Winter 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.
Rising sun is barely visible in front of the R-stone (left) and S-stone (right foreground)
Sugisaka-san was on the hike up Higashinoyama on Winter Solstice day. He has kindly shared his photos taken of the R and S megaliths that face the rising sun on that day. He mounted his camera on a tall pole so we have some striking overhead views of the two megaliths.
Here we see a red-jacketed woman climbing up to the observation seat on R-stone. On the left, she assists another person.
This is a side view of S-stone which is to the right of R-stone as we face east. Both stones play their roles at other winter observation times.
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.
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.
Please go on to part two.
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.
Nangu Taisha Entrance Gate
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.
Elegant altar in haiden
Kagura den in front of haiden
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.