shrines

Kyoto shrine goes full otaku with original moe priestess charms, smartphone cases【Pics】

Well, that’s one way to bring all the boys to your well-raked yard…

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Police arrest Korean national on suspicion of Tokyo shrine bombing

Explosion occurred at controversial Yasukuni religious site roughly two weeks ago.

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Police respond to explosion, suspected bombing at Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo

Bomb disposal unit finds remnants of suspected incendiary device at shrine for Japanese war dead in Chiyoda Ward.

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Travel around Japan with stunning videos from the 4K ultra HD video library

There are many beautiful videos of Japan floating around on YouTube, but there’s one special channel that’s aiming to stand head and shoulders above the rest. Called TokyoStreetView – Japan The Beautiful, this is an ongoing project that’s working towards compiling a library of high definition 4K videos, showcasing unique aspects of Japanese culture and featuring beautiful locations all around the country.

We take a look at four of their stunning videos, filmed within the nation’s capital, at Akihabara and the famous Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, and in its more picturesque regional areas, at Nikko and Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture. The superb, high quality of the images is so remarkable, you’ll feel as if you’re seeing the country not through a lens but through your very own eyes!

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Four awesomely beautiful shrines for your next trip through off-the-beaten-path Japan

Any proper itinerary for a trip across Japan should include stops in its three most famous Shinto shrines: Hiroshima’s Itsukushima Shrine, Kyoto’s Heian Shrine, and the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. Those, however, are just the tip of Japan’s iceberg of breathtaking sacred Shinto spots.

Even if you’ve got no pressing interest in Japan’s indigenous religion, its shrines are often sites of breathtaking natural and architectural beauty, and here are four that, while off the beaten path, are not to be missed.

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This “power spot” in Kumamoto, Japan looks straight out of a Ghibli movie, is pure magic 【Photos】

Deep in the forests of Takamorimachi, a small town in Kumamoto Prefecture on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, hides a humble shrine shrouded by trees and moss-covered greenery. Hailed as a “power spot” by the Japanese, Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine (上色見熊野座神社) is a mystical destination for those looking to feel the earth’s energy and recharge their spirits, or to just take in the all the scenic beauty it has to offer. Even if you can’t make a visit in the near future, you can at least pacify yourself with these stunning images instead.

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Gifu Prefecture’s “Monet’s Pond” is the perfect picturesque place to paint a picture【Photos】

When planning a vacation to Japan, it’s certainly exhilarating to visit big cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kobe, but sometimes there are special locations that aren’t in all the guide books which have just as much, if not more, beauty and appeal. Japan is a gorgeous country with breathtaking nature that can be seen just by taking off in any direction. Perhaps one of those directions will lead you to a beautiful pond like the one in Gifu Prefecture that has been nicknamed “Monet’s Pond“.

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Part of the family – Tokyo Shinto shrine’s blessings for children now available for pets too

Every fall, parents in Japan who have children that are three, five, or seven years old celebrate something called Shichi-Go-San (literally “Seven-Five-Three”). The family heads to a Shinto shrine, where the priest performs a blessing for girls aged three and seven and boys aged five, praying for them to have long and healthy lives.

But since some pet owners will argue that their animal companions are their children, certain shrines now offer Shichi-Go-San blessings for pets, too, some of whom show up wearing delightful pet kimono!

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It’s anime pirates vs. idols as Love Live! fans spit fire at One Piece creator’s perceived slight

Determining Japan’s most popular anime or manga franchise isn’t such a cut-and-dry thing, as different criteria suggest giving the crown to different series. For example, if you’re going by longevity, pirate saga One Piece has to be in the discussion, since its manga started in 1997 and its anime in 1999, with both still going strong.

However, you could also make a case that teen idol singer story Love Live! is a contender for the title, since currently no other show’s fanbase can hold a candle to the burning passion of the Love Livers, as Love Live! fans are called.

But while the main characters of both One Piece and Love Live! and friendly, forgiving, and work well in a team, the Love Livers are feeling quite a bit more animosity towards One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda for a remark he made that many interpreted as the famous manga artist throwing shade on the way Love Live! has become a pop cultural phenomenon.

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Japan’s 30 best travel destinations, as chosen by overseas visitors

Just in time for the peak summer travel season, website TripAdvisor has released its annual list of the highest-rated spots in Japan from its foreign users. With 30 amazing locations on the list, you’ll want to start your journey as soon as possible if your goal is to see them all, so let’s dive right in and take a look at this year’s picks.

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Heading to a Shinto shrine soon? You might not want to read these ghost stories before you go!

If you’re spending even a short amount of time in Japan, visiting at least one Buddhist temple and one Shinto shrine should definitely be on your list. It doesn’t matter too much which one you go to — they all tend to be lovely places with great atmospheres. Of course, some are bigger and fancier than others, and some just have better locations, like on top of mountains or in forests.

However, it turns out that, according to certain legends flying around on Twitter right now, you might want to be careful about which shrines you visit, or something spooky could be waiting for you…

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The most crowded place in Tokyo? Might be the Kanda Matsuri festival, but it’s still awesome

Even in a city as packed with people as Tokyo, some places, and times, are more crowded than others. So when and where can you find the largest, densest mass of humanity? Some would say the Yamanote loop line during the morning rush hour. Others would vote for Shibuya’s scramble crosswalk intersection on a Saturday night.

But before you go awarding the crown to either of those two candidates, take a look at the massive crowds that came out for the Kanda Matsuri festival last weekend.

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Strapped for cash, 1,400-year-old Kyoto shrine leasing part of its grounds for condo development

One of the things that makes Japan such a compelling place is the country’s long cultural history. The upkeep of centuries-old buildings can be extremely expensive, however, especially since traditional Japanese architecture is mainly wood, reed, and paper, which aren’t exactly the sturdiest building materials.

As we’ve seen before, sometimes even sites of historical significance can struggle to make ends meet, and Kyoto’s famous Shimogamo Shrine is no exception. That’s why in order to raise the funds it needs, the institution, which was founded some 1,400 years ago, is planning to lease a section of its grounds for the construction of a condominium complex.

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Kitties keeping the gods company: Check out these photos of cats in Japanese shrines!

A few weeks ago, we found out that some cats had started taking over shrines in Thailand. While that might make our furry friends seem extremely impious, it’s also exactly the kind of hubris that we suspect cats particularly delight in. Now, you may be wondering if the same thing could happen in Japan–and the answer is: Of course!

While we’ve long suspected cats of being emissaries of the spirit world, these photos should make it clear that your kitten isn’t just adorable–it’s holy adorable!

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The top 10 rural regions of Japan that Tokyo residents would like to move to

There’s a widespread belief in Japan that if you want to achieve educational or economic success, you come to Tokyo. As a matter of fact, it’s such a common move that Japanese even has a verb for it, joukyou, or to “move on up to the capital.”

But for some people, always-lively Tokyo is just too bustling. It’s not just the elderly who feel the appeal of a rustic lifestyle, either. Even some residents in their 20s find themselves wanting to move away from the constant hum of the big city, and a recent survey reveals the top 10 rural regions of Japan that Tokyoites would like to move to.

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Burn baby burn! The Shinto inferno of Japan’s Dondo Yaki ceremony

When entering the grounds of a Shinto shrine in Japan, it’s customary to first stop by the water basin near the gate and rinse your hands, and sometimes your mouth, in order to cleanse them. Water isn’t the only classical element held to have purifying properties in Shintoism, though, since the same can be said about fire.

Obviously, worshippers aren’t called upon to put fire on their palms or inside their mouths. Instead, Shinto priests light pyres of charms and decorations during the Dondo Yaki ceremony, with the towering blazes regularly reaching 15 meters (49.2 feet) into the air.

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Giant maguro donated to shrine of fishing-god Ebisu

The start of a new year means it’s time for hatsumōde, the year’s first visit to a Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple. You pray for good luck in the new year, throw some spare yen into the saisenbako (big offering box), get some omamori (good luck charms), and hope that the omikuji (fortune) you get is dai-kichi (great luck) and not dai-kyō (you’re screwed).

While most people are satisfied donating a few yen coins in the donation box when they visit their shrine, the Nishinomiya shrine in Hyogo Prefecture does things a little differently. They want to make sure the gods hear them loud and clear, so they lug a massive frozen maguro onto the donation box and leave it there for three days.

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Izumo’s Starbucks, a stone’s throw away from the gathering place of Shinto’s eight million gods

Shintoism has such a large pantheon of gods that the religion even has a structured way in which they all keep in touch with each other. Every October, the deities enshrined across the nation are said to gather in Shimane Prefecture’s Izumo Taisha Shrine, where they convene for their annual divine meeting.

We imagine it’s a busy conference, considering that some eight million deities are thought to attend. So we’re sure several of them were happy to find Izumo City now has a Starbucks, with the same tasty beverages the chain serves all over Japan, but with Japanese décor that’s unique to Izumo.

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Can’t spend a whole month at Kyoto’s Gion Festival? This beautiful video gives the highlights

Many neighborhoods in Japan have festivals during the summer, often centered around the local shrine. They generally include processions, musical performances, and Shinto rituals, with the festivities lasting a day, or maybe two if they stretch throughout the weekend.

Kyoto’s Gion district, though, does things on a grander scale. The Gion Matsuri (Gion Festival) starts on July 1 and runs for the entire month, with some sort of event happening almost every day. And while most non-residents can’t clear out enough of their schedule to sped a few solid weeks in Japan’s former capital, this beautiful video gives the highlights of the event.

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Japan’s 30 best travel destinations, as chosen by overseas visitors

It’s time once again for travel website Trip Advisor’s list of the best places in Japan, as chosen by overseas visitors to the country. One of the things that makes Japan such a fascinated place to travel is its extreme mix of historical and modern attractions, both of which are represented in the top 30 which includes shrines, sharks, and super-sized robots.

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