Autumn Nara, day 4. Kasuga Taisha Shrine

On our last day in Nara we wanted to go to Kasuga Taisha Shrine, that was a bit too far away for a walk, so we took a bus instead.

Sake
As we enter the surrounding area we immediately see barrels with sake.

Beer and Sake
Also beer.

Not sure why they need so much at a shrine ;)

Kasuga Taishi is a family shinto shrine of Fujiwara family, a very influential family where a lot of Japanese empresses came from. It was established in 768.

Lanterns

Lanterns
The pathway to the shrine itself is lined with stone lanterns. The lanterns were donated by people over time and now there are over 2000 of the stone lanterns and another 1000 of bronze lanterns.

All lanterns used to be lit every day in the past, but now they are all lit at once only twice a year, on February 2-4, and on August 14-15.

Wash basin
Wash basin with an image of a deer close to the entrance.

Deer
Of course there are real deers everywhere too.

Deer

Deer

Lantern
Interesting, a tree growing from inside of an older tree stub.

Inside of lantern
These lanterns seem to be in active use, we see some fresh candles-ends inside.

Kasuga Taisha Shrine
Finally we are at the entrance steps (Nanmon gate).

By shintoist tradition the shrine buildings are rebuilt every 20 years.

Shrine shop
A typical charms shop inside.

Wisteria flower is considered very important for the shrine because Fujiwara name could also be read as "Wisteria field", that's why all mikos in the shrine have wisteria in their hair.

The entrance costs 500 yen per person, but no ticket is given, instead you just pass via a ticket booth and pay on your way. Initially we hesitated to pay as there was bound to be nothing interesting inside, but then we heard some strange music going from inside so decided we must check it out, turned out there was a wedding ongoing.

Wedding guests

Wedding ceremony
Behind the groom and bride sits an older couple of match-makers called nakodo. They are also tasked with management of the wedding.

Wedding ceremony

Wedding ceremony

Wedding ceremony

Wedding ceremony

Wedding ceremony
Here miko gives newlyweds some sake. It's handed to them in three different sized saucers called sakazuki. The ceremony itself is called Sansankudo which means three sets of three swallows equals nine, one of the oldest Japanese traditions. Number three is a prime and is a sacred number in Buddhism. Number nine means triple happiness. In the end both families drink a cup of sake which means that the families are now united.

Wedding ceremony

The ceremony takes quite a while with all the same mournful music sounding most of the time, some movements inside and ocasional praying.

Wedding ceremony
Finally the bride emerges. This white hood is called wataboshi. The purpose of the hood (that literally means "to hide horns") is to hide "demonic horns" of the bride as a confirmation she submits to carry out her role as a wife in a serenity and patiently.

Wedding ceremony

Wedding ceremony
Then the groom joins her.

Wedding guests exiting
And then the guests go out too.

Wedding guests exiting
First guests have black tomesode kimono.  It's considered the most formal kind of kimono for married women. At traditional Japanese weddings only married relatives of newlyweds are supposed to wear this.

Wedding photo preparations
They head towards a photo space that is already arranged.

Wedding guests exiting
Unmarried young girls attending traditional Japanese weddings dress up in colorful long-sleeved furisode kimono. Married women to show their status dress up in muted color homongi kimono. Men usually wear western-style suits.

Wedding group photo
Group photo ;)

After wedding ceremony
Meanwhile the priests started to clean-up inside.

Hair decorations
Traditional hair decorations used with kimono are called kanzashi.

Tied obi
Nice tied obi bow on a kimono.

And then a new group of guests rushed in.

Girl in kimono

Boy in kimono

Girl in kimono

Lanterns

Girl in kimono
Passing by main gate of the sanctuary they weer throwing coins into a coin box.

Girl in kimono
then bowed deeply twice, clapped twice, made a wish, bowed deeply once.

Girl in kimono

Girl in kimono

Tied obi

Mother with a child

Japanese Family photo
Colorful baby kimono (Ubugi). After a baby have survived their first month, they get dressed into ubugi and admitted into a shinto shrine for a prayer.

Japanese girl

Lantern

Japanese bride photo preparation
Meanwhile the photo session with the bride continues at one of the corridors.

Priest

And new guests are still oncoming.

Japanese family

Boy in kimono
Nice kimono, though a pity it's a bit covered by the pants.

Boy in kimono

Boy in kimono
Why did you take away my candy?!!! ;)

Boy in kimono

Boy in kimono
Ritual time.

Lanterns

Golden lanterns

Wedding ceremony beginnng
A new wedding walks in accompanied by some Mikos

Kasuga Taisha shrine

Kasuga Taisha shrine

Kasuga Taisha shrine

Lanterns

This lantern corridor seems to be a popular photo spot, so we stayed here for some time taking pictures of passers by.

Boy in school uniform

Girl in Kimono

Girl and mother in kimono
Mother has an example of mono-color tomesode kimono. This kimono is considered a bit less formal than black tomesode and usually also worn by relatives at a wedding.

Girl and mother in kimono

Girl in kimono

Girl in kimono

Girl in kimono

Girl, mother and grandmother in kimono

Priest

Kasuga Taisha shrine
The main gate and hall.

Big tree at Kasuga Taisha shrine

Big tree at Kasuga Taisha shrine
A big cedar tree on the grounds.

Preparing for outside wedding ceremony

Suddenly some movements started outside. It turned out the wedding party requested to have (some parts of) the ceremony outside.

Groom and bride going outside

Groom and bride

And a video of part of the ceremony (shaky and noisy, but better than nothing I guess):

After the ceremony was over we headed outside, only to see the more guests.

Girl in kimono

Girl in kimono

Girl in kimono

Lanterns

And we continue our walkaround of the temple grounds (that are encompassing a big park too).

Stone lanterns

Alley lines with stone lanterns

Stone lanterns

Marriage wishes
A stand with wishes tablets at Meoto Daikokusha. The place is special because it enshrines deities of married couples, so they are worshiped for grace of match-making and happy marriage.

Marriage wishes

Kasuga Taisha shrine grounds

Kasuga Taisha shrine grounds

Kasuga Taisha shrine grounds

And after we've made a full circle, we are back at the bus stop.

Japanese family
Another family of wedding guests I guess.

Finally it's time for some lunch, we stopped by a ramen place near our hotel on the way back.

Gyoza
Gyoza.

Ramen
And ramen.

And shortly after we picked our suitcases and headed to Osaka, but I that would be a topic for the next post.

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