Saturday, May 8, 2021

Omiya Shrine Yamaga


The main shrine in the town of Yamaga in Kumamoto is called Omiya Shrine, and as such has fairly large grounds with lots of smaller sub-shrines within it, however, the main kami is intriguing.

It enshrines the "person" who is now known as Emperor Keiko, the 12th emperor in the "official" genealogy. He is considered legendary, rather than historical or mythical. The first ten are considered mythical, but that doesnt stop them being promoted as historical . The person they now call Emperor Keioko may possibly have existed but cannot be verified.

According to the legend, he was more than 10 foot tall, lived to be 143 years old, and had 80 children. Probably his most famous son is known as Yamato Takeru, and according to the Kojiki his father sent him to Kyushu to suppress "rebellious" tribes, something he did also in Izumo and eastern Japan. This process of Yamato rulers extending their power across the main Japanese islands was occurring during the 4th century and continued for many more centuries. It was certainly not happening 2,000 years ago as the myths and nationalists would have it.

One version of the story has Keiko coming to Kyushu himself and his eshrinement here is based on that version. The shrine has an unusual building with what looks like a bell tower..... from a time perhaps when temples and shrines were more closely related?

The shrine is the home to the towns most famous festival, the Yamaga Lantern Festival, and there is a museum devoted to the subject.

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