This is an experiment in trying an alternative way of posting. This is a video montage showing two shrines in Himeji, Japan.
Shugendo is an amalgam of magico-religious practices coming from Shamanism, Taoism, Shinto and Buddhism. Yamabushi, the Shugendo monks, seek spiritual growth through ascetic practices in the mountains. Fudo Myoo, Zao Gongen and Vairocana Buddha play a central role in Shugendo’s pantheon.
This a summary of a book written by Motohisa Yamakage. The fountain of Shinto is a reverence of nature. Shinto originates from a sense of awe and gratitude toward the mysteries of nature. According to Yamage, the main concerns of Shinto are how each person contacts the spirit of Kami; how each person shows gratitude and respect toward Kami; and, how each person grows spiritually, by acquiring qualities that are the result of his or her contact with and reverence toward Kami.
As in other countries, Japanese people also celebrate the coming of a new year…but in a little different way. Many people go to a Jinja after midnight on December 31.
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.
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.