Tokyo / Togakushi / Ninja Village / Iga-Ueno / Koyasan / Passing Through / Noda City / Yoshino / Ninjutsu Memories
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Tokyo / Togakushi 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 /

These photos were taken over several trips to Japan with Stephen K. Hayes and some ninjutsu friends. Some of the same friends were one each trip and some I've never seen again. In any event, having photos span years often leads to side-by-side photos showing vast differences in the weather. In these instances I try to mention the year that the photo was taken.
Map of Togakushi area

The village of Togakushi is a popular Japanese ski area in the wintertime. Our visits were normally in September, and our interests would lie in the history of this village, whose name used to be pronounced Togakure (toh-gah-kray). The name Togakure or Toh Gakure, means "Concealing Door" and refers to the myth of the door which sealed the cave that the sun goddess, Amaterasu Omikani had hidden in.
. . .Some 800 years ago, the village was the childhood home of Daisuke Nishina, founder of Togakure ryu Ninjutsu. The village has three shinto shrines that we would visit: the lower shrine is Hokosha (Treasure of Light), the second Chusha (Middle Shrine) and the third Okusha (Deep Sanctuary).

steps up to the lower shrine more steps
The steps leading up to the Hokosha (Treasure of Light), lower shrine. The steps (a LOT of steps!) up to some of the shrines were always too short, front-to-back, for non-Japanese feet.
dancers in shrine shrine dancers dancing
The year we visited Hokosha we found that the story of Amaterasu Omikani was being reinacted. I'm afraid my photos of this event are few, because I did not want to intrude with a flash, and an overcast day made the available light poor, at best. On the left one dancer sits in seiza while another dances (in the'll have to take my word for it). Across the floor one Shinto priest plays a flute and another sits by a taiko drum. The photo on the right shows more of the dancing.

the drummer

To the left is a little better photo of the drummer. To the right, a dancer (a Shinto priest) represents the one who removed the door from the cave Amaterasu Omikani was hiding in. Here is a brief telling of what I recall of the story:
The Sun Goddess, Amaterasu Omikani hid herself in a cave because of her shame at the deeds of her brother, Susa no oh no Mikoto. In an attempt to lure her out into the world again, Ame-no-uzume no mikoto danced what is referred to as a "naughty" dance (a sort of strip tease).
. . Hearing the laughter outside, Amaterasu became curious and peeked from her cave to see what was happening. As she does this, the stone door is thrust aside and tossed away and Amaterasu's light and wisdom is once again brought into the world.
. . .In the dance, when the door is thrust aside, the viewer looks directly into a round mirror, which represents the cosmic light and wisdom of the goddess. My teacher, Stephen K. Hayes pointed out that we should remember that the one you see in that mirror is yourself, and that each of us has responsibility for bringing wisdom and light to the world.
. . . If you've ever seen a small shrine on the kamiza of a martial arts dojo (school), you will remember the round mirror that sits in front of the door of the shrine. That little mirror is also a reminder of your responsibility in the world.

Tokyo / Togakushi 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 /