Sunday, August 07, 2005

Nagoshi-no-Shinji

This being my second visit to the shrine in less than a fortnight. Second visit but still enchanting.
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Shimogamo Shrine is one of the oldest shrine in Japan, founded by the Kamo clan in the 8th century.
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Since the foundation of Kyoto as a capital in 794, the shrine has played an important role as the guardian of the Imperial Palaces.
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It is also an important venue for various key ceremonial rites (the famous Aoi Festival, the Mitarashi Festival and etc).
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Shimogamo Shrine is also known as the Kamomioya Shrine and is one of the key shrines in the area entrusted to ensure the success of the annual rice harvest.
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There are lots of festivals in Japan. According to the Kansai Time Out magazine (information on the japanese festival calender of the Kansai region), in the month of August, there are more than 20 festivals (excluding the firework festivals) in Kyoto alone and more than 50 in the Kansai region.
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Two priests were getting ready and waiting for the start of the Nagoshi-no-Shinji Festival.
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It was a long wait. I was playing abit with my digital camera. I flipped it to sepia mode.
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The weather is extremely hot now. Nagoshi-no-Shinji is a ceremony to end the hot summer. It celebrates a safe end to the hot season. Eighteen naked young men (wearing only fundoshi, a traditional japanese male loincloth) will jump into the Mitarashi Pond to retrieve as many sacred arrow talismans as they can (total fifty of them). It seems that the lucky ones will be saved from bad luck (meaning there are some unlucky ones ?)
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In the start of the event, a group of children performed the sacred drum songs.
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The highlight of the event - naked young men to jump into the pond to retrieve sacred skewers. 'Alas ... no naked man, the younger generations are more conservative', the chinese girl standing beside me complained. Too many cameras flashing, me thinks.
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At the end of the event, the sacred pond was filled with some sort of praying papers.
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One of the opening doors to the sacred area of the Shinto Shrine.
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More lantern pictures. I quite like this one.
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I am weak in japanese language. What does this mean ? Two hearts or two souls ?
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Shrine visitors can pass through a large loop (chinowa) made of thatch to exorcise any bad spirits and to pray for a healthy year.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah....where are the Naked Men??
AL

seiko said...

two hearts!!
soul=魂 

beautiful pictures!

Sweepy said...

again, breath-taking pictures

zbjernak said...

wow...the main entrance is so majestic...
great and astonishing..
i think the day time picture is better

Acrix said...

The pond is only meant for men? Hmm, i think naked woman would be more interesting than naked man :P

emotionalistic said...

By when should the ceremony starts? Must wait till night time??

Melissa said...

If they're not naked, whats the point? :) hehe...nice pix! With all these adventures, when do you find time to study? :)

ODD said...

Beutiful.

Elisa said...

abres una grandiosa ventana para poder mirar tu pais... hermosas fotos :)

Lrong said...

Good photos!!

Patrick Leong said...

ai ling : i look forward for some nice pictures during the hadaka matsuri next january in osaka.

seiko : i was hoping for some deeper meanings - hidden kokoro. i was imagining that these lanterns are maybe used as guiding light for lost souls.

sweepy, odd, elisa, lrong : thanks.

zbjernak : you are not the only one who said that. but i still prefer the night view one. :P

acrix : naked woman in the scared shrine ! you wish.

emotionalistic : i have no idea why the ceremony starts in late evening.

melissa : yea. true. i ought to spend more time on my research. i saw that you went for the PL firework festival. it must be beautiful.