Monday, October 31, 2022

Tashiro Yasaka Shrine

 


After leaving Ogori Hiyoshi Shrine I continued west along the old Nagasaki kaido and soon crossed over into Saga prefecture.


In Tashiro, which I believe was a post-town on the Nagasaki Highway, I visited the Tashiro Yasaka Shrine. Another branch of the famous Yasaka Shrine in Gion, Kyoto, and previously called Gion Shrine, its primary kami is once again Susano.


Gion Shrine was the origin of the famous Gion Matsuri which began life as a festival to ward off a pestilence that was ravaging Kyoto.


Gion shrines therefore often became established for the purpose of protection against disease, and as disease was seen to come from "outside" a community and travel along roads, it strikes me as why there are so many Gion ( or Yasaka or Susano ) shrines found along the major highways like the Nagasaki Kaido.


This shrine, like all the otheres I had visited this day, was all dressed up in its New Year finery. There was no signboard so I have no info on the shrine.


Sunday, October 30, 2022

Ogori Susano Shrine

 


After Misetaireiseki Shrine I continued south into the more built-up area of central Ogori and after turning west came upon Ogori Susano Shrine.


Earlier it was known as Gion-sha, a branch of the famous shrine in Gion now called Yasaka Shrine, and now enshrining Susano.


This branch was established in 1353 and moved to its current location in the 16th century. At that time plague was spreading in the surrounding villages but this area was relatively unscathed, and this was attributed to the power of this shrine so peorle came from surrounding areas to pray.


When the nearby expressway was built in 1984 the sale of land enabled the shrine to rebuild the current buuldings.


In the grounds are numerous sub-shrines including Ebisu, Hachiman, and Tenman.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Misetaireiseki Shrine & the Myth of Empress Jingu

 


Heading south from Rikitake I come to the most substantial shrine of the day that is obviously much  more than just a village shrine.


According to the legend, Emperor Chuai, the 14th "emperor", was unusual in several respects. He was the first emperor who was not a son of an emperor. He was also based in Kyushu rather than Yamato in central Japan. According to the Kojiki and Nihongi he reigned in the late 2nd century, but these dates have been known to be out by centuries since the Edo period but are still adhered to in much official literature.


He is said to have had a temporary palace at this spot during his military campaign to subdue the Kumaso tribe. His "wife", later known as Jingu, had a vision and suggested he not attack the Kumaso but rather invade Korea, but he scoffed at the idea.


In the ensuing battle the Kumaso were victorious and Chuai was mortally wounded by a poison arrow. Fearing that news of his death would demoralize the troops, Jingu put on Chuai's armour and led the troops to success. Further north at what is now Kashii Shrine, she announced Chuai's death and then led her troops on an invasion of Sila on the Korean peninsula.


There is absolutely zero historical evidence of such an invasion, but in the 20th century, the Jingu myth was used to justify the occupation of Korea.

According to the myth, she took with her a stone containing the spirit of Chuai, and on her return left it here and founded the shrine to protect Korea.


According to the myth, for the three years of the Korea campaign she was pregnant with Chuai's child and gave birth on her return to a son who became Emperor Ojin. This is where historians divide the Yayoi period from the ensuing Kofun period.


It looks as if the Yayoi period is characterized by immigration and cultural and technological import from southern China, SE Asia, and even the pacific islands, whereas the Kofun period is marked by massive influx of Korean culture and technology......


The third photo is of the rock around which the shrine is based.  The 6th photo is inside the Awashima Shrine in the grounds. Misetaireiseki Shrine is one of only a few shrines in the Chikugo region that were listed in the Engi Shiki, which means it used to be quite important.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Rikitake Kamado Shrine

 


After visiting Nyoirinji Temple, the "Frig Temple" that was number three on the Kyushu pilgrimage I am walking, and the second temple of the day, I carried on roughly SW towards the next temple, and was now walking along the old Nagasaki Highway that connected Nagasaki with Moji.


In the settlement of Rikitake I stopped in at the village shrine which was a branch of Kamado Shrine a little north of here in Dazaifu.


The original kamado Shrine is said to have been established by Emperor Tenji in 664, on top of the sacred mountain Mount Homan. He moved the political and administrative capital of Kyushu to the base of the mountain, now Dazaifu, as a defensive measure expecting Japan to be attacked by Sila.


More information on his military defeat on the Korean peninsula the year before can be found in some of the posts I did on shrines I visited yesterday further east in Asakura.



Originally it is said he enshrined thousands of kami in Kamado Shrine, though now it is listed as enshrining Tamayorihime, Jingu, and Ojin. A Buddhist priest, Shinren, had a vision of Tamayorihime on Mount Homen a few years after the shrine was originally established.


This branch shrine lists Tamayorihime as the main kami and also lists Yamashita Kagehime and Kora Tamatari, but I can find no information on those two kami.


The shrine did have a small pair of weathered zuijin that were unusual.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Yokoguma Hayabusataka Shrine

 


About one kilometer from the previous shrine, Otoguma Tenmangu, the village shrine in Yokoguma was similar in appearance, being situated within a grove of large trees. However, by crossing a small river to get here  I had entered into a different cultural sphere. Whereas almost all the shrines I had visited earlier were Tenmangu shrines, on this side of the river they turned out to be shrines all connected to the mythical Empress Jingu.


According to the story, Emperor Chuai, considered the last of the "emperors" of the Yayoi period, and who was based here in northern Kyushu rather than the Yamato area, received an omen from the kami Takamimusubi who took the outward form of a bird that alighted on a pine tree before flying off to the north.


Takamimusubi is one of the first group of kami who "came into existence" and who has no stories about him in the ancient myths but is considered in some versions to be a grandfather of Ninigi who later descended from the high plain of heaven to begin the rule over Japan.


After Chuai's death, his consort, later known as Empress Jingu came back to this spot and established the shrine with Takamimusubi as the kami.


Hayabusa, in the name of the shrine, refers to the peregrine falcon, believed to be the bird of the legend. Though the original pine tree has long since gone, a group of three centuries old trees are revered here,


My next stop was the nearby Frog Temple, Nyoirinji, and several of the shrines i visited later were also connected to Jingu.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Otoguma Tenmangu

 


A copse of tall, old trees rising from the middle of an expanse of fields is often a sure signifier of the location of a shrine.


The banners flying, in this case for the Hatsumode period of the new year is another sign.


Otoguma is another tiny settlement, in southern Fukuoka, and the small local shrine is a mere 250 meters from a neighboring village shrine, Shisojima Tenmangu, and this is yet another Tenmangu.


In 1884 a couple of more kami were added to the shrine. This was a time of great changes in the religious landscape of japan due to the separation of the buddhas and the kami. In 1918 some more were added and this may have been a result of the shrine closure-merger program.


Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Shisojima Tenmangu

 


Shisojima is a small farming settlement in southern Fukuoka near the Homan River.


The village shrine is yet another Tenmangu, very common in the area as Dazaifu Tenmangu is only about 10 kilometers upstream.


There was a small sumo ring for children, but it looked as if it hadn't been used in a while.


Since the early Meiji period a Shishimai, Lion Dance, has been performed here at the festival in September.


A secondary shrine in the grounds is said to enshrine Gozu Tenno, the original kami enshrined at Gion in what is now known as Yasaka Shrine. Over time Gozutenno became identified with Susano. It is said excavations at the shrine here unearthed evidence of Korean settlement.


Many Tenmangu and Tenjin shrines have a statue of an Ox, deriving from the legend that the location of Sugawara Michizane's tomb ( the current main hall of Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine), was decided by the ox pulling the cart carrying his deceased body.


If you look closely you can see that this komainu is male.......


Monday, October 17, 2022

Nomachi Takano Shrine


Nomachi is a tiny farm settlement on the flat plain north of the Chikugo River in southern Fukuoka.


The local shrine, adjacent to the community centre is marked by a small stand of tall trees as with many other rural or urban shrines.


The rudimentary shrine building is fairly utilitarian, and there was no signboard explaining which kami were enshrined here.


There was a small Dosojin altar. Dosojin were sometimes placed at village boundaries for protection and were often symbols of marriage and fertility. Sometimes pairs of stones or single phallic stones, later they became carvings of male-females couple in Heian costume.


A small secondary shrine in the grounds was open showing the mirror used as the shintai.