Due south: Konpira Shrine in Kagawa – Part 3 –
Konpira in Kagawa (3)
Konpira Shrine (3)
[Shoin (Library building)]
To reach here, you must walk up nearly 500 steps in total.
The original meaning of “shoin” was a room used as a sitting room as well as a library of the master, but since around 1600, it has referred to a whole building.
This Konpira shoin consists of 3 parts – “Omote-shoin” (front shoin), “Oku-shoin” (back shoin) and “Shiro-shoin” (white shoin).
(“Shiro-shoin” is the shoin built with non-lacquered plain wood of Japanese cypress.)
Most of the rooms are separated by “fusuma”, a Japanese sliding door made with wood frame and paper (or cloth), and each fusuma was painted by famous Japanese artists like Oukyo Maruyama.
It’s like Western wall paints, but this fusuma paints can be slid, so you can enjoy different views with more space and depth. (Example photo from Konpira omote-shoin)
Only “omote-shoin” is open to public usually, but when I was there, all three were open, so I could see ”fusuma-e” (fusuma picture) painted by Jyakuchuu Itou at oku-shoin. (Konpira oku-shoin)
Three times a year (May 5th, July 7th and the end of December), six people play “kemari”, kicking ball, in the front garden.
(It will be cancelled when it rains on the day)
They all wear traditional “kemari” uniform.
“Kemari” is totally different from modern football.
Players can use only their right foot.
They make a circle, kicking the ball as long as possible without dropping it on the ground.
This is not a game to decide a winner, players must cooperate each other not to end the game, need harmony among them.
[Honguu (Main shrine)]
785 steps in total to get here.
I strongly recommend to bring something to drink even in winter, especially if you are too lazy to exercise regularly like I am.
Originally, “Oomono-nushi” (lit. the master of great awesome spirit) was the only God to be worshipped.
But then in 1165, the deceased Emperor Sutoku was also enshrined.
The shrine was reconstructed several times, the oldest was in 1001, and so far, 1878 was the last.
– How to pray at Konpira –
- Make a bow once.
- Make a deeper bow twice.
- Clap your hands twice.
- Make a deep bow twice.
- Make a bow once.
If you are not sure, just look around and copy what other people do.
I guess there are many Japanese who don’t know the “correct” way unless it’s noted somewhere though.
I personally feel it is good to show your respect by following proper protocol but the most important thing is the mind to respect for gods.
Also, Japanese gods don’t reject you if you have another religious belief.
They are not so petty-minded.
[Kagura-den (Kagura house)]
Near the main shrine.
“Kagura” means dance with music for god(s), but this “kagura-den” is a very small building, and in the official website, it is only mentioned as the place to play traditional Japanese music, so maybe dances are not performed here.
*** Other things to see around the main shrine ***
The following spots are what to see around the main shrine.
You don’t have to walk up any steps!
However, if you want to go to “Okusha” (details in the next post), it would be better to head there first.
You’ve got to come these places on the way back anyway.
*If you walk up from Asahi-sha (details in the next post), then you will see these before the main shrine.
[Mihotsu-hime no yashiro (Princess Mihotsu shrine)]
Princess Mihotsu is a daughter of a god “Takamimusubi” and the wife of Konpira’s main god “Oomono-nushi”.
This shrine is connected to the main shrine by a long corridor.
[Ema-den (Ema house)]
I wrote a little bit about “ema” in my Fukiya village post.
“Ema” is a wooden plaques with people’s wishes and/or appreciation to God.
You can see a lot of “ema” inside and outside of the house, although some of them are too old to distinguish what are written / painted.
The word “ema” consists of two Kanji characters – picture and horse.
At first, people dedicated living horses to god(s), then they started to offer a wooden plaque with a picture of a horse instead.
Later, they painted not only horses but also samurais, beautiful women, etc.
Konpira is famous for protections of sailings, so in this ema-den, there are many “ema” with ship picture.
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