Writer: Alma Reyes

Editor, writer, graphic/layout designer, and music artist promotion/event coordinator based in Tokyo, Japan. Holds a Bachelor's degree in Interior Design, studied Computer Graphic Design at University of California Berkeley, Japanese language studies at Osaka University of Foreign Studies, and received her Master's degree in Product Design & Design Management at Kyoto Institute of Technology. Has published over 30 titles as editor and writer. Interests include design, architecture, art, photography, brush calligraphy, music, piano, concerts, film, theatre, books, poetry, travel, retro, boats, horses, wine, Italian food, and all "uninhibited" elements of life...

Kifune Shrine and Kurama Temple

Mountain Hike to Kifune Shrine and Kurama Temple

A memorable and exhilarating trip to Kifune Shrine and Kurama Temple up the mountains of Northern Kyoto was a perfect way to close the year in preparation for the New Year. Although the winter chill made the walk and climb quite challenging, it should be very pleasant during other seasons, such as autumn and spring when the forests beam with mesmerizing colors of maple leaves and cherry blossoms.

Hiyoshi Taisha – A Hidden Shrine Within Mt. Hiei, Kyoto

Established over 2100 years ago in the 7th year by Emperor Sujin, its rustic structures not only exude the antiquity of the site, but the sprawling territory housing approximately 40 small shrines within various sections is absolutely impressive. It is definitely worth visiting since it is known to be the head shrine in the largest shrine network in Japan that is comprised of about 4,000 shrines nationwide.

Tinkling Chimes at the Kawasaki Daishi Temple

Some of these varieties include: ceramic, glass, metal, bamboo, bronze, clay, crystal and so on. Kawasaki Daishi Temple, while not quite known to many tourists, has always beendedicated to the warding of evil through its ceremonies of purification, such as the Yakudoshi (unlucky or critical age in a person’s life), blessings of talismans and charms, burning rites during New Year, year-end cleaning ritual using long brooms, and others.

Summer Lights of Mitama Festival at Yasukuni Shrine

In keeping with the ancient custom, Yasukuni Shrine holds the yearly Mitama Festival around July 13-16 as part of the Obon festivities. Mitama refers to the spirit or soul of the dead. During this season, Japanese hang lanterns and place offerings at the altars as prayers for their ancestors’ spirits to be freed of their sufferings. Since 1947, the Mitama Festival has lightened up the Yasukuni Shrine grounds with more than 30,000 glittering lanterns or chochin.

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