Category Archives: Hida

Kimi no Na Wa and Twilight


Kataware-doki Fragment of Time

We are told in the movie, Kimi no Na Wa, that kataware-doki means twilight in the dialect of Hida, where Mitsuha lives. Iwakage has more about the land of Hida as seen in the movie, if you click here. 

Strange things can happen during kataware-doki, the toki time of kataware. And they do, in the movie.

Kataware means a fragment. Fragment of time. Also, the fragment of the meteor that crashes to earth in Hida, obliterating Mitsuha’s hometown.

Let’s consider the fragment of time called kataware-doki. Twilight is a fascinating time of day — or is it night? It is the time between day and night, when it is neither day nor is it night. It is kure, dusk. Many haiku have been written about kure. Here’s one by Basho.

kono michi ya / yuku hito nashi ni / aki no kure.

This path —  no one walks it  —  autumn twilight

This lonely path that Basho describes could be a viewed as an autumn day turning into night, or as late autumn when the season turns to winter. It may even allude to the time when his life is coming to a close.

Kure is a border between two things such as light and dark, life and death, between two instants of time. It is at such a border that all things are possible.

As we were pondering twilight, Earth and Sky posted an article on three definitions of twilight, saying “You can define twilight simply as the time of day between daylight and darkness, whether that’s after sunset, or before sunrise.” They explain how Civil, Nautical, and Astronomical Twilight are defined — astronomically.

Still, these definitions do not explain how we feel about twilight.

Photo: Earth at twilight as viewed from space, NASA


2017.12.04 Update. Basho in his autumn haiku used kure for dusk. The character for dusk is 昏, also read kare. We noticed that, in the movie, the teacher also explained kataware-doki as karetaso and tasokare. We find that tasokare is written 黄昏, where the first character means yellow and the second is dusk. Now, kare usually means “he, him.” But kare if pronounced tare or dare would mean “who?”

So, we are back to the title of the movie, slightly rephrased, as:

Who are you?

Perhaps that was question being posed by Makoto Shinkai.


Image credit: NASA

Kimi no Na Wa and Musubi

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Kimi no Na Wa is an extremely popular and powerful anime movie directed by Makoto Shinkai. We say “powerful” in that it is thought-provoking of matters outside the ordinary limits of time and space.

Musubi.  Kumihimo is a Japanese braiding method for making decorative and functional cords, and it is depicted in several scenes in the movie. Musubi is a knot, a tying together, of connecting people and things. The photo shows two kumihimo cords in a musubi knot.

Motohisa Yamakage has taught Koshinto through books such as The Essence of Shinto. Yamakage Sensei writes, “Musubi means to unite or bind together. … the concept of musubi signifies the proliferation of life and spirit. … the very process of creating and giving birth to life and spirit is described as musubi and we [Koshinto] place it in very high regard.”

Time and Space.  We have related the Tanabata Festival tale as the weaving of time and space. This is an observance since early Jomon times that takes place in the seventh night of the seventh lunar month, when the moon is only half-full and the stars in the Milky Way can clearly be seen. The word tanabata means a kind of weaving loom. So picture a fabric being woven with threads of warp and woof. The threads of the warp represent the flow of time, and the shuttling of the woof creates space. See also here and here

Kimi no Na wa (君の名は) is an international hit movie, entitled Your Name in English. The warping and entangling of time and space is the theme of this metaphysical movie. Perhaps that’s why millions of people find the movie so intriguing.

In today’s essay, we consider how the movie conveys the message of Musubi through the imagery of braiding.

Early on in the movie, we see that Mitsuha lives with her sister and grandmother in a very small town in the rural land of Hida. Grandmother is priestess of an old shrine which has as its goshintai sacred object a megalith in the center of a meteor crater. Mitsuha serves as miko-san shrine maiden and performs a ritual at the shrine. Grandmother is also teaching Mitsuha to braid cords in the style of kumihimo. What, we wonder, is the significance of these elements?

Musubi in Kimi no Na wa

Grandmother’s explanation of Musubi uses the imagery of kumihimo. In one scene, Mitsuha and her sister are going with their grandmother on a pilgrimage to the sacred place of the megalith. On the way, Grandmother is explaining Musubi. We have restored the original word, kami, to the subtitles.

Musubi is the old way of calling the local guardian kami.

Tying thread is Musubi. Connecting people is Musubi.

These are all the kami’s power.

So the braided cords that we make are the kami’s art and represent the flow of time itself.

They converge and take shape. They twist, tangle, sometimes unravel, break, then connect again.

Musubi-knotting. That’s time.


From the above, we can see that the concept of musubi is that of gathering and connecting. Grandmother has explained how people are connected in time and space, and she stresses the time element. This is the basic theme of the movie.


Hida Koku and Birth of Hida Kuni Jomon Dynasty


Iwaya-Iwakage,our sister site, has just posted a series of articles that begins:

Birth of Hida Kuni Jomon Dynasty

The land of Hida, where the Kanayama Megaliths are located, may not be so well known historically as other parts of the country such as Kyoto and Nara. And yet its history stems from the Jomon Period, 12,000 BCE to 300 BCE. In the article presented below, the unnamed author declares that there are many folkloric sources that reveal the possibility that Hida was the  place where civilization began, ultimately leading to the modern nation of Japan.


Hida: Roots of Nihon

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by Yamamoto Kenzo, born 1912, 1999 softcover book, 68 pp. Bought at Kuraiyama in 2011 for 1,000 yen. For reference, an oku-nen is 10^8 years, or 100 million years. Hida is the name of an ancient kuni land in central Japan. The Hida mountain range of Nagano and Gifu is popularly called the Japanese Alps.

Geologically speaking, the land of Hida was born 20 okunen = 2×10^9 years (2 billion years) ago. Fukuchi Onsen in Oku-Hida has the oldest kaseki fossil stones, 4 oku 8 sen man nen = 4.8 oku nen = 4.8×10^8 years old. At that time, the whole earth was covered with a lot of water. 3,000 meter mountains were like islands.

Hida Norikura yama’s main peak is Kengamine, 3026 m, the highest in the archipelago at that time. Mt. Fuji grew taller later, due to eruptions. At that time, only mountains taller than 3,000 m rose above sea level.

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This book is mainly about Ohirumemuchi no Mikoto, who is better known as Amaterasu Omikami, and the continent of Hida. Yes, Hida was a continent 80 man-nen ago, 800,Roots Hida Tairiku000 years ago.  The first Japanese people appeared here 700,000 to 500,000 years ago. They did not come from elsewhere. Yes, people arose in this land.They were born from water. Where did the water come from? From the moon.

Roots Uakata-sama       Awa no Uakata-sama, a sage known simply as Uakata (leader), revealed secrets to 23-year old school teacher Yamamoto (author of this book) in 1935. The venerable one was from a long lineage of uakata; uakata became known as Sumera Mikoto, the ancient title for emperor. Because Yamamoto had shown ability to heal people, Uakata-sama chose him to pass on ancient teachings with the promise that Yamamoto pass them on, in turn.

Uakata-sama said that Hirumemuchi no Mikoto was a powerful woman whose dreams saved the country. Could she have been a shamaness or a spiritual master? She is also known as Amaterasu Omikami.

The theme of the book is the true history of how the Sumera Mikoto organized the people so that they could live happily with honor and compassion. This is the message that was entrusted to Yamamoto.

Yamamoto listened carefully and studied the history of the area as well as geology. But time flew by and he found himself at age seventy hearing once again the voice of Uakata-sama. He was reminded of his promise. Yamamoto went around to places which he had heard of from Uakata-sama, and verified kodai-seshi, the true history of Japan before Jimmu. Yamamoto was eighty-five when he wrote this book.

Mukashi, mukashi, long long ago, there was the land of O^yashima. On this land was Mt. Awayama = Norikura-dake. On this mountain was a pond, Nyu-no-ike. Life came out of this pond. All life appeared and evolved; land expanded and people appeared. We are all from Awayama. Awayama is Mt. Awa. ‘A’ means Heaven, ‘Wa’ means Earth. Life appeared from A-Wa.

The old days were humid and hot. People went north where it was cooler, but grandchildren came back to HIda. The river Nyu-kawa was the entrance to Hida.

When people died, they were buried in a place where they also built a pond (ike). The Hida-jin people of Hida practiced a meditation called Mitama-shizume, calming the spirit. It is also known as Hidaki, holding (daki) the sun (hi). The name, Hida, comes from abbreviating Hidaki to Hida. The people would sit around the ike and gaze at the sun or moon reflected in the pond. This was practiced at Hidaki no miya. There used to be 30 such miya, now there are 19 shrines, all with Hidaki no miya in their name. Here is a map showing 13 of these shrines.

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After the first ice age ended, it became 7 degrees warmer. Hida was cool and pleasant. The Hida people made votive objects called sekkan, stones shaped something like a one-layered wedding cake. They used them when praying for ancestors.

At the end of the Jomon period, it became cold again with much snow. People moved to warmer places, and they lived happily.

DSCN0790     The 15th generation Uakata-sama saw that Hida was getting cold again, so they moved their miyako capital to Miyamura. Miyamura is at the foot of Kuraiyama. They took megaliths to Kuraiyama where they buried generations of Sumera Mikoto ancestors around the megaliths. This is why Kuraiyama is a sacred mountain and has many megaliths on it. The first Sumera Mikoto was named Kuraiyama no Mikoto.

The ichii no ki, a type of yew tree, was used to make the board for writing the authority for Roots Shakuthe next Sumera Mikoto. This shows that there was writing in those days. We see the board today in the shaku held by the emperor and Shinto priests. The ichii no ki only grows on Kuraiyama. This board was called kurai-ita, Kuraiyama rank board.

The second migration took place at the end of the Jomon period due to another cold wave. The Hida-jin made sekkan in reverse shape, i.e., with an indentation in the middle rather than a protrusion. About six dozen have been found in Hida, and dozens elsewhere in the islands. These are called gyobutsu-ishi. With these ishi, Hida-jin went south with ancestors’ spirits.

What I notice in the story is the great reverence that Hida-jin held for ancestors. It is not ancestor-worship but rather, holding an honest appreciation for the contributions of generations before. This is done through the practice of meditating on the reflection of the sun or moon in the pond, or Hidaki. They would do this before making major decisions such as when and where to move.

Part 2 follows.

The Princess and the Golden Rooster: A Legend

Once upon a time:  A golden rooster lived in Kyoto during the Heian period. It crowed every New Year’s Day during the four centuries of peace. Then, in the year 1093, war broke out and the golden rooster flew away.

The Princess Kogane-Hime, a devout Buddhist who missed the rooster, faced Hiei-zan. She heard a message:  Go to a mountain of waterfalls. So she traveled far and long and finally reached Hida-Kanayama at the end of the year.

She could hear the voice of the rooster, but search as she did, she could not see it. She went from one waterfall to another: The Shirataki and the Ni-no-taki, and finally a third waterfall. She stood under the water to purify herself. Suddenly, she heard the golden rooster.

The falls she stood under became known as Keimei-taki of Yokotani Gorge.

Although the rooster refused to return to Kyoto, Kogane-Hime gathered some herbs for her ailing mother and went back to Kyoto in time to save her mother. The princess became known for her compassion and was regarded as the goddess of children.

People would come to Komori Jinja near Keimei Falls to pray to the great Komori goddess when their children became ill. After the children recovered their health, in gratitude, they brought rooster images to Komori Jinja.

The day before the summer solstice 2012, we visited the White Waterfall (Shira Taki) and the Double Waterfall (Ni no Taki). Due to the rain, we had to by-pass Keimei Taki.

In 2013, we were able to go to Keimei Falls. There is a hokura at the top of the path down to the pool where the taki falls. It is a beautiful waterfall. There is a lot of water coming down, so it must have been quite a feat for the princess to stand under it. There is a small pavilion where we had a bento lunch surrounded by verdant sugi and hinoki trees. Other than the structure and the path, the rest is as nature had it a thousand years ago when the princess stood under the falls.

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Hida: Roots of Nihon, Part 2

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Takamagahara, the mythical Plain of High Heaven, is not in outer space or Heaven, but it is here on earth; not on the Asian continent but in Nihon. There are iseki ruins which indicate that Takamagahara is right here in Hida. Because Hida’s tall mountains saved the people.

A third cold wave occurred with a great deal of snow in Hida. There was a meeting of the leaders of the land to consider moving to a more southerly and warmer climate. The family of the Sumera Mikoto spread out to different areas. Amatsu Hikone no Mikoto went to the area we know as Hikone in Omi (Shiga-ken), where he established Taga Taisha. Izanagi and Izanami went to Mie-ken, and that is where Izanagi died.

Ninigi no Mikoto went to Tsukushi (Kyushu); Nigihayahi went to Kawachi province (now Osaka). Both had Tokusa no Jingi so that their descendants would know that they were related. The Jingi included the feathered arrow, Ame no Habaya; and Ame no Kahiyuki footwear.

Hirume/Amaterasu had a dream that there were three streams of invaders on Tsukushi. Because her dreams were highly regarded by the people, it was decided to first send three princesses and check it out. After eight years the princesses returned with confirmation. So Ninigi was sent with a large group of young couples from Hida to settle and develop the land in Tsukushi.

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A conflict ensued between descendants of Ninigi and Nigihayahi which ended when they realized that both sides held the Tokusa no Jingi and were thus related. Nigiyahahi’s brother-in-law Nagasunehiko was allowed to go to Tohoku where he became the king of Arahabaki. [Arahabaki are sometimes referred to as visitor kami, perhaps because they came from elsewhere.]

A descendant of Ninigi, Sanu no Mikoto (his childhood name) became Takehito/Iwawarehiko and is posthumously known as emperor Jimmu. He, too, received the kurai-ita upon his enthronement. Jimmu’s two brothers remained in Tsukushi.

Queen Himiko of Tsukushi was a descendant of the younger of Jimmu’s brother Mikinuma no Mikoto, 239-266 CE. She sent a messenger to Gi (China) and is mentioned in the Gishi Wajinden. The Gishi mis-spelled her land ‘Yamato’ as ‘Yamatai’, and that is how Yamatai entered the history of Japan.

The ancient people of Nihon surely faced difficulties and hard work during their long history. Yet, the philosophy they practiced entailed living compassionately and contentedly without complaining and always looking to a bright future.

Can we learn a lesson from these people?

Kuraiyama, Sacred Pyramid Mountain

Kuraiyama, 36 degrees N, 1529 m, is said to be a pyramid mountain. Moreover, it is claimed by the Takenouchi Documents as the site where extra-terrestrial ancestors touched down. Its name, crown, refers to its regal status in prehistoric annals. More exactly, ‘kurai’ means ranking, and this is the number one ranking. The ichi-i (again, number one) tree grows here. From the wood is made the mace of the emperor.

We have learned more about Kuraiyama since we began this post. See ‘Roots of Japan.’

Kuraiyama has been rudely treated by being partially denuded to accommodate a ski resort. However, it is said to still have a number of interesting megaliths on top. Click on the map to see it enlarged. Eerie stories have circulated about mysterious lights and even more mysterious strangers.

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Here’s more about the megaliths. Megaliths were brought to the mountain by the leaders of the people of Hida. Generations of such leaders have been buried around these boulders. This accounts for why Kuraiyama is such a sacred mountain. Its shrine is the Minashi Jinja, q.v.

Minashi Jinja 水無神社

Minashi Jinja is ichinomiya of Hida no Kuni. It has a close relationship with its sacred mountain, Kuraiyama. We show only a few photos from our visit to Minashi Jinja. We had barely arrived and had not even made our way to offer a prayer when a thunderstorm burst forth. Stunned, we noticed a priest in a white garment waving to us from the shrine office. We took shelter and talked with him. He was a young middle-ager and we ventured to ask about ancient secrets hidden in shrines. He admitted that he would like to know if there are any. After purchasing some amulets and collecting the spring water he suggested to us, we bid him goodbye for it had stopped raining. Before we left, he said that the rain was the way of the kami showing us their pleasure that we visited. It seemed a lovely sentiment and we were very grateful.

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Roots Hida map

This map is from Roots of Nihon. See our two posts. At the top is Awayama. At the bottom is Kuraiyama and to the left of its peak is shown Minashi Jinja. Note Hida-gawa flowing to the right.

Minashi Jinja is so named – ‘no-water shrine’ – because it is bunsei, a place where a river divides into two. It implies that the land is central and at a high enough elevation that rivers flow away from it.

Maruyama Jinja and Funa-iwa 丸山神社 鮒岩

Maruyama Jinja 丸山神社 is a very unusual shrine. It is located in Nakatsugawa City, Gifu, in a flat plain of villages and farms. Maruyama is more of a hill than a mountain, and rises abruptly from the plain, like a bowl turned upside-down on a table. Its name, round, indicates its shape. Some say it is an artificial mound.

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Even more unusual are the many boulders of megalith size on this hill. The most astounding one is a twenty-ton stone fish. The name of the megalith, Funa, means carracius carp, although it looks more like a whale because the eye is set low in the head. The broadside of the carp/whale faces south. One of the megaliths on top has a split pointing due north.


There is a torii at the bottom of the hill, and a kaidan going up. You can also follow a string of small red torii similar to those at the famous Fushimi Inari Jingu in Kyoto. At the top, there is the worship hall but there is no guji on the premises. You can walk amongst the many boulders, and make your way to the tail of the fish. There are cupules carved into the tail. One archaeologist says they represent the Big Dipper constellation.

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