After arriving in Shimane Prefecture for a short stay, my husband and I went for a walk to explore the area around our lodgings. My husband had seen a small shrine called Sasafuku Jinja on the map and wanted to check it out so off we went. We saw only a few people, mostly elderly ladies working in their gardens, and just enjoyed the peace and quiet of being outside on a beautiful day.
For more information (in Japanese but with lovely photos): https://www.nichinan-trip.jp/culture/sasafuku-jinja/
For many years, some of the more famous temples and shrines in Japan have been organizing light-up events to encourage people to visit during the off-season. These events have been especially popular in Kyoto, and before the pandemic, they brought in hordes of tourists. Well, times have changed, and there are few tourists to be seen these days. However, light-up events have continued to be popular, and many smaller temples and shrines have also started to offer light-up events. These events offer encouragement to local communities and draw in visitors from nearby. And, since it's all outdoors, people feel relatively safe even during these uncertain times.
One such light-up event was held this fall at Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine, on the edge of Kyoto Prefecture. We arrived just as the blue hour was fading, and I was surprised at how few people there were. (Of course, I shouldn't have been surprised since we were there on a weeknight, and it was to be held over several weeks.) We enjoyed the growing darkness and the magic of lighting. Ah, so lovely!
For more about Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine: https://osaka-info.jp/en/discover-kansai/iwashimizu-hachimangu-yawata/
For more about light-up events in Kyoto, 2021: https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/news/temples-and-shrines-in-kyoto-are-holding-evening-illuminations-this-autumn-101321 (There's a beautiful photo of the shrine during this light-up event.)
Interesting fact: Thomas Edison used bamboo from this shrine in the course of making the first light bulb! For more about that, scroll to the bottom of this website: https://travel.gaijinpot.com/iwashimizu-hachimangu-shrine/
I was fascinated by this handle which was on a small standing structure on the grounds of Matsunoo Taisha Shrine in Arashiyama, Kyoto. It was surprisingly small and I loved the care given to the design - those two symmetrical dragon heads and the lovely scales on the main section. I wonder about who designed it and who made it (the same person?), and what considerations where made during the process. Ah, so beautiful... Thank you, whoever you were! (I image it is quite old but, to be honest, I don't really know.)
A combination of rain, humidity, and a heavy work load has meant that I haven't had much of a chance to be out and about. However, there are always photos waiting to be edited and so I've been going through my photos when I have time. Let's see...
This one is from a local Shinto shrine dedicated to Inari, a Shinto god or spirit. In ancient times foxes ("kitsune" in Japanese) and humans lived in close contact with each other and this gave rise to various legends, many of which originated in China.The fox was thought to be very intelligent and to possess supernatural abilities including shapeshifting into human form. In Japan, they are closely associated with Inari and serve as the spirit's messengers. As a result, if you visit an Shinto shrine that is dedicated to Inari (apparently more than 1/3 of all the Shinto shrines in Japan), you will inevitably see statues and images of foxes and the more you look, the more you will find. Some people even offer sacrifices to the "kitsune" messengers as deity because of their potential power and influence.
Me? I just love the varying shapes, sizes and designs that can be found when comparing various "kitsune" and the colour contrasts with the reddish-orange of Shinto shrines. "Kitsune" can range from very small to very large and from very detailed to almost abstract. This particular arrangement was a first as I had never seen so many all lined up in a row - and each was different from the other. There must have been more than 10 lined up on each side. Next time I'll count!
I'm a photographer based in Osaka, Japan. I love to take photographs. I like to share.