Autumn-Momiji, Kita-ku, Matsuri-Festival, Temples-Shrines — December 11, 2017 at 7:06 PM

Iwato-ochiba-jinja and the Fallen Golden Yellow Gingko Trees Leafs in Kyoto.

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The Iwato-ochiba-jinja (岩戸落葉神社) in northern Kyoto covered with golden yellow ginkgo leafs.

The Iwato-ochiba-jinja (岩戸落葉神社) in northern Kyoto covered with golden yellow ginkgo leafs.

Iwato-ochiba-jinja, an unspoiled spot in Kyoto:

In late November, I ventured out to the north of Kyoto, deep in the mountains of Kitayama to visit the Iwato-ochiba-jinja (岩戸落葉神社). This more than 1.000-year-old Shinto shrine is famous for its golden yellow colored ginkgo leafs. It’s not so easily accessible which means not so many people and lots of time to enjoy this tranquil spot. Sure enough, while I was there only two people came along. Situated along the Kiyotaki River and unspoiled wooded area, it cannot get much better.

Ishidōrō, stone lantern

Ishidōrō, stone lantern

History of Iwato-ochiba-jinja:

There is a signboard with a short explanation, here’s what it says: ” This shrine houses the tree deities Amenomisoorime-wakahime-no-kami (天御衣織女稚姫神, a weaving goddess), Mizuhanome-no-kami (弥都波能売神, a water goddess) and Seoritsuhime-no-kami (瀬織津比咩神, a goddess of purification).
The exact date the shrine was founded is unknown, but it was already here by the early Heian Period (794-1185). The Iwato-sha Shrine was originally the Amatsuiwatowake-wakahime-jinja, and the Ochiba-sha was originally the Ichikawa-jinja. Both were listed in the Engi Records of Shrines. However, the Iwato-sha burned down during the early 17th century, so was merged with the Ochiba-sha to form the Iwato-ochiba-jinja.”

Did you know….:

A tsukubai - water basin (蹲踞) covered with green moss and golden yellow ginkgo leafs at Iwato-ochiba-jinja (岩戸落葉神社) in northern Kyoto.

A tsukubai – water basin (蹲踞) covered with green moss and golden yellow ginkgo leafs at Iwato-ochiba-jinja (岩戸落葉神社) in northern Kyoto.

While visiting another temple on a mountainside with some ginkgo trees I encountered the following. There were a temple hall and some stone stairs leading to it. Because of the gingko tree right over the stairs, they were covered with golden yellow leaves. A coveted spot for photographers. There was one problem, someone was picking up the fallen fruit. Because these fruits have a pungent smell (like vomit) I was intrigued why someone would pick them. So I asked this man what he was going to do with them. He told me to wash them very well and fry them.

I did a little research into ginkgo trees and found some interesting information. Credit to Wikipedia where would be without this valuable research tool. Here we go:

The nut-like gametophytes inside the seeds are particularly esteemed in Asia, and are a traditional Chinese food. Ginkgo nuts are used in congee, and are often served at special occasions such as weddings and the Chinese New Year (as part of the vegetarian dish called Buddha’s delight). In Chinese culture, they are believed to have health benefits; some also consider them to have aphrodisiac qualities. Japanese cooks add ginkgo seeds (called ginnan) to dishes such as chawanmushi, and cooked seeds are often eaten along with other dishes.

The ginkgo leaf is the symbol of the Urasenke school of Japanese tea ceremony. The tree is the official tree of the Japanese capital of Tokyo, and the symbol of Tokyo is a ginkgo leaf.

Extreme examples of the ginkgo’s tenacity may be seen in Hiroshima, Japan, where six trees growing between 1–2 km from the 1945 atom bomb explosion were among the few living things in the area to survive the blast. Although almost all other plants (and animals) in the area were killed, the ginkgos, though charred, survived and were soon healthy again, among other hibakujumoku (trees that survived the blast).

The six trees are still alive: they are marked with signs at Housenbou (報専坊) temple (planted in 1850), Shukkei-en (planted about 1740), Jōsei-ji (planted 1900), at the former site of Senda Elementary School near Miyukibashi, at the Myōjōin temple, and an Edo period-cutting at Anraku-ji temple.

Native to China, the tree is widely cultivated, and was cultivated early in human history. It has various uses in traditional medicine and as a source of food. The genus name Ginkgo is regarded as a misspelling of the Japanese gin kyo, “silver apricot”. More Autumn Pics!

Ishidōrō - stone lantern (石灯籠) covered with green moss and golden yellow ginkgo leafs at Iwato-ochiba-jinja (岩戸落葉神社) in northern Kyoto.

Ishidōrō – stone lantern (石灯籠) covered with green moss and golden yellow ginkgo leafs at Iwato-ochiba-jinja (岩戸落葉神社) in northern Kyoto.

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