Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Atsuta Shrine, Nagoya

These are pictures we took last Sunday (April 30) before leaving for Tokyo for 5 days. They are at Atsuta shrine in Nagoya which is a big Shinto shrine. (follow the links on the words above for more info on this specific shrine and on Shinto in general). The shrine itself is in a big park-like area with lots of trees. The guy in the picture above is getting into costume before performing a dance.

The main activities that were happening on this day were very slow, formal dances done in traditional costumes. The main relic housed at the shrine holds a sword that is one of three items of the Emperor's regalia.

The dances were all really interesting and they played this eirie squaking, squealy music the whole time that gave it a very wierd, other-wordly effect. Many of the dances seemed to be martial in nature, at least symbolically.
Like I said, the setting was really pretty and the weather was perfect.
This giant tree has a twisted straw rope around it. Trees like this one are believed to house nature dieties in Shintoism. I realized I know almost nothing at all about Shinto, but it is a form of animism--sort of like the religions of the ancient Celts and the native American peoples.
There was a garden with a pond in it that had tons of turtles.
Here's a shot of the strange flute/horn things that made the eirie, droning music. There were small and large drums and simple melodies played with flutes over the drones.