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January 18 2013

Originally shaped Ema at Fushimi Inari Taisha - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Ema, Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kyoto
At any Shinto shrine, you will see booths selling wooden votive plaques (ema), with various drawings and shapes, often with unique designs made especially for the shrine. Usually, these plaques have the same shape, almost rectangular, but a very few shrines have special designs: at the Fushimi Inari Taisha from Kyoto, the shrine famous for the thousands of torii, you will find ema shaped like… torii gates. Some of the most beautiful ema I have ever seen, they are used like any other votive plaques and the wishes are written on them, as you can see in today’s photo.

October 14 2012

Kyoto Fushimi Inari Taisha Kagura-den - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Kagura-den, Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto

Since the old times, the traditional Shinto ceremonies featured sacred dances as offerings for kami. Originally, these dances were performed on temporary platforms raised near the shrine, but during the Heian period, the temporary stages were replaced by permanent constructions called kagura-den ("dance hall").

Today, only the larger and most important shrines have a kagura-den, in the smaller shrines the danced being performed in the main hall of worship (haiden).
Here is one of the most beautiful of them, the kagura-den from the Fushimi Inari Taisha from Kyoto, a pavilion similar to the ones used for Noh plays.

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