Views of Japan

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Hiratsuka, Kanagawa, Japan
Welcome to my little blog. I'm an Australian father, budõ practitioner, and freelance photographer currently living in Japan. Castles, temples, shrines, mountains and rice paddys are among some of the scenes I present here. Please enjoy Views of Real Japan.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Sengen shrine, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi prefecture.

Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine is in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture. It is claimed that the shrine is 2000 years old. It is locatd at the north entrance to Mount Fuji.

Legends say that when Yamatotakeru no Mikoto was on his eastern campaign, he visited this spot and ordered that a Shinto Torii gate be built to mark the sacredness of Mount Fuji. He made an imperial proclamation that people should always climb Mount Fuji from this gate.

It is recorded that the first shrine was built in 788 but the shrine standing today was built by Torii Naritsugu in 1615.

There are actually approximately 1,310 Sengen Shinto shrines in Japan. Sengen shrines are centered around the worship of the kami Konohana-no-sakuyahime-no-mikoto, the daughter of the mountain god Ōyamatsumi-no-Mikoto. Konohana-no-sakuyahime-no-mikoto is the kami of Mount Fuji. Due to her fidelity, she is revered as a model for Japanese women.

Sengen shrines are found primarily in Shizuoka Prefecture and Yamanashi Prefecture, with a few smaller ones in other areas of the Kantō region and Aichi.

Generally, Sengen shrines must be within sight of Mount Fuji, and thus in connection with Konohana-no-sakuyahime-no-mikoto. Where obstructions hinder a direct view of Mount Fuji a Fujizuka or miniature Mount Fuji is erected instead where Konohana-no-sakuyahime-no-mikoto can be worshipped. A Fujizuka may be made from almost anything, but it must contain rocks from Mount Fuji which are believed to be imbued with the spirit or essence of Konohana-no-sakuyahime-no-mikoto.

Popular worship of Mount Fuji among all classes goes back to the Muromachi period (1392-1573) and has been passed down to today.

In 1561 the feudal lord Takeda Shingen had the Eastern Shrine built in order to placate the kami. He prayed to the kami for a victory at the fourth and most famous battle of Kawanakajima (Sept 1561)

There are quite a few buildings that are over 300 years old. The Eastern Shrine and the Western Shrine are classified as National Historical Treasures of Japan.

There are three sacred trees fenced off and marked by sacred rice straw ropes which are over 1000 years old standing in front of and to the right of the main shrine.

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