April 13, 2005
by Tomomi Nakamura; Yuka Edohata
“Tsurezurenaru mamani higurasi…”
Have you ever heard this famous beginning line from Japanese literature? It was written by Kenko Yoshida, a famous literary man in Japan and author of a collection of essays, “Tsurezure gusa.” Most Japanese read from his book in our Japanese language class when we are junior high school students. So we have taken this literature as the most historical literature from when we are children. He was born in 1283, at the end of the Kamakura era, about 720 years ago. However, we will continue to cherish his writing throughout the ages.
Now we would like to tell you about Yoshida Shrine. The reason why we mentioned Kenko Yoshida is that his family was connected to the shrine. So this shrine is very famous because of him. But there are plenty of other sights to see there.
First, Yoshida Shrine is famous for driving away evil spirits. It is said the first shrine of driving away evil spirits is here. And this is the only shrine where you can worship at all the Japanese shrines. Takemikazuchi, Iainushi, Amenokoyane, and a god of Hime are the main Gods at Yoshida Shrine.
Yoshida shrine is located on Mt. Yoshida in the eastern section of Kyoto. Kyoto was the capital of Japan a long time ago, so the people of the past thought they had to protect their city, and then they made Yoshida Shrine on this mountain.
There is one main shrine, Hongu, and ten other shrines in Yoshida Shrine. It is interesting to walk around and visit these shrines.
Yoshida Shrine is famous for a grand festival called Setsubun held yearly from February 2nd to 4th. Setsubun is February 3rd, and is defined as the day before the beginning of spring and was New Year’s Eve according to the lunar calendar. It is a Japanese custom at Setsubun to scatter roasted soybeans while saying “Fukuwauchi, Oniwasoto” which means “Hapiness come in! Demons go out!” And then we eat the roasted soybeans, the same number as our age so we will not suffer from any illness during the year. Originally, soybeans symbolized “peace.” So we hope we can live peacefully, and we throw them with wishes for peace and happiness.
This festival has been held more than 500 years. Ever since Kengu Yoshida established Daigengu, one of the shrines in Yoshida Shrine, in the Muromachi era, this festival has been held every year. Daigengu is a national treasure now.
Schedule for Setsubun Festival
(4)Drawing for Prizes
(2) Tsuina Ceremony: Tsuina means “to drive out evil spirits.” This festival has been held since the early Heian period (from 794 to 1192) following the ancient customs and exhibiting a Heian flavor.
(3) Karo Festival: Karo means “the place where you can make a fire.” The bonfire consists of piled timber, 5 meters in height. As the flames reach up to the sky, spring comes.
(4) Drawing for Prizes: During the festival, you can buy packets of Fuku Mame (roasted soybeans with a ticket for the drawing) for 200 yen each. You have a chance to win a prize from a variety of goods during the drawing.
There are about 1,000 stalls set up selling snacks, sweets, juice, and household items. Please try and enjoy the Japanese food sold there
Natsugoe Daifutsu Cceremony
Another ceremony is held on June 30th. Natsugoe means “the passing of summer,” and Daifutsu means “to wipe out.” On this day at the middle of the year, visitors pass through a large thatched ring built in front of the torii (the gateway at the entrance) three times in order to purify themselves and to wish that the rest of the year will be calm. About 1,000 visitors come to this ceremony every year. You will receive a small thatched ring for free as a talisman.
By Kyoto city bus No.17, 102 or 203 to the Kyoto University of Agriculture bus stop. By Kyoto city bus No.31, 65, 201 or 206 to the bus stop near the gate of Kyoto University. Or by Keihan train to Demachiyanagi station, and from there walk for about 15 minutes.
Admission Fee: Free