Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Kashima Shrine

I am finally able to post again!!! My computer's fan just stopped working. It was horribly stressful because I had just started looking for jobs in Baltimore, and then my computer suddenly wouldn't stay on for longer than 10 minutes. Luckily I was able to get it fixed for only $65.00!

In other news, today my car decided to stop working as well. In the absolute lack of luck that was today, one of my best friends came to my rescue and hopefully everything will go up from here.

Sometimes I really want to just know how many times in a two year time-frame can you hit rock-bottom, but things will get better eventually, just gotta keep swimming...

So onto a post I've planned and had written for awhile....

Kashima Shrine
All photos from :

Now, don’t call me biased or anything (though I totally am), but today I want to talk about 鹿島神宮Kashima Jinguu, located in Kashima-shi, Ibaraki-ken.

I got to visit this shrine a lot. So much so, I’ve memorized most of it - the pathways, the big, beautiful trees, the deer, the way the pathway felt kind of like quicksand after it rained. This shrine in particular means a whole lot to me.

The Kashima Jinguu shrine is one of the oldest in Japan.

Here’s a little history lesson about Kashima-shi: The original kanji for Kashima was 鹿(ka, “deer”)+島(shima, “island“). This kanji pairing is still used for many things in Kashima such as in the names of the “Kashima Antlers“ soccer team and the shrine. The official kanji pairing used now for the city, however, is 鹿嶋, which still means “deer island”. I’m not exactly sure why they changed the kanji because I could never get a clear answer other than “that sometimes happens in Japan”. Really? I could have never guess that myself. /sarcasm

This “deer island” theme carried over into many aspects of life in Kashima - the Antlers name came from it, their mascot was a pair of deer, the members prayed at the shrine together before every home match and hosted their championship parade there (which I totally skipped school for :] ), and there were many deer kept at this shrine (much more than I’ve seen in other places, such as in Hiroshima).

My school - Seishin Gakuen was located at the upper end of the shrine, so there were a few times during Long Home Room that we were able to walk around the shrine. During the summer, we had a lot of rain, which made the softball field unusable, so instead of doing any real exercise, we just walked to the shrine and looked at the fish. My school also has a special relationship with the shrine, so the Shourinji-kempo, kyuudou, and jyuudou clubs all practiced at the shrine.

I used to ride next to it every day when I rode my bike to and from school at my first host family. I’ve visited it at least 15 times. I’ve seen it damp from rain, covered with leaves in Autumn, covered with snow on Setsubun no Hi(the first day of Spring in February), and have hidden beneath it’s trees on a hot summer’s day. I’ve donated over 1000 yen ($10) in prayer money, for everything from passing tests, to succeeding in love, to fixing issues with host parents, friends, and my last wish - that I could make it back there once again.

Even though I’ve spent so much time there, I still discovered something new every time I’m there. It’s like a little puzzle and I’ve only pieced some of it together - like much of my connection with Japan. I’ve visited this shrine with most of the important people in my life, and I hope that one day I can share it with my friends and my family.

I had plans this past March to revisit Kashima Jinguu but unfortunately, due to the earthquake, I was unable to make it back to Kashima. I managed to pick up pieces of information from different news outlets and people who informed me that the shrine was damaged a little. Unfortunately, I still don’t know how bad, but I honestly don’t think I want to know because the very thought of anything in Kashima being damaged has brought me to tears too often.

If you‘re one of those people that like shrines/temples (like me) or are interested in ancient Japan (like me), I highly recommend this shrine. It’s located about an hour by highway bus (it even has it’s own stop) from Tokyo and the city itself has many other interesting things like the BEACH!!, many shops, yakuza, and good restaurants (like the couple my host family owns ;) )

Kashima Jinguu
Kashima Shrine
Ibaraki-ken, Kashima-shi, Kyuuchuu 2306-1
2306-1 Kyuuchuu, Kashima City, Ibaraki Prefecture

TEL 0299-82-1209
FAX 0299-82-1625

Links about Kashima Jinguu:
[japanese] (includes a map of Kashima Jinguu)



[english] (includes a lot of background information)

Please let me know if you have any questions, or give suggestions of what you want to see!

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