Nabe Shrine/那部神社 is located quite a long way on foot from Yaizu JR Station but it is worth the log walk even by a scorching summer day.
It is located in Hamatome 3 Chome at the foot of a hill overlooking the sea past a steep cliff.
The reason it is located from the center is that it had always been a major shrine for local fishermen.
There are no less than three stone torii gates along the way leading to the shrine.
The oldest of three torii!
It has its own roofed stone hand washing basin, although it is not regularly filled with water.
But is is still worth having a look at!
Dragon water spout!
Don’t steal it! (Unfortunately this happened recently in our Prefecture!)
Many stone lanterns have been donated through the ages!
An old lantern with a new pedestal!
Apparently it had a different name a long time ago, unless it had two distinctive names as it is the abode of not one, but of two deities!
You will discover a rare combination of two statues of lion guards and deities each!
The left hand side komainu/lion guard with its maw closed!
And its left hand side companion with its maw opened!
The deity on the left is Ebisu/恵比寿, the God of fishermen in particular!
The other deity is Daikokuten/大黒天, the God of prosperity among other attributes!
The “haiden/wosrhipers’ hall!
Complete with the usual paraphernalia!
Nabe Shrine/那閉神社 in the old writing!
The wooden money offerings box!
Decorated with a beautiful”mon/Japanese crest”!
A couple more smaller but probably older shrines!
An outside view of the “honden/God’s hall closed to outsiders!
Ichikaban Inari Shinto Shrine dates back from the time when Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu retired to present Shizuoka City in 1607.
It is both dedicated to Inari, the Goddess of farmers and falcons as the Lord was a great amateur of falconry!
The site is small but the few cherry trees standing there are truly ancient and accordingly most revered.
They are a great site in full bloom at the beginning of April tucked away in the centre of Shizuoka City!
Interestingly enough it is closed at night although quite a few people gather for celebrations at festival time!
The site is guarded by two truly ancient foxes themselves protectd under metal mesh tp prevent stealing!
If you take the first street right of Shizuoka JR Station that runs past the Post Office and under the railway tracks you will enter the south side of Shizuoka City, that is Suruga Ku. keep walking straight ahead and 5 minutes later you will find these red pennants along the left hand side of the pavement!
For all their garish grandiloquence they only announce the presence of a small Shinto Shrine called Okina Inari Daimyoujin Shrine (翁稲荷大明神). The reason I decided to have a look at it is that my good friend, Atsuko Kurata who is always on the lookout for unusual sites signaled to me through Facebook!
The red torii/鳥居/Shrine Entrance Portal!
An unusual way to advertise a Shinto Shrine the way they used to do for private shops in Japan of yore!
All kinds of invitations written on the paper flying in the wind!
Inari Shinto Shrines are always guarded by foxes. Herds of them in this particular case!
On both sides!
Note the metal braziers used as supports for the votive messages!
I wouldn’t criticize you for taking this shrine for a local shop!
The roof pinion could be used either in a Buddhist Temple or a Shinto Shrine!
Now, this antique komainu/狛犬/lion guard came from under the roof of another shrine or temple!
A real bric a brac on the west hand side of the shrine!
Now, this is an exceedingly unusual stone hand washing basin!
Why all these traditional Japanese water tubs?
A tiny inari shrine!
The prayer bell and its rope and the money-offerings box!
It looks like an antique than anything else!
Actually the lady owning and looking after the whole place kindly let me take pictures of the inside!
All kinds of offerings from neighboring followers among a jumble that still looks like an antique dealer’s dream!
Actually traditional Japanese dancing plays are also held inside!
Yesterday on my way to Anzai Bridge across the Abe River in Shizuoka City, I decided to cycle along a die road on a whim and discovered this small Shinto shrine in Ta Machi!
Upon seeing the name plaque on the torii/sacred gate I wondered how the kanji for “water/水”, that is “mizu” would be pronounced.
Luckily enough a neighbor had just come out and I decided to ask him and get some more information!
The locals pronounce the name “wata”!
And apparently it is a very old if small shrine, dating back to Edo Era!
Although their roofing is recent the hand washing stone basin are very ancient.
Two of them in such a small shrine is indeed rare and the neighbor indicated me through their engravings that they had been erected in totally different eras!
Two large stone lanterns and two smaller ones stood along the short path with mountain and clouds carvings!
I noted an interesting difference between the two deers!
The one above has its right foreleg raised!
But not this one!
A smaller stone lantern between two venerable trees!
The “haiden”/worshipers hall!
Unusually the lion guards/shishi are not represented as stone statues, but as wooden carvings abovehead!
I pointed out the fact to the kind neighbor relating the history of the shrine and I had the pleasure to notice his surprise!
Money offerings are unusually thrown though the door instead of inside a box placed outside!
Side view of the “haiden” and “honden/deity abode”!
The enshrined deity is male!
A side view of the completely isolated “haiden”!
The trees inside the shrine are dwarfing the building proving its ancient origins!
Ashitsuki Shrine lost in the trees in Ashikubo, Shizuoka City!
With the New Year and its festivities approaching, the Japanese are getting ready for their traditional visit of their local Shinto Shrines.
It also turns into a very special time for photographers keen on capturing truly Japanese scenes.
To help the latter here is a simple but sufficient introduction to a fruitful visit of any shrine of any size or importance near your location!
A very unusual triple torii gate on the way to Atago Shrine in Shizuoka City!
Entering the shrine compounds through one of the “torii”/sacred gates.
Whereas Shinto Shrines and Buddhist temples share quite a few traits in common, such portals are to be found at Shinto Shrines only. Likewise, sake under the form of large casks will be found only at Shinto Shrines while cemeteries are the sole responsibility of Buddhist temples.
A tiny wooden torii with top curved beam made out of a real tree trunk!
Torii with a straight top beam at Yaata Shrine, in Suruga Ku, Shizuoka City!
The torii gate can be made either of wood (generally painted in red), stone, concrete or even metal.
The top beam might be straight or curved.
Sengen Shrine in Shizuoka City!
Large Shinto shrines will often exhibit the sake casks donated for the New Year by rich worshipers.
Sake/rice wine is considered the drink/nectar of the gods.
Sengen Shrine in Shizuoka City!
The Japanese usually wash their hands at a stone wash basin (although it can also been done with salt, sand, or sake/alcohol) called “chozuya”
A simple way to wash your hands is to scoop some water and run it over your left hand and then your right hand although some shrines will indicate how to do properly.
Suwa Shrine near Yamana lake, Yamanashi prefecture!
Sumo has always been strongly associated with the Shinto religion.
Accordingly, some Shinto shrine will shelter a sumo ring where annual tournaments occur.
Stone lanterns/”ishidoro” of all kinds and sizes can be found at most shrines. The bigger the shrine, the larger the number.
Monjyu Atago Shrine in Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City!
They are hollow to hold candles (or bulbs) and sport various designs such as simple hollowed moon crescents or moon, or more elaborate carvings featuring clouds, mountains, deer and else.
Closed mouth lion guard at Mishima Taisha Shrine!
You will find all kinds of animal guardians usually in pairs, such as lions, foxes or monkeys and even birds, boars, and what else.
A closed mout lion guard at Mishima Tasiha Shrine!
The lion guards called “shishi” or “koma-inu” appear under the shape of two statues facing each other, one with its maw closed, the other one with its mouth open.
But you might discover them into other places such as under the eaves of the shrine.
A rare lion guard mounted by a “oni”/goblin in Sengen Shrine in Shizuoka City!
Ogushi Shrine, Shizuoka City!
Fox guardians/”kitsune” stand at all “inari/Godess of Agriculture” Shrines.
The other fox at Ogushi Shrine!
Other “animals” encountered at Shinto Shrines.
Although the same can be found in Buddhist temples, they provide plenty of material for photographers:
Dragons/”tatsu” at Ooi Shrine in Shimada City!
Elephant-like nightmare eaters/”baku” at Mizu Shrine in Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City!
Tiger/”tora” in Sengen Shrine, Shizuoka City!
Phoenix/”hoo” in Okitsuhiko Shrine in Shizuoka City!!
Dragon horse/”kirin” in Sengen Shrine!
Carp/”koi” in Sengen Shrine, Shizuoka City, and many, many more such as bulls and cows, horses, even frogs and kites (bird)!
Garlands and paper strips
Inomiya Shrine in Shizuoka City!
Shinto shrines are typically marked with a “shimenawa”/ rice straw garlands and “shime”/strips of white paper to ward off evil spirits, or placed around trees/objects to indicate the presence of a “kami”God. Made of rice straw or hemp, the rope/garland is called nawa. The pieces of white paper that are cut into strips and hung from these ropes (often hung from ropes on Torii gates as well) are called “shime” or “gohei”.
A full-fledged Shintō shrine is typically a two-part structure:
Mishima Taisha Shrine!
(1) the Haiden, or oratory, before which worshipers say prayers.
Ishida Shrine in Suruga Ku, Shizuoka City!
(2) the Honden, or inner sanctum, the main dwelling of the deity. The Honden is built behind the Haiden.
One also often finds a third structure between the Honden and Haiden called the Heiden (Hall of Offerings), open only to the priests when they are making offerings on behalf of devotees.
Ishida Shrine in Suruga Ku, Shizuoka City!
Shintō architecture is usually “down to earth,” blending rather than conflicting with the natural setting. Shrines are typically stand-alone complexes, but shrines can often be found within Buddhist temples as well. Shintō roofs are usually peaked, and most everything is painted red (but not always). The presence of a torii (gate), two shishi (lion-dog) guardians, shimenawa (ropes with white paper), and the absence of a cemetery, are all telltale signs of Shintō shrines.
Ishida Shrine in Suruga Ku, Shizuoka City!
You can tell whether the deity housed at the shrine is male or female by looking at the roof of the shrine. On some shrines (not all though) you may find horn-like cross boards on the roof. If the ends of the boards are cut so the flat edges face up, then the deity is usually female. However, if the boards are cut so the flat edges face sideways, the deity is usually male.
Praying bells and money offering boxes
Money offerings box in Shirahige Shimojima Shrine in Shizuoka City!
Worshipers usually first throw coins into the money offering box/”saisen”, clap their hands to call the God’s attention, pull the bell rope and pray before bowing away.
Lucky Charms, Votive Plaques, and Fortune Telling
Votive plaques at Miho Shrine in Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City!
Shrines offer many diversions to visitors – and if most cases, these diversions involve superstition and magic. Nearly all shrines sell talismans to bring good luck or keep evil away:
“O-mamori”/protective amulets, “O-inori”/paper prayers, “Hamaya”/evil-destroying arrow, “Ema”/votive plaque,”Omikuji”/lucky or unlucky oracle, and more!
Noh stage at Okuni Shrine in Mori Machi, Hamamatsu City!
Large Shinto shrine might also include on their grounds platforms of various size and complexity to hold traditional sacred dances called “Kagura” and even Noh theater plays!