Kanako Yasaka: The Suwa Grand ShrineEdit

Kamisuwa, Nagano. The Suwa Grand Shrine, which is one of the oldest shrines in Japan history. It was founded over 1,200 years ago and is situated around Lake Suwako and Mount Moriya. If some of these names sound familiar, it is not a coincidence. ZUN, the designer of the Touhou game series, appears to be quite found of this area. Several of the locations, traditions, and landmarks of the Suwako Lake area have made an appearance, in one way or another, in his games “Mountain of Faith” and “Subterranean Animism”.  The Moriya Shrine is where Sanae, Suwako, and Kanako live. The Moriya Shrine was actually transported from our world and into the world of Gensokyo by Lady Kanako (along with a lake) to it’s new location near the top of Youkai Mountain.Moriya Shrine is actually based on the Shimosuwa Shrine known as Akimiya. It is only a short walk from Shimosuwa station. The Kamisuwa area is famous for it’s Onbashira Festival. This is a dangerous festival in which massive logs are rolled down the mountains and erected at the four Suwa shrines. Two people this year have actually died from preforming this ancient ritual. The Suwa Taisha. The shrine which was actually featured in the game Mountain of Faith. The Akimiya Shimosuwa Shrine appears in the final battle with Kanako as well as in the extra stage with Suwako. The rope looking thing on the Akimiya shrine is actually rice straw rope that is used in Shinto ritual purification (called Shimenawa). On the way to the other Shimosuwa shrine, Suwako Lake in the distance. ZUN actually names one of his characters “Suwako” in the game “Mountain of Faith”. The second Shimosuwa shrine is called Harumiya Shrine. The Harumiya shrine was actually a favorite shrine of the Suwa Grand Shrine. It was gorgeous and had a unique look from other Japanese shrines. The Akimiya and Harumiya shrines comprise the Shimosuwa shrines (or lower half shrines). Both shrines have rather thick Shimenawa around the first building you come to. The main building of the Harumiya shrine was a work of art, not unlike the Cathedrals of Europe. The Akimiya and Harumiya shrines primary “object of worship” are these logs that were rolled down the hill during the Onbashira Festival. These logs are shown around the “Mountain of Faith” game character Kanako Yasaka; both in attacks and in the area right before you reach Moriya shrine. Also, Kanako’s first spell card is called “Divine Festival “Expanded Onbashira”" which is another reference to the Suwako Lake area. It should also be mentioned that Kanako Yasaka’s name is inspired from the real life God of the Suwa shrine, Princess Yasakatome….

Shrine (2)

These are some of the Suwa Grand Shrines.....

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