24 November 2008
"Komodarus" Sake cask - at Itsukushima Shrine
Originally Sake was only consumed as part of Shinto purification rituals since the kami (the gods) only accept offerings of pure people in a clean surrounding. Therefore the monasteries, shrines and temples all over the world were in need for some sort of alcohol to purify the holy district.
These casks of sake are the traditional containers used for storage and easy transport via sea and land.
This photo was taken in the famous Itsukushima-jinsha shrine on Miyajima island well known for it's beautiful red torii in the sea. The shrine is one of the holiest in Japan and hosts some of the holiest kami (gods) of Japan. Retaining the purity of the shrine is so important that since 1878, no deaths or births were permitted at the shrine and lots of alcohols, sake, was needed to keep it clean.
Drinking of tea was introduced to Japan in the 9th century in the form of the boiled tea (団茶, dancha?) by the Buddhist monk Eichu (永忠), who had returned to Japan from China, where it had already been known, for more than a thousand years. In the 12th century, a new form of tea, matcha, was introduced by Eisai, another Japanese monk returning from China. This powdered green tea, was first used in religious rituals in Buddhist monasteries. By the 13th century, samurai warriors had begun preparing and drinking matcha as they adopted Zen Buddhism, and the foundations of the tea ceremony were laid.
The shrine is one of the holiest in Japan.