Here is a video by a newcomer to Shingu. Perhaps you can learn from his experiences!
Ueshiba Morihei, founder of the Aikido, the peaceful martial art, was born in Tanabe on the Kishu Peninsula in Wakayama. Shingu, Wakayama is famous for the Kumano World Juku Aikido Dojo where Ueshiba Morihei, also known as ‘O Sensei’ or Great Teacher. His top student was Hikitsuchi Michio of Shingu and achieved the top ranking in the Aikido world, a 10th degree black belt.
Thousands of Aikido students from all over the world have come to Shingu for the sole purpose of learning the art of Aikido from Hikitsuchi Sensei.
Hikitsuchi Sensei died on Feb 2nd, 2004, the same year that Kumano became a UNESCO World Heritage.
Kumano is not just about spiritual pilgrimages, mountains, rivers, ocean, and shrines. Kumano also has some great places to listen to enjoy the arts, music, and meet the local people. Here is one concert that I and my good friend Philipp Gawthrop did a while back without any rehearsal. After having played music together off and on for about 30 years, we managed to pull it off with a few notes out of tune here and there. Hama-san, owner of the FOLKS Music Cafe, also offers up a couple of tunes about three quarters the way through this video.
This video was shot in the Spring of 2011 and is a slow virtual tour around the Hayatama Grand Shrine that is situated near the Kumano River in Shingu City. Hayatama Taisha, also known as Hayatama Shrine, is one of the three Kumano Sanzan which includes the Hayatama Shrine, Hongu Grand Shrine in Hongu Cho, Tanabe City, and the Nachi Grand Shrine in Nachi Katsuura. All three Taisha are in Wakayama Ken and easily accessible in one day. But, it is better to take 2-3 days and leisurely enjoy these shrines and their surroundings. Spring and Fall are great times to visit.
This video was shot in the Spring of 2011 and is a slow virtual tour around the Hongu Grand Shrine, in Hongu cho, Tanabe City and is one of the Kumano Sanzan which also includes the Hayatama Grand Shrine in Shingu City and the Nachi Grand Shrine in Nachi Katsuura. All three Taisha are in Wakayama Ken and easily accessible in one day. But, it is better to take 2-3 days and leisurely enjoy these shrines and their surroundings. Spring and Fall are great times to visit.
Hayatama Taisha, or Hayatama Grand Shrine, also known as Hayatama Jinju is the NEW SHRINE from which Shingu, or SHIN GUU, gets its name. The original shrine is Kamikura Shrine and is where the annual Shingu Fire Festival, or Otou Matsuri is held each year on February 6th. Kumano Hayatama Grand Shrine began with a belief in the divinity of the nearby Gotobiki Rock at the Kamikura Shrine.
This slide show features the bright red painted structures that are said to indicate Chinese-Buddhist influence is quite a beautiful sight to behold in person.
Hayatama Taisha is one of the three Shinto Grand Shrines comprising what is called the Kumano Sanzan. The other two are Hongu Taisha and Nachi Taisha. All three shrines were damaged to one degree or another during the great Typhoon Talas which dumped torrential rains in the Kumano World Heritage for three days. The Kumano Sanzan was the reason for the famous Kumano Moude or Kumano Pilgrimage which came to prominence in the second half of the 11th century when emperors and aristocrats began visiting these grand shrines. This initiated one of the most prestigious periods of the Kumano as a major pilgrimage destination. After several retired emperors began visiting the area, it became somewhat fashionable soon people from all ranks in society, from the samurai class to the poor and destitute. It became known as the ‘Ants Pilgrimage’ due to the huge numbers coming and going from Kumano. The Kumano Sanzan and the Kumano Kodo (Kumano Old Road) leading to these grand shrines are unique and important historical and cultural assets. In 2004 Kumano received worldwide recognition as a world cultural asset by being registered as a World Heritage by UNESCO.
On September 3rd and 4th a slow moving typhoon hovered over Kumano and compounded with Kumano’s own cloud cover to produce record breaking torrential rainfall. Parts of the region received the equivalent of 6 months to 1 years worth of normal rainfall producing devastation never before experience. One newspaper said it was once every 20,000 years kind of event.
Kumano normally is famous for having heavy rainfall. But, no one has ever seen anything like this before. Entire valleys became like huge lakes. The torrential rains caused a major ‘mountain tsunami’ and much devastation and loss of life. Many homes and shops were simply washed away with some people barely escaping with their lives. Roads were washed out in 56 places locally and many other local towns were hit badly as well.
Thankfully, most people could find safety. But, some unfortunately a few, mostly elderly, did not. At this time we have confirmed 13 fatalities and 1 missing person in Shingu. The damage to public roads and private property was immense. Many people lost their homes and all their belongings some without sufficient disaster insurance. So, they must rely on community support and the generosity of their friends and neighbours, and people like you!
We are very grateful for all the kind letters and offers of financial assistance from our Sister City friends in Santa Cruz and Natori and our many friends around the world.
If you would like to offer financial support please click HERE for instructions.
It looks like the art of making charcoal is being revived in Kumano in Japan and now it is getting the attention of health minded people in North America. Watch this video on how Kishu is making its way into the US.
In this interview, in Japanese, Otake Tetsuo talks a little about his web sites and how he is introducing people in Japan to the secret treasures in Kumano. It is quite common for Kumano’s most ardent fans to be from outside Kumano. Otake san comes from Kanagawa but has fallen in love with Kumano and has become one of Kumano’s most passionate admirers and evangelists. Enjoy this short 8 minute interview. I have made some notes in English on the high points of the interview. But, the interview is all in Japanese. Enjoy!