Aug 12, 2010

A Musical Ritual at Gozanoishi Shrine

Red Torii facing the lake at Gozanoishi

Gozanoishi Shrine is one of the most picturesque and popular sites at Lake Tazawa. The name, Gozanoishi, is said to derive from a historical fact that Lord Yoshitaka of the Satake Clan that ruled Akita area around 17th century had rested and enjoyed the magnificent view upon his visit to Tazawako Area.

Staricase connecting between the torii and the precinct.

Original amulets for sale (left). The offering goes to maintain the shrine.

The main shrine at Gozanoishi.

Tatsuko's Statue for the eternal beauty stands on your right from the entrance to the precinct.

Even the fountain for washing hands is dragon-shaped.

As some summer travelers might know, August is when many festivals are held in all over Japan, regardless of its religious, customary or touristic meanings for the people.

Reitaisai is an annual ritual which signifies the most important ceremonies for the shrine. Some reitaisais are elaborated and touristic: others are more humble and kept --yet practicing the unique customs of the tradition.

Gozanoishi Shrine’s Reitaisai (例大祭) is an example of the latter— hosting no more than 15 guests—performed with a religious music and dance with traditional instruments. Quite interesting!

A ritual dance with bells.

Ritual dance using the swords!

Some say Gozanoishi Shrine emits a strong spiritual powerwho knows—but just the magnificent view through the red torii gate would leave you an enduring impression in your mind. You might feel somehow spiritual.

Note there are a few other spots nearby you couldn’t miss: The mirror rock which Tatsuko had reflected herself in (Kagami-Ishi: 鏡石), the holy tree naturally grafted with seven species (Nanairogi:七色木), and a reconstructed site of the holy spring where Tatsuko took a sip from (Katagashira-no-reisen: 潟頭の霊泉).

Gozanoishi's Torii Gate

Naturally-grafted, Nanairo-gi, or A Tree of Seven Colors

Amagai-ishi, or The Rock of Call for Rain

The rock

A cafe is next to the shrine.

Asari-Shoten, or Asari Market, is a souvenir shop with some snacks and noodles.

Access: Take a local bus line called Isshu-Sen (一周線), which departs from JR Tazawako Station, loops around the lake, and takes you back to the station. A few of them (check the time) even allow you to take off, enjoy your sightseeing, and hop on the next available bus—not all of the buses on the line, though, so plan ahead!

downloadable from the side bar.

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