I have been hesitating to post these photos because I have been hoping to acquire more information as to the background of this amazing shrine. However, after a conversation with the shrine caretaker I’ve realized that my Japanese vocabulary is going to need to grow significantly before I am able to understand the details of the Suwa Jinja. What I can share, then, is my own experience with this amazing site.
One day as I was wandering around the grounds of Yakami High School I came up a small path leading up a hill covered in massive Japanese cedar trees. I followed the little path as it wound around the up the hill until it joined with a set of stone steps leading down to a sort of courtyard lined with varying sizes and styles of shrines. I was immediately enchanted.
Since that day, I have visited the site every time I teach at Yakami High School. Sometimes I eat my lunch there, other times I simply sit with my back against the trunk of one of the trees and watch the branches sway in the wind.
I met the caretakers of the shrine on one occasion only. I was given an information pamphlet and told that the trees on site are more than 1,000 years old. Apparently last year several of the trees blew down in a storm and a local carpenter took them to his shop in Hinui. I later received a bowl made from the trunk of one of these salvaged trees.
I have been told that an elderly woman visits the shrine every morning at 5:00am to clean the grounds. I hope to join her someday when the weather warms up a bit.
I will update this post as my knowledge of the Suwa Jinja grows. For the time being, I am less concerned about the details of the shrine’s existence than appeased by its magical presence.