Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Matsuri Magic Part 2

An Inari-shrine can be found in many japanese towns and commonly venerated as a symbol of prosperity. Inari is one of the most mysterious deities in Japan, a Shinto god of fertility and rice - the protector of rice cultivation. Interestingly, the god is both male and female. According to mythological beliefs, each year, the god descends from the mountain to the rice fields, often appears either as an old bearded man or a woman with long flowing hair, carrying two bundles of rice.
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The Inari's central temple in Japan is the Fushimi-Inari Taisha in the southeast of Kyoto. As in the picture is a shimenawa - a straw rope with white zigzag paper strips (gohei). It marks the boundary of something sacred. Here the main hall's innermost chamber contains the shrine's sacred object.
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The entrance to an Inari-shrine is usually marked by one or more red torii and some statues of Inari's foxes (foxes are not shown here). The fox is considered the messenger of the god. Fushimi-Inari Taisha is famous for the countless torii gates (offerings by worshippers) along the hiking trail.
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Most shrines celebrate festivals regularly in order to show the gods the outside world and to assimilate the gods into the daily life of each japanese. During the parade of the Inari Festival, devotees bear the mikoshi (palanquins), a portable Shinto shrine that serves as the vehicle for the divine spirit. On their shoulders by means of two poles, the mikoshi is waved wildly from side to side.
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During the celebration, worshippers express gratitude for what has been, and offerings are performed to secure continued good favor in the future. Rituals are performed to keep away evil spirits.
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The Inari Festival is a two week celebration starting from April 20th, each year. During this time, the gods are brought to presence and their presence is honored and celebrated.
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Shrine visitors write their wishes on these wooden plates, ema, and then leave them at the shrine in the hope that their wishes come true. Most people wish for good health, success in business, passing entrance exams, love or wealth.
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The essence of Shintoism is kami, the divine spirit found in all things in heaven and earth. According to Shintoism, the power of nature lies in the hands of the gods, and to drive the forces of nature to the favorable side, it is only possible through seeking blessings from the divine.

Click here : Matsuri Magic Part 1

'We cannot command nature except by obeying her.' -- Sir Francis Bacon

13 comments:

Metallyptica said...

I absolutely love all the photos, but sadly I can't see a larger version cause I've no Flickr login... :s

Primrose said...

I would have loved to write something on an "ema" and you know what it is. :)

mrkiasu said...

Ah, those custome reminds me of the last samurai. My friend said that japanese are very polite ppl, is that really ture ah?

Acrix said...

The red torii path looks very mysterious yet charming. Do u have anymore photoz on the torii? Mind to send to me at acrix_69@hotmail.com if u have any? Thx!

ODD said...

Great photos and very interesting reading. Keep it up it's brilliant.

Patrick Leong said...

metallyptica : thanks for compliment. i am sorry that i didn't provide to blog readers access to my flickr account. however the size of each picture here is as the same as the ones i uploaded in both flickr and photobucket. if you like to have (let say a few) them, i can send to you the original copies.

primrose : i tried once. not the something that you and i'd like to write about - but i wrote for family happiness and good health - as in all family members - mum, dad, sis and bro.

mrkiasu - i was confused as well. not sure the costumes that they were wearing represented the samurai or not. yes, japanese people are polite. well, i have seen rude ones too, but rare. if you are in japan long enough, you will get used to the senpai-kohai rules (senior-junior system) in japanese relation, which reflects the attitude of one towards another. A kohai is expected to respect and obey their senpai, and the senpai in turn must guide, protect and teach their kohai as best they can.

acrix : the fushimi-inari shrine with its countless torii surrounded by nature is indeed mesmerizing. if you walk along the hiking trail during a quiet evening, the place feels desolate and eerie. and seems to get more eerie with each steps you take. i experienced once - all alone scared as if i have entered the spirit zone. yes i can send a few pictures of the toriis over the weekend. ok ? what size do you prefer ?

ODD : thanks for nice compliment. i am really running out of pictures. but reading your blog gave me new ideas. hey i still have not done the 'I DONT CARE' project that we have agreed on earlier - i have totally forgotten about it.

zbjernak said...

wah.....
nice gates...the red torii...

but just curious...
inari here in malaysia referr to the japanese beancurd in Sushi King woh...
kekekekekek

the shrine are so ornamented....very jealous leh

emotionalistic said...

So did you write your wishes down on the wooden plates?? That will be the first thing i do if i go to Japan!!!

Patrick Leong said...

zbjernak : inari zushi is a simple and inexpensive type of sushi, in which sushi rice is filled into aburaage (deep fried tofu) bags (bingo like what you have written). and do you know about kitsune udon (fox udon) ? a noodle soup topped with pieces of aburaage (fried tofu), a favorite food of foxes as according to japanese.

emotionalistic : yes, i wrote once. but not in this shrine. well wishes for family members.

Acrix said...

erm 1600x 1200? Thx alot! As for the eerie feel, i guess i kinda know how it;s coz my uni there got a long stretch of balcony and sometime it;s pretty dark and cold~ Anyway, envy that u can get to so many nice places~

MengZ said...

the "WUH LEI CHING" remind me those chinese drama and legend.
haha one more thing..the japan famous anime, NARUTO, they mention about the KYUBI, the nine-tails demon fox.

Lrong said...

'only virgin girls can dance'... what gods are those, I wonder...

Patrick Leong said...

mengz : according to legend, there are two different types of kyubi no kitsune (nine-tailed fox) - the good celestial ones (tenko) and the very evil ones (tamamo-no-mae). there are two pokemon characters that are derived from nine-tailed fox.

lrong : you bet ! i am not sure. probably some gods and deities are hard to please. and what do you expect - it is supposed to be a SACRED dance, isn't it ?