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The Famed Oto Fire Festival of Wakayama Prefecture

Wakayama Shingu Fire Festival
Men of all ages – dressed in white with a thick rope tied around their waist – congregate at the shrine carrying wooden torches. At Kamikura Shrine in Shingu city, every year on February 6, the Wakayama Oto...

Uga Shrine: A Power Spot Island On Lake Nojiri

Biwa Island sits just out of reach of Lake Nojiri’s western shoreline. Scanning the landscape, this tree-topped mound would fade into the background if not for the striking red torii gate demarking its entrance. The gate identifies...

Down the Rabbit Hole to Kyoto’s Okazaki Jinja!

When Kyoto feels more than ever like a cedar-floored theme park, it's good to know that there remains a wealth of overlooked places to visit. Dotted throughout lesser-visited areas of the city, small temples and shrines continue to capture the peaceful spirit...

How To Visit a Shinto Shrine (Jinja)

Many of Japan’s traditions and ideas are unfamiliar to those outside of Japan, particularly when it comes to religion and the etiquette around visiting temples and shrines. As there are jinja (Shinto shrines) and kami (gods) throughout Japan, read on to learn how to...

What are Jinja? Places of Worship Infused with Nature’s Energy

Japanese regard the sea, the mountains, the forest, and natural landmarks as places where the kami reside. In ancient times, these were regarded as sacred places, without the need for special buildings, as the kami were believed to exist everywhere. Later, dwellings...

Sumiyoshi Shrine: Traditional Architecture and Powerful Sumo

Not far from Fukuoka’s Naka River, the Sumiyoshi Shrine sits as it has for centuries, shaded by old, leafy trees and bearing witness to countless prayers from countless worshippers. Though the buildings date back to 1623, the history of the shrine can...

Matsuri, the Sacred Rituals of Prayers and Festivities

Since ancient times, Japanese have gathered at sacred places — a great boulder or ancient tree — to commune with the kami. There, they made offerings and prayed for the safety and prosperity of their communities. This is the origin of the...

Floats, Zodiacs and a Fountain of Youth: Kushida Shrine

A gentle breeze flaps the tall flags at the entrance to Kushida Shrine as I wait for a chance to cross the street. At first glance it appears like any other jinja but, in fact, it’s one of the oldest and most...

Kami, the Divine Powers of Nature

Since ancient times, Japanese have expressed the divine energy or life-force of the natural world as kami. Those derived from nature — such as the kami of rain, of wind, of the mountains, of the sea, and the kami of thunder —...

What is Shinto? Your Questions About Japan Answered

Shinto is the indigenous faith of the Japanese. It is a way of life and a way of thinking that has been an integral part of Japanese culture since ancient times. It is the foundation for the yearly life cycles, beginning with...

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