万灯篭 Mantoro, or lantern lighting ritual, was carried out to pay respect to the spirit of creation on the night of “setsubun”, Feb. 3rd, at Kasuga Grand Shrine in Nara City. Since the ancient times, fire was used to purify the site and honor the kami, or god. All 3000 of the shrine’s stone and bronze lanterns are lit at once by each of prayers and sightseers. They create a lovely glow containing people's wishes.
Moss-covered stone lanterns line the path to sanctuary and light dimly the area.There are about 2000 stone lanterns.
A long pathway to the shrine is quite dark with only lantern light in themiddle of verdant grove. I felt close to God.
|In a flare of photographer's flashlight, you see what are not seen in the dark.|
Metal lanterns are hanging from the eaves of the corridor of the inner shrine.
Take a closer look at elaborate openwork of various patterns like floral patterns, geometric patterns, or family crest of the donors. The wisteria design means a lot to this shrine because Fujiwara means “grove of wisteria”. Japanese papers is used inside the openwork so that people can see patterns clearly.
|very old bronze lanterns|
Mantoro has continued for about 800 years.
Setsubun means division of seasons, winter and spring, so from the next day is spring in the old Japanese almanac.
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