Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Fuji no Ue Asama Jinja is a little shrine up on a hill! I saw it the first day I came to Ashikaga. I made a promise to myself that I would visit it once I got some free time. This past sunday the rain cleared up, and I had an absolutely gorgeous day to spend in the outdoors.
I made my way up an overgrown hillside, past super tall cedars and wild bamboo. When I got to the top, I had an amazing view. It was absolutely beautiful.
While I was enjoying the view, I noticed that I was not alone and that there were a couple of older Japanese fellows also visiting the shrine. One of them actually approached me and started telling me some interesting facts about 'Fuji no Ue' as he called it. He started telling me that it was built in the Edo period, and that on clear days you can see Mt. Fuji, and he pointed out the names of some other mountains around. He went on and said that there is a festival every year where parents bring thier new babies up to the shrine and they stamp thier heads with a special hanko. This particular shrine, he said, is for boys. The girls' shrine is on a smaller hill nearby (I'll visit it, too).
My new friend also walked back down to the hill with me, with bells jingling from his belt. He said since there is no bell to ring at the shrine, he brings his own. He also said that he takes a walk up to to Fuji no Ue every day, and that's why he is still so genki (I mean, this guy must have been in his late 70s or early 80s, and he seemed super healthy to me). At the crossroads, he pounded on the ground w/ his walking stick, making a resonating sound, almost like a thick drum. He followed this demonstration by explaining that they also call this hill 'dan-dan' yama because it makes a hollow noise if you hit the ground. He speculated it was because there is a cave inside or something. He also took me to the opening of a small cave on one side of the hill, where there is a small statue of a Jizo inside. Unfortunately, the angle was steep and the cave was small, and I couldn't get a good photo of it, but it was super cool. So, not only did I get an awesome tour from a local, I also got to see some spectacular views.
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