Kasuga-Grand-Shrine - 春日大社 Kasuga-taisha
Dedicated to: Takemikazuchi-o Futsunushi Ame no Koyane Himegami
Kasuga Grand Shrine 春日大社, Kasuga-taisha is a Shinto shrine in the city of Nara, in Nara Prefecture, Japan. Established in 768 AD and rebuilt several times over the centuries, it is the shrine of the Fujiwara family. The interior is famous for its many bronze lanterns, as well as the many stone lanterns that lead up the shrine.
The architectural style Kasuga-zukuri takes its name from Kasuga Shrine's honden (sanctuary).
Kasuga Shrine, and the Kasugayama Primeval Forest near it, are registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara".
The path to Kasuga Shrine passes through Deer Park (where tame deer roam free). Over a thousand stone lanterns line the way. The Man'yo Botanical Garden, Nara is adjacent to the shrine.
The shrine became the object of Imperial patronage during the early Heian period. In 965, Emperor Murakami ordered that Imperial messengers were sent to report important events to the guardian kami of Japan. These heihaku were initially presented to 16 shrines including the Tatsuta Shrine.
From 1871 through 1946, Kasuga Shrine was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha (官幣大社), meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines.
During the festivals of Setsubun Mantoro (February 2–4) and Obon Mantoro (August 14–15), the thousands shrine lanterns of Kasuga-taisha are all lit at once.
March 13 is the Kasuga Matsuri ('Monkey Festival'), which features gagaku and bugaku dance performances
Web Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kasuga-taisha
Nara 奈良市, Nara-shi is the capital city of Nara Prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan. The city occupies the northern part of Nara Prefecture, directly bordering Kyoto Prefecture. Eight temples, shrines and ruins in Nara, specifically Tōdai-ji, Saidai-ji, Kōfuku-ji, Kasuga Shrine, Gangō-ji, Yakushi-ji, Tōshōdai-ji and the Heijō Palace remains, together with Kasugayama Primeval Forest, collectively form 'Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara' a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
According to the legendary history of Kasuga Shrine, a mythological god Takemikazuchi arrived in Nara on a white deer to guard the newly built capital of Heijō-kyō. Since then the deer have been regarded as heavenly animals, protecting the city and the country.
Tame deer roam through the town, especially in Nara Park. Snack vendors sell "shika sembei" (deer biscuits) to visitors so they can enjoy feeding the deer. Some of the deer have learned to bow in response to tourists' bows. They nudge, jostle, and even bite for food.
Nara Prefecture (奈良県) Nara-ken
Nara Prefecture (奈良県, Nara-ken) is a prefecture in the Kansai region on Honshū Island, Japan. The capital is the city of Nara.
Kansai region 関西地方, Kansai-chihō
The Kansai region (関西地方, Kansai-chihō) or the Kinki region (近畿地方, Kinki-chihō) lies in the southern-central region of Japan's main island Honshū. The region includes the prefectures of Nara, Wakayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyōgo, and Shiga. Depending on who makes the distinction, Mie, Fukui, Tokushima and even Tottori Prefecture are also included. While the use of the terms "Kansai" and "Kinki" have changed over history, in most modern contexts the two can be considered the same. The urban region of Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto (Keihanshin region) is the second most populated in Japan after the Greater Tokyo Area.
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