Category Archives: Shrines

Carp Flags at Shirahata Shrine

Yesterday was Kodomo no Hi (子供の日) or Children’s Day in Japan.  It’s a holiday that celebrates children and their happiness.  During this holiday, people string up carp flags/streamers, or koi nobori.  Basically, they’re a kind of wind sock.  I visited Shirahata Shrine (白幡神社) in Fujisawa, near Fujisawa-honmachi Station, and was treated to a large number of very big koi nobori.  Have a look.

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The shrine gate.

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Those are some big streamers.

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Caught in the wind.

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White wisteria.

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Looking up.

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Going up to the main hall.

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The main hall with glare from the sun.

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Koi nobori from the main hall.

I hope all the children will be strong this year.

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Filed under Culture, Festivals & Events, Fujisawa, Japan, Kanagawa, Shrines

Bright local shrine

Sometimes taking a different route home can provide a wonderful reward.  In fact, when my wife and I went home after shopping, we discovered 3 things: a cheap, but very good cake shop, a Chinese restaurant that has some very good food, and a shrine I never knew existed.  They were all within steps of the main road that we’ve often used.  This shrine surprised me because of how brightly coloured it was.  It’s very small, and it seems to be connected to a family that owns several large houses in the neighbourhood.  I previously posted a picture of the guardian fox of this shrine, which is an Inari shrine. Exploring sure does provide some wonderful surprises.

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The entrance to the shrine. Inari shrines are known for their red torii (gates).

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The name of the shrine (can anyone read this?).

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Red gate, white and red shrine with a green roof. Very bright!

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The shrine itself.

The guardian fox I previously posted.

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A close-up of the roof corner’s details.

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The main doors of the shrine.

We’ll be doing more exploring as the weather gets a bit cooler.  It’s still hot these days, but October and after should be great for taking pictures.

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Filed under Fujisawa, Japan, Kanagawa, Shrines

2012 Picture of the Week (36/52) – Guardian Fox

At shrines in Japan, you can usually see a pair of guardian dogs (lion dogs, actually). However, at Inari shrines, you can see guardian foxes. This picture is a preview of a shrine near where I live.

This is the fox on the left side. There’s another on the right.

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Filed under Fujisawa, Japan, Kanagawa, Picture of the Week, Shrines

2012 Picture of the Week (28/52) – Torii in the evening

Near my apartment is a small shrine.  This picture is of the torii, or gate.  This shrine holds a small festival in the summer and has regular taiko drum practice in one of the buildings throughout summer.  It’s nice to hear it in the evening from our apartment.

Small torii for a small shrine.

 

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Filed under Fujisawa, Japan, Kanagawa, Picture of the Week, Shrines

Oshogatsu 5: Sasuke Inari Jinja

Our final destination on January 3rd was Sasuke Inari Jinja (佐助稲荷神社).  Inari shrines are famous for the numerous red torii gates forming a kind of tunnel along the main path leading up to the shrine.  They also have guardian fox statues in front of the shrine, just like other shrines have guardian dog statues.  This shrine is near Zeniarai Benten, but it’s much less popular.  But when we were there, there were plenty of visitors.  This was my second time at this shrine.  Apparently, this shrine was the site of the hidden village of Kamakura, which was home to the predecessors of the ninja.  It’s in a well protected area, being difficult to reach except for one direction.  Enjoy the pictures!

This narrow path heads away from Zeniarai Benten.

We're coming up to the entrance of Sasuke Inari Shrine.

A bit closer now. Lots of red torii.

And the torii keep going for a long way.

Going up the hill, still more torii.

A small statue at the side of the path.

Yes, still going up!

The shrine is in sight!

Looking back down from the top of the stairs.

One of the guardian fox statues typical of Inari shrines.

Another path leads up to the left. We didn't go that way.

This is the main building of the shrine.

Yes, there are even more steps behind the shrine building!

This is another small shrine behind the main building.

The red maple leaves are still visible here.

And that’s it for the Oshogatsu pictures.  I hope you enjoyed it!

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Filed under Festivals & Events, Japan, Kamakura, Kanagawa, Shrines

Oshogatsu 4: Zeniarai Benzaiten

Our next stop was Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Jinja (銭洗弁財天), or Zeniarai Benten (銭洗弁天).  This shrine is famous for washing money.  If you wash your money in the shrine’s spring and keep it as a lucky charm, you will have good luck with money.  It’s the second most popular place in Kamakura.  It’s a very interesting place.  First of all, it’s almost completely surrounded by cliffs.  Second, it has an interesting entrance, which you will see below.  This shrine shows a fusion of Shinto and Buddhist features, which is also quite unusual.  For a unique experience, it’s definitely a must see.

Being oshogatsu, a lot of people were visiting the shrine.  We decided to go there to wash our money for luck in the new year, and also get fortunes.  The shrine is located west of Kamakura station, past the city office and through a tunnel.  There are signs giving directions.

The road to the shrine was busy with people.

Up the hill, we walked toward the entrance of the shrine.

The main entrance of Zeniarai Benten is unique. You have to go through a tunnel.

Once we emerged from the tunnel, a series of torii could be seen.

There were plenty of people there.

That's the main shrine. The cave entrance is near there, as well.

At this time, we went to do what we came for.  We got some baskets to wash our money in, as well as incense sticks and candles.  Then we just had to wait in line.

As we waited in line to wash our money, we could see another row of torii.

This is the basket we had to wash the money in. We also had a candle and incense sticks to light.

Many of the torii are wooden, but some are stone.

The shrine is surrounded by high cliffs on 3 sides. This maple tree still had red leaves, even in early January.

We approached the main shrine to pray, and then light our candles and incense sticks.

After our candles and incense sticks were lit, we went into the cave to wash our money.  We had to pour water through the baskets that held our money.

The money has been washed! That US dollar was from out trip to Canada a year ago, but through the USA.

A look back into the cave, where we washed our money.

There were a few of these pits where incense sticks were burning. People were drying their money with the heat from the fire.

Now that we’ve washed out money, we have to keep them in our wallets and never spend them.  They’re now lucky charms.  We then bought some other charms and omikuji.  When I looked at mine, I saw 大吉!  That means very lucky!  I guess I’m supposed to have a lucky year.

Zeniarai Benten was an interesting experience.  I’ve been there twice before, but never tried washing my money.  This time, I didn’t do any exploring, but instead experienced the shrine.

Next up is the final part of the Oshogatsu series!  You’ll be seeing red!

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Filed under Festivals & Events, Japan, Kamakura, Kanagawa, Shrines

Oshogatsu 2: Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

On January 3rd, we went to Kamakura to visit some shrines and a temple.  First stop was Tsurugaoka Hachimangu (鶴岡八幡宮).  We had planned to get an omikuji (fortune) and a charm for the baby, but things didn’t go as planned.

On our way to the shrine, it was obvious that there were a lot of people that had the same idea as us.  We walked down the shopping street a bit, then decided to walk along Wakamiya Oji until we got to the shrine.

The main shopping street in Kamakura was very crowded.

At Wakamiya Oji, plenty of people posed for pictures next to one of the dog statues.

Wakamiya Oji was decorated with lanterns to celebrate the new year.

A close up of an old stone lantern.

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu's San no Torii stands big as always.

The stone bridge that only the shogun was allowed to cross.

Looking pretty crowded, and there are plenty of yatai (food stands). It's like a festival.

Lots of yatai. My wife is in this picture, right of centre.

I waited in line for about 3 minutes. This is how many people were in front of us. Incredible!

At this point, we decided it would take far too long to wait.  There were several thousand people at the shrine, and it would probably take a couple hours or so of standing.  We had other places to go.  So, we decided to leave, and I got a couple of interesting pictures.

Lots of masks with famous characters, including Kitty, Pikachu and Power Rangers. There were many guards and police officers at the shrine.

There were guards dressed in red uniforms anywhere. Very bright. He wasn't posing for me in this picture.

I was surprised about how many guards in red there were.  But there were other guards wearing a standard dark blue uniform, as well.  We took a little break to have something to eat near one of the exits.  Unfortunately, my wife had an incident when I was in the restroom.  A little girl pushed her from behind, and when she turned to see who did that, the little girl’s parents were laughing at what she did.  My wife got angry at them, but that made them laugh even more.  Unbelievably rude!  They thought it was funny that their girl pushed a pregnant woman.  That soured the mood a bit.  Anyway, we decided to move on to our next destination, which I will show in part 3.  But first, a parting shot.

We left the shrine through this torii.

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Filed under Festivals & Events, Japan, Kamakura, Kanagawa, Shrines