Places of worship in Mito: Yoshida Jinja

Having a couple of free days is a good time connecting to the city you live in. Today I found another small but beautiful shrine in a part of town I have not yet visited. As small as Mito might seem to the local resident – and compared to Tokyo it really is – is still a somewhat big city. And it stretches out over multiple kilometres.
Originally I planned to see an art exhibition in the museum of modern art in Mito, but that was unfortunately closed for new year celebrations; something I did not pick up when checking their web site.
As I was already downtown, I continued to roam around the southern part of Mito. A place I have only visited when having a few beers at the drunken duck. I found a small shrine and a small temple, the latter one having a big graveyard.
The first one I encountered, Entsuzenji, only a few workers were there, taking care of flower arrangements. Other than that, it looked like nobody has been here for quite a while. I guess it’s not too uncommon, that some shrines close for the new year celebrations in order to go to a bigger shrine of their believe.

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Another theory would be that all members are very much occupied with the preparations for the new year festivities. A rather outstanding sight is the front gate of the complex.

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The place has location wise a lot in common with most of the smaller places of worship: you have to know it’s there, otherwise you will not find it. It happens to me quite frequently, that you walk aground a corner and find yourself in front of a shrine.
Later I visited Seiganji, a very small buddhist temple. It has a rather big graveyard attached to it. An old man was there doing his prayers and I almost felt like an intruder as it was very quiet otherwise. A remarkable thing about this place is, that there is a testing area right in front of the shrine, taking up almost all of the inner space of the temple grounds.

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As I was on my way back, I saw one of those gates that you find everywhere, which indicate that a Shinto shrine is very close. I saw it from the road, so I decided to take a little detour. Something I would not regret.

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On a small hill there is Yoshida jinja, a Shinto shrine, conveniently located in an island of green.
Up the stairs you find a couple of red lanterns directing you to the inner sanctum. Leading away from the main path you’ll find smaller shrines just as beautiful. Most of the nuances of these places, however, stay hidden from me as I am not an expert in religion. I just enjoy the wonderful art; but I should really learn more about this.

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In the inner part of the shrine, it was quite busy. The personal and workers were building tents and decorations for the upcoming festival. When you visit shrines like this you will always find one of those really old, crooked trees, often supported by wooden constructions. It is quite unique how in Japanese groundskeeping those old trees are treated with a lot of respect. After all they were here earlier and they will be here long after we’re gone.

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Now the sun has almost completely set and they are beating the drums for the probably final time today. Maybe it’s a good time to go home now. Also with the sun gone it will get cold quite quickly.
I’ll leave you with a couple of more impressions, have a lovely day.

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