Kurama Festivals


Kurama Festivals

***** Location: Mt. Kurama, Japan
***** Season: Various, see below
***** Category: Observance


Mount Kurama
(鞍馬山, Kurama-yama)

is a mountain to the north-west of the city of Kyoto. It is the birthplace of the Reiki practice, and is said to be the home of Sōjōbō, King of the Tengu, who taught swordsmanship to Minamoto no Yoshitsune. Kurama is also the location of the annual Kurama Fire Festival (鞍馬の火祭り, Kurama no Hi-matsuri), which takes place every October. Kurama Temple (鞍馬寺, Kuramadera) is now designated as a national treasure of Japan.

Kurama-dera, a Buddhist temple, is located in the wooded slopes above Kurama town. From its main gate in the town's center, the main buildings can be reached in a 30-45minute climb up the mountain. A cablecar leads halfway up.

Along the ascent to Kurama-dera stands Yuki Jinja 由岐神社, a shrine famous for its Fire Festival held annually on October 22. Kurama-dera's main buildings stand on a terrace on the mountain's slope, overlooking the wooded valley.

The philosopher Hayashi Razan lists one of the three greatest of the daitengu as Sōjōbō 僧正坊 of Mount Kurama. The tengu goblins of Kurama and Atago are among the most famous tengu of Japan.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

- - - - - Tengupedia - - - - -
. 四十八天狗 48 Tengu of Japan .


Three are three main deities venerated at the temple

sonten 尊天 symbolizing all things

千手観世音菩薩 Senju Kannon
毘沙門天王 Bishamonten (in the center)
護法魔王尊 Gohoo Maoo Son

Bishamonten symbolizes light and the sun
Kannon symabolizes love and the moon
Goho Mao Son symbolizes power and the earth.

Goho Mao Son, the great King of the conquerors of evil and the spirit of the earth, looks almost like a tengu himself.
Legend says he came to earth from Venus more than 6500000 years ago.
He is shown as a male of the age 16 and remains young for ever.
He is a special secret Buddha of Kurama temple.

Mao-son, Bishamon-ten, and Senju-kannon are the symbols of the universal soul, forming a Trinity known as "Sonten" or the "Supreme Deity". Sonten is the "Living Soul", the "Supreme Soul of the universe", the "Glorious Light", and the "Activity of the Soul".
These three are the symbols of power, light, and love. We worship Sonten as the composite of all three.
"We trust in Sonten for all things." Sonten is the creator of the universe, and cultivates the development of everything all over the earth. He rests deeps in our individual minds, and causes the "Great Self" or "Atman" to wake up within our hearts. He gives us new power and glorious light.

More than six million years ago, Mao-son (the great king of the conquerors of evil and the spirit of the earth) descended upon Mt. Kurama from Venus, with the great mission of the salvation of mankind. Since then, Mao-son's powerful spirit governing the development and the evolution not only of mankind but of all living things on Earth has been emanating from Mt. Kurama, and a priest named Gantei received the spiritual transmission.
source : www.ihreiki.com


kigo for late spring

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Kurama no Hana Kuyoo 鞍馬の花供養
Flower Ceremony at Kurama

hana kuyoo 花供養(はなくよう)Flower Ceremony
flower dedication
hana gu senboo 花供懺法(はなぐせんぽう)

It used to be for five days from April 18 till 22, but now it is for seven days till 24.

At the temple Kuramadera flowers are offered and prayers of repentance (senboo) are spoken.
During this period,the main deity, Tamonten (Bishamonten), which is usually hidden (hibutsu), is shown to the public.

Small children in court robes form a procession and throw artificial blossoms for the visitors.
There are performances of dance, kyogen, songs, tea ceremonies and more by the believers of Bishamonten. Every day there is something else to enjoy.

uma no kane hibiki-wataru ya hana kuyoo

the mid-day bell
reverberates far and wide -
flower ceremony

. Takahama Kyoshi 高浜虚子  


kigo for mid-summer

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Kurama no take kiri 鞍馬の竹伐 (くらまのたけきり)
cutting bamboo at Kurama
takekiri 竹筏(たけきり)
Kurama no renge e 鞍馬の蓮華会(くらまのれんげえ)
Kurama Lotus Ceremony

Kurama no take kiri eshiki
ceremony of cutting bamboo at Kurama

On June 20 at temple Kuramadera.

Four bamboo poles in front of the main temple hall are cut by two groups of people clad in formal robes, the east and west group. They use special woodman's hatchets (山刀) and fight for speed. The group which finishes first will be used to divine the harvest of the coming autumn.

Takekiri-eshiki is a bamboo-cutting ceremony based on a story about the monk Buen (峯延). The legend is that one day while Buen was undertaking austerities in the mountains monstrous male and female serpents attacked him. After the monk cut and killed the male serpent by chanting a powerful mantra the female serpent pleaded for mercy and promised to help people to make a stream from the mountain. The serpent kept her word and since then the villagers could enjoy affluent water and worshiped the serpent by creating a little shrine.

In the annual ceremony eight male parishioners clad in costumes of warrior monks form two teams. Upon a signal the teams rush out to cut 4m long and 10cm thick green bamboo poles with strokes of mountain hatchets (山刀) into eight pieces. The poles symbolise the serpents, which are incarnations of evil. The ceremony is performed to pray for a bountiful harvest. The area represented by the winning team will enjoy rich harvests that year.
The teams of Omi and Tanba represent the eastern and western sides of Mt Kurama. In ancient times the area around Lake Biwa was called Omi and parts of Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures Tanba.

The pieces of cut bamboo are believed to guard homes against misfortune. At the end of the ritual, a female bamboo, roots intact, is returned and replanted in the grove from which the male trees were taken.

Monk Gantei (鑑禎)
Kurama temple has its origin in the monk Gantei who had a dream about being guided to a sacred place on the saddle of a white horse. He followed this spiritual transmission and the horse brought him to the foot of the mountain, where he built a small thatched temple to Bishamonten. Years later, Isendo Fujiwara was also guided on horseback to the mountain with the intent of building a temple to the Thousand-armed Kannon Bodhisattva. Gantei’s temple became known as Kurama-dera (Horse-saddle temple) due to Gantei and Fujiwara both being guided there on saddle-back.

Tagyuraku 打毬楽
Tagyuraku is a kind of polo dance in which the dancers are dressed as courtiers of the Heian period. Polo was an ancient Persian sport known in China of the Tang dynasty and thence introduced into Nara of the Heian period. It is said that 88 or 40 persons played this polo like game on horseback. What is now left from the game is the music accompanying traditional court dance.
source : photojapan.karigrohn.com
Look at the photos of this link !


kigo for late autumn

. Kurama no hi matsuri 鞍馬の火祭
Kurama Fire Festival
October 22


kigo for the New Year

. Kurama mairi 鞍馬詣(くらままいり)
first visit to temple Kuramadera
Kurama hatsu tora mairi 鞍馬初寅詣(くらまはつとらまいり)
visit to Kurama Temple on the first day of the tiger
"Kurama Gold Coin", Kurama koban 鞍馬小判(くらまこばん)
. . . . . and more kigo about this ceremony

The Tiger hour is about 3-5am. Tiger Month is January and the Tiger day comes up every 12 days.

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Kurama stone Daruma

. Kurama Ishi 鞍馬石 Kurama Stone  


CLICK for original link . kanshin.com
Ushiwakamaru 牛若丸

. Ushiwaka mochi 牛若餅 Ushiwaka rice cakes  
Named after Minamoto no Yoshitsune in his boyhood (Ushiwaka, the one as strong as a bull), when he was trained at the Kurama Mountain Temple by the Forest Goblins (tengu).

. Minamoto no Yoshitsune 源の義経 (1159 - 1189) .
- Introduction -
Shanaoo, Shanaō 遮那王 Shanao (his boyhood name at Kurama)
牛若丸 Ushiwakamaru // Hoogan 判官 Hogan (his court title)


Goma sen, gomasen 護摩扇 ritual fan from Kurama

. ha-uchiwa 天狗の羽団扇 "feather fan of a Tengu" .

This is the fan of the great tengu from Kurama mountain, used to ward off all evil during the goma fire rituals.

Sōjōbō - Sojobo
Sōjōbō (僧正坊, lit. "high Buddhist priest")
is the mythical king of the tengu, minor deities who inhabit the mountains of forests of Japan. Sōjōbō is an ancient yamabushi (mountain hermit) tengu with long, white hair and an unnaturally long nose. He carries a fan made from seven feathers as a sign of his position at the top of tengu society. He is extremely powerful, and one legend says he has the strength of 1,000 normal tengu. Sōjōbō lives on Mount Kurama (north of Kyoto).

Sōjōbō is perhaps best known for teaching the warrior Minamoto no Yoshitsune (then known by his childhood name Ushiwaka-maru or Shanao) the arts of swordsmanship, tactics, and magic in the 12th century. In fact, the name "Sōjōbō" originates from Sōjōgatani, the valley at Mount Kurama near Kibune Shrine associated with the Shugenja. It is in this valley that Ushiwaka trained with Sōjōbō in legend. This relationship serves as the basis of many Japanese woodblock prints, including one by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.
Also in some Japanese villages, parents spread the myth that he eats little boys to stop them going into the forests at night.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

a kind of fly swatter : Tengu no uchiwa
. Swatter of a Forest Goblin
Tengu no uchiwa 天狗のうちわ .

. Fan (oogi 扇 - uchiwa 団扇).

. Amulets and Talismans from Japan . 

source : hayato on facebook

"Tengu Monsters and Ushiwakamaru"

c. 1760, by Shunsho Katsukawa (1726-1792).


tsuki zo shirube konata e irase tabi no yado

moon! guide
this-way to please-enter
journey's lodging

Matsuo Basho, 1663

Basho alludes to a line from the No play Tengu on Mount Kurama, in which the blossoms are the guides.

Tr. David Landis Barnhill

奥は鞍馬の山道の花ぞしるべなる へ入らせ給へや

oku wa Kurama no yamamichi no
hana zo shirube naru konata e irase tamae ya

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Kurama no Tengu 鞍馬天狗 Noh Performance

tsuki zo shirube konata e irase tabi no yado

the moon will guide you . . .
this way, traveler; please come
into the inn here

Tr. Ueda

The moon is your guide;
Come to my house, says the host
Of a wayside inn.

Tr. Yuasa

Written in 寛文4年, Basho age 21
During that time the Teimon school was in full swing and it was popular to make an allusion to poems and songs of old.

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


doohyoo wa kagyuu asobase migi Kurama

the guidepost
is a resting post for the snail -
turn right for Mount Kurama

Minamisawa Kiriko 南澤霧子

Related words

***** . Bishamonten 毘沙門天  

***** . Ushiwaka-maru and Benkei  

***** . Kurama gannin 鞍馬願人 Gannin from Kurama .
gannin boozu 願人坊主 mendicant monks

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Kurama karakuri gangu 鞍馬のからくり玩具 mechanical dolls from Kurama
They are about 30 to 40 cm high. The deities of Wind and Thunder 風神雷神. Made from bamboo with a string to pull for moving the fan and arms.

. Kyoto Folk Art - 京都(府) .
Kuramadera no koi ningyoo 鞍馬寺 鯉の人形 Kurama carp dolls
Kurama yama no a-un-tora 鞍馬山のあうん虎 tiger dolls
Kurama kubi ningyoo くらま首人形 head dolls

. karakuri ningyoo からくり人形 mechanical dolls .





anonymous said...

Another great link and wonderful insight to Japan and their haiku.

News said...


Kurama fire festival in Kyoto

The ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto held a traditional torch-bearing festival on Saturday evening.

The Kurama fire festival is said to date back to the 10th century, in the mid-Heian Period. Its origin is believed to be the practice of lighting torches to pray for peace, amid a series of wars and natural disasters.

In the opening ceremony held at the Yuki Shrine, hundreds of torches were lit in front of nearby homes.

Some 500 torches were paraded around the shrine by people wearing headbands and sashes. The largest torch was 3.5 meters long and weighed 100 kilograms.

About 8,000 spectators packed the nearby streets and cheered as sparks flew up into the night sky.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gabi Greve - WKD said...

soohei no ei wa binan yo takekiri-e

the descendants
of monk-soldiers are so handsome -
cutting bamboo ritual

Hama Akifumi 浜明史

about soohei

Gabi Greve said...

Kiichi Hogen shrine, Mount Kurama, Kyoto

Gabi Greve said...

虎の巻 : 尾上菊五郎・市川団十郎
toranomaki : onoe kikugoro ichikawa danjuro
Tora no Maki

Kiichi Hoogen

鬼一法眼 虎の巻 Kiichi Hogen
ver since I developed an interest in the Japanese art of Iaidō, I started paying more attention to the legends related to samurai and masters of martial arts… You can “feel” several such legends while visiting the Kurama mountain, a little north of Kyoto: here, you can see where the legendary samurai Minamoto no Yoshitsune (Ushiwakamaru) was initiated and trained in the arts of the sword by the tengu king Sōjōbō…

Another legend from Kurama tells the story of the Heian Period master swordsman Kiichi Hogen , who created a core of martial arts styles known as Kyo Hachi-ryū, the “Eight Traditions of the Capital". He thought the techniques to 8 of his monk disciples, each of them later establishing martial arts schools in Kyoto.
It is said that one of his manuscripts is preserved inside the small shrine from this photo …

Gabi Greve said...

The valley 僧正谷 Sojogatani is more famous for the tales about Ushiwakamaru.

Many old Sugi cedar trees grow in the surrounding forest, which is also the stage for the 鞍馬天狗 Kurama Tengu tales about 牛若丸 Ushiwakamaru.
Opposite the Fudo Hall is
Gikeidoo 義経堂 Gikei-Do, a hall dedicated to Yoshitsune (Ushiwakamaru)
義経 is read Yoshitsune or Gikei.
Ukiyoe :
At Sojogatani in the Kurama mountains
Ushiwakamaru learns sword fighting from a Tengu
歌川広重 Utagawa Hiroshige

Gabi Greve said...

京都府 Kyoto

kijin 鬼神 / キジン Demon Deity

Once in the deep woods of 鞍馬山 Mount Kurama, the Tengu-priest 僧正 Sojo went to the edge of 谷御菩薩池 the pond Mizoroike and released two Kijin who lived in a hole there. But 毘沙門天 Bishamonten, the Protector Deity of Mount Kurama, found out about it and prepared beans the size of huge boulders to throw at the demons. He wanted to wipe out the eyes of the demons but could not aim properly.
This is the beginning of the mamemaki 豆撒き bean-throwing custom of Setsubun, they say.
Grains have a great vital power and were thought to 魔除け ward off evil influence.
The word MAME (beans) was originally written 魔滅 to wipe out demons. To make sure the beans would never grow again, they had to be roasted 炒った豆 before throwing them at the demons.
Kurama no oni taiji 鞍馬の鬼退治

Gabi Greve said...

1.Yositsune riding on the Tengu to take his fencing lessons at Kurama Yama

kendoo 剣道 Kendo - 天狗 Tengu and The Way of the Sword

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Kyoto - Kurama
天狗 Tengu
Once upon a time, 一条頼重 Ichijo Yorishige made a wish and was told to go to 鞍馬の奥 the mountain temple of Kurama. He went there, sat in the 不動堂 Fudo-Do Hall and practised Zazen. Suddenly some Tengu appeared and tried to disturb him. Finally the Head Priest came to chase them away and oh wonder - they flew of as a group of black birds.
Kurama Fudo-Do Hall

Gabi Greve said...

Tengu no Dairi 天狗の内裏 The Palace of the Tengu
'The Palace of the Long-Nosed Goblins'

This is a story about the young Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who is taken on a tour of the underworld by a Tengu from Mount Kurama.
Written in the Muromachi period.
This story exists in numerous lavish picture scrolls and woodblock-printed editions in libraries and museums around the world.
Tengu no dairi emaki 天狗の内裏絵巻
picture scroll of the palace of the long-nosed goblins,
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