Category Archives: Shrines

Miyajidake Hikari no Michi 2019 February

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Directions of sunset as seen from Miyajidake Jinjya

In 2017, Chika-san reported on her visit to Miyajidake Jinjya to see the sunset of the Hikarinomichi. This year, she went there on Feburary 20. The day was cloudy, so she walked down to the beach.

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Closeup of chart


She found there the chart shown at the top of this page. The location is 33deg 46min 36.5sec, 130deg 28 min 13.6sec. The center straight line is the line of sight from the shrine at about 12 degrees south of west. The line to the west is marked at zero degrees. The loop is that of the analemma which tells how fast/slow the actual sun is compared with the mean sun, on the days of the year. Times of sunset are given. The places where the sun sinks into the sea or an island are indicated at different days of the year. Extreme far left is the day of winter solstice at 28deg south of west. Ainoshima is the island where the sun sets on or about February 20; it is straight ahead of the shrine.

The following photos were taken 20 min before and just after sunset.

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Winter and Summer Solar Observations at Shrines and Kanayama

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

WINTER SOLSTICE

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. 

OBSERVATIONS AT KANAYAMA MEGALITHS

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Winter sunrise at Higashinoyama, Stones R and S.

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

OBSERVATIONS OF SUMMER SOLSTICE IN HAWAII

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.

OBSERVATIONS AT ISE JINGU

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,  

 

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Winter solstice sunrise at Ise Jingu, postcard by Kankan.

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Asadori Winter Matsuri 2018

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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):

Ka-ke-e-ko-o-o!
Ka-ke-e-ko-o-o!
Ka-ke-e-ko-o-o!
The group replied:
O-o-o-o!
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.
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96 year-old Baba-san
and Guji-san in foreground

 

Photos by Chika-san.

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Himukae Ceremony on Winter Solstice 2017 – Part 2

IMGP0691Winter solstice sunrise at Asadori Myoujin by Chika

Chika-san has provided additional photos from the Himukae ceremony on the morning of winter solstice. Above is the splendid view of the sunrise, looking from Asadori’s torii.

The head priest who conducted the ritual had a very old scroll in his hands, so old that it was quite in tatters. And yet, this ceremony to greet the sun has come down through the ages from prehistoric times. We are fortunate to be able to participate even today with a precious activity of the Jomon people of Hinomoto.

 

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Nangu Taisha

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Nangu Taisha Entrance Gate


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View from gate: Haiden of Nangu Taisha, with kagura den in front

Nangu Taisha is Ichinomiya of Mino. This is a grand shrine painted in vermillion. The gosaishin of Nangu Taisha is Kanayama-hiko, kami of metal-working. 

We were interested in visiting this taisha because we had been to Nangu Jinja in Hida Kanayama. We found that Nangu Jinja faced the sunrise of winter solstice. We wondered if these two shrines are related and wanted to measure the taisha’s orientation.

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Elegant altar in haiden

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Kagura den in front of haiden

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View from haiden through kaguraden to entrace gate and winter solstice rising sun

We verified that the shrine faces the azimuth direction of 120 degrees. This means that the winter solstice rising sun penetrates the gate, the kagura den, and finally strikes the altar of the haiden. We have found the east, the sunrise direction, to be the most preferred orientation of jinja, and especially the sunrise of the winter solstice. In latitudes around 35 degrees North, as such here in Gifu, that direction is about 30 degrees south of east, namely 120 degrees. Which is exactly what we found at Nangu Taisha and at Nangu Jinja.

 

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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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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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