Some observations from travels

Replacement of Shimenawa at Atsuta Jingu

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Goshimboku the biggest camphor tree at the Atsuta Shrine with its year old Shimenawa

Firstly, a very Merry Christmas to everyone who happens to celebrate this special day.  How did I spend my Christmas day you might ask, well I witnessed Atsuta Jingus ceremony replacing the huge Shimenawa around the biggest camphor tree in the property.  This is an annual purification ritual performed by the Shinto religion.  It is placed around a place or object that is considered sacred and pure.  It is believed to ward off evil spirits.

The ritual started off by followers of the shrine carrying a newly made Shimenawa, which is about 10 meters long and weighs around 30 kilos, to the shrine for purification.  Once this was purified they then walk towards the Goshimboku to replace the year old Shimenawa around the tree with the newly purified one.

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The gents hard at work taking down the old Shimenawa

The ladies keeping a close eye on the gents taking down the old Shimenawa whilst holding onto the new one

Whilst the ladies are keeping a close eye holding onto the new one

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The Shito priest giving his final blessings

The Shinto priest giving his final blessings

Replacement done and now the camphor tree is freshly protected for another year

Replacement done and now the camphor tree is freshly protected for another year

Now I understood what these ropes tied around huge trees in various places around the city were and am more respectful of whatever it was protecting.  Another one of their ‘out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new’ end of year clearing up, which is akin to the western worlds’ ‘spring cleaning’ practice.  I reckon it’s a good way to start a new year – by not carrying over junk from the previous.  The Atsuta Jingu is spread out on a vast area covered with trees and other historical objects.  Here are some more photos of the day I spent there.

There are three huge Torii gates to go through before you see the main shrine

There are three huge Torii gates to go through before you see the main shrine

Temizuya, water for cleansing.  The biggest one I have seen so far

Temizuya, water for cleansing. The biggest one I have seen so far

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Front of the Shrine and inside which is the main Shrine (Hongu)

Front of the Shrine and inside which is the main Shrine (Hongu)

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After which I had tea and mochi.  Later I proceeded to one of the shopping malls to listen to Christmas carols performed by school girls playing bells and stings.

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I finished the day with a lovely dinner with friends and their family.  Overall a pleasantly spent Christmas day.  I hope everyone had a beautiful day spent with your loved ones.  Here’s to a new and wonderful year ahead!!!

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4 responses

  1. I just love people pics and yours are joyous

    December 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm

  2. Dec.27 – 31 7:00 – around 16:00 Year-end Fair in Takayama is a signature winter event in this area. People buy a shimenawa , hanamochi , kadomatsu , etc. for New Year.

    December 31, 2012 at 10:49 pm

  3. The shrine is covered with the stickers of pilgrims who come to visit the site. ’Pray to the kami and buddhas,’ said one of them, and the syncretic atmosphere remains strongly evident. Buddhist statues of Kannon and Jizo are placed at points around the trail, festooned with Shinto shimenawa. Even now the temple-shrine complex looks all of a piece, despite the best efforts of the Meiji ideologues to separate the two.

    January 11, 2013 at 5:49 pm

  4. joe

    Love your Shimenawa replacement ceremony pictures, seems you positioned yourself really really well! Great documentary of a beautiful event.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:55 pm

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