JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when in crowds.

Image search results - "hyozu"
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Hyozu Taisha is amid rice paddies. The row of pine trees in the distance marks the path to the shrine. This is the view from the bus stop.
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Front torii gate of Hyozu Taisha Shrine. MAP
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After the front torii, there is a 300-meter gravel path lined with pine trees.
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Then turn left to see the Taikobashi Bridge and red torii.
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After the red torii is this red Romon Gate, said to have been donated by Shogun Ashikaga Takauji. The shrine also has historic ties to Minamoto Yoritomo and the Tokugawa shoguns.
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Pass through the Romon Gate and this 100-meter path goes straight to the shrine's Haiden Hall.
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Established in 717 (Nara Period), Hyozu Taisha worships a god named Onamuchi-no-Mikoto (大己貴命) also called Yachihoko (八千矛神). Onamuchi-no-Mikoto is a god of nation-building, farming, business, and medicine.
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Hyozu Taisha Shrine. It worships the same god as Izumo Taisha in Shimane Prefecture. Yachihoko is known as the god of military strength. Japan's famous warriors desired this god's blessings and so patronized this shrine.
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Monument for used and broken needles.
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About Hyozu Taisha's Japanese garden. The garden dates back to the Heian Period. It was here even before the shrine moved here. The original garden was built by a local aristocrat named Harima-no-Kamisukeyori 播磨守資頼 who lived here in the Kama
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Hyozu Taisha's Japanese garden, nationally noted as a famous garden. 兵主大社庭園
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This garden is also beautiful in fall when they light up the autumn leaves at night (see photos below).
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Torii and gate at night
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Path to shrine
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Hyozu Taisha Shrine at night
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Hyozu Taisha Shrine's Japanese garden at night in fall. It's really beautiful. Like someone painted colorful autumn leaves on a black canvas.
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Mini concert at night. They had a few solo musicians playing romantic night songs like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Very nice.
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Romon Gate at night in fall.
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The Hyozu Matsuri is held at Hyozu Taisha Shrine during May 3-6, but the 5th is the climax with the mikoshi parade. This is the shrine's first torii. This is at the front end of a 300-meter pine tree-lined path. Infrequent buses go to the shrine from Yasu Station (North exit). So infrequent that you might need to take a taxi. 一の鳥居
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There is the 300-meter, pine tree-lined gravel path to the shrine from the first torii. MAP
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A Shinto ceremony is held at the shrine in the morning. Then by noon or so, over 30 portable shrines and taiko drums gather here on this path for the annual Hyozu Matsuri on May 5.
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When I visited this shrine before, I wondered what these stone markers were for. Now I know. They have the name of a portable shrine, indicating the place where the respective portable shrines can be parked along this path during the festival.
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At the end of the pine tree path, the second torii is red, right after the Taikobashi Bridge.
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When I arrived, the Ayame girls were rehearsing their routine for the festival in front of this red Romon Gate. This gate was said to have been donated by Shogun Ashikaga Takauji in the 14th century. 楼門
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"Ayame" means iris flower, in reference to women. Out of the 30+ portable shrines (mikoshi) and taiko drums to be paraded during the festival, two of them, called Ayame, are carried only by women. These women will carry the Ayame mikoshi and tai
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Ayame girls rehearsing their festival call.
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Ayame girls at Hyozu Matsuri.
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At the festival start time, the Ayame girls start carrying the taiko drum and mikoshi from this gate.
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Also see my video at YouTube.
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It was a beautiful festival day on May 5, 2010. The Ayame girls wore colorful happi coats which really added color to the festival.
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After the taiko drum, a second group of girls start carrying the Ayame mikoshi.
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They crossed over the Taikobashi Bridge. あやめ神輿
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They leave here and proceed along the pine tree path to the first torii. Then they will come back here and go back and forth a few times during the festival.
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A set routine is lowering and raising the mikoshi.
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Many of the mikoshi are for children. The mikoshi come from smaller shrines in the area related to Hyozu Taisha.
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There are several large mikoshi carried by men. All the mikoshi and taiko drums have a name.
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They shout "Choitosa!" while carrying the mikoshi. チョイトサ
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One mikoshi was missing. Maybe it was lost.
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At this end of the pine tree path, there is the Taikobashi Bridge and the red torii. This is where the crowd is concentrated to see the mikoshi being raised and the phoenix atop the mikoshi pulled out and raised by the mikoshi rider..
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One feature of this festival is that someone rides on the mikoshi and detaches and raised the phoenix ornament at the top of the mikoshi.
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Looking toward Hyozu Taisha Shrine.
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A unique thing about this festival is that the mikoshi rider pulls out and raises the mikoshi's top ornament (usually a phoenix). 鵜の息抜き
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Also see my video at YouTube.
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They come one after another, big and small.
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All that gravel can make it quite dusty.
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The lost mikoshi.
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The drummer really has to move quickly with the rest of the boys as they move unpredictably.
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Almost got run over by this one.
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The big Omiya mikoshi.
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The Ayame girls return.
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Nice to see a few foreigners too. Local English teachers perhaps.
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I often see foreigners participating in Shiga festivals.
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Ayame mikoshi girls at Hyozu Matsuri Festival, Shiga. 兵主祭
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The Ayame mikoshi girls head for the shrine.
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Hyozu Matsuri Festival 兵主祭
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The children's mikoshi are parked along this path in front of the shrine.
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A priest blesses each children's mikoshi.
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Festival crowd head for the shrine to pray.
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Meanwhile a Shinto ceremony is held in the shrine hall.
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Shrine maidens.
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The children's mikoshi start to leave Hyozu Shrine as the festival winds down.
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Ayame taiko girls.
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They are so photogenic.
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Also see my video at YouTube.
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The Ayame taiko girls turn back for the last time and head for the shrine.
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Ayame girls at Hyozu Matsuri in Yasu.
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Approaching Hyozu Taisha.
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