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A Benediction (崇道神社)

Posted by
GJC (Kyoto, Japan) on 15 January 2010 in People & Portrait.

The last in a series of images showing hatsumode: the Japanese tradition of visiting a Shinto shrine in the first three days of the New Year.

This gentleman cordially greeted every visitor to the shrine, wishing them a happy new year and giving them small cups of Japanese rice wine (sake; お酒), which he is holding in a traditional Shinto wooden offering stand (called a sanbō; 三方). The two curved, white bottles in back of him are traditional vessels to offer the gods their favorite drink -- you guessed it: sake. And to the left you see the shrine office, ready to sell you all the necessary good luck charms to ensure a safe and happy year.

On the purple cloth draped above the window you see the symbol of the Japanese royal household, the chrysanthemum emblem. That is because the god enshrined here -- Prince Sawara (早良親王) -- was in ancient times (the 8th century) the younger brother of an emperor. He was accused of plotting to seize power for himself, and he committed suicide to demonstrate the falsity of the charges against him. Plagues and disasters that followed his death convinced the royal family to establish a shrine to appease his wronged spirit, and he was also named a posthumous emperor: Emperor Sudo (崇道天皇).

Sudo shrine is an impressive place. You can see its magnificent approach here, and for other moods click on the tag sudo

NIKON D300 1/5 second F/6.3 ISO 280 97 mm (35mm equiv.)

1/5 second
ISO 280
97 mm (35mm equiv.)