Group of 100 Devotees of Koyasan and Kumano


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Writer and art producer

Shinya Shirasu


Shinya Shirasu was born in Tokyo in 1965. He began writing after serving as the state-funded secretary of former prime minister Morihiro Hosokawa. At the same time, he’s worked broadly to promote Japanese culture, and he’s been involved with editing books and producing cultural events such as exhibits. His paternal grandparents were Jiro and Masako Shirasu. His materinal grandfather was literary critic Hideo Kobayashi. His principal works include Kotto Asobi (Bungeishunju), Shirasu Jiro no Seishun (Gentosha), Tensai Aoyama Jiro no Me (Shinchosha), Shirasuke to Shikitari (Shogakukan), Katajikenasa ni Namidakoboruru (Sekaibunkasha), and most recently, Tabisuru Shitagokoro (Seibundo-shinkosha) 

An invaluable place of rebirth

High above Kamikura-jinja Shrine at a place said to be the original site of Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine in Shingu City, Wakayama Prefecture, a gigantic rock known as Gotobiki-iwa Rock juts out toward the Kumano Sea. Sometimes during Oto Matsuri Festival that’s been held for 1,400 years on the evening of February 6 every year, I participate as an agariko, becoming intoxicated by the continually changing landscape as I get close to the enormous rock and undergoing a sort of fire-charred baptism. Even though I can’t run downhill as quickly as the stronger participants at the head of the line, I feel like I've been bathed in sparks and reborn. If only for a short period of time, I experience what it means to be confined. It’s a rare and unusual experience, like the Funatogyo ceremony at Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine in the fall, where you can sense circuits of your body that you don’t feel when you’re in the city working. For me, Kumano is an invaluable place for rebirth.

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