Sunday, August 20, 2006

The gate to Suwa Shrine

The gate to Suwa Temple, Nagano

Well, now that I've finished my series on my friend's dojo, I thought I'd go back to the mountains of Nagano and show you around a rather unique shrine. This is called Suwa Shrine, and there are a few things about it that set it apart from most Shinto shrines in Japan.

But like all shrines, it has a few of the basic elements, such as the torii, shimenawa, and shishi, also known as koma-inu.

The torii (which literally means "bird perch) is the tall, gate-like thing that stands at the entrance to the shrine. Though traditionally made of wood, some of the newer ones are made of concrete. This one is actually made of metal, which is somewhat rare.

Below the top of the torii, you can see the shimenawa. They also have pieces of jagged white rice paper tied to them, called gohei. These sacred ropes are tied across the entryways to shrines and buildings to ward off evil spirits.

Finally, to the left and right of the torii you can see the koma-inu. These lion-dogs also serve sacred purposes. The one to the right has its mouth open to ward off evil spirits, while the one to the left's mouth is closed to shelter and protect the good.


At 2:27 a.m., Blogger Robin Freeman said...

I like this picture.
Do you use Photoshop at all? If you were to adjust the levels in PS, you could get the more realistic crisp colors.


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