Weekly Photo Challenge: PATH

Into the shrine at Miyajima — a lone tourist/pilgrim on the long entrance path.

This photo was taken a year or two before a typhoon destroyed the famous “island” Shinto shrine outside of Hiroshima that is surrounded by tidal water twice a day. Within a short time, though, the entire wooden shrine was rebuilt as it was before, just as every twenty years, at one of the two most important Shinto shrines in the country,  Ise Jingu, the inner holy of holies is torn down every twenty years after an exact replica has been made by its side. If you went to visit Miyajima today, you would enter by this exact path.

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28 Responses to Weekly Photo Challenge: PATH

  1. How beautiful. It must have a wonderful smell as well!

    • Touch2Touch says:

      That I don’t remember — do you mean the new one made of fresh wood? That was after my time there — but I bet you’re right! Cedar wood —
      Big virtue in Japan however is for things (and people) to have NO smell. In Shinto, not being clean kind of corresponds to our “sin”, and the Japanese daily bath is a central ritual of the day. A fascinating country.
      Have a good weekend, Julia.

  2. We used to live not far from Miyajima when I was a child. Thanks for the memory.

  3. Therese Bertsch says:

    So there is also this idea of contingency; sort of like the Hebrew Scriptures, letting the land go fallow. Nothing is permanent, nothing created is permanent, we can enjoy and use created objects for safety, comfort, enjoyment and social needs but never become dependent on them. The earth quake on Long Island was a reminder as are all earthquakes, and history that “all things are passing, God never changes.” (Teresa de Avila) In the Shinto thought, it could simply mean the Holy One deserves the best, similar to the Arc of the Covenant. Teresa of Avila also said this with regard to liturgical space. Well, at least that’s what I’m thinking today Lovely picture and such a sign of communal hope to see the work of their hands!

    • Touch2Touch says:

      Perhaps this is one reason the Japanese rebound after all the disasters (and their island nation is subject to so MANY disasters, of earth, air, and water) — because destruction is not the end, but the beginning of new efforts. Yes, you’re right — communal efforts. Nothing is permanent? yes, they know that very well. Concept of letting go fallow? That not really. Every INCH of land that’s not absolutely on the peak of a mountain is used, to grow rice, or housing. One thing there is never enough of in Japan is space.
      As always, many thanks for your thoughtful comment, Therese. Have a good, relaxing, fun, productive day (you’ll need several days maybe to include all those)!

      • Stef says:

        This destroy-and-rebuild is a great practice with impermanence…

      • Touch2Touch says:

        You’d think in our throwaway society we’d have an easier time with impermanence —
        Maybe what fouls us up is the incessant pressure to throw away/destroy in order to get MORE and BETTER. The Japanese practice is rebuilding to replace. Actually, in the case of the shrine, to rebuild to RENEW. Hmmmm.

  4. Stef says:

    Wow – the idea that something is torn down (either by force or by choice) and then rebuilt exactly as it was is kind of mind-blowing to me. Wow…

  5. Patti Kuche says:

    Love the colour contrast with the path to enlightenment looking so effortless, almost invisible.

    • Touch2Touch says:

      The image is an illusion on a couple of levels.
      Illusion #1 is that the path to enlightenment is ever effortless.
      Illusion #2 is that this path leads to a Buddhist temple. Miyajima Island contains some Buddhist temples, but this, its most famous structure, the Itsukushima Shrine, is a Shinto shrine. I should have been clearer when I posted the photo.
      That marvelous orangey-red color, so distinctive, so in your face, is the emblematic color of Shinto, which is a nature religion little known and even less practiced outside of Japan. Enlightenment, which is so tightly linked with Buddhism, is not a goal of Shinto at all. But the Japanese, in their adaptive way, over centuries have woven together the two — what shall I say?— They are not faiths, they are almost not religions as we understand religion. They are Ways, perhaps, closely intertwined and yet separate. Japanese marry in Shinto, and die in Buddhism, that’s one quick description. Shinto is an animistic nature religion; one of its goals is to be in harmony with nature, aware of the spirits that inhabit it, and to reverence it, out of fear and respect if no other motives.
      Oh, dear! This is WAY more response than you bargained for, Patti!
      But I think in a past life I must have been Japanese myself. I apologize for the great length, and only hope that you will look at the picture a little differently now; maybe even do a little googling of a fascinating and fantastic world that is in many ways very different from ours

  6. 2e0mca says:

    I would guess that’s a pilgrim despite the camera. Nice photo for the challenge and an informative commentary – thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Touch2Touch says:

      I don’t know, of course, but my guess would be that’s he’s more tourist than pilgrim — but perhaps some of both.
      In Japan the two are often inextricably entwined. Shinto isn’t anything like Christianity. “God” in our sense doesn’t enter in; people visit the shrines at prescribed times of the year, and occasions of their lives, for good luck, if you like, and to see fabulously beautiful places. The vermilion torii that one passes to enter Itsukushima is world famous — it stands completely surrounded by water except twice a day — But alas, when I was there, it was the twice-a-day when the torii stood in a mud flat! so I couldn’t take the picture, and don’t have one of my own to post. Here’s a link to a photo taken by a luckier visitor: —http://www.bicki.de/Itsukushima.html

  7. northernnarratives says:

    Very beautiful!

  8. suitablefish says:

    love this, and thank you for sharing the story of the shrine and path.

    • Touch2Touch says:

      Thanks, Susan.
      With your love of mountains, and interest in Eastern thought, and appreciation of beauties of East and West, I’d recommend (if it’s available) Akira Kurosawa’s 1990 film DREAMS, which has a segment set in mountain snows that might speak to you — or not, of course. But I thought it was a fantastic film —

  9. Jo Bryant says:

    i adore the vibrancy of this – the colour is amazing

  10. Nice picture; it draws you in.

    • Touch2Touch says:

      Just as it’s supposed to do — 🙂

      If I were in Brooklyn, I could get a “fix” at the Japanese Gardens of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens —
      If you happen to go some time, take it all in for me!

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