SPIRITUAL SHIMANE

  • Tweet

HOME  >  SPIRITUAL SHIMANE  >  Shimane – the spiritual, the mystical,
the secret…

Shimane – the spiritual, the mystical,
the secret…

kami spirits…divine forces…natural phenomena…unworldly presence…

 From ancient times, it has been said that kami dwell in all sources of life and natural phenomena the rocks, the mountains, the forests, the waterfalls, the wind, the sun…Such phenomena and places were believed to have divine powers and were worshipped by the ancients.
Some are said to be where the kami descended from the celestial plains, others are places potent with life and energy proof to the ancients of the presence of a kami. These places were often where trees grew robust, where clear, pure water streams ran and where sun light streamed across the land.

It was only in later times that structures were built on these sacred places to house the kami. These structures, some looming overhead, some only a few centimetres in height, can be seen throughout the mountains, forests and around the coast of Shimane the prefecture known throughout Japan as the land of the kami. Some of the areas have become popular in recent years with the proclamation by spiritual healers that the sacred places have special mystic energy. Others are silent, hardly known and rarely visited, gathering moss in the deep shadows of the soft forest sunlight.


Here we introduce you to the world of the kami and nature worship, and take you to a few places that are said to be powerful, energy restoring mystical sites, and others that we have discovered hidden deep in the mountains and forests. Through such discoveries we hope to uncover the mystical side of Shimane, and the source of the culture and belief.

Kamiari-zuki The month with kami
The 10th month of the lunar calendar is known throughout Japan as the month without kami, as that is when they are all said to descend on Izumo Taisha, to discuss the fortunes of the people in the coming year. As such, the month is known in the Izumo region as the month with kami, and it is said that the spiritual power of the area increases at that time.

 Mountains

From ancient times, mountains have been revered in Japan as sacred places where gods descended from the heavens and quietly dwelled. Volcanic eruptions, landslides, and mountain crops were all considered by the ancients to be the work of the kami. They believed the mountain itself to be sacred, and so originally there was no shrine building. Later, there may have been a torii gate, or a rope, and it was only in much later eras that a shrine would have been constructed.
Even today, such mountains are considered sacred. Some now have structures that were built for the kami to stay in upon descent from the heavens, or when the kami attended a ritual or festival. Around Shimane there are many such sacred mountains, including Mt. Sanbe, Mt. Gassan, Mt. Dake-san, Mt. Makuragi, and Mt. Yakumo.

Susa Shrine
The large tree standing in the grounds of Susa Shrine in Izumo is said to have divine powers. It has become very popular in recent year since one of Japan’s most famous spiritual healers said that it has one of the most powerful energy sources in the country.

▲Click on the pictures above for a glimpse of the spiritual mysteries of Shimane.

Shimane. If you have any mystical photos of Shimane that you would like to share, please e-mail them to us along with your name, the place they were taken and a comment.
info@visit-shimane.com

 Forests

Many of the shrines that are dotted around the prefecture are hidden deep the forest, surrounded by thick green foliage. The ancients worshipped the trees and the land as kami, and in many areas the largest tree was the object of worship. Life-giving energy from the sun and the earth is said to be stored in such places, and so the ancients believed them to be holy sites. As with the mountains, originally there was no shrine building.
Going deep into the forests, surrounded by the energy of nature and stumbling across a forgotten shrine is a magical experience. However, we should enjoy not only the shrine, but also the surrounding trees and flora, for it is said that it is here that the kami themselves dwell.

Karakama Shrine(1)
Karakama Shrine is in Hirata-cho, Izumo. It has become quite a popular place due to reports of high levels of spiritual energy in the area. The shrine is mentioned in the ancient chronicles – Izumo-kuni Fudoki and the large rock at the shrine high up in the mountain forest, is said to have been used by Susano-o mikoto when he descended from the celestial plains.
You climb up through the forest up steep stone steps and then there is a gap between two rocks that is only about 30 cm wide. When you squeeze through the gap, the first thing you notice is the plunge in temperature, then the steep drops all around you. There is a small shrine building where you can leave offerings to the kami.
We climbed up on to the top of the rock at the back of the shrine, and managed to capture odd shadows moving across one of the rocks, only visible through the viewfinder of the camera. Maybe the kami was feeling mischievous that day. We could also feel the presence of the kami on the way back through the forest, when we again captured through the viewfinder specks of the late afternoon sunlight dancing among the trees.

Karakama Shrine(2)
Karakama Shrine is in Hirata-cho, Izumo. It has become quite a popular place due to reports of high levels of spiritual energy in the area. The shrine is mentioned in the ancient chronicles – Izumo-kuni Fudoki and the large rock at the shrine high up in the mountain forest, is said to have been used by Susano-o mikoto when he descended from the celestial plains.
You climb up through the forest up steep stone steps and then there is a gap between two rocks that is only about 30 cm wide. When you squeeze through the gap, the first thing you notice is the plunge in temperature, then the steep drops all around you. There is a small shrine building where you can leave offerings to the kami.
We climbed up on to the top of the rock at the back of the shrine, and managed to capture odd shadows moving across one of the rocks, only visible through the viewfinder of the camera. Maybe the kami was feeling mischievous that day. We could also feel the presence of the kami on the way back through the forest, when we again captured through the viewfinder specks of the late afternoon sunlight dancing among the trees.

Karakama Shrine(3)
Karakama Shrine is in Hirata-cho, Izumo. It has become quite a popular place due to reports of high levels of spiritual energy in the area. The shrine is mentioned in the ancient chronicles – Izumo-kuni Fudoki and the large rock at the shrine high up in the mountain forest, is said to have been used by Susano-o mikoto when he descended from the celestial plains.
You climb up through the forest up steep stone steps and then there is a gap between two rocks that is only about 30 cm wide. When you squeeze through the gap, the first thing you notice is the plunge in temperature, then the steep drops all around you. There is a small shrine building where you can leave offerings to the kami.
We climbed up on to the top of the rock at the back of the shrine, and managed to capture odd shadows moving across one of the rocks, only visible through the viewfinder of the camera. Maybe the kami was feeling mischievous that day. We could also feel the presence of the kami on the way back through the forest, when we again captured through the viewfinder specks of the late afternoon sunlight dancing among the trees.

Iwaya Temple(1)
The rural town of Shinji lies between Matsue and Izumo, and the landscape is a green expanse of rice fields and forest-covered mountains. Hidden in one of these mountains, in the grounds of Iwaya Temple, is a gently flowing waterfall, guarded by sixteen jizo statues carved into the craggy rock face. The main deity that stands watch over the falls is triad of Yakushi and the two bodhisattvas. The woodland is quiet, and all that can be heard is the water serenely falling down over the cliff into the river and the soft breeze through the trees.

▲Click on the pictures above for a glimpse of the spiritual mysteries of Shimane.

 Stones

Stones were also considered to be resting places of kami, and are worshipped accordingly. In Shimane, magatama beads made from agate, which is found in Tamayu in Matsue, is considered a sacred stone due to its connections with the sun god Amaterasu.

Iwaya Temple(2)
The rural town of Shinji lies between Matsue and Izumo, and the landscape is a green expanse of rice fields and forest-covered mountains. Hidden in one of these mountains, in the grounds of Iwaya Temple, is a gently flowing waterfall, guarded by sixteen jizo statues carved into the craggy rock face. The main deity that stands watch over the falls is triad of Yakushi and the two bodhisattvas. The woodland is quiet, and all that can be heard is the water serenely falling down over the cliff into the river and the soft breeze through the trees.

Yomotsu Hirasaka
The large boulder at Yomotsu Hirasaka is said to be the one that the god Izanagi pulled across the entrance between this world and the land of the dead as he made his desperate escape back to the land of the living. The area is seldom visited, and those that do come here rarely venture beyond the rock into the dark wilderness… When we were taking photographs we noticed a peculiar formation on the boulder itself…a coincidence or a guardian of the other world…
> See Yomotsu Hirasaka page for further details

▲Click on the pictures above for a glimpse of the spiritual mysteries of Shimane.

 Water

Water was also worshipped by the ancients. Water was required to grow the five sacred crops of rice, wheat, proso millet, foxtail millet and soybean, and so had great significance. Often, a waterfall was the object of worship and a place to purify oneself. Shimane has a number of such waterfalls, details of which can be found on this site.

Ryuzu-ga-taki Waterfall
Unnan city has some stunning waterfalls hidden in the dense mountain forests.
Ryuzu-ga-taki is a sacred waterfall flowing down into a 400 year old forest of cedars. The thunderous roar of the falls cuts through the cool crisp air and guides you through the woodland, along the river up and up to the rocky cove. Next to the waterfall is a small stone shrine which enshrines the kami.

Yaetaki Waterfall
Not far away, Yaetaki Falls run through primeval forest. There are actually eight falls and all are considered sacred and thought to hold the kami.

Rainbow Falls
Deep in the rural landscape of Hirata, not marked on any maps, and mostly unknown to even people living in Shimane, is one of the prefectures best kept secrets. On a cloudy day it looks like any other waterfall gushing from overhead rocks into a pebbled valley, but when the afternoon sun catches the falls a magical rainbow appears and floats up through the curtains of water.

Iwaya Temple
The rural town of Shinji lies between Matsue and Izumo, and the landscape is a green expanse of rice fields and forest-covered mountains. Hidden in one of these mountains, in the grounds of Iwaya Temple, is a gently flowing waterfall, guarded by sixteen jizo statues carved into the craggy rock face. The main deity that stands watch over the falls is triad of Yakushi and the two bodhisattvas. The woodland is quiet, and all that can be heard is the water serenely falling down over the cliff into the river and the soft breeze through the trees.

▲Click on the pictures above for a glimpse of the spiritual mysteries of Shimane.

 Fire

Fire brings light and heat, but also disaster. For this reason, there are times when the fire kami is considered good, and at times bad. Fire festivals are held at shrines to give thanks to fire, welcome the kami and to pray for the safety of areas where the fire kami is said to cause problems. In Japanese mythology, the goddess Izanami died when giving birth to Kagutsuchi, the fire god. Kagutsuchi’s father Izanagi, was so distressed that he killed Kagutsuchi with a sword, and the drops of blood that dripped off the sword became other gods, including the gods of rain and the sea.
Many of the shrines around Shimane have fire festivals. One of the largest is that of Kumano Taisha in Yakumo, Matsue. This shrine is represented by the character for fire on the Shinbutsu Pilgrimage, and the fire is said to be the spirit of Susano.

Otaki age

▲Click on the pictures above for a glimpse of the spiritual mysteries of Shimane.

 Snakes

As well as being symbols of eternity and rebirth, the snake is also a symbol of the sun goddess, Amaterasu. In many shrines, you will see a mirror. This is one of the three sacred items of Japan, along with the sword and magatama bead. The eyes of snakes remain open and reflect the light, like a mirror, and so are considered symbols of the sun. In Japanese, the word mirror is kagami. In ancient language, the word for snake was kaka, and the word for body is mi. So the characters used to write the word “mirror”kagami, was written as snake-body. From this we know that worship of the sun is actually derived from worship of the snake.
The shime-nawa rope that adorns the front of shrines symbolizes two snakes intertwined.

▲Click on the pictures above for a glimpse of the spiritual mysteries of Shimane.

COMMENTS

No comments yet.

LEAVE A COMMENT

AUTHOR
E-MAIL *Your e-mail address will not be displayed
COMMENT
 

GiPOCO.COM is neither affiliated with the authors of this page nor responsible for its contents. This is a safe-cache copy of the original web site.