Sunday, February 28, 2010

Shimenawa & trees


Shimenawa, the sacred ropes that mark sacred space, can often be found wrapped around trees.

Sometimes the tree features in an old story or myth, but most often they are simply very old.


Shrines are one of the few places where these ancient trees can still be found in Japan.

One way I look for shrines is to look for an unusually large clump of trees in the landscape, and often that is where the shrine is.

A walk from Tsuwano to Masuda 7079

One historian has suggested that when Japan first began building its capital cities in the Nara area the cutting down of the forests led to all kind of environmental problems so shrines were placed where the rivers came out of the mountains and therefore were protected.


There used to a lot more of these sacred groves of ancient trees but the government cut them down when they closed half the shrines in the country. They were local "folk" shrines, not "national" shrines with connections to the imperial rulers, and so were irrelevant to the new state shinto they created.




  1. I love your information. But most of all, I love your photographs...Fantastic!
    thanks so much!

  2. I am fascinated by your pictures and comments.
    Could you please include the full kanji names of the various places and objects. I am sure I could have a better understanding by analysing the characters used.
    Thank you.

  3. Hi Gerard
    Thanks for your comment. Sorry... it would be too much extra work to include kanji.... but there are plenty of sites where you can find them

  4. Still beautiful these six years later.