Legends of Blood and Beauty


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Asia » Japan » Shizuoka » Shizuoka
March 22nd 2016
Published: July 31st 2018
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Hello my fellow travellers!

This morning started off very calmly, cuddling a bit with Vivian while looking after Anzu who was playing in the playground next to the house. Meanwhile Junko and Takae made breakfast, I can get used to this kind of life. After a while a neighbours child that Junko know also came up and chatted with us for a bit, it was a nice and relaxed morning, although in fairness, most my mornings here in Shizuoka has been quite calm and relaxed which is a nice change of pace from my regular travelling.

Once we all felt properly awake and ready to go we loaded up in the car and set our sights on Fujinomiya, it's located at the foot of the iconic mountain Fujisan and our goal here was the waterfall Shiraito no Taki which is considered to be one of the top 100 waterfalls in Japan and which is even inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

As we pulled up at the parking lot I could hear the roar of a waterfall and set of together with Takae to see the waterfall, Junko stayed behind with Anzu and Vivian to let me and Takae have some time to ourselves which was very sweet of her.

The first waterfall, the one that was roaring so heavily, wasn't Shiraito no Taki though, it was Otodome no Taki which means sound stopping waterfall and which is also considered as one of the top 100 waterfalls in Japan. This name comes from an old story, Soga Monogatari, which goes all the way back to the Kamakura period in Japans history. According to the story the two brothers, Soga Jūrō and Soga Gorō, was planning to avenge the murder of their father by assassinating the man who killed him, Kudō Suketsune and retrieve their father's sword Tomokirimaru. Kudō Suketsune had killed their father over a land dispute when they were still young boys so they had spent their whole lives becoming strong and skilled martial artists. However since Kudō Suketsune was a vassal of the shōgun, Minamoto no Yoritomo, they had to be careful. They made their plans beneath this waterfall, to make the sound of the roaring waters drown out their conversation so that they wouldn't be overheard by anyone.

They plotted to hide behind a rock close to the waterfall and then ambush Kudō Suketsune when he passed, as they leaped out and attacked him a fighting ensued during which both Kudō Suketsune and Soga Jūrō died, Soga Gorō in turn was later executed and both of the brothers were buried in this area. So, I think it's fair to say that the story didn't have an happy ending, it's nevertheless a popular story in Japan which have been shown in many different art forms such as , kabuki and bunraku as well as movies.

After we had looked at Otodome no Taki for a while we continued on to Shiraito no Taki and it was quite easy to see why it's on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It's a truly beautiful work of natures art, very picturesque, inspiring and soothing for the soul. It was very nice also to see people going down and sitting on the rocks in the river Shibakawa beneath the waterfall and I did the same. Both me and Takae was quite taken in by the waterfall and I'm happy that Junko took us here, we remained here for quite some time before we began looking for the rock that the Soga brothers hid behind and which was directed towards on a map I found.

We managed to find it, and it's known as Soga no Kakure Iwa or Soga's hidden rock. At first I thought the sign meant a smaller rock behind the one that was also intended and I wondered how anyone could have hidden behind that one and if perhaps the legend was about pygmies or something like that. As we kept walking past the stone we also came upon the small shrine Wakasa Jinja but we didn't stay there for long before we returned to Junko and Anzu.

As we came back Junko bought me a can of nigorizake because I had told her before how much I enjoyed the one I drank in Tokyo. This one was a different type though and not as sweet as that one but I think it was super sweet of her!

Once I had finished my drink we returned to the car and tried to find a nice vantage point to watch Fujisan but it was quite covered in clouds so we could only see it partially but we still stopped and watched her for a moment while enjoying a delicious picnic that Junko and Takae had prepared before we left the house this morning.

After our picnic we returned to Shizuoka but instead of going home we went to an area known as Miho no Matsubara which is a very scenic seashore that is lined with old pine trees and which is considered to be one of the new three views of Japan. The name means Miho pine grove and it's the setting for a popular legend in Japanese history known as Hagoromo, which means feather robe, a legend that dates all the way back to the eighth century.

As the story goes a tennin, a celestial being, was flying over Miho no Matsubara, entranced by the gleaming white sands, the green pines and the sparkling water. She removed her hagoromo, her feathered robe, and hung it in a nearby pine tree and then she went into the waters to bathe. As she was bathing a fisherman by the name of Hakuryō came walking along the beach and saw the robe, he took the robe from the tree. When the tennin appeared before him and asked for it back he promised to return it to her if she performed a dance for him while wearing the robe. Because her ability to fly, and thus return to the heavens, was dependent on the robe the tennin complied with his request and danced for him in the spring twilight. As the dance came to an end she vanished into mist while he remained on the beach, staring longingly into the sky after her.

The first thing that we came upon as we arrived here was a beautiful shrine Miho Jinja which is said to still have a bit of the hagoromo. From the shrine we followed a boarded walk known as Kami no Michi, the way of the gods, which leads down to the beach and pine grove area. Unfortunately the famed white sands that entranced the tennin are no longer present but it's still a gorgeous setting nonetheless. Still standing among the pines are the actual tree which she is believed to have hung the hagoromo from and it's known as Hagoromo no Matsu, the feathered robe pine.

We remained here for quite some time, just enjoying the cool sea breeze, the beautiful setting and the mystical lore of this place. Every October they hold a festival here in honour of this story and they put on a performance depicting the events, I would really love to watch it someday.

As evening began to creep in we got back in the car and returned to Junko's home where she and Takae began to cook some takoyaki which is a special batter that is poured into a specially molded pan which turns them out as round balls which are filled with most importantly octopus, tako, but also tenpura, pickled ginger and green onion. While they were cooking me and Anzu was playing with Vivian. As I said, I can get used to this state of affair of not having to cook my own meals.

The meal was delicious and afterwards Anzu performed a little dance for us and then we ended the evening with Anzu teaching us some lovely origami, it was a lot of fun and a great way to end a great day.

Tomorrow we will be exploring Shizuoka itself, most importantly visiting the shrine Kunōzan Tōshō-gū where Tokugawa Ieyasu is enshrined and for a period of time was buried. Some say that he still is and there is a bit of rivalry over the issue between Kunōzan Tōshō-gū and Nikkō Tōshō-gū in Nikko. I'm really looking forward to visiting it and paying my respects to one of the greatest men in Japanese history.

Until tomorrow I wish you all peace and happy travels!


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1st August 2018
Fujisan

Ascending to heavenly peaks
You sound as if you are in Heaven already Per-Olof...or maybe you are dreaming of ascending heavenly peaks. It is wonderful you can visit these places and share the legends that surround them. An unusual pic of Mt Fuji so I'll post it in Magnificent Mountains thread in the Photography Forum.
1st August 2018
Fujisan

Ascending to heavenly peaks
I certainly was, and I sure look back to returning soon and ascending even closer to heaven. :)
2nd August 2018
Cuddling with Vivian

Vivian
The name Vivian suits her so much! Is she a Whippet or an Italian Greyhound?
2nd August 2018
Cuddling with Vivian

Vivian
It does. I'm not sure about the race to be honest. ^^'
28th August 2018

Legends and Waterfalls
I love the Japanese legends you weave into your travel adventure stories my friend. Beautiful waterfalls also. From my own recent visit, I understand the importance and spirituality of waterfalls in Japanese religion and culture now. Beautiful places :)
3rd September 2018

Legends and Waterfalls
Thank you my friend! I find that the legends and history surrounding so many places in Japan is one of the reasons why it elevates to a level of it own. =)
3rd September 2018

Legends and Waterfalls
Thank you my friend! I find that the legends and history surrounding so many places in Japan is one of the reasons why it elevates to a level of it own. =)

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