A Hokora is a miniature Shinto shrine either found on the precincts of a larger shrine and dedicated to folk kami or on a street side, enshrining kami not under the jurisdiction of any large shrine.
Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America (sometimes known as Tsubaki America Jinja or in Japanese as amerika tsubaki ōkamiyashiro (アメリカ椿大神社) is the first Shinto shrine built in the mainland United States. It was erected in 1987 in Stockton, California, and moved to its current location in Granite Falls, Washington in 2001. Gosaijin (enshrinedKami/Spirits) of Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America are: Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami, ancestor of all earthly Kami and Kami of progressing positively in harmony with Divine Nature; and his wife Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto, Kami of arts and entertainment, harmony, meditation and joy. Also enshrined at Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America are: Amaterasu OmiKami(Kami of the Sun), Ugamitama-no-O-Kami (Kami of foodstuffs and things to sustain human life/Oinarisama), America Kokudo Kunitama-no-Kami (protector of North America Continent) and Ama-no-Murakumo-Kuki-Samuhara-Ryu-O (Kami ofAikido).
Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America is a branch of Tsubaki Ōkami Yashiro, one of the oldest and most notable shrines in Japan, which celebrated its 2000th anniversary in 1997.
The current Guji (Head Priest) of Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America is Rev. Koichi Barrish, the second non-Japanese priest in Shinto history.
On our first full day in Kyoto, we went to the Inari Shrine. We had some trouble getting there as I was confused about the train/subway lines in Kyoto (do not trust Google Maps for train travel in this city! Use Hyperdia.) It’s said that the buses are very useful for tourists, but Mycah and I love trains too much that we used them instead.
Inari is the fox god of rice. If you ever wondered why Inari sushi is called Inari, it’s the combination of rice and abura-age (the fried tofu, which foxes love in folklore). This goes along with the name of kitsune udon/soba, with kitsune meaning “fox”.
This shrine is known for it’s lined up gates that create long winding paths up a mountain. We weren’t able to go the full way (3-4 hour hike uphill, we were pretty tired physically at this point in the trip), but we made it to the viewpoint of Kyoto city below.
Went to Fushimi Inari after classes today. It was really pretty but we only got to climb it like halfway ‘cause it got dark. I wanna go back sometime soon and buy a little stuffed fox and a cellphone strap. There are fox statues all over the grounds and there’s over a thousand torii. They showed it in a scene in Memoirs of a Geisha. The place is ginormous. I really need a whole day to explore the whole thing, but idk if I’ll get the chance. I definitely wanna try to get to the top before dark next time though.
The shrine is named for the goddess Inari, who has an affinity with foxes and whose favorite food is sweet fried tofu. She’s the name sake for foods like inarizushi and why they call kitsune udon kitsune udon.
I’m so jealous of anyone who has the ability to go to Fushimi Inari. I would give a limb just for an ofuda and a fox plush, maybe a torii souvenir, but mostly I just have an overwhelming need to physically go there, maybe do a circumambulation of the mountain. I hope I’m able to make it sometime soon (by which I mean in the next decade)
Today is the Great Fall Ceremony at Tsubaki. In honor of that, I decided some special offerings were in order for the kami.
A beautiful shrine dedicated to the Shinto reinterpretation of the Hindu goddess, Saraswati. Benzaiten is the goddess/kami of music, water, speech and everything that flows.
Even though I only lived in Japan for two years, when I think of the words “sacred place”, images like this are what always appear.
When I see photos of these moss-covered, old shrines, allowed to become one with the nature that they worship, I am sure that the land must be so heavy with kami, that I would feel them buzzing around my feet like a thick mist.
Stone fox statues in the grove behind the Sasuke Inari shrine, Kamakura, Japan. The shady and mossy grove with dozens of small shrines, many of them moss-covered and tilted, and probably thousands of fox statues, some broken, others relatively unscathed, made me feel infused with some animistic spirit.
A kitsune statue, representing the messenger of the kami Inari, watches as the Japanese maple turns colors against the sunset at the Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, Japan.
At Inari (Fox) Shrine in Takata
Tori Kiyonaga (1752 - 1815)
Probably early 1780s
A Sakaki is a flowering evergreen tree native to warm areas of Japan, Korea, and China. It can reach a height of 10 m., has long, smooth, oval, leathery, green leaves, and has small, scented, cream-white flowers that bloom during early summer. In Japan, it is commonly used in Shinto rituals. An example of this is using it to make a tamagushi.