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Kasuga Grand Shrine
Several thousand lanterns astonishingly adorn the buildings and pathways of this religious site in Nara, Japan.
The 3,000 lanterns come in two basic forms:
They are the hanging variety and are arranged in neat, closely knit rows on buildings and corridors (see photo above).
They are freestanding, pedestal shaped and line pathways leading to the Kasuga Grand Shrine.
In olden days they were lit nightly. Nowadays, they glow only five days a year (during festivals on February 2, 3 and 4 - and August 14 and 15).
The lanterns were donated by many individual Shinto believers.
Kasuga Grand Shrime was built and supported for hundreds of year by the super-powerful Fujiwara family. It was politically powerful and most of Japan's empresses came from the clan.
The Kasuga Grand Shrine dates from 768. For many centuries, a Shinto purification practice took place every 20 years: The temple was demolished and then rebuilt exactly like the previous one. The shrine built in 1863 still stands because the Shinto tearing down practice ended.
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