Tag Archives: sunrise

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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Winter Solstice 2018

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Higashinoyama winter solstice sunrise, 9:04 am December 24, 2018.

Higashinoyama

We reported on winter solstice 2017 at the Kanayama Megaliths. Winter solstice took place on Saturday, December 22, 2018 at 7:22 am in Japan. It was cloudy on the 22nd and the 23rd. On the 24th, a group hiked up Higashinoyama for a successful observation. Above is Chika’s photo of the rising sun as seen from the observing megalith, on December 24, 2018 at 9:04 am. Although the time of sunrise was 6:58 am, it took two hours for the sun to be seen at the megalith, even though it is on top of a mountain, due to the terrain and the trees.

Senkoku-Ishi

The group returned to Senkoku-Ishi and waited for the sunset. Official time of sunset was 4:45 pm, but the sun sinks out of sight earlier. The view from between Stones B and B’ at 4:03 pm is magnificent, as seen in Chika’s photo below.

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Simulator

The Simulator near Senkoku-ishi models the observation of sun beams at five different times of the year. In the early afternoon of winter solstice day, December 22, 2018, at 13:29:00, the following photo was taken by K.S.

 

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Beginning of Winter at Kanayama Megaliths

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There are several new posts at our Japanese counterpart of the the Kanayama Megaliths blog. On 10/23, sixty days before winter solstice, a group trekked up Higashinoyama to see the sunrise. Above is the photo, and this is the 9-meter long stone on which the observer sits.

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The group came down the mountain and went to Iwaya-Iwakage. Here is the sunlight entering the chamber at 12:50pm.

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On 10/24, this striking pattern appeared on the Sekimen-ishi.

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We remind you of the similarity of the Kanayama calendar with the Egyptian calendar. On this date, the rising sun shines into the stone room at the end of the Great Temple of Abu Simbel. Also, the sun rises from the Sphinx on the causeway to the great pyramid of Khafre.

We hope that you have enjoyed these reports of the solar calendar of the Kanayama Megaliths, still operating after 5,000 years!

 

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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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60 Days Before the Summer Solstice

From Friday, April 20th to Sunday 22nd, 2018
The above photo of the whole area, showing the Iwaya-Iwakage cluster on the left and the simulator building and the Senkoku-ishi grouping on the right, was taken from Highway 86 early in the morning of April 20.  Kanayama Megaliths blog has posted a new report dated April 26, 2018.   It is about the observation of 60 days before the summer solstice in the solar calendar of the Kanayama megaliths. It is the sunlight observation that tells the beginning of summer at the April 22 milestone date of the Kanayama Six-Season calendar.
At 6: 54 in the morning, light begins to stream from the top mountain. Summer observation is mainly at Senkoku-ishi. Looking at the position where the sun rises from the megalith, we see the sun just ascending from the mountain in the east at the Higashinoyama group. Now it’s past seven, and the light begins to reach Iwaya-Iwakage which is located somewhat higher than the Senkoku-ishi.
Then light begins to penetrate into the grotto of Senkoku-ishi. Around 7 a.m., sunight starts to shine on every single megalith. Although it starts out rather chilly, when the sun comes out, we feel the air of summer already.
Today Kobayashi-san is here, and there is a television interview going on. Kobayashi-san is standing in front of the shadow on Senkoku-ishi. this shadow is cast by the megalith in the lower right photo, below, on the morning of April 22.
As the sun rises higher, the grotto is illuminated, and the triangular face is very bright. On May 21, this face will be adorned with dashes of sunlight.
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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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