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Japan trip report #2: Kinomiya shrine in Atami - Lethargic Man (anag.)

Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2018-07-01 13:42
Subject: Japan trip report #2: Kinomiya shrine in Atami
Security: Public
Tags:japan, trip reports

Many of the tourist sites we saw in Japan were Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples. Japan has the, to western sensibilities, odd situation in which most people adhere to two religions. People go to Shinto shrines for happy events, such as births and weddings, but Buddhist temples for sad ones such as funerals. This state of affairs seems to have come about because Shinto worship consists entirely of venerating local deities; there's no code of ethics around which to structure one's life, and Theraveda Buddhism appears to have moved in to fill that gap.

This state of affairs with regard to Shintoism also means the religion has no holy books, which made aviva_m question where the rituals that we saw came from, then. Presumably they were all transmitted through oral tradition.

Actually, most people in Japan today are fairly secular (this may be because some of the great Buddhist temple complexes supported revolts against the shogunal government a few centuries ago, and the shogun responded by breaking their power in the land). Quite a few, seeing western-style church weddings in films, decide they want one themselves, so join a church a few weeks before their wedding in order to be able to achieve this—leading to the crazy situation of their having three religions at once.

Shinto shrines are to be distinguished from Buddhist temples in two ways. One is that before making an invocation to the enshrined deity, one claps one's hands twice, presumably to get the deity's attention, then bows; the other is that the approach to every Shinto shrine is marked by the presence of at least one Torii gate, usually, though not always, of red-painted wood, marking this as holy ground.

At the start of our holiday, Andrea and I spent a few days recovering from the jet lag in the beach resort of Atami, less than fifty miles from Tokyo. There we encountered our first shrine, called Kinomiya Jinja.

[1.4.kinomiyajinja shrine3]

It is the practice to wash one's hands and mouth before making an invocation at holy sites—something my Jewish readers will be very familiar with. Here's some כֵּלֵי נְטִילַּת יָדָיִם I photographed at a shrine elsewhere.

[4.25.netilas yodayim with dragon]

Also common with Judaism was a ban on taking photos of services, so we have none of those; instead, just lots of ritual objects we didn't really understand. This I think is either where the deity is enshrined, or a portable shrine in which the deity can be removed from the main shrine on religious occasions which demand it. (Note: This photo is coming out upside-down for me, despite my best attempts to fix this, on Firefox, Safari and Chromium, but if you click through to see it full resolution, it displays the correct way up. Computers!)

[1.4.kinomiyajinja shrine]

Here's a video I found on YouTube of Kinomiya, including rituals being performed there. In the meantime, have some koi:


[1.4.kinomiyajinja shrine torii gates]

This sequence of torii gates is suggestive, but only slightly, of the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, apparently Japan's number one tourist destination, where there are ten thousand torii gates in a row, but which we visited on Shabbos afternoon, so we have no pictures of it. Here's khiemtran's report of his trip to Fushimi Inari, which was what made me want to visit there in the first place; or alternatively, you can look at some photos on the Wikipedia page.

You'll be getting to see plenty more shrines and temples here in due course.

[Japan blog posts] [personal profile] lethargic_man's Japan blog posts

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curious_reader: excited fox jumping
User: curious_reader
Date: 2018-07-01 12:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:excited fox jumping
Wow! Amazing photos! It sounds like a very interesting experience and trip. I like in particular the landscape. It is so green. It looks rather tropical. Nothing looks very Jewish at all more typical Japanese. At least they kept their own culture and religion and nobody took it away. I think Koi is a carp fish. I am not sure if they all kosher. Some look a bit like catfish.
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Lethargic Man (anag.)
User: lethargic_man
Date: 2018-07-01 12:51 (UTC)
Subject: Koi
It's a giant goldfish, very typical of Japan. I've just looked it up and it turns out goldfish and koi are indeed both types of carp; well done for knowing that.
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User: khiemtran
Date: 2018-07-01 19:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Looks like a great trip! Here's the link to my entry on the Fushimi Inari shrine:

Turned out to be a lot harder to find than I expected. It was easier to search on flickr for the photos and then use the date to zero in on when I would have made the post.
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Lethargic Man (anag.)
User: lethargic_man
Date: 2018-07-01 20:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks! It was your report, along with my aunt's a few years later, that made me want to visit there in the first place.
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User: khiemtran
Date: 2018-07-01 20:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm glad you made it! I haven't been back to Japan since then, and it feels like it's time to go back...
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