Advanced Exercise- Silence of the Sengu

  • Saturday, 13 September 2014 06:40


ADVANCED Listening, Comprehension & Vocabulary Exercise


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Silence of the Sengu

Reflections on Time at the Grand Shrines of Ise

(Article originally appeared in Tokyo Journal Issue #273 Pg 64-66)

Every 20 years, the Imperial Grand Shrines at Ise are totally rebuilt in a process known as the Shikinen Sengu that extends back to the eighth century or earlier. Though the origins of this custom may be shrouded in mythology, the faithful adherence to the principles of the Shikinen has resulted in the preservation of ancient Japanese architectural and ritual forms. As the ancestral shrines of the emperors of Japan, the shrines at Ise are the most sacred sanctuaries of Shinto and their design and physical form are considered the purest expression of Japanese aesthetic ideals. Dedicated to the Sun Goddess and the God of Agriculture, the shrine buildings house symbols of the deities’ spiritual presence. Occurring once every 20 years, the transfer of the sacred objects from the old to the new shrine built on an adjoining site is the single most important ritual of the Shinto faith. The 62nd Sengu took place at Ise in early October, first at the Inner Shrine (Naiku) on the evening of October 2 and three days later at the Outer Shrine (Geku). Peter Grilli, president of the Japan Society of Boston, was invited to attend the ceremony at the Inner Shrine, and he wrote these observations.

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Tokyo Journal

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