Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Katori Shrine Of Katori City

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The torii (鳥居) of Katori Shrine (香取神宮).

The second tour of the Chiba Kun Ambassadors project was held over the last weekend. This time, we were taken to tour Katori city, a city in the northern region of Chiba prefecture, approximately 50 kilometers from Chiba city. There were three new faces who joined us for the first time, besides the familiar faces we saw during the first tour. That made up a total of twenty-one of us, including six staffs from the International Affairs Division of Chiba Prefectural Government.

The tour members this time was divided into two groups, namely Course A and Course B. I picked the latter course as I have experienced the activities in Course A, such as kimono dressing, flower arrangement and tea ceremony, several times previously.

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A group photo taken before we explore the shrine (photo credit: Ishizaki Masataka).

The first destination for the Course B members was Katori Shrine, one of the oldest shrine in Japan. Katori Shrine is the head shrine of the approximately 400 Katori shrines around the country, located primarily in the Kanto region. This shrine enshrines Futsunushi-no Omikami (経津主大神), the kami (神) of warrior, swords and lightning.

It is said that this kami was dispatched to vanquish all the dissenting deities in the midland of Japan, accompanied by Takemikazuchi-no-Kami (タケミカヅチ), prior to the descent of the Sun Goddess's scion to earth.

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A line of stone lantern decorates the approach (参道), with sakura and maple tress on both sides making it a breathtaking view during spring and autumn.

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There were a few stone lanterns which were damaged from the earthquake early this year.

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A kami pond (神池), just before we arrive at the main shrine gate (総門).

Since the ancient times, Katori Shrine has been revered by the Imperial Household as a guardian shrine of the Japanese nation. It is honored with the title of Jingu and is popular for the Number One Shrine of the Province of Shimofusa, which is part of Chiba and Ibaraki Prefecture at present. Katori Shrine and Kashima Shrine are considered as the most important Shrine to protect Japan. Therefore, all of Japanese emperors face east and pray for the peace at New Year's Day. 

Katori Shrine welcome visitors who come to pray for the accomplishment of their wishes, such as wish fulfillment, family happiness, good matrimony and smooth birth, peace, diplomacy, business, traffic safety, sea travel safety and victory, as well as a protection against misfortunes.

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The main shrine gate of Katori Shrine.

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I never thought chrysanthemum plant can be made bonsai (盆栽). Amazing work of craft.

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The tower gate or romon (楼門) to the main Katori Shrine. 

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The tour began with a simple introduction of the main building of Katori Shrine.

We had a staff from the management office of the shrine to take us around the shrine, while explaining the brief history of the shrine, important structures found there, etc.  Katori Shrine's oldest standing structures are its beautiful black painted main shrine and the bright vermilion tower gate, both dated from the year 1700.

Katori Shrine is the birth place of all Japanese martial arts, because the first kenjutsu (剣術) and jujutsu (柔術) were born here.

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The haiden (拝殿), or prayer hall of Katori Shrine. 

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A close-up shot of one part of the honden (本殿), the most sacred building used to enshrined the kami.

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One of the smaller miniature shrines called setsumatsusya (摂末社) around the main shrine. This one is called 末社桜大刀自神社.

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Some of the Chiba Kun Ambassadors checking out some Japanese words from their electronic dictionary during the tour.

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As for our chief manager (課長), he was busy taking photos, with interesting postures as usual haha!

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There are several items from Katori Shrine which were designated to be Important Cultural Property and it include the romon and honden.

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Ema (絵馬) are small wooden plagues on which the Shinto worshipers write their prayers and wishes.

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Another prayer hall (祈祷殿) inside the shrine area.

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One of the characteristics of Katori Shrine is the presence of many Japanese cedar (杉) trees, most of them as old as a few hundred years.

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This is the oldest sugi tree, estimated to be over 1,000 years old. Known as "Go-shinboku" (御神木) or the sacred tree, its diameter is approximately 7.4 meters.

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Had a photo with the guide at the end of the tour. 

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Katori Shrine is famous for its yakuyoke-dango (厄除けだんご), a type of Japanese dumpling made of rice flour and eating with red-bean paste 
and also kinako (toasted soy flour).

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One of the staff was kind enough to get a packet of yakuyoke-dango for us. Tasted not bad.

|| INFORMATION ||
Opening hours: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for the Treasure Hall (宝物館)
Admission: Free; 300 yen (adults) and 100 yen (high school/college students) for the Treasure Hall (宝物館)
Address: 1697, Katori, Katori City, Chiba Prefecture, 287-0017, Japan.
Tel: 0478-57-3211    Fax: 0478-57-3214
Website: http://www.katori-jingu.or.jp/

2 comments:

Lena Paul said...

Thank you for this post. It was well written and informative.It really got me excited to go to this shrine.

calvin said...

@ Lena:
Hi Lena! Thanks for visiting my blog. Yup, Katori Shrine is definitely a beautiful shrine and I am pretty sure you will enjoy paying a visit there!