Thursday, May 18, 2023

Hatten Shrine


In the mountains of Saga, about halfway between Ureshino and Kashima, I came upon this quite impressive shrine with some intriguing history and architecture.

Now called Hatten Shrine, until the Meiji Period it was known as Hattengu Shrine, 8 Tengu Shrine. It is said the original was established in the mid-7th century as a centre for Shugendo, the eclectic mountain-worshiping religion that was very influential in historical Jaan.

The current shrine is said to have been re-established here at the base of the mountain in 1222. The stone bridge, the only example of this style of bridge in Saga from the Edo period, is commonly referred to as a "spectacles bridge" even though there is only one arch.

Very unique was the "triple torii", a torii with two smaller torii attached to either side. I have seen other examples of this style, notably around Miwa in Nara, but this one used square stone pillars rather than cylindrical.

The shrine is now famous for fire safety, and the primary kami is Hino Kagutsuchi, the kami of fire. Also enshrined is Susano'o and the 8 kami of Kagutsuchi. When Izanami gave birth to Kagutsuchi she suffered burns that killed her. Izanagi killed him and from his blood, 8 kami strongly associated with swords were born, and from other parts of his corpse, a further 8 kami associated with mountains were born.

It seems that one, or both, of these groups of 8 kami became associated with Tengu. It also seems that fire, mountains, and swords all were associated with the introduction of metalworking. That may be why Susano is the secondary kami here as he was strongly associated with the introduction of metalwork and swords. Or, when the shrine was renamed in Meiji there was also some rewriting of the kami enshrined, a not uncommon occurrence. 

Though supported by the local daimyo over the centuries, the shrine never received any national recognition.

The previous post on day 58 of my first Kyushu pilgrimage was the Ureshino Hihokan.


Post a Comment