Tag Archives: shinto shrine

Japan 2014 – 27 Strolling through the Hirano Shrine in Kyoto (2014-10-06) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 14 DEC 2015

In Kyoto you can’t go very far without hitting some or other spiritual place, and having already been distracted by the interesting Kitano Tenmangu shrine on our way to the Golden Pavilion (following our visit to Nijo Castle), we next found ourselves wandering through the grounds of the Hirano Shrine  – completely by happy accident of course!

DSC07672 tori gates at the hirano shrine in kyoto, japan

Known for its many trees and as a premier Cherry blossom viewing spot, this popular Shinto shrine was established in the year 794 by Emperor Kammu when the capital was transferred to Heian-kyō from Nagaoka-kyō.

DSC07675 at the hirano shrine in kyoto, japan

The shrine became the object of Imperial patronage during the early Heian period. In 965, Emperor Murakami ordered that Imperial messengers were sent to report important events to the guardian kami of Japan. These heihaku were initially presented to 16 shrines including the Hirano Shrine.

IMG_20141006_122149 trees at the hirano shrine in kyoto, japan

The shrine has been the site of a cherry blossom festival annually since 985. The long history of festivals at the Shrine began during the reign of Emperor Kazan, and it has become the oldest regularly held festival in Kyoto.

DSC07673 wood street lights at the hirano shrine in kyoto, japan

Having tired slightly of taking photos of shrines, I didn’t really take many at Hirano, hence the rather apparent lack of any decent photos!

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Also, the bananas from the nearby Kyoto Co Op were rather nice!

Related Link: Hirano Shrine

Japan 2014 – 26 Walking through Kitano Tenmangu in Kyoto (2014-10-06) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 13 DEC 2015

Having started our second day here in the culturally rich city of Kyoto with a visit to Nijo Castle, Ryan and I then headed off on our walking tour to the next big sight – the famed Golden Pavilion.

DSC07645 ryan lotter walking the narrow streets of kyoto

Getting there meant of course quite a long walk through what felt like an older part of the city – i.e. very narrow streets and absolute chaos in terms of overhead power lines!

There were quite a few interesting buildings that we stumbled across on our way, and this being of course Kyoto, pretty soon we wandered into something pretty cool by complete accident – the Kitano Tenmangu Shinto shrine complex.

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The Kitano Tenmangu Shinto shrine is one of the most important of several hundred shrines across Japan that are dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, a scholar and politician who was unfairly exiled by his political rivals. A number of disasters were attributed to Michizane’s vengeful spirit after his death in exile, and these shrines were built to appease him.

DSC07662 the kitano tenmangu shrine complex in kyoto, japan

Sugawara Michizane is associated with Tenjin, the kami (“Shinto god”) of education. Consequently, many students visit Kitano Tenmangu to pray for success in their studies. The shrine can become especially crowded with students during exam times and school trip seasons.

DSC07656 ornate wooden gate at the kitano tenmangu shrine complex in kyoto, japan

Also of interest were the many cow/bull statues along the pathway to the shrine, the significance of which I’m not entirely sure of. (It was drizzling slightly, meaning that I wasn’t unnecessarily whipping my phone out for translations or Google Searches any more!)

DSC07654 stone bull statue at the kitano tenmangu shrine complex in kyoto, japan

We didn’t stick around for too long in the shrine complex, but nevertheless enjoyed the ornate architecture and beautiful structures and stone sculptures.

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Related Link: Kitano Tenmangu | Kintano Tenmangu Shrine

Japan 2014 – 14 The Yasukuni Shrine in Chiyoda, Tokyo (2014-10-04) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 11 NOV 2015

With the sights of Tokyo Dome and LaQua at Tokyo Dome City now done and dusted, Ryan and I turned on Google Maps and looked for something green to head towards. (In general, this is pretty much how we quite often selected where to go whilst in the big cities – Simply head for the big green open spaces on the map!).

DSC07326 walking the side streets in chiyoda tokyo japan

We settled on visiting the slightly controversial Yasakuni Shrine, primarily because of the possibility of finding a war museum near this massive shinto shrine – which of course meant a lengthy walking journey to Chiyoda, Tokyo. (Seriously, you guys have no idea as to just how many kilometers Ryan and I traversed on foot over the course of our two week long holiday trip!)

DSC07322 public restroom in chiyoda tokyo japan

The walk through Chiyoda itself was particularly pleasant, thanks to cool overcast conditions, a beautiful mix of towering modern and intricate old buildings, and a lot of greenery all around. We also took care to take a journey through many of the side streets, allowing us to stumble on quite a few pretty cool Japanese sights.

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Yasukuni Shrine is a Shinto shrine founded in 1869 by Emperor Meiji, dedicated to those who lost their lives whilst in the service of the Empire of Japan.

The spirits of about 2.5 million people, who died for Japan in the conflicts accompanying the Meiji Restoration, in the Satsuma Rebellion, the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, the First World War, the Manchurian Incident, the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Pacific War, are enshrined at Yasukuni Shrine in form of written records, which note name, origin and date and place of death of everyone enshrined.

DSC07332 concrete torii gate at yasukuni shrine in chiyoda tokyo japan

The Honden (main hall) shrine also serves to commemorate anyone (including non-Japanese such as Taiwanese and Koreans ) who died on behalf of the empire, people such as relief workers, factory workers, and other ordinary citizens.

DSC07387 irei no izumi memorial yasukuni shrine in chiyoda tokyo japan

This then is a very solemn place to visit, with a tranquil heaviness that hangs in the atmosphere.

The massive grounds feature a number of memorials and statues, as well as some truly massive torii (steel, bronze, concrete, wood) and mon gates (hinoki cypress) under which you need to pass.

IMG_20141004_132438 exiting yasukuni shrine in chiyoda tokyo japan

(If fact, the first torii is the impressive Daiichi Torii, a massive steel arch that was at the time of its creation, the largest torii in Japan. It stands approximately 25 meters tall and 34 meters wide!)

IMG_20141004_132629 ryan lotter showing how wide this torii gate is - yasukuni shrine in chiyoda tokyo japan

One of the sights I found truly mesmerizing was the tall Statue of Omura Masujiro, which was created by Okuma Ujihiro way back in 1893. It was Japan’s first Western-style bronze statue, and honours Omura Masujiro, the man who is known as the “Father of the Modern Japanese Army”.

DSC07383 omura masujiro statue at yasukuni shrine in chiyoda tokyo japan

All in all, the visit to this massive 6.25 hectare complex was a fantastic, if sobering experience, and definitely worth a recommendation.

DSC07335 entrance to shinto shrine - yasukuni shrine in chiyoda tokyo japan

(Notice the white gloved policeman bearing down on me. Turns out one can’t actually take photos of this particular building! Oops…)

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Related Link: Yasakuni Shrine | Yasukuni Jinja