|Imposing trees, rising to the sky, where “Kami”, the Shinto’s highest spiritual being, uses to descend to the world
The above photo is an old sacred tree through the ages at the Heitate Jingu Shrine in Kumamoto, Japan.
Since ancient times, we, Japanese people, have worshiped imposing trees, rising into the sky, and have treated them in awe. Those towering trees have been considered as the place for “Kami” to descend to this world. At a shrine, such trees are enshrined as sacred trees.
Or it’s more like a shrine was built at a place with strong energy to grow giant trees.
Enormous trees, like an antenna that “Kami” uses to descend to this world. To preserve their sanctity, these giants were fenced off to delineate the sacred soil of the shrine, with a braided rice-straw rope. In ancient times, this place was called, “Himorogi,” or a sacred space used as a temporary altar.
People knew that when this sacred tree is struck by lightning, rice would grow well that year for a plentiful harvest. For those ancient Japanese people, watching arrows of lightning strike a towering tree might have looked, indeed, like “Kami” was descending to the ground.
Although I often shoot trees, when I found these sacred trees, I realized that my usual way of shooting trees wouldn’t cut it. When you shoot a sacred tree, you need to feel a presence of the place onsite and shoot instantly. Otherwise I think you can never capture the history and divinity of these sacred trees.
It made me feel like I was being asked, “Can you capture this?” from above.
ー 天高く聳える木、神が降りる場所 ー