Friday, September 28, 2012

Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine

On our way from Lake Yamanaka to Lake Kawaguchi, we stopped by the Fujiyoshida Sengen shrine.

The Fujiyoshida Sengen shrine is dedicated to Konohanasakuyahime, the Shinto deity associated with Mt Fuji. The formal name of the shrine is Kitaguchi Hongu Sengen Jinja which means North Entrance Sengen Main Shrine and the name derives from the fact that this is the Main Sengen shrine on the north side of the shrine. There are more than 1000 Sengen shrines dedicated to Mt Fuji across Japan, but the main deity of Mt Fuji is believed to be enshrined in the Fujiyoshida Sengen shrine. 
The shrine served as the focal point of Mt Fuji worship during the Edo period.

Traditionally, climbers would begin their Mt Fuji ascent after praying at the Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine. The old trail begins from behind the Shrine’s main hall. A wooden trail behind the shrine marks the beginning of the traditional trail. 
Even to this day, few climbers, mostly those undertaking the climb as a pilgrimage begin their climb after offering prayers at the shrine. However, most climbers prefer to begin their ascent from one of the several 5th stations of Mt Fuji, Kawaguchiko 5th station being the most popular starting point. It is said that if the climb is begun from the Fujiyoshida Sengen shrine, it takes about 8-10 hours to reach the summit.

The shrine is surrounded by a dense pine and cedar forest. 
The path leading to the shrine is lined by stone lanterns on either side.

The large wooden torii gate of the Sengen shrine is over 18 m high and is counted amongst one of the largest wooden gates in Japan. 
According to tradition, the torii is rebuilt slightly larger, every six decades. Near the top of the Torii, a signboard reads "Sangoko Daiichizan", which translates to the highest mountain among three countries- Japan, India and China.

The shrine buildings are painted in red, as in most other Shinto shrines.

The main hall dates back to 1615 and the altar is decorated in ornamental style.  
Many murals and wooden masks adorn the walls and ceilings of the shrine. 
Three of the original cedar trees are believed to have survived over the centuries and these are adorned by the holy rope.

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