03/07/2015, 00.00
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Nara, Kasuga temple opens its doors to the public

The Shrine Shinto is a world heritage site and home to a stone where the divinity Takemikazuchi no Mikoto, the patron saint of the martial arts, rests. It is usually accessible only to Shinto religious and the imperial family.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - For the first time in the modern era, the Kasuga Taisha Shinto temple is set to open its doors to the public and showcase its cultural and religious treasures. The structure, recognized as a "World Heritage Site", is located in Nara Prefecture and is normally only accessible to Shinto religious and the imperial family. Inside the temple there is a stone where, according to the local cult, the divinity Takemikazuchi no Mikoto, the patron of the martial arts, rests.

Originally the deity was worshiped in the Kashima Jingu temple: here a famous school of kendo and kenjutsu was created. According to tradition, the deity fled on a white deer and now rests in the stone. The deity's most famous devotees include Tsukahara Bokuden, the fifteenth century samurai, who spent most of his life at the temple mastering the art of the sword.

The temple will be opened on the occasion of Shikinen Zotai, , a ritual held every 20 years in which aged structures and interiors are replaced. Hirotada Kasannoin, the Shinto abbot, explains that elements of worship have been removed from Kasuga, but the cultural treasures and the stone will be on show for the public. It is the first time that the northern gate has opened in 140 years.

The treasures on display from March 29 to April 5, include a painting depicting the flight of the gods from Kashima temple, the indoor gardens and the four pavilions usually reserved for worship for the emperor and his family.


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