Katori Jingu is said to have been established in 43 B.C. and enshrines Futsunushino Mikoto, a deity who is believed to have helped establish Japan. Futsunushino Mikoto, honored at the shrine, has traditionally been respected as a god to keep the nation tranquil. Before the beginning of the Meiji Era (1868-1912), only 3 shrines; Ise Jingu, Katori Jingu and Kashima Jingu, had been given Jingu (historic Shinto shrine) status, meaning that Katori Jingu is an extremely prestigious shrine. Katori Jingu is the head of the 400 Katori Jinja shrines throughout the country. Its main building, the Sakura (cherry tree) Gate and the prayer hall were constructed in 1700 during the Edo Period (1603-1867).
Since ancient times, Katori Jingu has been respected by many people, as the god enshrined there is believed to mitigate natural disasters and provide protection. Since a power struggle worsened during the Heian Period (794-1185), Katori Jingu, along with Kashima Jingu, has won the respect of the public as a facility honoring a god of the martial arts.
Its treasure house stores Kaiju Budo Kyo (mirror decorated with marine mammals and grape vines), which is deemed as one of the 3 prominent mirrors of Japan and designated a national treasure.
In spring, the grounds of Katori Jingu are covered with cherry blossoms and the fresh green, while colorful foliage dazzles the eyes of visitors in autumn, attracting crowds of tourists every year. Its main building is roofed with a method known as "hiwada buki" (Japanese cypress bark thatching). The roofing technique is Japan's original unrivalled technology that helps create an extremely beautiful view of the shrine.
Katori Jingu is about 4 kilometers from Sawara Station on the JR Narita Line, with round trip buses available on weekends and holidays for those who want to visit the shrine.
The Kanpukuji Temple is a 20-minute walk from JR Sawara Station and belongs to the Buzan sect of Shingon Buddhism. The large temple is regarded as one of the 3 great anti-evil "daishi" temples in the Kanto region, along with Kawasaki Daishi and Nishiarai Daishi. 4 important cultural properties, including a seated statue of Shakyamuni Tathagata, are stored at the temple. It is said that Kanpukuji was established more than 1,100 years ago. There remain many facilities installed more than a century ago on its grounds, such as the main building, the "daishido" hall, the building dedicated to Kannon, the "fudodo" facility and the belfry. Kanpukuji boasts the splendid sight of weeping cherry blossoms and the fresh green in spring, while the view of colorful foliage in fall is also spectacular. Kanpukuji is also home to the grave of Inoh Tadataka (1745-1818), who traveled all over Japan on foot to create a map of the country during the Edo Period (1603-1867).
Suwa Jinja, located on a high ground west of the Onogawa River, is an 8-minute walk from JR Sawara Station. Suwa Jinja is said to date back to around 1694, when local people started honoring a protective deity of the region during the Edo Period (1603-1867).
The current main building of the shrine was built in 1853 in the Edo Period. While the biannual "Sawara Grand Festival" is held every July and October, the autumn festival is organized by Suwa Jinja. In the fall festival, 14 luxurious and splendid floats parade the streets. The float parade, along with a similar event in the Sawara summer festival of the Yasaka Jinja Shrine, is designated a significant intangible folk cultural asset by the central government. Suwa Jinja enshrines a god of war named "Takeminakata no Mikoto."
Yasaka Jinja in Sawara started as a facility to honor Gozu Tenno, a deity believed to cause the pandemic of infectious diseases, so that epidemics could be prevented, following the example of the Gion-sha Shrine (present-day Yasaka Jinja) in Kyoto, which enshrines the same god.
Facilities sacred to Gozu Tenno across Japan were renamed as Yasaka Jinja in 1868, when the edict for separation of Shinto and Buddhism was issued. In line with the change, the Yasaka Jinja Shrine in Sawara began enshrining the famous Susanoo no Mikoto deity instead of Gozu Tenno.
Yasaka Jinja's festival, part of the biannual Sawara Grand Festival, is known as Gion Matsuri and held on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday immediately following July 10. In the summer festival, a total of 10 floats parade the streets.
The float parade of Yasaka Jinja, along with a similar event in the Sawara autumn festival of the Suwa Jinja Shrine, is designated a significant intangible folk cultural asset by the central government.
You can walk to Yasaka Jinja from JR Sawara Station in about 10 minutes.
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