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Jul. 2016

National Treasures and Cultural Assets of Shiga - Yasu Area -

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Shiga Prefecture boasts a trove of cultural assets.
So much so, in fact, that the region ranks third in Japan for the number of buildings designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Assets.
Here's an introduction to two shrines in the Yasu region.

■Mikami-jinja Shrine
The main shrine at Mikami-jinja is the first National Treasure for shrine construction in the prefecture.
Approximately 700 years old, it uses so-called "Mikami construction," combining shrine, temple and palace styles in one.
The shrine construction is fused with numerous elements you would be more likely to see on a Buddhist temple, including a gabled, hipped roof, plaster walls and lattice windows.
Though simple, its striking appearance makes it truly representative of shrine construction in the middle ages.

■Osasahara-jinja Shrine
Osasahara-jinja Shrine is said to have been founded in 986, but the plaque in the National Treasure main shrine states that it was constructed in 1414.
The use of a front chamber and the plane format, with a pronounced edge around the four sides and then a second edge one step lower, is common among the shrines from the middle ages that remain in Shiga.
The attention to detail on the carvings is also truly breathtaking.