Ancient Religious Practices Still Passed on Today
In the Oki Islands you can experience the spiritual roots of Japan.
The native religion of Japan, Shinto, is rooted in the worship of natural objects and natural phenomenon. Natural objects such as mountains and giant trees are believed to have a spiritual essence. Religious festivals and shrines that convey the nature of this ancient spiritualism still exist in Oki. One example is Oyama Shrine, in Fuse of Dogo Island. This shrine has no building. Instead, beyond the shrine gates is a majestic 400 year-old Japanese cedar tree. During the festival that takes place here, a hardy kiwi vine is wrapped around the tree seven and a half times. The festival is believed to symbolize the people’s gratefulness to the mountain and nature for having provided them with many blessings, and to pray for safety and prosperity of one’s descendants in the working season to come. The whole mountain is worshipped here.
Near Oyama Shrine is Chichi-sugi Japanese cedar, which is one of the ‘Three Giant Japanese Cedar Trees of Oki’. This tree is also an object of worship, and has no shrine building. It is called Iwakura Shrine.
In Choshi of Dogo Island there is another shrine that has no shrine building. Instead, at the center of the shrine is the rock face surrounded by shimenawa (rope that designates a Shinto sacred place).
People have protected and worshipped astounding natural sites since long ago. Today, we have designated many of the same areas as ‘geosites’.
- In Oki there are vestiges of ancient spiritualism, including shrines dedicated to the deities of giant trees and rocks.
- Ongyaku Shrine, Oyama Shrine and Iwakura Shrine are some examples of shrines in Oki that do not have shrine buildings.