Friday, June 7, 2019

A Shrine Less Visited

Walking the road less traveled one finds a shrine less visited. Early on the morning of my third day walking the Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage, I left the village of Shizuma and headed towards the coastal village and harbour of Isotake. The main road, Route 9, the old Sanin Do from ancient times, was busy and so I preferred to take a small lane that wound through the woods.

I love these type of roads. Very narrow, but with zero traffic, it's like having a nice, wide, smooth hiking trail. I have walked thousands of kilometers along such roads, usually up and over mountain passes, and there is no hassle with undergrowth, uneven surfaces, etc.. It was mid-December and the sun was low and so giving the light usually associated with "the golden hour"

Some overgrown steps lead up to a torii. This shrine is not marked on my maps, neither googlemaps, which sometimes doesn't have smaller, local shrines, nor my topo map which often has historical shrines marked which no longer exist. A path laid with large flagstones leads into the woods.

A wide pathway, ankle deep with dried leaves leads further into the dark woods. I have take paths like this often. Eventually, it comes to a clearing in the woods and the shrine buildings. As well as the main building there is a second one, probably a kagura den. There are no shimenawa nor komainu.

This must be a closed shrine, with the shintai, the object in the honden in which the kami resides when visiting, as well as any komainu etc being removed to another shrine nearby. A little over a hundred years ago this was the fate of half the shrines in the country as the government closed local shrines and expanded national ones. Here the situation would seem to be the result of the continued depopulation of rural Japan.

This was a sacred place for a community, probably for centuries. Does anyone come here anymore? Do the kami know?

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post. I think the moss growing up the torri is especially striking.