Namba Yasaka Shrine, Osaka
Namba Yasaka Shrine (難波八阪神社 Namba Yasaka Jinja), in Osaka city, Japan. The shrine was once quite large, having the seven standard buildings of a Buddhist temple complex (七堂伽藍 shichidō garan) and 12 attached temples. However, the shrine was closed after the Meiji restoration in 1868 due to the separation of Shinto and Buddhism policy of the new government.
In 1945 the shrine's buildings were burned down in air raids, the current buildings are reconstructions built after the war. The large lion head contains a small stage (獅子舞台 Shishibutai) where dances are performed. The lion head measures 12m high, by 11m wide, and is 10m deep.
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The eight islands of Japan sprang into existence through Divine Intervention.
The first two gods who came into existence were Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto, the Exalted Male and Exalted Female. It was their job to make the land for people to live on.
They went to the bridge between heaven and earth and, using a jewel-encrusted halberd, Izanagi and Izanami churned up the sea into a frothy foam. As salty drips of water fell from the tip of the halberd the first island was formed. Its name was Onogoro.
So far, so good. But when Izanagi and Izanami first met on their island, Izanami spoke to Isanagi without being spoken to first. Since she was the female, and this was improper, their first union created badly-formed offspring who were sent off into the sea in boats.
The next time they met, Izanagi was sure to speak first, ensuring the proper rules were followed, and this time they produced eight children, which became the islands of Japan.
I'm sure you did not fail to miss the significance of this myth for the establishment of Japanese formal society.
At present, Japan is the financial capital of Asia. It has the second largest economy in the world and the largest metropolitan area (Tokyo.)
Technically there are three thousand islands making up the Japanese archipelago. Izanagi and Izanami must have been busy little devils with their jewelled halberd...
Japan's culture is highly technical and organized. Everything sparkles and swooshes on silent, miniaturized mechanisms.
They're a world leader in robotics, and the Japanese have the longest life-expectancy on earth.
Text by Steve Smith.