Akagi Jinja – Lake Onuma’s Guardian Shrine

Akagi Jinja – Lake Onuma’s Guardian Shrine

Akagi Jinja (shrine) sits on the shore of Lake Onuma, not far from the trailhead that leads to the peaks of nearby Mt. Akagi. (The mountain, a stratovolcano, has numerous summits – three of which I summited last weekend as part of my hyakumeizan climb.) The shrine dates to at least the 14th century, and has subsidiary shrines across Japan.

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The Eikan-do Garden and Shinbutsu Bunri (Eikan-do, Part 3)

The Eikan-do Garden and Shinbutsu Bunri (Eikan-do, Part 3)

Kyoto’s Eikan-do Zenrin-ji is the head temple of the Seizan branch of Pure Land Buddhism in Japan. The temple sits near the southern end of the famous Philosopher’s Path, and although it’s famous for autumn foliage, the temple gardens are spectacular year-round. The photo above shows the path that leads from the gardens (and pagoda hill) down to the temple’s beautiful lake.

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A Visit to Nezu Jinja (Shrine), Part 1

A Visit to Nezu Jinja (Shrine), Part 1

Nezu Jinja lies in Tokyo’s Bunkyō ward, and has since Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi ordered the shine moved to its current location in 1705. The shrine is perhaps best known for its extensive azalea garden, which erupt in color every April (there’s even an azalea festival at the shrine each spring), but I visited for the first time last December and can attest it’s worth a visit in any season.

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The Water Gate at Hakone Shrine

The Water Gate at Hakone Shrine

Today we continue the virtual tour of Hakone Shrine with a trip to the water gate. In the Shintō faith, torii (the red-orange gate in the images) mark the boundary between the secular and the sacred – though on occasion, it often seems that the areas on both sides of the torii are equally sacred. The water gate at Hakone Shrine is one of those places.

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The Main Shrine at Hakone Jinja

The Main Shrine at Hakone Jinja

Last week, I started a virtual tour of Hakone Jinja (Shrine), one of my favorite Shintō shrines in Japan – and today, we continue that tour with a look at the shrine’s main courtyard and worship hall. In some ways, the layout of Shintō shrines varies more than Buddhist temple architecture, in part because of the way Shintō attempts to integrate the shrine with the natural landscape. Hakone Jinja is no exception. The main courtyard, where the worship hall stands, sits uphill from the entrance. Because of the distance, and the fact that several paths lead up to the worship hall

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Visiting Hakone Shrine: Subshrines & Komainu

Visiting Hakone Shrine: Subshrines & Komainu

(To read this series from the beginning, click here!) Hakone Shrine sits on the shore of Lake Ashi, in a grove of massive, sacred trees. The scents of pine and cedar follow visitors up the shaded paths. In winter months you may also catch a whiff of wood smoke in the air. After visiting the purification fountain, most visitors either head down to the water gate on the shore of Lake Ashi or up the steps to the shrine’s main worship hall.

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Tonosawa’s Secret Benten Shrine

As I mentioned in Friday’s post, Tonosawa Station is a tiny stop on the Hakone Tozan Railway between Hakone-Yumoto and Gora. For most people, the station is either a one-minute stop where the train takes on new passengers before continuing its run up the mountain or else a place to disembark and head for one of the nearby ryokan. However, Tonosawa Station also has a lovely secret–a Shintō shrine called Tonosawa Fukazawa Zeniarai Benten, that sits just off the train tracks on the “uphill” side of Tonosawa Station. In the photo below, the entrance to the shrine is just to the left

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Kanda Myojin – the Tutelary Shrine of Edo

Kanda Jinja (also known as Kanda Myojin) is one of Tokyo’s oldest Shintō shrines. Founded in 730, the shrine was originally located in Chiyoda-ku, near the Imperial palace; it was moved to its current location in 1603, when Tokugawa Ieyasu moved the Japanese capital from Kyoto to Edo (now Tokyo). The shrine’s entrance is unassuming–in fact, you could easily miss it if you didn’t know what you were looking for.  The torii that marks the official approach stands on a downtown street, between a pair of buildings. The shrine’s main entrance gate sits just beyond the torii. If you visit, don’t rush past the

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Stairs to the Summit: Musashi-Mitake Shrine

(Click here to start from Part 1 of this series on hiking Mount Mitake.)  High atop Mount Mitake, northwest of Tokyo, Musashi-Mitake Shrine offers gorgeous views of Chichibu Tama-Kai National Park, home to a number of sacred peaks (including Mitake). The entrance to the shrine looks much like many other Shintō holy places, with a purification fountain: and a torii marking the formal entry to the sacred space: Carved stone lanterns (toro) and ceremonial stones flank the flight of steep stone stairs leading up to the shrine’s main gate. On the day I visited, cool breezes fluttered the flags beside the stairs. Although the clouds obscured my view of

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