Trees improve the attractiveness of a Shrine’s Spirituality.
Some of the most popular sightseeing places in Japan are the shrines. Not only are you able to find many of them, but you can also see various sizes of shrines in rural areas, like Tokyo. Visitors can often find a rich and natural environment around a shrine even if their located populated urban areas. Trees at shrines can be diverse and are usually in accordance with the geographical characteristics of the area. Two common trees found most often at shrines are the Japanese cedar and camphor tree.
The Japanese cedar can be seen at many shrines. These trees grow straight toward the sky, so it’s considered to be the closest associated tree with Japanese Gods. It’s also said that Japanese Gods use the tree to come to the earth and go back to their world by using this tree as transportation, and some people even say that the trees are created from the body hair of Gods. The traditional Japanese event“Sugi Nobori,”is a Japanese dance derived from the beliefs of the Japanese cedar. People can join in and see the event in Takachiho, Miyazaki prefecture.
The camphor tree is the evergreen tree, and can often be observed in the southern, warmer prefectures. The tree grows for several hundred years and can become 20 to 50 meters tall. In fact, this tree is used in the film,“My Neighbor Totoro,”and is actually home to Totoro. The large size of the tree mystically makes Japanese people feel like there may be some kind of creature(s) inside of the large old tree. It also has a unique smell, protecting the surrounding area from insects. Japanese legends and ideas of gods are still influential to Japanese naturalism, and the trees often reflect its beliefs in the country. Of course, trees are just trees, but those trees are very representative, showing unique Japanese religious beliefs. If you have a chance to enjoy shrines in Japan, please pay attention to their unique surroundings.