Cherry Blossom Forecast 2024 (Japanese version only) (Japanese version only) (Japanese version only)

when and where to see cherry blossoms (Japanese version only):

Monday, December 23, 2013

capybaras taking yuzu-bath

In Japan, there is a traditional custom to take a yuzuyu (yuzu citron bath), eat pumpkins and adzuki-gayu (rice gruel with adzuki beans) to prevent catching cold on the winter solstice.

Some aquariums prepare yuzu-bath for capybaras. They spend a lot of time wallowing in hot water. Capybaras are popular because they have a relaxed air.

 Izu Cactus Park (Izu Shaboten Koen), Shizuoka Prefecture

カピバラ温泉 by yto /flickr

Saitama Children's Zoo, Saitama Prefecture

They enjoy utaseyu (stream of water cascading onto one's back).

カピバラ by kkctys /flickr
Saitama Children's Zoo

カピバラ by kkctys /flickr

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Kichirei Kaomise Kogyo 2013

Sorry for the late update. It's been almost a month since I last wrote on my blog.
Many things happened at home and abroad.

Christmas lights are shining bright.

Illumination spots in Japan(Japanese version only):

Kichirei Kaomise Kogyo(吉例顔見世興行, December Kabuki Program) is being held from November 30th to December 26th at Kyoto Minamiza Theatre. It's an annual kabuki program with an all-star cast of east(Tokyo) and west(Osaka, Kyoto). Sixty-one actors are performing this year.

November Kabuki Program Time Schedule:

You can see more information about Kichirei Kaomise Kogyo on the "Kabuki Web" site from SHOCHIKU's web site.

Maneki were put up above the theatre's entrance on November 25.
Maneki are hinoki cypress signboards on which actors' names and their family crests are written in a Japanese lettering style, Kanteiryu(勘亭流). The style leaves less blank space in hopes of being filled to the rafters.

Ichikawa Ennosuke IV and Ichikawa Chusha IX  made the opening speech on this day. In this program, They made a statement of their succession to the name.  Ichikawa Chusha IX(九代目 市川 中車) is the son of Ichikawa En'o II(former Ichikawa Ennosuke III) and is a cousin of Ichikawa Ennosuke IV(四代目 市川猿之助). He is very present as the actor Teruyuki Kagawa(香川照之). He has appeared in many TV dramas and films including a 2000 Chinese film "Devils on the Doorstep" (simplified Chinese: 鬼子来了) by Jiang Wen, a 2008 film "Tokyo Sonata" by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. At the Cannes Film Festival, Devils on the Doorstep won the Grand Prix in 2000, Tokyo Sonata did the Prix Un Certain Regard in 2008.

Chusha got shut of the kabuki world because of his parents' divorce. He went in to meet his father after becoming an actor. En'o told him that their parental bond had been broken and En'o never wanted to see him.  En'o reconciled with his son through the effort of En'o's wife. En'o suffered cerebral infarction in 2003. En'o lived with Chusha's family for a period of time.

Most kabuki actors are trained from a very young age. Chusha is almost 50 years old, and had never been trained as a kabuki actor. There are many kabuki actors who take a dim view of him. However, he has contributed to ticket sales for kabuki performances.
Chusha wanted his son, now 9, to be a kabuki actor. He dared to start his career as a kabuki actor in order to back up his son. His son succeeded the name of Ichikawa Danko V.

Kichirei Kaomise Kogyo(December Kabuki Program) at Kyoto MINAMIZA Theatre

Matinee (from 10:30 AM) includes the following performances.

Itsukushima Maneku Hiogi -Himanegi no Kiyomori(厳島招檜扇 日招ぎの清盛, Kiyomori calls back the setting sun) performed by Kataoka Gato V(五代目 片岡 我當) and others.

Michiyuki Tabiji No Yomeiri(道行旅路の嫁入, The Bride's Journey) from Kanadehon Chushingura(仮名手本忠臣蔵) performed by Nakamura Tokizo V(五代目 中村 時蔵) and others.

Jiisan Baasan (ぢいさんばあさん, The Old Couple) performed by Ichikawa Chusha IX(九代目 市川 中車) and others.

Ninin Wankyu (二人椀久, Wankyu and Matsuyama) performed by Kataoka Takataro(片岡 孝太郎) and Kataoka Ainosuke VI(片岡 愛之助).

Takataro played the role of Emperor Hirohito in the film "Emperor". It is a 2012 American-Japanese post-World War II film directed by Peter Webber.

Ainosuke's father operated a screw factory. Ainosuke attracted the attention of Kataoka Nizaemon XIII when appearing in a TV drama as a child actor. He started to be trained as a kabuki actor, and became an adopted son of Kataoka Hidetaro II. He got a lot of visibility because he appeared in a popular TV drama this year.

Kawatsura Hogen Yakata(川連法眼館の場, The Kawatsura Hogen Mansion Scene) from Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura(義経千本桜, Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees) performed by Ichikawa Ennosuke IV(former Ichikawa Kamejiro), Sakata Tojuro IV(四代目 坂田藤十郎) and others.

Evening Show (from 4:15 PM) includes the following performances.

Ohama Goten -Lord Tokugawa Tsunatoyo(御浜御殿綱豊卿) from Genroku Chushingura(元禄忠臣蔵) performed by Nakamura Baigyoku IV(四代目 中村 梅玉) and others.

Kojo (a ceremony to announce that an actor takes a new stage name) by Ichikawa En'o II, Ichikawa Ennosuke IV, Ichikawa Chusha IX and Tojuro.

Kurozuka (黒塚, The Black Mound on the Adachi Plain) performed by Ichikawa Ennosuke IV and others.

Michiyuki Yuki no Furusato(道行雪故郷, Travel Dance to Hometown in Snow) from Ninokuchimura(新口村, Ninokuchi Village) performed by Sakata Tojuro IV(四代目 坂田藤十郎) and Nakamura Kanjaku V(五代目 中村翫雀).

Jiraiya(児雷也) performed by Nakamura Baigyoku IV(四代目 中村 梅玉) and others.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Annual Exhibition of Shoso-in Treasures

The 65th Annual Exhibition of Shoso-in Treasures is being held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (until 7 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays), from October 26 to November 11 at the Nara National Museum. YOMIURI ONLINE(Japanese version) is offering information on waiting times to enter the venue.

Refer to a previous post for information about Shoso-in Treasures:

At this year's exhibition, 66 items in its collections are on display.  The exhibits include“Heiradenhai no Enkyo”(round bronze mirror with floral and bird designs in mother-of-pearl and amber) and“Urushi Kinpaku E no Ban” (lacquered incense burner tray with painting on gold leaf).

Shoso-in was repeatedly robbed. In 1230, some monks broke down a round bronze mirror into smaller bits and concealed it from view to sneak it out of Shoso-in. The mirror was made of white copper, but they took it for silver. They were executed. The broken-down mirror is on exhibit at this year's exhibition.
In 1610, bowls with lid made of tin in combination with copper were stolen and returned. 
One of the criminals died in prison and the others were executed in 1612. A container for the bowls is also on view.

Many chrysanthemum festivals are being held throughout Japan.

major chrysanthemum festivals: version only) (Japanese version only)

The Kyoto Imperial Palace is being opened to the public from October 31 to November 4. Admission is free.

The autumn imperial garden party was held with 1,800 persons of merit in various fields at Akasaka Gyoen on October 31.

At Kenroku-en(兼六園) in Kanazawa, plantsmen started to place ropes or wires around trees to protect them from the snow on November 1. Its release is scheduled for mid-March. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Japanese deer

Typhoon Francisco and Lekima are moving to the northeast in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. Typhoon Francisco has brought drenching rainfall to many areas in Japan. Typhoon Wipha caused deadly landslides on Izu Oshima island on the 16th. The typhoon killed 31 people, and rescuers are still searching for 13 missing people. It disrupted traffic in Kanto Region.

In higher elevations, it snowed and the leaves are beginning to drop from the trees.

Autumn colors in Japan (Japanese version only):

The Deer Antler Cutting Ceremony was held at Nara Park in Nara Prefecture on October 12th and 14th. Although male deer shed their antlers before winter and grow them back in spring every year, the event started in 1671 to prevent antlered deer from injuring people or another deer. They have no pain because nerves are not located in the mature antler. Antlers are dedicated to the deity. This event is held in accordance with ancient ritual, but the antlers of about 250 deer in Nara Park are cut from the end of August through March.

1_large by merec0 /flickr

PA112472 by merec0 /flickr

PA112495 by merec0 /flickr

182_large by merec0 /flickr

188_large by merec0 /flickr

198_large by merec0 /flickr

204_large by merec0 /flickr

237_large by merec0 /flickr

277_large by merec0 /flickr
287_large by merec0 /flickr

164_large by merec0 /flickr

around five-storied pagoda in Kofuku-ji Temple
photo by

Visitors can see many deer around Nara Park. They are unafraid of humans, but they are wild animals. It's dangerous to come close to male deer in estrus and mother deer with fawns.

around five-storied pagoda in Kofuku-ji Temple
photo by

Their staple food is the native plants around the park. Many deer died of the human foods that tourists gave to them or of plastic food packages that tourists threw away. We are not allowed to feed them. The park has no garbage to prevent deer from accidentally eating them.

at Todai-ji Temple
photo by

at Todai-ji Temple
photo by

IMG_3825 by tetchang /flickr

Only Shika-senbei(cracker containing rice bran and cereals) is sold as a snack by Foundation For The Protection Of Deer In Nara. The foundation is engaged in protection activity for them. A part of earnings from these cracker sales are used to protect deer.

The foundation operates Rokuen (Deer enclosure) for sick or injured deer, bucks that have potential for harming humans, aggressive rutting bucks, pregnant does and does with fawns. This facility was closed to the public, but the foundation turned to open it to convey to visitors the real state of deer in Nara last year.

293_large by merec0 /flickr

Fawns are born in late May to early July at Rokuen in Nara Park. Visitors can see fawns for only a few hours from June 1 to 30 at Rokuen. Mother deer and fawns return to the park around mid-July. Mother deer are wary of human smells. It is best not to touch fawns.

kensai_kodak_eb-3_217s by yingtak /flickr

For more information about Foundation for the Protection of Deer in Nara:  (Japanese version only)

The foundation announced that 1,094 deer live in Nara Park and Mount Wakakusa as of July 16, 2013. They include 210 bucks, 736 does, 148 fawns. In one year, 100 deer had died of traffic accident, 144 had died of disease, and 115 had died from other causes.

They have been designated as a national natural treasure.  The deer is regarded as a messenger of the deities at the Kasuga Grand Shrine (春日大社, Kasuga-taisha).  They have been living there since before the shrine was built in 768.

The shrine invited Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto(the deity of thunder, the deity of war) from Kashima Jingu Shrine (鹿島神宮) in Ibaraki Prefecture as an enshrined deity of the Kasuga Grand Shrine. According to the legend, the divided spirit of Takemikazuchi rode a white deer to Nara with many deer. 

At Kashima Shrine, the deer is regarded as a messenger of the deities because deer sent the message from Amaterasu(an enshrined deity of Ise Shrine) to Kashima Shrine's deity. There are about 30 deer in a deer garden of the Kashima Shrine. 

From February to mid-March, Shikayose(Herding Deer by Blowing a Horn) is held at Tobuhino(飛火野) in Nara Park. When a player blows a horn, a herd of wild deer comes running up to the player to get acorns. The annual event started to herd deer in 1892 when a deer shelter was built in Nara Park.

Shikayose was held several times in July and August this year.

Except during the above period, visitors can enjoy this event for fee. Advance reservation is required.

奈良の鹿寄せ 2011 - 02
奈良の鹿寄せ 2011 - 02 by Sekikos /flickr

奈良の鹿寄せ 2011 - 04
奈良の鹿寄せ 2011 - 04 by Sekikos /flickr

奈良の鹿寄せ 2011 - 08
奈良の鹿寄せ 2011 - 08 by Sekikos /flickr

The Deer Antler Cutting Ceremony was also held at Kinkasan in Miyagi Prefecture on October 6.
Kinkasan (金華山, Kinkasan or Kinkazan) is a small sacred island off the Oshika Peninsula in Miyagi Prefecture. The island is covered with primeval forest.  Wild deer and monkeys live there.

It's only the workers of Koganeyama Jinja Shrine(黄金山神社) who live in the island. The shrine was badly damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and a typhoon in 2011.

Deer Antler Cutting Ceremony  at Kinkasan
photo by Miyagi Prefecture Tourism Division
Deer Antler Cutting Ceremony  at Kinkasan
photo by Miyagi Prefecture Tourism Division
 at Kinkasan
photo by Miyagi Prefecture Tourism Division

About 500 wild deer live there. The deer have been regarded as the messengers of a deity, so they are wandering around the shrine. After the antlers of about 15 bucks are cut, they have a medical checkup. Some people say that they are kind of shy compared with deer in Nara.

Even throughout Japan,  deer overpopulation is a serious problem. They feed on crops, garden plants and kill forest trees by feeding on young trees and the bark of trees, by rubbing antlers against trees.

 A media reported on November 12 in 2012 that Nara Prefecture was considering to decrease the number of deer. Many people have strongly protested against the elimination of the deer.
Some people say that the Japanese deer should be exterminated to protect the environment from the deer. The prefecture was thinking about ways to reduce deer feeding damage, but deferred discussion on the matter.

Most longtime residents in Nara don't make a complaint about deer. Though they eat crops, plants in personal gardens, and trample on a flowerbed in a university near the park. The prefecture has received more complaints from newcomers.

Miyajima(Itsukushima) is an island in Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture. Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社) on the island has been registered on the World Heritage List (cultural part) in 1996.

Some people say that deer have lived in Miyajima for 6,000 years. The natural foods supply has been limited in the island. They had searched for food by moving round the island. Only a few deer populations remained there. Miyajima residents cherished the deer as a messenger of a deity. They tried to increase their deer population. It has increased tremendously since the 1970s when a boom in tourism had taken place. They lost their natural wildness and got used to human habitats because tourists fed them human food. They may get sick, die or become malnourished due to human food. They have had negative effects on biodiversity in the woods near the town.

Hatsukaichi City urges tourists not to feed deer human food. The city tries to get them back to where they should be. Some people say that skinny deer are more common in Miyajima. Unable to stand by any longer, they feed starving deer acorns.

                                                     deer in Miyajima

Yezo deer (Cervus nippon yesoensis) are indigenous to Hokkaido. The number of the deer has recently increased drastically. Their increasing numbers have caused a large number of deer-vehicle traffic accidents, have damaged to food crops, and have had negative effects on biodiversity. For now, hunting is the best way to control deer populations. The Hokkaido government is encouraging people not only to hunt but also to eat venison. We are unfamiliar with venison. 

Yezo deer

Yezo deer

Kanoko(鹿の子) means a fawn. Kanoko pattern(white‐spotted pattern) was named after the fawn's spots although mother deer also have the pattern.

"Kanoko shibori" is one of the methods of tie-dyeing cloth regularly patterned like the fawn's spots. Shibori includes a number of labor-intensive resist techniques including stitching elaborate patterns and tightly gathering the stitching before dyeing, forming intricate designs for kimonos. 

Kanoko is also the name of a Japanese confection.

obiage(帯揚げ) of complete tie-dyeing

Obiage is a scarf-like piece of cloth that covers up the obimakura(a small oval cushion) for keeping the upper part of the obi knot in place. Obiage is tucked into top of obi and is relatively big when kimono is dressed up.

      tie-dyed bag

Hanafuda (花札) is a Japanese card game with 48 cards. The name literally means "flower cards." It comes from the Portuguese word "carta" that came down to Japan in the 16th century. There are twelve suits. Each suit has four cards with a design representing each of the twelve months.

One card of Hanafuda--deer and maple in the tenth month of the year(in the lunar calendar)

The design of this card comes from the following waka poem by Sarumaru no Taifu(猿丸大夫). He was a waka poet in the eighth or ninth century, and is also known as Sarumaru Dayu. His date of birth and death is unknown. 

奥山に もみぢ踏みわけ 鳴く鹿の 
声きく時ぞ 秋は悲しき
O-ku-ya-ma-ni Mo-mi-ji-fu-mi-wa-ke Na-ku-shi-ka-no 
Ko-we-ki-ku-to-ki-zo A-ki-wa-ka-na-shi-ki

Deep in the mountains, a deer makes his way through fallen maple leaves bleating for his wife.
His long plaintive cry brings on feelings of melancholy.

A Little Deer
A Little Deer by Ching Lau /flickr

Friday, October 11, 2013

The 62nd Shikinen Sengu of the Ise Shrine

In Ise Jingu Shrine(伊勢神宮) in Mie Prefecture, the Sengyo(transfer of the deity) ceremony was held at the Naiku(the inner shrine) on October 2, and at the Geku(the outer shrine) on October 5. Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine(出雲大社) in Shimane Prefecture and Ise Jingu Shrine carried out Sengu(遷宮, transferring deities to new or restored shrine buildings) this year.

Ise Shrine transfers its deities to new shrine buildings once a every 20 years, and Izumo Shrine does its deity(大国主大神, Okuninushi-no-okami) to its restored building once a every 60 years. At Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine, the deity was returned to the restored shrine at a festival called Senzasai(遷座祭) was held on May 10.    

Shikinen Sengu(式年遷宮) means transferring of a deity to a new shrine building once in a prescribed number of years. When a religion scholar participated in the ritual, he felt that an old deity died and a new deity was born. Deities die and are reborn any number of times. In the people's consciousness it is imprinted that deities have eternal youth and immortality by rebuilding every 20 years. According to Ise Shrine, the first shikinen sengu was held at the Naiku in 690. This event was discontinued for over 120 years during the Warring States Period and was postponed several times.

Shikinen Sengu at Ise Shrine:  (Japanese version only)

The 61st rebuilding of the Ise Shrine: (English version)

The 62th rebuilding of the Ise Shrine:  (Japanese version only)

Sengyo ceremony video(available on the net until November 3, 2013):

It's unclear what is the significance of the 20 year time span. There are various theories as to the time span.
In the lunar calendar, 'Sakutantoji' (the winter solstice on the 1st of the eleventh month) comes around once in 19 or 20 years (Metonic cycle). In ancient China, the winter solstice and the 1st of the 11 month marked the beginning of a year. So Sakutan Toji was celebrated in style.
Shikinen Sengu is thought to be in fact large scale Kannamesai. The storage period of grain for Kannamesai was 20 years.

Ise Jingu Shrine has 125 shrines centered on Naiku(内宮, the inner shrine) dedicated to Amaterasu-omikami(天照大神) and Geku(外宮, the outer shrine) dedicated to Toyouke-no-omikami(豊受大神).

In the 1830s, 4.8 million people, which accounted for a sixth part of the total population in Japan, made pilgrimages to Ise Jingu.

For more information about pilgrims to Ise Shrine in the Edo Period

Ordinary people can't step into the sacred areas including the main sanctuary buildings of the Naiku and Geku. They can enter the areas by contributing money to the shrine at the Kaguraden(神楽殿), but the innermost areas are closed to them. They have to obey a strict dress code in order to enter the areas.

Shinto shrines have an austere style.  

entrance to the Naiku's sacred area including its main building

正宮 - 伊勢神宮 内宮/伊勢旅行 [Ise Jingu]
正宮 - 伊勢神宮 内宮/伊勢旅行 [Ise Jingu] by Tranpan23 /flickr

20130301 Ise Jingu 4
20130301 Ise Jingu 4 by BONGURI /flickr

 entrance to the Geku's sacred area including its main building

Photo by (c)Tomo.Yun

Naiku, Geku and 14 Betsugu(shrines belonging to Geku and Naiku) were rebuilt.

Ten Betsugu shrines belonging to Naiku include Aramatsuri-no-miya(荒祭宮), Tsukiyomi-no-miya(月讀宮), Tsukiyomi-no-aramitama-no-miya(月読荒御魂宮), Izanagi-no-miya(伊佐奈岐宮), Izanami-no-miya(伊佐奈弥宮), Takihara-no-miya(瀧原宮), Takiharanarabi-no-miya(瀧原竝宮), Izawa-no-miya(伊雑宮), Yamatohime-no-miya(倭姫宮), Kazahinomi-no-miya(風日祈宮).

Four Betsugu shrines belonging to Geku include Taka-no-miya(多賀宮), Tsuchi-no-miya(土宮), Kaze-no-miya(風宮), Tsukiyomi-no-miya(月夜見宮).

The new building of each shrine was built on an adjacent site next to the old one. Each rebuilding alternates between the two sites. Old and new shrine buildings like twins will stand side by side until around next February. However, the old building of Naiku might be demolished earlier.

Sengyo ceremonies will be held at Taka-no-miya on October 13, at 12 Betsugu shrines in 2014.


Tsukiyomi,  Amaterasu's younger brother, is enshrined in Tsukiyomi-no-miya(月夜見宮) in Geku and Tsukiyomi-no-miya(月讀宮) in Naiku.

伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 月夜見宮 - Tsukiyomi no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine) // 2010.02.12 - 8
伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 月夜見宮 - Tsukiyomi no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine) // 2010.02.12 - 8
by Tamago Moffle /flickr


伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 伊雑宮 - Izawa no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine)// 2010.02.13 - 5
伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 伊雑宮 - Izawa no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine)// 2010.02.13 - 5
by Tamago Moffle /flickr


伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 瀧原宮 - Takihara no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine)// 2010.02.13 - 5
伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 瀧原宮 - Takihara no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine)// 2010.02.13 - 5
by Tamago Moffle /flickr


伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 倭姫宮 - Yamatohime no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine) // 2010.02.12 - 4
伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 倭姫宮 - Yamatohime no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine) // 2010.02.12 - 4
by Tamago Moffle /flickr


伊勢神宮外宮 - Geku of Ise Grand Shrine // 2010.02.10 - 4


伊勢神宮外宮 - Geku of Ise Grand Shrine // 2010.02.10 - 5
伊勢神宮外宮 - Geku of Ise Grand Shrine // 2010.02.10 - 5
by Tamago Moffle /flickr

Kaguraden(神楽殿) in Naiku
P1010181 by michaelchan /flickr

 Kaguraden(神楽殿) in Naiku

Ise Shrine_61
Ise Shrine_61 by ajari /flickr

Kaguraden(神楽殿) in  Geku

伊勢神宮 by yusuke.inquisitor /flickr

At Goshoden (main sanctuary) of the Naiku, Visitors should give thanks to the deity. Making a personal wish to the deity is not recommended there. Visitors are allowed to make a personal wish at Takanomiya(either 多賀宮 or 高宮) in Geku or Aramatsurinomiya(荒祭宮) in Naiku.


伊勢神宮外宮 - Geku of Ise Grand Shrine // 2010.02.10 - 7
伊勢神宮外宮 - Geku of Ise Grand Shrine // 2010.02.10 - 7
by Tamago Moffle /flickr


R0014199 by Ryosuke Yagi /flickr

Takanomiya is a shrine where aramitama (deity's rough soul) of Toyouke-no-omikami is enshrined. In Aramatsurinomiya, Amaterasu-omikami's aramitama is enshrined. As with Naiku and Geku, old and new buildings of these shrines stand side by side. Originally the approach to a Shinto shrine was for deities. They walk on the middle of the approach, so human is allowed to walk on its sides. The demolished old shrines are recycled as material for the construction of other shrines in Ise Shrine and local shrines related to the shrine. after Shikinen Sengu was held in 1993, the old building of Tsukiyomi-no-miya(月讀宮) was moved to Okushiri Island (奥尻島) in Hokkaido. It has been used as the main building of Aonae-kotoshironushi Shrine(青苗言代主). Its former building was destroyed by tsunami and fire due to the southwest-off Hokkaido earthquake on July 12 in 1993. Amaterasu's parents, her younger brother Tsukiyomi and his aramitama (deity's rough soul) are enshrined in Tsukiyonomiya.


Tsukiyomi is a younger brother of Amaterasu.

伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 月讀宮 - Tsukiyomi no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine) // 2010.02.12 - 09
伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 月讀宮 - Tsukiyomi no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine) // 2010.02.12 - 09
by Tamago Moffle /flickr

伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 月讀宮 - Tsukiyomi no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine) // 2010.02.12 - 06
伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 月讀宮 - Tsukiyomi no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine) // 2010.02.12 - 06
by Tamago Moffle /flickr


Izanagi is the father of Amaterasu and Tsukiyomi.

伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 月讀宮 - Tsukiyomi no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine) // 2010.02.12 - 10
伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 月讀宮 - Tsukiyomi no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine) // 2010.02.12 - 10
by Tamago Moffle /flickr


Izanami is the mother of Amaterasu and Tsukiyomi.

伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 月讀宮 - Tsukiyomi no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine) // 2010.02.12 - 11
伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 月讀宮 - Tsukiyomi no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine) // 2010.02.12 - 11
by Tamago Moffle /flickr

Tsukiyomi-no-miya's aramitama (deity's rough soul) is enshrined in Tsukiyomi-aramitama-no-miya(月讀荒御魂宮).
伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 月讀宮 - Tsukiyomi no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine) // 2010.02.12 - 07
伊勢神宮 外宮別宮 月讀宮 - Tsukiyomi no miya (Geku of Ise Grand Shrine) // 2010.02.12 - 07
by Tamago Moffle /flickr

The logs that were used as pillars at Shikinen Sengu in 1929 were diverted to the torii(shrine gate) of Uji Bridge(宇治橋) in Ise Shrine at Shikinen Sengu in 1953, to the torii of Suzukanoseki(鈴鹿の関) in Kameyama City, Mie Prefecture in 1973.

Although the torii gate of Ikuta Shrine in Kobe was destroyed by the Great Hanshin earthquake on January 17 in 1995, the gate was rebuilt by use of the logs in July of 1995. In Tohoku Region, more than 500 shrines were destroyed or swept away by quake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

About 10 of them were rebuilt from thinned wood in the Ise Shrine's forest. Where old logs will be transferred has not been decided yet.

Torii gate of Uji Bridge

photo by 日本列島お国自慢

伊勢神宮内宮 by Kentaro Ohno

Isuzu River viewed from Uji Bridge

Uji Bridge over the Isuzu River leads to the Naiku.

P1010167 by michaelchan /flickr

GYO_0006 by Nguyen Vu Hung (vuhung) /flickr

Kazahinominomiya-mihashi Bridge(風日祈宮御橋)  was also rebuilt. The bridge leads to Kazahinomi-no-miya(風日祈宮).

old Kazahinominomiya-mihashi Bridge

Ise Shrine_62
Ise Shrine_62 / ajariR0014206 by Ryosuke Yagi /flickr

new Kazahinominomiya-mihashi Bridge

20110206 Ise 4 (New torii)
20110206 Ise 4 (New torii) by BONGURI /flickr


Two deities of the wind are enshrined in this shrine. It was believed that they caused Kamikaze (wind of god) and chased away  the Mongolian army at the time of the Mongolian Invasion in 1274 and 1281.

R0014211 by Ryosuke Yagi /flickr

 Mishine-no-mikura(御稲御倉) storehouse for rice. This building is similar in architectural style to the main buildings of Naiku and Geku. Visitors can take a close look at this building.


Isuzagawa Mitarashi(五十鈴川御手洗場) in Naiku

Pilgrims cleanse their hands and rinse their mouths here.

伊勢神宮 内宮 - Naiku of Ise Grand Shrine // 2010.02.12 - 05
伊勢神宮 内宮 - Naiku of Ise Grand Shrine // 2010.02.12 - 05 
by Tamago Moffle /flickr

R0014165 by Ryosuke Yagi /flickr

Ise Shrine_03
Ise Shrine_03 by ajari /flickr

Magatama-ike Pond(勾玉池) in Geku

Ise Shrine_37
Ise Shrine_37 by ajari /flickr

Ise jingu shrine
Ise jingu shrine by GinkgoTelegraph /flickr

new torii gate of Geku

Ise jingu shrine
Ise jingu shrine by GinkgoTelegraph /flickr

IMG_1003.JPG by ftomiz /flickr

伊勢神宮 内宮 - Naiku of Ise Grand Shrine // 2010.02.12 - 09 
by Tamago Moffle /flickr

Worshippers wash their hands and mouths at Temizusha(手水舎).
R0014067 by Ryosuke Yagi /flickr



one of two sacred horses belonging to Geku

 by Tamago Moffle /flickr

one of two sacred horses belonging to Naiku

伊勢神宮内宮 by Kentaro Ohno /flickr

Some roosters are roaming about in the shrine. The rooster is regarded as a messenger of the deity at Ise Shrine. It comes from the following myth.

Amaterasu, the female deity of sun, was troubled over her brother's barbaric behavior and hid inside a rock cave. This caused the sun to hide for a long period of time. Other deities got bothered. They tried many different ways to get her out of the cave They racked their brains about how to get her out of the cave. They made roosters crow as a way of luring her away.

The Sengyo ceremony starts with an imitation of the crow of a rooster.

R0014137 by Ryosuke Yagi /flickr

伊勢神宮 内宮 - Naiku of Ise Grand Shrine // 2010.02.12 - 11 by Tamago Moffle /flickr

Chanticleer's Battle 2 (雄鶏の戦闘) by BONGURI /flickr

The 62nd Shikinen Sengu of the Ise Shrine started in 2005. In addition to the rebuilding of shrines, 1,576 items of 714 different kinds including furnishing goods and costumes are also changed for new ones. A sword named Sugari-no-ontachi, one of the items, is decorated with the tail feather of a Japanese crested ibis.

Shikinen Sengu is also a way of passing techniques from one generation to the next. The items are made with basically the same material as the original items in the same way. Contemporary master craftsmen create the precise duplicates of the original objects to the greatest extent possible. The items that were placed in old shrine buildings are displayed at Jingu History Museum(神宮徴古館, Jingu Chokokan).

Jingu History Museum(Jingu Chokokan Museum):   (Japanese version only)

Okage-yokocho Street in Oharai-machi on approach to the Naiku of Ise Jingu Shrine

R0014114 by Ryosuke Yagi /flickr

 Akafuku(赤福), a Japanese-style confection store
伊勢神宮内宮前 おかげ横丁 ise jinguu naiguu okage yokochou
伊勢神宮内宮前 おかげ横丁 ise jinguu naiguu okage yokochou 
by bluXgraphics(motorcycle design Japan)=Midorikawa /flickr

Akafuku-mochi(赤福餅) has been a specialty confection of Ise. Akafuku(赤福), a Japanese-style confection store, is said to have started selling the confection in front of the Naiku in 1707.

R0014103 by Ryosuke Yagi /flickr