Sunday, September 24, 2017

Asuka Corridor of Light

Asuka Corridor of Light

Asuka village's  "Corridor of Light" is an annual project in which organizers decorate the historic streets, temples and landmarks in a section of the town that was once the ancient capital of Japan.
Asuka was the residence of some of Japan's earliest emperors such as Kinmei (509-571) and is the home of the kofun (burial mounds) of Emperor Kinmei and several other nobles.

Because of the town's rich history and archaeological treasures construction has been strictly limited in the area. Today the population of the former capital is only about 5,600.
The area near Asuka station has several bicycle rental shops with which visitors can ride in an area with lots of agricultural land and a park-like atmosphere with long biking trails that are marked with signs indicating historical landmarks (in Japanese and English).

The Corridor of Light event is held in late September around the autumnal equinox when the spider lilies are in bloom. Asuka takes pride in their iconic spider lilies and these plants were the artistic theme for many of this year's illuminations.

Spider lily plants.
The kofun (tomulus) of Emperer Kinmei.
This site still has the characteristic keyhole shaped moat that was typical of the ancient burial mounds though many of the other tombs have lost theirs over the centuries.
The kofun is 140 meters long and is the tomb of Kinmei and his wife, Princess Kitashi.
Flowers in a field near Emperor Tenmu's (and Empress Jito's) tomb.
The mysterious "Stone Monkey" (Saru-ishii) statues that were uncovered in the area during the Edo period (1605-1865).
These statues were moved to their current location as markers on the burial mound which is supposed to belong to Princess Kibihime (643).
"The Demon's Chopping Block" on a hill that is now overgrown with bamboo.

"The Demon's Toilet" overlooking Asuka farmlands.
The "chopping block" and "toilet" were originally two part of one mausoleum.
The chopping block was the base; the "toilet" was the cover. The "toilet" tumbled of the base to a lower point on the hill where it came to rest upside down.
The local legend of tells of a demon that brought a mist down upon these mountains to confuse travellers.
The demon would then take the victims to "the demon's chopping block" for butchering and "pass them" into "the demon's toilet."
Family's admiring the unique artworks that are on each candle cup.
Spider Lily lanterns made of a wire mesh material.
Thousands of these cup lanterns hold candles around the light venues.
There was a pleasant crescent moon in a clear sky with ideal temperatures.
Local children decorated lanterns before the festival.
During the festival visitors were welcome to design their own lanterns.
The twilight sky had beautiful colors.
Cup lanterns, spider lily lamp posts, an LED tunnel and fiberglass light carousels at the central venue at the Ishibutai kofun.
Lamps, candles and moonlight.
A close-up view of the tiger lily lamps.
Spider Lily lamps shot with the soft filter settings on a Fujifilm camera.
Photographers flock to the event to take photos of this artistic spectacle.
You can see the moon in the background over the mountains.

An unusual flower in the foreground.
A one second prolonged exposure taken after nightfall.
The time lapse creates an interesting image of the flowing water in the canal.
Candles lining the old streets in Asuka.
It is dangerous to wander off the street because of the deep canals running between the buildings and the street.
Tradition paper umbrellas with back-lighting serve as decorations.
Okadera Temple pagoda with paper umbrellas for decoration.
Okadera Temple was the highlight of the event for photographers.
The next day there were many similar photos appearing on the Instagram accounts of matsuri fans.
The ruins of the old Kawahara Temple (directly in front of the new Kawahara Temple).
The ancient Asuka Palace was located near here.
Candles and banners illuminate an area with a large model of a phoenix next to a temporary stage for musical performances.
Tachinbana-dera Temple was built around the year 606, commissioned by Prince Shotoku (one of his seven great temples).
Note the crest on the side of the horse statue; the name, "Tachibana" comes from a type of citrus fruit which is represented in the crest.

Bronze lantern at Tachibana-dera Temple.
Tachibana Temple houses a mysterious stone called the Nimenseki (two face stone) which was carved with what appears to be a man's face and a woman's face that is thought to represent the dualities of good and evil.
The Ishibutai Kofun is the largest stone monolith in Japan. The stone cover on top weighs 77 tons.
The tomb was the resting place of Soga no Umako, a nobleman.
The dirt covering of the tomb was later removed as a punishment against the Soga clan.
How the ancient people moved it around the year 600 is a mystery.
Visitors can now pay 250 yen to walk into the chamber beneath the enormous stone.