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Yada Tenmangu

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Torii and main shrine building at Yada Tenmangû
  • Japanese: 矢田天満宮 (yada tenmanguu)

Yada Tenmangû is a small Tenjin shrine in Kameoka, a short distance outside of Kyoto. Though officially owned by no one, it has since the 1970s been the home of cultural critic Alex Kerr.

The immediately visible and accessible area of the shrine is quite small, with the house taking up roughly 1/4th to 1/3rd of the grounds. As is typical of Shinto shrines, however, the shrine in fact includes a rather extensive swath of land.

A house on the grounds is believed to be roughly 400 years old, and to have previously been located at a Buddhist nunnery, before being reconstructed at Yada Tenmangû sometime in the Edo period. Shrinekeepers lived on the site for at least a few generations in the late 19th century up until 1930, after which the house was abandoned. Kerr came upon the shrine in the late 1970s, when he first moved to Kameoka to work with the heavily traditional arts-oriented sect Oomoto. With the approval and permission of both locals and of the priest of another nearby shrine, he was permitted to take up residence in the house. The shrine continues to be managed and maintained by the local community, however, and the property does not formally belong to Kerr in any way.

References

  • Alex Kerr, Lost Japan, Lonely Planet, 1996.
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