Today we had a nice leisurely wander around Usa Shrine. I always find it a really peaceful place in great surroundings - huge trees among the many steps.... Every time I go I find out more details about the shrine itself as well as the Shinto religion which the shrine is based on. Today I learnt more about the rope and white pieces of paper that are always hung at the entrance to a building within a shrine or to the shrine itself. While my father was here he asked what the meaning of these things were, but the best explanation we could get was that they were decorative and marked the entrance to a sacred place.
Today the priest I was talking to offered another explanation (he did say that no one really knows the exact origin). His explanation was that the Shinto religion originated from the rice farmers and rituals relating to praying for a good harvest and celebrations to give thanks for a good harvest. The white paper represents clouds and the shape is like lightning bolts - both relating to rain which is a vital aspect of rice farming. This makes a lot more sense to me than that they are solely decorative.
After the shrine and a cup of coffee we pottered around among the 512(?) little buddhas that are just around the corner. Beth searched for the one that looked just like her, but despite finding Dad as well as some others that looked like they were very pleased with themselves she couldn't quite decide which one looked the most like her. Tomorrow we head up the hill to even more little buddhas - as I think I've commented before... you can never see enough little buddhas!