Mizusawa Shrine

P1200394Located somewhere on Mt. Haruna’s thighs is the little village of Mizusawa. Famous for it’s udon and it”s shrine complex.  Being only 15 minutes away from my house I have made a number of visits to the various udon establishments there. Though I always knew the shrine was there, I never had any inclination to go there. Till my lady said she wanted to :p

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The entrance to the complex was atop a flight of stairs and like all shrines there was a gate house with statues of deities on either side. Unlike most shrines however, we could climb inside this one to the 2nd level where there is a small shrine dedicated to 3 Indian dudes.
While the religious significance was insignificant to me, I did really like that we could actually enter the gate house. Getting a closer look at beautiful the construction and art that human beings created was far more moving than the imaginary power figures they built the structure to pay homage to.
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Past the gate house there was a mini shrine up to the left which was a bit creepy but cool and another flight of stairs into the complex proper. The way we came in was not the only entrance to the complex and thus when we arrived atop the stairs I was a little surprised at the number of people who were there.
Most were buying incense for the holy hotbox, then moving on to whichever shrine would deal with their request. At said shrine they bribe the god with more money, say a silent prayer, clap their hands and hope for the best. But I suppose, faith alone can’t pay for the upkeep of beautiful structures like those at the Mizusawa shrine complex.
And wow were they beautiful.  So far, they are the most beautiful shrine buildings I have seen in Gunma.
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There was a gallery of religious artwork on the complex too which housed a number of statues and paintings. The wood carvings were particularly intricate.
As shrines go, this is far from the biggest but the quality of the architecture and intricacy of the wood work made it a worthwhile visit. Would I go again? If someone asked me to take them really nicely, I suppose I would.

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