You will find a water fountains at the entrance of most Buddhist and Shinto shrines. People go to a Shinto shrine or jinja to have a closer contact with the Spirit or Kami that resides there. They go to thank and to ask divine assistance. But a Kami can only stay and resonate in a Jinga if the space is clean.
In Shintoism deer have been messengers of the Gods or Kamis and venerated as such. According to the legend, over a thousand years ago Kami Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto arrived to the mountains of Nara riding on a white stag. Buddhist beliefs also influenced the protection of the deer in Nara. In the Western world, the stag has been an allegory of Christ in Catholicism and of Mercurius in Alchemy.
Since I arrived in Japan I started to encounter little Jizos everywhere I went. I knew nothing about him, but I was very attracted by the small Jizo statues. As I began to know more, and being myself a traveler, my sympathy for him increased. Jizo Bosatsu was an enlightened monk that postponed Buddhahood to help beings in the six realms of existence. He is a protector of travelers and children. It is believed that when children die they remain trapped between worlds. Jizo helps children to move forward in their path.
The Engyo-ji Temple is a Buddhist temple on top of the mount Shosha in Himeji. It is one of the 33 sacred temples in the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage. The trees, the spiritual atmosphere and the physical act of going up a mountain make this a memorable visit.
A Matsuri is a Shinto festival, an invocation of the gods. Matsuris come in very different forms and occur throughout the year all over Japan. Aki Matsuri (AM) is an Autumn festival, it takes place in October, near rice harvest. It follows the original rituals seeking to assure the productive of the crop. This is the Himeji version of the Aki Matsuri from my perspective as a bearer.
Japan’s original beliefs have had a different evolution than Western religions. A comparative perspective can illuminate the relationship of people with religion. These observations can help us to better understand our human condition.