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Himukai Jinja Reisai




Himukai Shrine Reisai, Kyoto

Himukai shrine consists of inner and outer shrines (Gegu and Naigu) as the Ise Grand Shrine in Mie prefecture. Himukai is a miniature of Ise shrine and one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto. Ise shrine is constructed in the oldest, purest and simplest style of Shinto architecture using plain Japanese cypress with a raised floor, and a roof thatched with grass and forked finials at both ends. The supporting pillars are buried into the ground. 

Reisai, the annual festival was a two-day session. On the first day I met an Israeli architecture student. She told me that every old structure in Japan is based on religion. In my opinion the structures might also relate to the natural environment. Old wooden constructions are very similar in Japan and Scandinavia. Forests cover two thirds of these areas. Israeli and other Mediterranean countries exploited most of their forests already two thousand years ago. So stone became the main building material there. Japan’s and Scandinavia’s close relationship to forests might be a reason for their simple design.

The second day was featured by the dance of chief (nincho no mai). The kagura dancer wears a military officials’ costume (ketteki no ho) and has a slender sword (hosotari) attached to the waist and a white ring, which imitates a mirror. Kagura has accompaniment of many wing instruments like sho, hichiriki, and ryuteki. Sho expresses the sacred light from heaven and imitates the call of phoenix. Hichiriki symbolises the voice of human beings and the harmony of notes shows eternal peace of the entire universe. Ryuteki represents the roar of dragon circling in the sky.