwakage which is on the highest ground.

The sunlight enters the chamber of Iwaya-Iwakage. The slant angle is just right for the face of the central megalith. Iwaya-Iwakage is where observations are made during the winter season from 60 days before the solstice to 60 days after.

Winter sunset can be observed here. The observation post is at the right foot of the long grooved megalith on the left side as you enter the chamber. This is just one boulder, not two. A deep groove has been carved so that the observer can see the setting sun. Note how the sunlight just barely skims the flank of the boulder. This delicate and dramatic spectacle can only be seen at solstice time. From the observation post, the sun is seen as it sets in the south west.

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Next, we will visit the lower site of the simulator and the Senkoku-ishi area.

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Winter Solstice Sunrise at Higashinoyama

 

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This is part one of the winter solstice report from Shiho Tokuda, describing the hike up Higashinoyama. The original is posted on the Kanayama Megaliths blog. Early in the morning of December 22, 2017, the observation group met at the lower megaliths site. Although astronomical sunrise is at 7 a.m., due to the mountainous terrain, the sun would appear later on the mountain.

There is no trail up to the megaliths, so it is rough going. At 8:40, after a difficult hike, the long megalith is seen through the trees. The members took turns at the snow-covered observation post. They were rewarded with a view of the winter sun peeking bravely through the trees of the forest.

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Please go on to part two.

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Winter Solstice 2017 Photos

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Chika-san has sent us two photos taken this winter solstice in Kanayama. The first is the megalith that views the sunrise. Fortunately the weather was good, even though there was snow on the ground from the earlier snowfall, and the group could climb Higashinoyama.

The other photo shows the split megaliths of the Senkoku group. The winter setting sun shines right through the crack, making a splendid sight.

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Winter Solstice 2017

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Kanayama Megaliths in December by S. Tokuda

Winter weather has arrived in the mountains of Kanayama. The solstice is coming soon to the megaliths. It will arrive on Friday, December 22, 2017 at 1:28 am. Unless you live in the same time zone, it will probably arrive for you on Thursday the 21st. See the dates and times below.

EarthSky has a posted information about the winter solstice of 2017. Here are some excerpts telling us that the four quarters of the year vary in length from 89 to 94 days. There is an exciting graphic as well on the site.

The 2017 December solstice will come on the December 21 at 16:28 UTC. That’s 10:28 a.m. on December 21, for those in the central time zone in North America. It’s when the sun reaches its southernmost point for the year. This solstice marks the beginning of the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere, and the start of the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere. And, no matter where you are on Earth, it marks the beginning of your shortest season.

By season, we mean the time between a solstice and an equinox, or vice versa. The upcoming season – between the December solstice and March equinox – is a touch shy of 89 days.

Contrast the number of days of the upcoming season with that of the longest season, a Northern Hemisphere summer or Southern Hemisphere winter. The longest season as measured from the June solstice to the September equinox lasts 93.65 days.

Why is the upcoming season nearly 5 days shorter? Every year in early January, the Earth swings closest to the sun for the year. Because Earth is nearest the sun at this time, Earth moves most swiftly in its orbit. That’s why a Northern Hemisphere winter or Southern Hemisphere summer is the shortest of the four seasons.

On the other hand, in early July, Earth is farthest from the sun and moving most slowly in its orbit.

Lengths of the astronomical seasons:

December solstice to March equinox: 88.99 days
March equinox to June solstice: 92.76 days
June solstice to September equinox: 93.65 days
September equinox to December solstice: 89.84 days

For those in various time zones, here are some astronomical dates and times of the winter solstice.

Fri 1:28 am     Tokyo
Thu 9:58 pm    New Delhi
Thu 7:28 pm    Moscow
Thu 4:28 pm    London
Thu 11:28 am    New York
Thu 8:28 am     Los Angeles
Thu 6:28 am     Honolulu

For those who have accessibility issues, we thank a reader for suggesting this sitehttp://www.thetimenow.com/

For Kanayama megalith visitors, there will be a hike up Higashinoyama on the morning of the winter solstice.

December 22 – December 24
Dec 22 at 7:30 AM to Dec 24 at 4:20 PM UTC+09
See the link for details.
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Nichirin (Hinowa) Jinja 

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Nichirin (Hinowa) Jinja      日輪神社  にちりん(ひのわ)じんじゃ

This ancient shrine of Hida is on a small yama or a steep hill in Nyuukawa, near Hidakinomiya shrines, although it is not one of them. Its origin is unknown. Some say it is a pyramid mountain. We’re inclined to this possibility, as perhaps our photos will show. Its height is 728m. It is right off Route 158. You can’t miss it. What you’ll see is a conical hill covered with trees, and a kaidan going straight up. The kaidan turns into a tree-root kaidan, and it is a long climb up to the keidai  shrine grounds. The keidai is not at the top of the yama, but near the top. There is a flat area for the haiden prayer hall, honden behind it, and other buildings.

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This is said to be a pyramid yama power spot. 16 pyramid yama surround Norikuradake, and megaliths and pyramids radiate from Nichirin. It may be a pyramid because of its conical shape, steep sides. See photos. There is a sazare-ishi, a boulder formed from pebbles and a symbol of unity, one out of many.

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Nichirin にちりん is the onyomi Sino-Japanese reading of 日輪.  Hinowa ひのわ is kunyomi, the original Japanese. Hi ひ, of course, is Sun. The other kanji means wheel or circle, and is read wa わ. Thus, hinowa is very meaningful in this sun-oriented culture. The word, hinowa, has ancient origins. It is found in the Hotsuma Tsutae:  

ame tuti no      hirakeru toki no

hi to iki ga:      me wo to wakarete

wo ha ame ni,      me ha tuti to naru.

wo no utuho      kase umi, kase mo

ho to wakare.      uwose no mune ha

hi no wa naru.      i me no minamoto

tuki to naru.      tuti ha hani mitu;

katu hani ha      yama sato to naru.

This beautiful verse is speaking of the beginning of sky and earth. In particular, it states that the breath of the great uwose (male) energy becomes Hinowa, Sun, while the essence of ime (female) becomes earth.

The goshintai sacred body of this shrine is the mountain itself, and the gosaishin enshrined kami is Amaterasu, kami of Sun. The haiden and the kaidan face the general west direction of the summer setting sun, around 300 degrees. This means that the worshipper will be facing east. The origins of the Hinowa Shrine are very ancient. Perhaps people gathered here even before Shinto began and the kami Amaterasu was introduced. We can imagine that there may have been winter solstice sunrise ceremonies, now lost to us.

This place feels very mysterious. When in front of the haiden, we are are in deep shadow of sugi trees. The grounds are not large, and so we feel enclosed with the circle of trees, with the sides of the yama falling steeply downward. With the sun setting near the kaidan, we feel that this is a strange time when it is neither day nor evening, but kataware-doki, as they say in the Hida dialect for twilight. when all things are possible.

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October 27, 2017 Sekimen-ishi Spotlight

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October 27.  This is the last day of the year for viewing the spotlight on Sekimen-ishi. The light will return on February 15 of next year. Although Sekimen-ishi means Sekimen stone, it is not a stone separate from Stone F but rather a projection of the megalith itself. That makes it all the more amazing how well the spotlight matches the shape and size of Sekimen-ishi.

 

This special day, some of the regulars came and it was fun viewing the spotlight together. We had a splendid light show!

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In the afternoon, six busloads of visitors came from a company in Osaka, three buses at a time. They were guided by Ms. Tokuda, Mr. Kobayashi, and Mr. Okudo. They also had the chance to walk the Kinkotsu-meguri through Old Town and have lunch at Hizan. Surely it was quite a memorable experience for the Osaka-ites.

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October 23, 2017 After the Typhoon

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Typhoon 21 reached Kanayama the night of October 22. It had been cloudy all week and we were eager to view the spotlight on Sekimen-ishi in Iwaya-Iwakage.

DSC04710 side view of toriiOctober 23.  Monday morning dawned cloudy and rainy, and it seemed hopeless. But the sun appeared mid-morning and we dared to venture out to the megaliths at noon. The drive was fine, until — we got to the last bend in the road. There we were stopped by a roadblock. Due to fallen branches, we could not drive further.

We parked the car and hiked in. It wasn’t far to go. There were many sugi and hinoki branches on the road, but we could walk easily and avoid stepping into rivulets. The walk turned out to be refreshing. The stream that runs into the Mazegawa was full of water and rushing along. We crossed over the Myouken-hashi bridge.

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We were happy to arrive at the megalith grounds and all was well. The stream there was whiter than we’ve ever seen it.

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Megaliths are lovely after a rain. Their surfaces glisten in the sun. Leaves on plants and trees are a brilliant, glistening green. Flowers were blooming on the tea plants. Since tea is a camellia, the flowers of course resembled camellia flowers.

When we got to the entrance to the chamber of Iwaya-Iwakage, we could see the spotlight. Inside, the spotlight was already lighting up the Sekimen-ishi, skimming the face of Stone F, and some of it was spilling off the lower edge. The faithful team of sun and stone created a beautiful sight!

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