Exploring Shizuoka with Brian and Eric

I met Brian and Eric via YouTube and was excited to learn that they were coming to Japan. I offered to give them a tour of Shizuoka and was delighted when they accepted my offer and we made arrangements to meet. We began the day with a visit to one of the more beautiful and famous Shinto shrines in our area followed by a brief tour of a bonsai tree nursery. We then left the city and headed for the hills where we enjoyed lunch and swimming at a lovely little river and hiking in the deep mountains. We explored several small villages and met some very nice locals who treated us kindly and shared about their life in the Japanese countryside. The day wound up with a dinner party at my in-laws home where my family was happy to meet and spend time with our new friends. It was a real pleasure to spend this day with Brian and Eric and my family and I hope they will return soon.

Video notes: The shrine at the start of this video is the Kunouzan Toushougu jinja located near Suruga Bay in Shizuoka city. The river is a tributary of the Abekawanakakochi river, and the village is called Kuchisenmata. This small community is located in the mountains between Shizuoka City and the town of Ikawa near the Japan Southern Alps. Its a very small community on a lonely little road which has little traffic or visitors.

Shinto is one of the two major religions of Japan (the other is Buddhism).  Shinto is often considered to be the native religion of Japan, and is as old as Japan itself.  The name Shinto means “the way of the gods.”  Shinto is a pantheistic religion, in which many thousands of major and minor gods are thought to exist.  The Japanese have built thousands of shrines (jinja) throughout the country to honor and worship these gods.  Some shrines are huge and are devoted to important deities.  Other shrines are small and may be easily missed when strolling along roads in the countryside.

Shinto gods are called kamiKami are thought to have influence on human affairs, and for this reason many Japanese make regular pilgrimage to community shrines in order to offer prayers to local kami.  The act of prayer involves approaching the shrine structure, passing through the gate-like torii, cleansing the hands and mouth with water and possibly ascending stairs to the main entrance of the shrine.  Usually without entering the shrine the worshipper will throw some coins into a stone or wooden collection box and then rattle the suzu bell which is at the top of a long hemp rope.  The worshiper grabs hold of the rope and shakes it back and forth causing the copper bell at the top to rattle.  This is thought to get the attention of the shrine god.  The worshipper then bows twice, claps his or her hands twice and then bows again.  In addition, the worshipper may clasp their hands together in silent prayer.  Shintoism and Buddhism have managed to find a comfortable coexistence in Japan.  Evidence of this harmonious relationship is found in the fact that that most Japanese are married in a Shinto shrine, but buried by a Buddhist priest.


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About softypapa
I love to walk and think.

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