Showing posts with label Amaterasu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amaterasu. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Shioya Oji Shrine


Shioya Town, now art of Gobo City, lies on the southside of the Hidaka River on the West coast of the Kii Peninsula in Wakayama.

The shrine is said to have been founded in 805 by a man who began the salt-producing and salt trade that the town is named after.

In the 11th century, when imperial pilgrimages to Kumano were at their height, 99 subsidiary shrines called "oji" were established along the route.

Shioya Oji Shrine was in the first group of seven Oji established and so is considered one of the oldest and most important. Yesterday I had stopped at Kirimie Oji, and the day before at Takajiri Oji, another two from the first group of seven.

The shrine was also known as "Beautiful Oji Shrine", with two theories as to why. One suggests that the statue of Amaterasu enshrined here ( as a form of Dainichi Buddha) was particularly beautiful. Another that the beautiful sea views from the shrine inspired many songs and poems by courtiers who stayed here.

There are numerous secondary shrines in the grounds, including an Ebisu, an Inari, a Kotohira, and a Susa. The previous post in this series on the Kumano Kodo and Saigoku pilgrimage was From Kirime Oji to Tsui Oji.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Shrines of Day 67


For many pilgrims, I believe the main priority is to get from temple to temple. The temples are the focus. For me, however, the temples were just reference points on an exploratory walk. The sites between the temples were just as important, and I tried to stop in at every single shrine I passed, both to learn any interesting local history and myths, and to find unique and interesting art.

On Day 67 of my walk around the Shingon Kyushu pilgrimage, I started the day in Sasebo, Nagasaki, visiting a pilgrimage temple then headed north out of town to the Ainoura River valley. These first four photos are from Nakazato Hachiman Shrine, a fairly standard village shrine to Hachiman, by one count the most common shrine in Japan.

With its Hizen-style torii, and modern komainu, there were no surprises here. Like most village shrines numerous smaller shrines had been brought here from neighboring areas in the early part of the 20th century.

I visited nearby temple number 74, Tozenji before heading on up the valley. In Tabarucho I stopped in at Norito Shrine. A little further I saw the unusual shimenawa of Yodohime Shrine.

The next four photos are from my next stop, an unnamed Inari Shrine.

If you include small, roadside shrines without buildings, then Inari, rather than Hachiman, becomes the most common shrine in Japan.

The vast majority of Inari shrines only date back to the Edo period when Inari became so popular.

Continuing to climb my next stop was Kamiari Shrine.

There is absolutely no info on this shrine which was obviously more substantial in earlier times, but now is just a small, stone honden.

It enshrines Amaterasu.

Not far from Kamiari Shrine I spent quite a bit of time exploring Saikoji Temple, number 73 on the pilgrimage with a notable Giant Fudo statue. I had now climbed to more than 300 meters above sea level and while heading to a mountain tunnel that would take me over to the next valley I could see an Oyamazumi Shrine in tye distance set in a tell-tale grove of trees.

Dropping down into and then slowly descending the Sasa River Valley my first stop was another Oyamazumi Shrine, this one with a unique old-growth ecosystem. This was once a coal mining area and after a brief stop at the local coal mine museum I visited the last pilgrimage temple of the day, Saifukuji Temle with its cave shrine.

I carried on down the valley and just before reaching Yoshii Station and the train back into Sasebo I stopped in at a very small shrine. I have no idea of the shrines name as I couldnt read the eroded kanji on the torii, and can not find it on the map, but it did have a nice pair of komainu.

If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy the post on shrines of day 66.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Hasami Shrine


Hasami Shrine is located in its namesake, Hasami, so is probably considered the ujigami of the area.

It is located adjacent to Tozenji Temple where I was heading to, which suggests that in the past the shrine and temple were the same institution.

The shrine records say that it was established about 650 years ago, but the temple claims a much older history.

The kami enshrined here are listed as Amaterasu and Susano. A little unusual as they would often be found as a triad with Tsukiyomi, but not here.

The previous post was on Sumiyoshi Shrine in Haiki.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Nitta Shrine Satsumasendai

I visited Nitta Shrine in Satsumasendai very early in the morning. The town's name is Sendai, but it is called Satsumasendai to distinguish it from the more famous Sendai up north. It was the 37th day of my Kyushu Pilgrimage and I had a long way to go today. Also I prefer shrines very early because the light is so good for photography, and there are few people around.

Situated on a hill overlooking the river, it is the main shrine for the town and was in fact the Ichinomiya, the highest-ranked shrine of the former province.. It is thought it was established in the early 8th Century, and the primary kami are listed as Ninigi and Amaterasu.

There are many secondary shrines in the grounds and an enormous, old tree, something common at most of the bigger shrines I've visited in Kyushu.

There are plenty of painted carvings on the buildings and I was particularly impressed with a pair of komainu. There is a tendency nowadays for a homogenity in komainu designs throughout the country, but I delight in finding older examples that have unique features.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Hiraki Ki Shrine

Kirakiki Shrine, sometimes called Hirasaki Shrine was quite unexpected. I visited it around the middle of the 33rd day of the Kyushu Pilgrimage and was not expecting such a grand shrine in such a location, but apparently it was the ichinomiya of Satsuma.

No date for its founding, though it is believed it used to be located at the base of Kaimondake, the volcano not far to the south and to which the precincts line up. It last erupted in the late 9th Century.

Lots of vermillion and carvings. most of the buildings date back to the 18th Century. The main kami is said to be Amaterasu which would be why the chrysanthemum crest is on they torii.

There are 8 other kami listed for the main shrine, one of whom is Sarutahiko, and I don't remember coming across his name in this neck of the woods. It is a very popular shrine at all times of year. The real delight for me though was what I found in one of the buildings........

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Yowara Shrine

In the mountains of Nichinan, Miyazaki, about 25 kilometers southwest of Udo Jingu, is the rather grand and elaborate shrine of Yowara Jinja.

Brightly painted in vermillion, with an impressive two storey gate that still houses 2 Buddhist Nio guardians, and an equally impressive Bell Tower, the shrine was founded in 1658 by a local man whose lover insisted on its construction.

It is, in essence, a branch of Udo Jingu and enshrines the same 6 main kami as Udo Jingu, Amaterasu, Ninigi, Hoori, etc.

I believe the architectural style is called Gongen Zukuri, gongen being Buddhist manifestations, and the style of architecture incorprates a shared roof over the worship hall and honden. Udo Jingu was itself a Buddhist institution until 1868, and many, many shrines still have Buddhist architecture and features.

Yowara Shrine is not well visitedm though it is now the tutelary shrine for the area so gets lots of visitirs at the New Year.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Hyuga Myth Cycle

Part of Aoshima Shrine near Miyazaki is a small museum with tableux displaying the cycle of myths set in Hyuga, the old name for what is now Miyazaki. This cycle of myths are now very well known, but historicaly there were many different versions of the myths. It is only in the modern period that one particular version has been established as the "national" myth. For instance, in this first scene we see Amaterasu, commonly known as the Sun Goddess, giving rice to her grandson Ninigi before his descent to Japan to establish rule over the country. However, several versions of the myth say it was not Amaterasu who sent Ninigi, but another kami. Also, on the 3 tables you can see the 3 imperial regalia, but it seems that for some of the ancient, powerful clans there were only 2 regalia.

Reaching Japan Ninigi took himself a wife and she miraculously became pregnant after only one night. Ninigi suspected the father may not be him and his wife was deeply offended by this. She chose to undergo an ordeal by fire to prove she was telling the truth and in the burning birthing hut she gave birth to 2 sons.

There are several stories about the brothers, but one of them has one brother visiting the undersea kingdom of the Dragon King where he is given some powerful magic objects.

After returning from under the sea he marries a princess who gives birth to a baby boy who grows up to be Jimmu, the mythical first "emperor" of Japan and he sets sail from Kyushu to subdue the tribes of Japan and establish the current ruling dynasty.

There are many variations of the stories, including many versions of the characters names and even their genealogies. There is far more diversity in Japanese myths, histories, cultures, and peoples than the monolithic, homogenous versions being spouted and taught today. In the late 19th Century the people of neighboring Kagoshima were horrified to hear that these myths took place in Miyazaki, as they had similar stories that took place in Kagoshima.