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Usa Shrine, The Real Blog Post

September 18, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

A Bit of a History Lesson

Though I have not confirmed this, I have the understanding that Usa Shrine, in Oita prefecture, Japan, is the birth place of Shinto. After a weekend of parties, what better time than to check out the local famous shrine, and pray for forgiveness for all the things you did and don’t quite remember? So Joel, Natalie, Una, TMFMIJ and I got in our cars and drove over to the shrine to check out its ancient sights.

We had originally planned to go swimming under a waterfall this Sunday beginning at 10 AM, but due to the rather long night which was had on Saturday, this plan was postponed since Una and TMFMIJ had to go back to Hita, and the last bus (ridiculously) was at 4:20 PM. We chose the shrine as a closer alternative, though there would be no swimming here.

Gathering at 1:30, we headed off to the shrine. According to legend, Usa shrine lost its major fame because of a jealous emperor in Nara, which was the first capital of Japan. This emperor, being frustrated by Usa being all famous for beginning Shinto-ism, had a dream! Indeed, a dream was had, and in this dream he had a divine vision. The God inhabiting the Usa shrine was moving! His heart had been transferred to a shrine much closer and far more convenient. I mean a place far better and more spiritual! Waking up, the Emperor made it happen, and the place of importance in Shinto religion up and moved over to Nara, a place which is now far more famous than Usa will ever be (though Nara cannot claim to be the USA of Japan, which is pretty cool.) Yet Usa shrine still persists today, just with fewer donors and not quite so many worshipers. If Japanese people knew how to hold a grudge (they don’t even blame the U.S. for dropping two A-bombs…) the people of Usa would be wicked pissed.

It’s a pretty classic Japanese shrine, and I wouldn’t necessarily say there is anything super special about it. As Joel said, “if you didn’t know it was famous, you’d never figure it out.” The grounds are really the best part of it. It’s got quite a big area surrounding the main shrine, with ponds filled to the gills with carp, (really fat ones too!) covered in water lilies and some very nice trees. I might take people to this place simply because of its history, but from a visual standpoint it’s fairly common, especially if you’ve lived in Kyoto like I have. That’s not to say it wasn’t pretty, but I guess you just get spoiled after a while! 🙂

Enjoy the pictures!

You all may have already seen these pictures because I did post them as a gallery earlier, but these are some of my favorites from that day. As always, the whole gallery can be seen here

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