Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Shiramine Shrine Tanabata


"Jingu" - Shrine Name Suffix Terminolgy
Shiramine Shrine, "Shiramine Jingu,"  in Kyoto is among a small group of shrines which are designated by the term "jingu" rather than the typical word for shrines, "jinja." "Jingu" shrines have some special relationship with the imperial family. Other famous examples of jingu shrines include Heian Jingu (also Kyoto), Kashihara Jingu (associated with the first emperor), Ise Jingu (in Mie prefecture) and others.
Other naming convention include the use of "~gu" in shrines which deify and individual; such as the Tenmangu shrines (Kitano Tenmangu in Kyoto and Osaka Tenmangu), which deifies an ancient nobleman/scholar.
The title of "taisha" or "grand shrine" is ascribed to some major shrines that have a number of branch shrines; such as Kasuga Taisha (from Nara), Sumiyoshi Taisha (Osaka).

Shiramine Shrine
The shrine was built in 1156. The shrine was dedicated to Emperors Junnin (733-765) and Sutoku (1119-1164), this imperial connection explains the "jingu" classification of the shrine.

Sutoku is an interesting figure in Japanese history. Shiramine shrine has that emperor's official tomb. After a tragic life, lost battles, exile court intrigue Emperor Sutoku death was followed by a series of disasters in Japan. This lead people to believe that the deceased Emperor had become an onyo (a vengeful spirit). The legend of Sutoku persisted to the point that he was thought to have transformed into a tengu (supernatural demons thought to live in the wilderness) becoming one of the Three Great Onyo of Japan (along with the Tamamo-no-Mae the nine-tailed fox and Shuten-doji the ogre bandit leader). The enshrining of Sutoku was meant to appease his spirit and seal away his curse.

Shiramine shrine also contains a small shrine to Tomo-no-Osha, the god of martial arts.

The shrine also has a connection to a nobleman who supported the ancient kickball game of kemari, so there is a monument to kemari and the shrine built upon the connection to that ball game and the martial arts to being associated with all sports; there are shrines decorated with sporting equipment and the shrine office sells charms for a number of specific sports, including horseback riding.

A shrine to sports filled with memorabilia.
A local professional soccer team is featured prominently.
Information about posted regarding the martial arts shrine.
Offerings and sacred strips of paper (shide) in front of the shrine.
The shrine has several annual festivals:

  • 5/5. 9:00~. - Martial Arts Festival (demonstrations of martial arts such as kendo, iaido and kyudo)
  • 11/15 - Archery ceremony
  • 4/14. 10:40. Kemari kickball game.
  • 7/7. 13:30~. - Tanabata festival and komachi dance.
  • First Full Moon of October - Harvest Moon Viewing with traditional dance.
  • 11/23 - Ohitakisai, a bonfire ceremony.

Tanabata, is the star festival that is celebrated on July 7th. During this festival people hang their wishes of strips of wish papers (tanzaku) on bamboo branches.
For tanabata, Shiramine Shrine has a special ceremony in which the decorate the shrine with bamboo and paper and stage a ceremony featuring people dressed as the celestial couple of the tanabata legend.
The highlight of the special tanabata festival in the Komachi Dance. This is a dance where elementary school girls dressed in kimonos of Nishijin (a Kyoto specialty fabric) and circle around a bamboo stalk and ceremoniously dance.

Orihime and Hikoboshi, the star crossed-lovers.
Note the spinning/weaving devicec that Orihime is holding.
Orihime and Hikoboshi framed with paper decorations.
Decorations haning from the bamboo branches.
Tanabata bamboo. Like a Christmas tree for the summer.
The girls here are in a nice formation for the photo.
Drus in Japan often have this "mitsu-domoe" design on them.
The purple headbands affix silver flower decorations.
Nice pose here and you can see the central bamboo stalk.
Note the hair styling here.
A wistful pose is part of the Komachi dance.
A dramatic salute pose as they bang the drums.
It is often difficult to catch uniform poses from large groups of dancers but this is a nice photo.
The group dances in a large circle.
Note the kagura-dan, ceremonial stage building, in the background.
Note the Nishijin fabric of the kimono.
Note the long sleeves in the furusode style kimono.
The half-Caucasian (?) girl stands out in this group.
The Komachi dance in motion.
A shot of the girls lined up.
The shrine is always looking for volunteer elementary school girls who want to participate in the event.
Elementary school girls posing with their classmates.
Paper fruit decorations.
Paper decorations in front of the kagura-dan.
A variety of designs for the ema plates at this shrine.
Note that the prayers on the plates read as cheers for sports teams.
The round plate in the corner is from someone who wants to make it into the high school baseball championships.
The bamboo being taken-down after the ceremony, visitors remove the decorations.