This blog will continue show the photos that I take as I live and vacation in Japan. I particularly love to walk and have a strong interest in Buddhism and Shinto so I will be showing the temples, shrines and other interesting things that I discover.
I have lived in Japan since 1976 and now consider it to be my permanent home. I have a very varied background having studied engineering, Japanese and East Asian studies, and education at the university level. I spent ten years in the Army where my job involved Area Studies, mostly in East Asia. When I started to teach in Japan, it was at a post high school level and, after I completed a PhD in education, I moved to a university where I become a full professor. After retiring, I taught part-time but am now completely retired and spend my enjoying myself. I am reasonably fluent in Japanese and at present all of my friends are elderly Japanese.
This is the main door to the altar, in fact at this shrine because of the small size, it is the only door. The white area that you can see inside is a mirror. Many shrines have a mirror as the main object on the altar. There seem to be a number of reason for the shrine, but the basic idea is that the mirror captures the essence of the person reflected in it. The earliest Japanese myths have the Goddess Amaterasu giving her mirror to her grandson and telling him that it contains her essence. Mirrors also ward off evil beings, because when they see themselves in the mirror, the horrible image scares them away. Also I think that there is also some idea of the worshiper seeing their own essence when looking into the mirror.
Beside the shrine is a cherry tree. The best trees have trunks that look like this, showing both their age and the hardships they have survived. The name of this shrine, if you will remember, was Kasuga or SpringDay. Cherry trees blossom in the spring and the flowers symbolize the sadness reflected by the short life of the beautiful blossoms, paralleling the short but beautiful life of humans.