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Special report: Hatsuho-ryou

Car Purification report at the historic Daiijingu!
Atsuta Jingu (Atsuta Ward, Nagoya City)


Yasshiiiiiiiimori ni~shinwa wa ikiteiru~♪♪
(Mori wa ikiteiru" ("The forest is alive.") (Lyrics: Yoko Agi, music: Ryudo Uzaki)
The song began as a commercial song for Atsuta Jingu Hall, known only to locals!
The first singer was Mr. Ryudo Uzaki. The current singer is Ms. OOJA. Ms. Yoko Agi, and it's a gorgeous lineup.

Hello! I am maruhanabachi, a housewife writer living in Aichi. This time, I would like to report that I went to Atsuta Jingu Shrine in Atsuta-ku, Nagoya City to purify my car.

Atsuta Jingu Shrine is said to be visited by 2 million people every year for Hatsumode (New Year's visit).
Atsuta Jingu Shrine is said to be visited by 2 million people every year for Hatsumode (New Year's visit).

On a personal note, my family bought a new car for the first time in 13 years.
We wanted to have it purify so that we can drive safely in the future, so we decided to ask for a car purification prayer at Atsuta Jingu, our local grand shrine.
I immediately made an appointment!
A quick check of the official website of Atsuta Jingu Shrine on my smartphone revealed that reservations were not required and that the service was available on the day of the visit.
The car exorcism is performed from 8:30 to 16:00, in the order of application, so I decided to go first thing in the morning.
First, let me briefly introduce Atsuta Jingu Shrine.

Atsuta Jingu is a shrine in Atsuta Ward, Nagoya City, which enshrines the Kusanagi no Tsurugi (Sword of Kusanagi), one of the three sacred weapons.
It is said that Yamatotakeru no Mikoto, the hero of Japanese mythology, met Miyazuhime here and gave her the Kusanagi Sword on their departure, which became the founding deity of Atsuta Shrine.
The actual date of the shrine's founding is said to be either the first year of Emperor Chuai (358 according to one theory) or the second year of Taika (646).
In any case, it is a grand shrine with a history of more than 1,300 years.
(I could go on and on about the founding of Atsuta Jingu, so I will leave that for another time...)

Minamoto no Yoritomo's mother, Yura Gozen, was the daughter of Fujiwara no Sue-nori, the chief priest of Atsuta Shrine, and Yoritomo was born in Nagoya. Did you know that?
Also, Nobunaga Oda made a wish here before the battle of Okehazama and dedicated the fence after his overwhelming victory.
It is only a jingu shrine with a long history that can be linked to famous people one after another as it unravels.

As mentioned in the commercial, a Shinto wedding ceremony can be held at Atsuta Shrine, where the love story of Yamatakenomikoto and Miyakehime has been handed down.
I have attended such a ceremony myself, and it is truly a beautiful ceremony, with the shrine maidens dancing with bells in their hands while gagaku (ancient Japanese court music) plays in the background, and the bride's white kimono shining against the scarlet carpet and the green forest!
If you are interested, please check out Atsuta Jingu Hall from the official website of Atsuta Jingu Shrine, and the commercial song, too!

Now, the day of the car purification.
We took Route 19 to Atsuta Jingu Shrine.
The shrine is surrounded by busy roads, and as we approach Atsuta Jingu, we are caught by the feeling that a forest has suddenly appeared in the city center. It is an oasis in the city.
Since the purpose of today's visit is a car exorcism, let's look for the entrance to the parking lot dedicated for car exorcisms.
There was a splendid signboard to make it easy to find while driving.

Entrance to the prayer hall for car purification ritual
Entrance to the prayer hall for car purification ritual

Guided by a security guard, the path winds through the forest. It is so quiet that you can hear the birds chirping each other and the rustling of leaves in the trees.
Soon you will see a parking lot for car purification.

  • The path through the forest
    The path through the forest

On a piece of paper on the board given to you at the entrance, fill in the amount of the first fee for the car purification, your name and address, and the license plate number of your car. Although not listed here, car purification courses are available for 6,000 yen, 8,000 yen, and 10,000 yen.
It is also possible to receive a prayer for exorcism of bad luck at the same time.

  • Fill in your address and other information on the board.
    Fill in your address and other information on the board.

After filling out the board, submit it and the ceremonial fee to the miko at the reception desk next to the prayer hall. You will be given a tasuki (a small tasuki with the words "fulfillment of various wishes" and "gratitude to God" printed on it).
We were told that we were to attend the next service at 9:30 a.m., so we gathered at the waiting area in front of the prayer hall 5 minutes before the next service, with our tasuki on.

  • The person who will receive the prayer wears the tasuki.
    The person who will receive the prayer wears the tasuki.

There were already three cars parked in front of the prayer hall for car purification, and the first two cars were receiving prayers.
The other car was going to receive the prayer at the same time as us.

The splendid prayer hall
The splendid prayer hall

It was 9:25 a.m., so we headed for the magnificent waiting area in front of the prayer hall.
The waiting room is spacious and calmly decorated, with an indoor hand-watering basin. There is also a free tea corner in the back.

Purify your hands before praying.
Purify your hands before praying.

It seems that there are two units of prayer at a time, and the one in front of us was a family. A father and his daughter are wearing a sash. I wonder if the daughter just got her driver's license.
When the time comes, a shrine maiden leads us inside the prayer hall.
The miko tells us, please refrain from taking pictures or videos of the prayer hall as it is a Shinto ritual from this point on.

Prayers will be held in this room.
Prayers will be held in this room.

As we were ushered inside the prayer hall, a shrine maiden handed us a tamagushi (sacred skewer).
The young priestess wearing a yellow hakama first spoke, and then the priestess offered an offering to the god. After that, a priest in purple hakama (the color of a mid-career priest!) appeared. The prayer finally begins.
He begins the prayer solemnly, saying, "I am a man who lives in the XX village in XX city... I have just purchased a car... He then proceeds to describe the prayer and the identity of the recipient, as well as his wishes for safety.
As I hung my head and listened, I suddenly remembered that when I visited my child's shrine ten years ago, even the address was read out.
Nowadays, perhaps out of consideration for personal information, the Shinto priest reads out only the name of the town. It is the times, isn't it?
The prayer continues, praying to Atsuta Ookami, or Amaterasu Ookami, the deity of Atsuta Jingu Shrine, for traffic safety.
Please pray that even this car will be safe and make many trips!
The shrine maiden's announcement prompts us to offer a tamagushi (skewer) to the deity with an unaccustomed hand.

After the prayer is over, the priestess gives us a talisman and an offering.
The priestess in the purple hakama leaves at this point. The young priest and miko lead us to the car outside. In front of the car, the young priest chants a prayer and two miko (shrine maidens) wave bells to purify the car. The front door is properly opened to the inside. The sound of the bell seems to purify not only the air around us but also our hearts. The prayer was completed without a hitch. Thank you for visiting Atsuta Shrine today.
The car purification ceremony ended with a greeting from the young priest.

Now that the main event of the day is over, let's go to the main shrine to pay our respects. Since it is not possible to go directly from the parking lot for the car purification, we went outside and entered the general parking lot.
As you pass through the Otorii gate and approach the main shrine, you will begin to see crowds of people.

The old fashioned Otorii (Grand Gate)
The old fashioned Otorii (Grand Gate)

There is a crowd around the Nobunaga Wall, and everyone is taking pictures in turn.
A sign reads, "This wall was dedicated to Nobunaga Oda in gratitude for his great victory in the Battle of Okehazama, which he won by delivering a prayer to the Atsuta Shrine.

Oda Nobunaga, who burned down Mt. Hieizan, does not seem to have believed in either God or Buddha, does he?
Indeed, the infamous burning of Hieizan resulted in thousands of deaths, and even women and children were slaughtered.
Enryakuji Temple on Mt. Hieizan has produced many famous monks since its foundation and is called the mother mountain of Japanese Buddhism.
But Enryaku-ji also boasted of a power that even the Imperial Court could not control, and with its armed force of priests and soldiers, it often came into conflict with the Imperial Court and the Shogunate throughout its long history.
Such was the case with Enryakuji Temple on Mt. Hiei, which sheltered its sworn enemies, Yoshikage Asakura and Nagamasa Asai, and when they did not respond to repeated attempts to persuade them, Nobunaga finally resorted to burning the temple to the ground.

The Nobunaga fence at Atsuta Shrine tells the story of an episode that is hard to believe that this is the same man who burned down Enryakuji Temple on Mount Hiei.
Nobunaga stopped by Atsuta Shrine on the very morning of the Battle of Okehazama, which made his name widely known.
It is no wonder that he prayed for victory at Atsuta Shrine, a place of worship for the people of the region, as he was about to launch an almost foolhardy ambush.
Although they were sometimes at odds with temples and shrines, all warlords who traded lives on the battlefield had a deep devotion to the gods and Buddha.
Nobunaga also patronized Atsuta Shrine, Tsushima Shrine in Tsushima City, Aichi Prefecture, and Oda Tsurugi Shrine in Fukui Prefecture, and enthusiastically supported them by constructing shrine buildings.
He dedicated the Tsukiji wall, which was built of clay and tiles and painted solidly.
It is an important aspect of Oda Nobunaga's character that continues to attract people even today.

  • Nobunaga's Tsukiji Fence
    Nobunaga's Tsukiji Fence

After thinking back to the Warring States period, it was time to visit the main shrine.
While waiting in line to pray, dozens of groups pass by, and prayers begin in the back.

Although Atsuta Jingu Shrine seems to have been such a peaceful scene for a long time, this area was also heavily bombed by the U.S. military at the end of the Pacific War.
The Atsuta Air Raid was one of the great air raids on Nagoya.
Aichi Aircraft, which manufactured bombers for the Japanese Army, and its parent companies Aichi Watch Manufacturing and Sumitomo Metal Industries, which manufactured many weapons, were located in Atsuta Ward, and these factories were targeted.
Atsuta Jingu Shrine was also damaged, and some of the shrine buildings were destroyed by fire.
After the war, the Kusanagi Sword was temporarily moved to the Hida Ichinomiya Mizunashi Shrine for fear that the U.S. forces that landed on the island would take the sacred object.
Because of the people who desperately tried to protect it, Atsuta Jingu Shrine was not lost in the war and is still here today.
We pray that this grand shrine will remain here for many years to come.
I visited the shrine with these thoughts in mind.

Long line of people heading to the main shrine
Long line of people heading to the main shrine

By the way, I noticed that it was past 11 o'clock. So, let's have a late morning breakfast.
This time, we visited the "HOUSest-LIFE+CAFE," a hideaway café about five minutes by car from Atsuta Jingu Shrine.
It is a very nice cafe in a residential area in Minami Ward, Nagoya City.

A cafe in a place like this? A café in the middle of nowhere.
A cafe in a place like this? A café in the middle of nowhere.

There are two parking lots. It is both a store and a house, and the residential part is also very tasteful.
When you enter the store, you will find three tables and a stylish interior.

The sense of style is coming in like a tsunami.
The sense of style is coming in like a tsunami.

For morning breakfast, you can choose from buttered toast, sugar toast, or a little cinnamon sugar toast for free.
This time, I went for a café latte and a dressed-up Ogura toast for +580 yen.

Look at that! It looks wonderful!

Ogura toast in such style...
Ogura toast in such style...

I have never seen such a stylish Ogura Toast. This is already a splendid sweet.
The little baumkuchen and walnuts served with the latte are also a delight.
The delicious latte goes well with the sweet strawberries and bean-jam-filled Ogura toast.
Other morning menu items include gratin toast, colorful salad open sandwiches, and more.
Please visit HOUSest-LIFE+CAFE!

Now, after returning home, I will reexamine the envelope I received at Atsuta Jingu Shrine.
First, a traffic safety amulet and a sticker-type amulet to put on your car. Then, there is a box with the words "withdrawal" written on it.
The contents of the box were dried sweets made of wasanbon.
I will keep the amulet and the money in my car.

  • The amulet, the car tag, and the dried confectionery.
    The amulet, the car tag, and the dried confectionery.

And here is the sacred seal of Atsuta Shrine.

  • A simple seal.
    A simple seal.

While they were writing it for me, I thought, "Oh, is it finished now? Don't tell me you didn't think it was finished. Many temples have beautiful red seals with ink marks, but most of the seals of shrines, even big shrines, are simple and plain.

So, how was my report on the car purification?
At the root of the human heart is the desire to rely on God.
It is the feeling of knowing one's own limitations and relying on something greater.
No matter how advanced science becomes, when we are faced with something we cannot do on our own, the desire to rely on something will never disappear.
The 8,000,000 deities that reside in Japan readily accept such feelings.
This report on the car purification made me feel that it is good to receive prayers at each turning point, and to face things with a sense of humility and a sense of renewal.