Thousands of Lanterns at Kasuga-taisha in Nara 奈良春日大社

After visiting Tōdai-ji, the superfluous Buddhist temple that made a mark in the political system from the 8th century, we strolled through the Nara Park and walked along a forest path lined with stone lanterns to get to the main hall of Kasuga-taisha.

去過超浮誇東大寺之後,我們穿過奈良公園,沿著鄰近若草山原始林的參拜道來到有上千個燈籠的春日大社。

 

Kasuga-taisha (春日大社) is a Shinto shrine built by the Fujiwara clan, a family who dominated politics in Japan from the 8th century to the 11th century. A Fujiwara helped a prince stage a coup to restore the power of the royal family. When the emperor moved the capitol of Japan to Nara, the Fujiwara family built this shrine to worship the deities that the family sees as guardians. (More about the Fujiwara family and why there are so many deer in Nara.)

春日大社是藤原氏蓋的神道教神社,從八世紀到十一世紀,藤原家族掌控日本的政治,日本遷都到奈良,藤原家族就在這裡蓋了神社來祭拜藤原氏的守護神。(藤原氏歷史還有奈良為什麼有這麼多鹿)

Kasuga-taisha is known for thousands of stone lanterns alone the pathway leading up to the shrine and the many bronze and brass lanterns at the main alter. These lanterns are donated by worshippers. The lanterns are lit only twice a year in early February and mid August.

The shrine is also famous for wisteria flowers that bloom in May.

春日大社有名的是上千個石燈籠和銅燈籠,還有五月綻放的紫藤花,神社每年在二月和八月點燈。

The shrine was originally built in the 8th century. However, as in the Shinto beliefs, this shrine was dismantled and rebuilt every 20 years for centuries. That tradition lasted around 1,300 years. It was abolished in the Meiji period. The current form was built in 1863, but the shrine maintained its look from the Heian period in the 8th century.

Look closely at the roofs. They are fascinating. The roofs are made of layers of cedar bark.

春日大社建於西元八世紀,但是依照神道教傳統,神社每二十年都要重建,這個傳統持續了一千三百多年,明治時代才廢除,所以現在看到的神社是1863年建的,不過保持著平安時代的樣貌。要仔細看屋頂,屋頂很有趣,是柏樹皮一層一層疊起來的。

The shrine worships the thunder god among three other gods. Admission is required for the main hall. The entrance fee is 500 yen.

春日大社有四個主神,當然其中一個是雷神武甕槌。參觀免費,本殿參拜要五百日幣。

Walking around Kasuga-taisha also lends a sense of wonder of the adjacent Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest, a sacred forest that is one of the treasures of Nara’s World Heritage sites. The forest was awarded World Heritage status because it has been untouched for over a thousand years. Logging and hunting has been prohibited since 841 AD.

春日大社緊鄰春日山原始林,是聯合國世界遺產的奈良八大古蹟之一,從西元841年就禁止砍伐,保留著完善的生態體系。

There is in fact much more to see. In addition to the main hall, Kasuga-taisha has many auxiliary shrines and a botanical garden. We were starving by this point so we did not walk through the entire property. Out of curiosity and hunger, we bought a corn chowder from a vending machine.

Yes. Hot corn chowder from a vending machine.

I’m sure you are familiar with soda and junk food from a vending machine. But a vending machine that sells cold bottled water as well as hot corn chowder in a can? A vending machine next to a gravel path on the property of a shrine next to some primeval forest where you see deer that are not afraid of people? Not so much I bet. Surprisingly, the corn chowder was delicious! We bought another one right afterwards.

春日大社當然不止有主殿,還有個植物園和好多分殿,但走到這時候實在很餓,完全沒逛其他地方就往午餐前進。肚子餓到決定買販賣機的玉米濃湯,是人生的新嘗試,日本人賣冷飲的販賣機有熱湯實在很厲害,本來以為會是什麼神奇的包裝,但就是個鐵鋁罐,一喝驚為天人,超好喝的耶!

Not all corn chowder from a machine is the same though. This one by Asahi that you can see in Nara and lots of vending machines in Osaka is delicious – creamy with lots of creamed corn. The one by Kirin that you would often see in vending machines in Kyoto is horrible. Tasteless with sad corn kernels stuck on the bottom that you’ll never be able to eat.

搞得我們後來肚子餓就很期待玉米濃湯,結果發現Asahi玉米濃湯超好喝,奈良跟大阪很多販賣機都有這一款,京都大部分是麒麟,麒麟玉米濃湯超難喝,很淡,而且玉米是整顆整顆沉在底下倒不出來,在京都也試了超市保鮮盒的玉米濃湯,也很弱,桑心。

 

Kasuga-taisha 春日大社
kasugataisha.or.jp
April to Sept: 6:00 am – 6:00 pm
Oct to March: 6:30 am – 5:00 pm
Main hall: 8:30 am – 4:00 pm
Admission: free for most areas; 500 yen entrance fee for the main hall
Open all year round. The main hall may be closed for events.

 

 

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