January 15: We paid a visit to Yusuhara Shrine on the Coming-of-Age Day
by Mie

Today is the Coming-of-Age Day, celebrating those who become 20 years old. The number of the youth who become twenty this year is 1.7 million all over the country, and 17 thousands in Oita prefecture alone. The weather today is not so fine with occasional sprinkle of rain. We visited Yusuhara Shrine in Oita City. It is an impressive shrine on the way to Mt. Takasaki.

Passing under the main gate of the shrine, you will see a huge tree called "Holto" on the right. About 400 years age, Sorin Otomo, the feudal proprietor of the area, encouraged the active trading with the western countries. The seedling of the tree came from Portugal, which sound was corrupted to Holto. The tree is designated as a prefectural tree of Oita.

The beautiful gate is called "Evening Gate." There are many sculptures on the walls and beams of the Gate. The theme of the sculpture is "24 Saints in Old China." It is very interesting to see them.

Fine sculptures are everywhere on beams and ceilings.

The dense forest of the Shrine is called "The forest of Yusuhara Hachiman Shrine." It includes many kinds of evergreen trees such as Kojii, Black trunk, oak, and camphor. The forest hand downs the precious nature of Oita from ancient times well before man had settled here. The forest is also a bird sanctuary.
"Welcome Emperor" gate with the Imperial chrysanthemum crest on it. The gate is usually closed firmly.
This is the public entrance to the main building. You may see "white flowers" on the trees. Actually, some branches of tree are inserted into the ground to serve as tying place for written oracles that bend the smaller twigs.
A large drum hangs down from the ceiling beam. The drum is said to a present from Sorin Otomo. I tossed a coin into the box and hit the drum to ask happiness. It was a fun to hit it and make a big sound all around the shrine area.

The main altar (left) enshrines Amaterasu God (Sun God), and the main door to the Imperial Gate (right.)
This is the right wing of the corridor. It is very comfortable place with evergreen forest on the back.

Many sake casks are piled up at the end wall of the corridor. Many votive pictures like this are hung on the ceiling beam.
When we came down after the visit to the shrine, I found a bus that runs only 6 times on Sunday and 12 times on weekday.

We drove down to central Oita. This is the "Torii," literally meaning "bird sit" of Yusuharu Shrine. Just behind the Torii is route 10 and Beppu Bay. On the right is a ferry terminal that connects Oita and Kobe (Diamond Ferry.)
Passing under the Torii, I found a map at the front shrine of Yusuhara. The front shrine is also called "Beach shrine" in which a big festival is held at the end of each summer. The map shows well-known backpacking trail around the main shrine. We continued driving to downtown Oita and found many "Just-became adults" on the street. I hope they will be wonderful adults. I will cheer you all.

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