December 18, 2009

The Biggest Shinto Festival in Nara

The deity of Young Prince Shrine in Kasuga Grand Shrine travels once a year. Every year on December 17th, he moves to a temporally built traveling place (1 kilometer to the west of Young Prince Shrine) to stay there, and goes back in 24 hours.

While his staying in the traveling place, people offer a variety of performances in front of him to please him. He enjoys entertainment of the people behind the bamboo curtain.

In the 12th century, the country was suffering a long period of rain which caused a serious famine. People invited Young Prince to the traveling place to ask him for help. This is the origin of Honorable Festival dedicated to him. This festival is the biggest festival in Nara and is famous for the traditional procession.

Can you guess what they are doing in the procession? A hint is that many horses also are joining the procession.

Maybe even Shinto deity is tired of daily routines and needs to travel. Some Shinto deities are much like human-beings. They love, fight, get sad and happy. In many ways, Shinto deities are compared to Greek gods and goddesses. It's interesting there are many similarities in both Japanese and Greek mythologies.

note: Shinto is a indigenous religion based on nature worship in Japan.

December 17, 2009

She may be thinking her baby's name・・・・・

She will be a young mother next spring.

After birth, mothers and babies are kept carefully in the Deer Pen in Kasuga Grand Shrine for a while. New-born babies make a debut in the Nara Park late spring or early summer. How cute they are! Let's go to see them next spring!

note:Every year about 100 deer are born and about the same number die.

December 13, 2009

Why are Christmas decorations everywhere?

Here are Christmas illuminations in front of a church on the Higashimuki Street near Kintetsu Nara Station. Many people stop and take pictures.      

This time of year, Japan is filled with red and green decorations, and stores play Jingle Bells. Even such a small alley is decorated with modest Christmas lights.

Only one percent of Japanese population is Christian. Why are Christmas decorations everywhere?

Maybe Japanese people put a lot of emphasis on the seasons and feel the aesthetic beauty of the seasonal changes. In the old Japanese calendar, besides 4 seasons, there are even 24 seasonal divisions in a year. Now Christmas is becoming 25th seasonal division for us.

Or just are we Christmas Christian・・・・・?

December 07, 2009

Why was she running?

Here running was s shrine maiden of Kasuga Grand Shrine wearing a beautiful crown of wisteria flowers. A shrine maiden is supposed to behave gracefully. Why was she running? Because it was the busiest day in Kasuga Grand Shrine. The luckiest day(大安) in the old fortune-telling calendar ,in which six different fortunes come in the order, fell on Sunday. So there were more ceremonial occasions than usual.

When we hold special ceremonies such as a wedding ceremony, a one- month- old baby’s blessing ceremony and so on, we still examine the fortune-telling calendar and choose the luckiest day which comes once in every six days.

Many calenders and pocket diaries tell us six days cycle in the fortune-telling calendar. There are no scientific proofs at all but this idea is deeply rooted in our DNA. Really Japan is a wonderland where the old and the new coexist side by side in harmony.
(This is an old calender for 2010 sold at a book store at the price of 300yen.)

Suppose you have a wedding ceremony. Will you choose the luckiest day(大安) or the worst day(仏滅) for the ceremony?

December 06, 2009

Do you choose a shrine?

Do you know what deity the shrine is dedicated to
when you visit a shrine?
In Shinto, there are eight million gods and goddesses. And each of them has each specialty. If you have a very special wish which must be granted, examine their specialty carefully and choose the right one. It is more effective to make your wish come true than offering a lot of おさい銭 money.

Look at these votive tablets in the shape of a heart. Can you guess what kind of specialty they have? Here enshrined are a couple deities of matchmaking. They are believed to bring people together. Why don’t you come here to write a votive tablet, if you want to have a good partner! This shrine is to the south of Wakamiya Shrine in Kasuga Grand Shrine.

Originally this building where the couple deities are enshrined was a kitchen to prepare food for a god. That’s why on the roof top is an elevated window which was used as the smoke outlet.

December 05, 2009

Answer of the little quiz

Sarari, you are right. It is a bullet dating back to the 16th century. Todaiji Temple was involved in the civil wars between the Miyoshi and Matsnaga Clans. The army of The Miyoshi stationed in Todaiji Temple. The area around Grand South Gate became a intense battle field.
There must have been many bullets in the pillars, but now only one of them has survived. It is amazing that we can yet see and touch the 16th century bullet.

November 11, 2009

a little quize!

The other day, I went to Todaiji Temple. Todaiji Temple was burnt down two times as it was involved in civil wars. I found somthing interesting ,related to one of civil wars in the main entrance gate, Great South Gate rebuilt in 1203. The gate is supported by solid 18 pillars of Japanese Hinoki, Japanese cypress wood. One of them has this. Can you guess what it is??

東大寺、南大門で見つけたものです。今の南大門は1203年に再建されたものです。 18本の巨大な柱の一本で見つけました。さて何でしょう?? 東大寺は2度戦乱に巻き込まれて焼けています。ー これヒントです。

Nara deer are very smart!

I saw a deer crossing a busy street. Cars and buses were running slowly throug the jammed traffic, so the bus driver could stop soon. Seeing the deer crossing the street, two people also started crossing the street in a hurry. I wondered how the deer could catch this timing.

November 07, 2009

Deep autumn is here・・・・

Autumn is the best and most gorgeous season a year. Autumn leaves have turned their color to red, orange , yellow・・・. In the morning and the evening, it is getting chilly but during the day time it's very comfortable to walk around Nara Park.

By the way, have you heard deer mewling ? Autumn is the mating season and deer are mewling each other. Tourist are surprised to hear the deer crying very loudly sometimes. The deer in Nara Park fit in with the beautiful scenery of autumn leaves, don't you think so?
The center of the park is full of people as two major exhibitions are held , one is Shosoin-in Exhibition held in Nara National Museun and the other one is Ashura Statue back in the Temple Exhibition in Kofukuji Temple. There are a lot of people waiting in a long line.

But look at here Tobihino Field, there is nobody, you can enjoy this scenery by your self, here these scenes are yours. These trees are Chinese Tallow Trees(南京はぜ) whose leaves have turned the color beautifully .

October 31, 2009

Thank you for visiting my blog !・

deer at the shining glass land near Todai-ji Temple
Welcome to my blog! First I chose "Nara storyteller" as the title of my blog. But, later I changed it to "One Time One Meeting".  Even though how many times we meet, I think, each meeting is very special for us and only one since there is no same meeting.

One time one meeting is not confined only to people but also pictures. Light gives me splendid blink when the scenery becomes incredibly  gorgeous. I push the shatter of my camera to catch this gift from light. But llight is gone so quickly and the scene becomes ordinary. I call it  "One time, one meeting with the light", 「光との一期一会」. I like taking pictures and really enjoy doing so.

I have lived in Nara for more than twenty years. Nara is the place which gives you energy and recharges you.  Nara is rich in temples, shrines, traditional culture, nature, history, deer and more.

Here, I 'd like to introduce Nara in many ways and also to share what I feel and think in everyday life with you.

October 18, 2009

Hello!Welcome to my blog!!

This is my first English blog.