Tokyobling's Blog

Myotogi Shrine – Yamanashi Prefecture

Posted in Japanese Traditions, Places by tokyobling on January 22, 2014

A while ago I visited one of the most famous “obscure” shrines in Japan, the Myotogi Shrine (夫婦木神社, or the Couple Tree Shrine) in Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo. It is located in Mitake-Cho (御岳町), about 45 minutes by bus from Kofu City. Unfortunately I was not very lucky as the shrine was closed on that day and I was unable to see the mythical tree that is venerated inside the shrine. About half a century ago, a 1000 year old chestnut tree was brought down from the mountains. It has a large, peculiarly shaped hollow inside it, with an even more peculiar growth inside the hollow itself. The huge tree stump reminded people of, you know what (you might have guessed it already). In 1958 a shrine was the tree. It is said that couples that enter the tree together and pray will be blessed with both fertility and longevity and the shrine is full of the earnest prayers of couples wishing to have a baby. For 300 yen a priest will open the shrine for you and explain the necessary ceremony to maximize your chances to conceive. Even though I went there alone I would have loved to see it!

Since shintoism, the original religion of Japan, is an animistic religion there are quite a few shrines, ceremonies and rituals associated with human reproduction and all things related to it, although these days it is downplayed quite a bit to not offend western morals.

The area around the shrine is famous as a “power spot”, especially since it is exceptionally rich with rock crystals. The formations of rocky crystals were first discovered about a thousand years ago but it took off as products for the export market in the Edo period when skilled carvers were invited from Kyoto, to develop the local industry. Today there are quite a few souvenir shops selling crystals and stone decorations in Mitake-Cho (the last two photos show one of these shops, and one that had a massive block of gorgeous deep blue sodalite by the entrance.







Mount Fuji – Early Morning

Posted in Places by tokyobling on March 26, 2013

On a recent trip to Yamanashi prefecture I manged to snap this photo of Mount Fuji through a car window, before I got too close and it disappeared in the clouds. Mount Fuji, the closer you get the harder it seems to capture. Has anyone else got this experience?

Fairytale Forest – Yamanashi

Posted in Nature, Places by tokyobling on January 25, 2013

I found this carnival ride horse in a forest in Yamanashi prefecture to the west of Tokyo. I love coming across little details like this almost everywhere in Japan.


Takane Otaki – Yamanashi

Posted in Nature, Places by tokyobling on January 18, 2013

One of my favorite things to do while traveling the backroads of rural Japan is to discover all the little waterfalls that this country is blessed with. Japan is very mountainous and very wet, so there’s plenty of opportunities for waterfalls and sometimes it seems that every village or every little town has their own handful of scenic waterfalls! Most of these are so “common” by Japanese standards that they are hardly marked on any maps, the only way to find them is to keep an eye out for the little signs that mark the entrance to the trail that will lead them to you. Usually there’s no one else there but sometimes you meet a few other tourists or locals. A couple of years ago while traveling in Yamanashi prefecture not too far from Tokyo I stumbled upon one of those little signs, for a fall called Takane Otaki (高根大滝) within the city borders of Hokuto City (北杜市). Takene Otaki is just one of the little falls in Yamanashi and similar to the thousands of falls you can find anywhere in Japan, but if you find yourself on the back roads of Japan you know what to look out for!








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