Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tahara Shrine


Tahara Shrine is a large shrine located at the foot of the hills north of Matsue castle. It is approached up a long flight of steps flanked by dozens of stone lanterns and komainu. Notable are a pair of komainu that are the largest in the San-in region. Most if not all of the komainu and lanterns are made of Kimachi sandstone, quarried not far away on the shore of Lake Shinji.


Another interesting feature is that 12 of the lanterns are topped with small sculptures of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.

Also known as Tawara Shrine, it includes a branch of the Kasuga Taisha, and the main halls shimenawa is I believe Kasuga style, being braided rather than twisted. The shrine is listed in the 8th Century Izumo Fudoki and has therefore existed for close to a thousand years before Matsue and its castle came into being. The shrine was originally located 500 meters away but was moved here during the war between the Amago and Mori clans.


One of the secondary shrines in the grounds had a polypropylene shimenawa that shows how even plastic can achieve wabi sabi!!


The shrine features a twin pair of hondens. In the east honden are enshrined Futsunushi, Takemikazuchi, and Amenokoyane. The latter two kami are considered ancestors of the Nakatomi-Fujiwara clan, and Futsunushi is the ancestor of the Mononobe. In Izumo records it was Futsunushi who came from the High Plain of Heaven to entreat Okuninushi to give Japan to Amaterasu and her descendants. According to Yamato stories it was Takemikazuchi and Futsunushi, and appears to be a rewriting of the myths to favor the powerful Fujiwara.

The west hinden enshrines Ukanomitama, the child of Susano now mostly identified as Inari.


Behind the hondens a path leads into the forest and a grove of sacred trees with numerous altars scattered around their bases.


Secondary shrines within the grounds include Inari, various aragami, Kojin, Suijin etc


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