The end of the Enoshima Shrine festival that I have been blogging about this week, comes when the Omikoshi is carried down into the ocean by lots of nearly naked men. Usually the omikoshi is taken as deeply as possible into the ocean but on this day there was a typhoon on its way to Japan so the waves were much fiercer than usual: every couple of minutes the level of the ocean would suddenly rise a meter or so, when the waves came through, making it far too dangerous to actually take the omikoshi into deeper water. It looked like the men carrying it were having great fun though, even in the not very deep water!
If you have ever been to Enoshima you know that the main street running through the little town is absolutely tiny, not even bicycles make it up it. So it was quite fun to see the big Omikoshi make its way down the stairs, through gates and under torii (the π shaped gates in front of shinto shrines) and finally down the main street, pushing tourists, shoppers and townspeople aside as it passed down towards the ocean. I was lucky enough to know a shortcut in a tiny alley to the side of the main street so I could hurry around the omikoshi and get a few photos of it as it emerged onto the plaza in front of the fist torii. More photos to come!
Enoshima, a small but tall and very rocky island on the south coast of Kanagawa prefecture south west of Tokyo has been a holy spot for a very long time. The first record of a shrine or temple on this island is from the year 552 A.D., which is when the present Shrines on the island counts as they having been founded. During the years a number of holy buildings and caves have been added to the island, all being headed under the name Enoshima Shrine, whose main building Hetsunomiya was erected in 1206, rebuilt in 1675 and renovated in 1976 and is famous for its undulating three waved roof.
A couple of weekends ago the shrine’s Yasaka Shrine (Yasaka Jinja) section celebrated its annual festival and I was there in the morning to see the Omikoshi dedication ceremony attended by many officials of the island the neighboring towns. The ceremony at the shrine was finished with a parade of shamisen players, drummers, singers and flutists, just before the omikoshi was handed over to the men of the town to be carried down to the ocean. More photos of this to come!
The Zeniaribenten Shrine in Kamakura City is quite popular with tourists ever since since the 13th century when it was favored by the local nobility. Most people come to see the main shrine, the cave and holy spring, but there three more minor shrines within the precincts, the 上之水神社, and the 七福神社. When I visited last month the Ajisai was in full bloom and handsomely framed the Shishimai guardian lions at the entrance to the minor shrines. I have been here many times but this was the first time I noticed the very inconveniently placed tree, right in front of the Torii, the entrance gate to one of the minor shrines. I really wonder how it came to grow in that spot, as it is surely younger than the torii it almost blocks! Just another item on the list of things I have to investigate when I get the opportunity!