Sunday, April 14, 2024

Sakura Shrine & Kojima Takanori


Sakura Shrine lies along the old Iumo Kaido to the west of what is now Tsuyama City. As I entered I got the feeling that this would turn out to be a "political" shrine from the early days of State Shinto.

I was right. It was established in 1869 and enshrined Emperor Go-Daigo and also Koji Takanori.

The new religion of State Shinto was an attempt to create a "unified nation" of Japan primarily through the symbol of the Imperial system. This was when lots of emperors had shrines built to them, and historians went through history looking for any figures or events that would contribute towards the narrative of an imperial tradition.

Go-Daigo was much revered during the Meiji period because in 1331 he attempted to overthrow the military government of the Kamakura Bafuku and  " restore" direct imperial rule. His plot was discovered and so was deposed and exiled to the Oki Islands.

The route of his journey to exile was along the Izumo Kaido and the military convoy escorting him stayed the night at the fortified residence of the military governor of the area, which is where Sakura Shrine was built.

Koji Takanori was loyal to Go-Daigo and hatched a plan to rescue him, however, his plan was not well thought out and most of his soldiers were scattered over a wide area, unsure of the route the convoy was taking.

Takanori was able to sneak into the property of the military governor, but with too few men was unable to execute any kind of rescue.

He did however carve a ten-character verse to Go-Daigo into the trunk of a cherry tree in the compound, hence the name Sakura shrine.

Like most of the state shinto shrines I found it rather sterile, though it is quite like a largish park. There are numerous shrines to Go-Daigo and also quite a few to Takanori scattered across Japan, but all of them date from the late 19th century.

This was day 5 of my walk along the Chugoku Kannon pilgrimage and the previous post was on Takano Shrine, the Ninomiya of the province.

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