Saturday, February 7, 2015

Take Shrine

Take Shrine, another small village shrine on the shore of Nakaumi, gives the appearance of being abandoned. The grounds have not been kept up and there are no signs of activity. However, it was once a fairly important shrine, being listed in the Engi Shiki, which meant it received offering from the imperial government. Behind the shrine are two altars to Kojin, but they look as if the rope serpent has not been replaced for several years.

The 2 kami enshrined here are Takemikazuchi and Futsunishi, 2 martial kami associated with the ceding of Japan to the Yamato. The Kojiki has Takemikazuchi being the kami that Amaterasu sent down to Japan to ask Okuninushi to cede the land. the Nihonshoki says it was both takemikazuchi and Futsunushi. The Izumo Fudoki mentions only Futsunushi. So why the disparity?

In a nutshell, the Kojiki is really just a family history, a justification for the ruling clans divine right to rule Japan. At the time of its writing one of the most, if not the most, powerful clan was the Nakatomi/Fujiwara, who by this time had appropriated Takemikazuchi as one of "their" kami. The Nihonshoki was the official national history in Chinese style. It is much larger and contains many, many variations on the stories, reflecting the diversity of "histories" that existed at that time just as "Japan" was being formed out of many regional polities. The Fudoki were local gazeteers written to compile local histories, legends, and features.

The Kojiki was pretty much ignored for a thousand years until the Edo Period when National Learning scholars began to analyze the language of it. It really came to prominence with the rise of State Shinto and its focus on the Imperial family.  As noted above, the Nihon Shoki, sometimes called Nihongi, is much more detailed and therefore took longer to be completed but in my opinion is a far more interesting read. The Fudoki are almost completely lost, but the Izumo Fudoki is complete and is largely the reason why Izumo legends are so well known. Futsunushi, mentioned in the Izumo Fudoki was associated with the Mononobe Clan, the ancestor of which is buried near Izumo. The Mononobe were destroyed by the Nakatomi in their rise to power. I think this brief explaination shows why the three different versions of the myth exist.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for your detailed information about this interesting subject