Monday, June 1, 2009

Shinto Shrines - Daijingu

Although Daijingu is most commonly visited on New Years Eve, B and I couldn't help stopping in. We were riding our bikes aimlessly around Yamaguchi when we spotted the large torii, automatically identifying the area as a Shinto shrine. It was on three levels seperated by a flight (at least) of stairs. Each level also had it's own place for purification. You wash each hand with some water from the ladle, wash your mouth (which no one really does, and we don't do either), and finally the handle of the ladle itself. Even though no one was watching, we did it out of respect for the place we were visiting.

Temizu is the act of washing hands and Temizuya is the basin filled with water

The first was a shrine dedicated to Inari, god/goddess of agriculture, made clear by the 30 or so kitsune, fox, statues everywhere. It also had a series of red torii leading to a little path behind the shrine.

Pretty, eh?

The next level had several small shrines, a taiko drum, ropes and bells, and multiple places where you could pay a little money for either an omikuji (fortune telling piece of paper) or ema (wooden plaque). The omikuji is cheaper and contains a prewritten fortune (like fortune cookies!), good or bad. The bad ones are left tied to strings in front of the shrines and good ones are taken home or kept in your wallet. The ema are wooden plaques that are more expensive but much prettier on which you write wishes for the deities to grant and leave in front of the shrines. I desperately wanted to take home an ema with a beautiful bamboo/gohei/red-stamp pattern, but couldn't figure out where to pay for it. Oh well.

I wanted a blank version of the middle ema

We couldn't figure out the next level which had two newer "shrines" (actually, three gold-gilded buildings on stilts surrounded by a fence), a large roped off area that looked like the foundations of one of these three-part "shrine" structures, and a large flat rock covered in moss also sectioned off with rope.

The best part however was the random path up the mountain. Wild raspberries, caterpillars, and little white flowers that smelled almost like jasmine kept us company. We climbed at least 30 minutes before getting tired and going back down. The path was starting to get pretty rough and narrow. But we did get this awesome picture with Yamaguchi City in the background!

Sweaty and happy near the height of our climb


  1. Your photos are consistently impressive (what camera are you using?)...and the kitchen ninja seems dangerous. I'd keep my eye on him, if I were you.

  2. thanks! and the answer is, it depends... our snapshots are usually taken with a Nikon Coolpix S550, and my "fancy" shots (i.e. the ones on Flickr) are usually taken with my Canon Digital Rebel EOS (DS6041) SLR. I have some extra lenses for the latter one. But, sometimes we luck out with the Nikon.
    I sometimes perform some fine-tuning (cropping, color adjustments, etc) to the photos in iPhoto and/or Photoshop as well before posting.