Saturday, January 02, 2010

Sub Shrine - Geku (Ise Jingu)

Jingu was established to honor the goddess Amaterasu-omikami, who figures prominently in Japan's creation myths. Her mirror is said to be held at Naiku, the most sacred of the sites.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of Ise is the tradition surrounding its buildings. These were first erected about 2000 years ago, using the methods of the time with only notched and inlaid wood with no nails. Every 20 years, the buildings have been fastidiously dismantled (the wood is recycled for distribution to other shrines throughout Japan) and rebuilt using the same traditional methods. This serves to preserve the techniques by passing them down among generations, but is also consistent with the celebration of impermanence that plays such a profound role in Japanese philosophy and aesthetics. So much for the great western cathedrals, seemingly built to last forever (in defiance of nature).

Common people are not permitted to lay eyes on the most sacrosanct of the buildings, and no photos are allowed near them. Some of the more minor shrines like the one shown here, however, demonstrate the same style of roof.


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