January 18, 2014

The Kibitsu Shrine in Okayama


I'll start this post with a warning...there are going to be a lot of photos!

On my way back home to Ehime via Okayama, I took a quick detour to Kibitsu Shrine (吉備津神社). It is located a quick walk from Kibitsu station on the Kibi Line, which is about 15 minutes from Okayama Station. As you can tell from the names, Kibi was an ancient province of Japan which is primarily the current Okayama prefecture and parts of Hiroshima, Kagawa, and Hyogo prefectures.

Kibitsu Shrine is a prominent shrine in the ancient Kibi province. The enshrined deity is Oh-kibitsuhiko-no-mikoto (大吉備津彦), who is said to have been a model for the Japanese folklore Momotaro (read long-version here or short-version here).

Other reasons many people stop by this shrine is to lay their eyes on the row of tall pine trees, which are the largest in Okayama prefecture, that lead you to the shrine entrance. They've been standing there since 1974 and I imagine they've seen many people pass under them.

Some come to take in the massive main shrine, which was rebuilt in 1425 during the Muromachi era. Let me tell you, it is ginormous. It doesn't look like it when you are climbing the steps, but when you walk out to the open area to the side, you can see the unique hiyoku-irimoya-zukuri (比翼入母屋造) roof, which only this shrine has in Japan. 

So many things to see.

But I personally was there to take a walk down the long long corridor that leads from the main shrine to the gokuden (御供殿). It was built to fit the natural incline of the land and it is over 360 meters long. It was a beautiful corridor made of wood and it was a lovely spot to take a morning stroll. It was quiet because I was mostly by myself, although there were local people and tourists here and there.

It's places like this that although we are all there for different reasons, you feel a connection with them because you're all in the same location. I love it when you can learn something about the place from the local people. This time, two old men explained to me how they were getting ready for the new year, although it didn't seem like they were doing anything. Just sitting there and chatting :D


 It was perfect. Here are some photos:






PS:

I would write little comments for each picture to give you a better idea...but I have a 38C fever (which is great because I'm way past the headache and body hurting stage and I'm just really really hot). So I hope you'll forgive me for not responding earlier to the comments.

This year is my yakudoshi, so it makes sense this year is getting off to a rocky start.
Hope you are all keeping healthy and warm! xx

11 comments:

  1. Gorgeous photos, Kaori! I love them all!

    Hope you feel better soon :(

    I'm amazed that you even decided to blog at all! 無理しないようにね。 (It's my yakudoshi too, so I guess that means we're exactly the same age?)

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    1. Thank you, Miwa! I'm feeling a lot better now.

      PS: Are you a girl of 82, too? ;D

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  2. Thanks for the trip. I might get a chance to visit this place this year. It's part of my plan to go to Matsuyama. Timing and money are still big factors though.

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    1. Oh I hope you do! Flying into Okayama is pretty cheap and the express train to Matsuyama isn't that bad either. Or you could just reserve an early ticket directly to Matsuyama. JAL always has more seats available than ANA.

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    2. I'm really hoping to do it but it will depend. My only free time is summer, or September.

      My plan is a week. Do the Kibi plains as a day trip and then overnight in Onomichi. Head over the Shiminami Kaido to Imabari and then end at Matsuyama. If I have money and time, I'd go to Takamatsu but that is unlikely. I'd just get a plane ticket from Matsuyama to Haneda.

      Wish me luck that money and time are n my side.

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    3. Sounds like a good plan! Are you going to bike across Shimanami-kaido? I have that on my bucket list along with exploring islands like Oshima.

      Crossing my fingers for you!

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    4. Yup. Cycling the Shimanami Kaido. Been wanting to do it for the last few years but it is looking less likely this year, but I REALLY want to do it this year!

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  3. If I were to walk all the way down that fascinating covered walkway to a place where I could pray I would beseech the gods to give a little boost to your immune system.

    We learned the Momotaro song in my Japanese class at ICU. One of the teachers even brought some kibi-dango for us to try.

    I used to have a couple of reddish Bizen-ware cups. But I gave them as a wedding present to a Scottish-Japanese friend who married a French-American. Then, later they got divorced. I’ll think twice before I give two Bizen-yaki cups as wedding gifts in the future.

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    1. There's a momotaro song? I had no idea he was so popular!

      You'll want to give just one or maybe three Bizen-yaki cups next time. It's very bad luck to gift anything in a number that can be divided in Japan. That's why when we give money, we usually gift 30,000 yen or if you give 20,000, we use one 10,000 bill and two 5,000 bills so you can't evenly divide the bills ;)

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    2. Good sarcasm, but for me it was a first.

      It was an American wedding, not Japanese, so it might confuse Americans to be presented with Japanese customs. My rationale was: 2 for a couple, 3 might promote some kind of love triangle. But you are probably right. Their divorce was entirely the fault of my inconsiderate gift.

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    3. Thank you for the link! I'm pretty sure I've heard the song before but can't put my finger on it. Maybe it was playing in the background while I was in Okayama :)

      Well, my friend once accidentally gave a wedding gift of money wrapped in an envelope for funerals...and that couple is still together so it's hard to say ;D Wishing the couple better luck next time!

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