Sunday, March 8, 2020

Sunrise at Shirahige Shrine


Shirahige Shrine is located on the western shore of Lake Biwa in what is now Shiga. It is home to one of the famous "floating torii", shrine gates set in water and a place where many people gather to watch sunrise.


It is said that on the equinoxes the sun rises through the gate, though I was here a few days before the winter solstice so it rose to the north of the gate. I was surprised how many people came before dawn to such a relatively remote spot.


Shirahige Shrine is the head shrine of about 300 Shirahige shrines across Japan, but this was the first time I had visited. I had visited other Shirahige shrines before and was intrigued by its origin. This area, called Omi in ancient times, was heavily settled by immigrants from the Korean Peninsula, like the area that later became Kyoto. Shirahige was a Korean deity, and the name means "White Whiskers"


15 years ago this information was easy to find, though nowadays it seems harder. Most sources don't mention the Korean origin anymore. Maybe a result of the dumbing down of the web that now overwhelms us with "popular" and  simple facts, clickbait, and the information and disinformation that  powerful forces in society prefer spread.


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