SOME JAPANALIA BASED ON AKIRA KUROSAWA’S 1944 MOVIE “THE MOST BEAUTIFUL”

February 25, 2011 at 2:44 am | Posted in Art, Film, History, Japan, Literary | Leave a comment

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Some Japanalia Mentioned or Implied in Akira Kurosawa’s

1944 movie, “The Most Beautiful.”

Hakozaki-guu Hakozaki Temple

Hakozaki-gu Temple is located in Higashi-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture and is one of Japan’s three great Hachimangu temples. It also has one of Japan’s three great ‘romon’ two-storey gates. In addition, the temple is a ‘Shikinai-sha’ (a temple listed in the Engishiki–a list of all temples in the nation which received offerings from the government).

Its status as a temple was Myoujin-taisha (or Myoujindai–a temple which enshrines major and remarkable gods).

The enshrined deities at Hakozaki-gu are Emperor Ojin (the main deity at the temple, the 15th imperial ruler of Japan and the guardian of warriors), Empress Consort Jingu of Japan (empress consort and mother of Ojin), and Tamayori-hime-no-mikoto (mother of Emperor Jimmu).

Hakozaki-gu was first established in 921 during the Heian period, under the authorization of Emperor Daigo. A magnificent temple was built here and, in 923, was transferred from the Chikuzendaibu-gu.

In the mid-Kamakura period, when the Mongols tried to invade Japan and came close to Hakozaki-gu, a ‘divine wind’, or ‘kamikaze’, rose up to repel them. As a result, the deities at Hakozaki-gu were worshipped as gods of charm against misfortune, as well as for success, overseas transport and communication and protection overseas.

Hakozaki-gu is a cherished and highly regarded temple, and fills the four seasons with captivating, enjoyable festivals, such as Tamatori Sai and Hojoya Taisai.

http://nippon-kichi.jp/article_list.do?ml_lang=en&p=706

This shrine is one of the famous historical shrines in Japan.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJOIMRV-eg8Related videos

Bishamonten is known as a guardian deity of the world and the god of treasure.

Ebisu, the deity of commerce
It is worshipped as a god of business and prosperity.

Fukurokuju, the god of wealth and longevity

It has been worshipped as a god of wealth for a long time.

Benzaiten, the goddess of fortune

Daikokuten, the god of wealth

Jurojin, the god of longevity

“Ghenko-no-Uta” (“Song of the Mongol Invasion “)

The Mongol invasions of Japan (Genkō) of 1274 and 1281 were major military efforts undertaken by Kublai Khan to conquer the Japanese islands after the submission of Goryeo (Korea) to vassaldom. Despite their ultimate failure, the invasion attempts are of macrohistorical importance, because they set a limit on Mongol expansion, and rank as nation-defining events in Japanese history. The Japanese were successful, in part because the Mongols lost up to 75% of their troops and supplies both times on the ocean as a result of major storms. The invasions are referred to in many works of fiction, and are the earliest events for which the word kamikaze, or “divine wind”, is widely used. With the exception of the occupation of Japan at the end of World War II, these failed invasion attempts are the closest Japan has come to being conquered by foreign power in the last 1500 years.

Starting in 1275, the Kamakura shogunate (Bakufu) made increased efforts to defend against the second invasion, which they thought was sure to come. In addition to better organizing the samurai of Kyūshū, they ordered the construction of forts and a large stone wall (Sekirui), and other defensive structures at many potential landing points, including Hakata Bay, where a two meter high wall was constructed in 1276. Religious services increased and the Hakōzaki shrine, having been destroyed by the Yuan forces, was rebuilt. A coastal watch was instituted and rewards were given to some 120 valiant samurai. There was even a plan for a raid on Korea to be carried out by Shōni Tsunesuke, a general from Kyūshū, though this was never executed.

After the failed invasion, Kublai Khan was tired of being ignored and not being allowed to land, so five Yuan emissaries were dispatched in September 1275 and sent to Kyūshū, refusing to leave without a reply. Tokimune responded by having them sent to Kamakura and then beheading them.[7] The graves of those 5 executed Yuan emissaries exist to this day in Kamakura at Tatsunokuchi.[2] Then again on July 29, 1279, 5 more Yuan emissaries were sent in the same manner, and again beheaded, this time in Hakata. Expecting another invasion, on Feb 21, 1280, the Imperial Court ordered all temples and shrines to pray for victory over the Yuan.

The Battle of Yamazaki, also called the Battle of Mount Tennō is the well-known conflict that follows the Incident of Honnōji. As the Oda officers were spread across the land during Nobunaga‘s assassination, few could reach their lord to assist. Hideyoshi, who was ordered to suppress the Mōri, quickly dealt with his opposition through peace negotiations. With his new allies, he raced back to Kyoto and targeted the man responsible for Nobunaga’s death, Mitsuhide. The battle served as Hideyoshi’s first step for power.

The Battle of Yamazaki

Date July 2, 1582

Location Along the bounders of Settsu and Yamashiro Province (north of modern day Ōsaka prefecture and south of modern day Kyoto prefecture).

Result Hashiba victory; Mitsuhide commits suicide.

Hachiman

Hachiman (, Hachiman-jin / Yawata no kami) is a Japanese syncretic god incorporating elements from both Shinto and Buddhism.[1] Although often called the god of war, he is more correctly defined as the tutelary god of warriors.[1][2] He is also divine protector of Japan and the Japanese people. The name means God of Eight Banners, referring to the eight heavenly banners that signaled the birth of the divine Emperor Ōjin. His symbolic animal and messenger is the dove.

Since ancient times Hachiman was worshiped by peasants as the god of agriculture and by fishermen who hoped he would fill their nets with much fish. In the Shinto religion, he became identified by legend as the Emperor Ōjin, son of Empress Consort Jingū, from the 3rd – 4th century AD.

Syncretism

After the arrival of Buddhism in Japan, Hachiman became a syncretistic deity, fusing elements of the native kami worship with Buddhism (shinbutsu shūgō). In the Buddhist pantheon in 8th century AD, he became Hachiman Great Bodhisattva (Hachiman Daibosatsu).[3]

Samurai worship

Because as Emperor Ōjin he was an ancestor of the Minamoto clan, Hachiman became the tutelary kami (, ujigami?) of the Minamoto samurai clan.[2] Minamoto no Yoshiie, upon coming of age at Iwashimizu Shrine in Kyoto, took the name Hachiman Taro Yoshiie and through his military prowess and virtue as a leader, became regarded and respected as the ideal samurai through the ages. After Minamoto no Yoritomo became shogun and established the Kamakura shogunate, Hachiman’s popularity grew and he became by extension the protector of the warrior class the shogun had brought to power. For this reason, the shintai of a Hachiman shrine is usually a stirrup or a bow.[4]

Throughout the Japanese medieval period, the worship of Hachiman spread throughout Japan among not only samurai, but also the peasantry. So much so was his popularity that presently there are 25000 Shinto shrines in Japan dedicated to Hachiman, the second most numerous after shrines dedicated to Inari. Usa Shrine in Usa, Oita prefecture is head shrine of all of these shrines and together with Iwashimizu Hachiman-gū, Hakozaki-gū and Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū, are noted as the most important of all the shrines dedicated to him.

The crest of Hachiman is in the design of a mitsudomoe, a round whirlpool or vortex with three heads swirling right or left. Many samurai clans used this crest as their own, ironically including some that traced their ancestry back to the mortal enemy of the Minamoto, the Taira of the Emperor Kammu line (Kammu Heishi).

References

1. a b Scheid, Bernhard. “Hachiman Shreine” (in German). University of Vienna. http://www.univie.ac.at/rel_jap/bauten/bekannteschreine.htm. Retrieved 17 August 2010.

2. a b Motegi, Sadazumi. “Shamei Bunpu (Shrine Names and Distributions)” (in Japanese). Encyclopedia of Shinto. http://eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp/modules/xwords/entry.php?entryID=776. Retrieved 23 March 2010.

3. Bender, Ross (1979). “The Hachiman Cult and the Dōkyō Incident”. Monumenta Nipponica 34 (2): 125–53. doi:10.2307/2384320. http://jstor.org/stable/2384320.

4. Ashkenazy, Michael (November 5, 2003). Handbook of Japanese Mythology (World Mythology) (Hardcover). ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1576074671.

Further reading

Tanuki

Tanuki is the common Japanese name for the Japanese raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus). They have been part of Japanese folklore since ancient times. The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absent-minded.

Tanuki is often somewhat mistakenly translated as raccoon or badger into English, animals which are similar to tanuki in appearance, but actually belong to different Carnivora families.

Some Japanalia Mentioned or Implied in Akira Kurosawa’s

1944 movie, “The Most Beautiful.”

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