Tadasu no mori
This lush, green mori or forest is a hallmark of Shimogamo shrine. Its name is so ancient that its history is uncertain; Tadasu may mean either delta or justice. The forest is situated at the river delta, promoting its verdant growth. Yet this forested delta is more than the mere crossroads of rivers. Its neighbors are said to have come to the forest to adjudicate their own conflicts in a system of community justice. Perhaps the name Tadasu is a double-entendre meant to encompass both possibilities.
Its trees have been famous throughout the shrine’s history. The delicate flowers of the plum trees and the aromatic blossoms of the cherry trees have inspired many visitors. The acclaimed artist Korin Ogata (1658-1716) immortalized the plum trees in his folding screen Red and White Plum Flowers, now a national treasure. The most famous cherry tree is a specimen of Yama-zakura, or mountain cherry tree, that stands in front of the vermillion gate of the forest.
The forest today spans over 12 hectares and is well protected by both national and international measures. The Tadasu-no-mori Foundation protects this natural environment and educates community members about the forest on April 29th, Green Day in Japan. It is a National Historic site, a Natural Heritage site, and a U.N. World Cultural Heritage site of its own right.
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.