Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Yatsushiro Shrine

Yatsushiro Shrine

Yatsushiro Shrine is the major shrine of Yatsushiro in Kumamoto and was established towards the end of the heian Period. Until 1868 it was known as Myoken Shrine and enshrined Myoken, a Buddhist deity who was a manifestation of the Pole Star and Big Dipper. Myoken Shrine was in the middle of a complex of more than a dozen temples.

The Pole Star and Big Dipper figure in most ancient religions of the northern hemisphere, and in Japan in its earliest form seems to have been primarily Daoist. Myoken, the Buddhist version, seems to have arrived later and one credible source suggest that here in Yatsushiro was where it was introduced from the continent,

There were hundreds of Myoken shrines throughout Japan and in 1868 they were all renamed and 2 obscure shinto kami were enshrined in them, Amenominakanushinokami, and Kuninotokotachino. Like much of the "new" shinto of modern Japan it was Hirata Atsutane who decided this.

The current buildings at yatsushiro Shrine date from early and mid Edo period. It is thye home of the Yatsushiro Myokensai, one of the most important festivals in Kyushu. More info about Myoken can be found on my posts about Nose Myokensan, here and here.

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