Friday, February 6, 2015

Kibitsu Shrine and its curious Kamadono Hall

Among Kibitsu Shrine's most famous parts is its
400-meter-long covered corridor

I found even the complex's minor buildings and marginal areas
to be aesthetically pleasing, if not impressive!

The area in front of the entrance to the Kamadono Hall
has items with images of heads that look like kawaii demons!

Before anything else: thanks to those who've checked out, and left comments on, my Kibi Plain bike excursion photo-essay -- and I have a feeling that those of this blog's readers, at least, will not mind my writing a separate blog post on the Kibitsu Shrine which the Kibi Plain bike route passes by and which prompted me to get off my rented bicycle to explore for a bit.

The largest of the Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples I passed by that day,  the Kibitsu Shrine's origins are shrouded in myth and legend -- specifically that of Momotaro.  I can easily imagine that it would be crowded with both tourists and worshippers if it were located in Kyoto.  As it was though,  although I did notice that three other people going along the Kibi Plain bike route that day (who I would meet up with again and again over that day!) also visited when I was there, the shrine felt largely empty, almost deserted in parts.

I'm sure the lack of people about had a part to play in my feeling like certain parts of the shrine were a bit eerie.  In any event, the section that I was drawn to after seeing and smelling the smoke that was coming out of it -- and that I've since found out is known as the Kamadono Hall -- did strike me as somewhat strange and mysterious.

Inside the Kamadono Hall, a fire burnt underneath a kamado (particular type of cooking range), on top of which sat a kami (Shinto spirit) in the form of -- no, I'm not kidding -- a large metal cauldron.  Going about her business was what looked like a shaman or medium -- but I now realize probably was a Shinto religious official who carries out a particular form of fortune-telling ritual known as a narukami ritual that looks to involve the kami, kamado, fire and the smoke from the fire.

At times and places like these, I am ultra aware of how little I still know about Japan, the Japanese and their traditional culture and practices.  At the same time though, I also figure that I must know quite a bit more than the average tourist to the Land of the Rising Sun -- because, otherwise, I never would have found myself in such a place as Kibitsu (with its Kamadono Hall) and even the Kibi Plain in general! ;b


Bill said...


I've returned to visit this blog several times because it illustrates what I find intriguing about Japan. Japanese culture, especially its shrines and temples, can be deceptively spartan. Example: I used your link to Nippon-Kichi and read about the heated metal cauldron and the consulting of the oracle for good fortune...Kamadono Hall seems like the fascinating inner spaces of a mystical ritual.

I can understand why scholars study Japanese culture for years, and why travelers return again and again - but do they hope to ever totally understand this esoteric culture?


YTSL said...

Hi Bill --

I think Japanese culture is complex as well as esoteric -- and that many Japanese wouldn't presume to entirely understand it, so whither non-Japanese? But you can appreciate without fully understanding... and there is indeed a lot about Japanese culture that I've grown to like and even love. :)