Showing posts with label chinowa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chinowa. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Chiyo Inari Shrine Tsuyama

Chiyo Inari Shrine Tsuyama

Chiyo Inari Shrine is literally right at the base of the massive stone fortifications that made up Tsuyama Castle.

It was originally a sub-shrine of Tsuyama Hachimangu which stood on the hill, and is said to have been founded in 934, but when the Mori Clan took over the domain and started constructing the castle in 1604 it was moved.

Actually it was moved several times but in 1683 made its final move to the current location.

Being an Inari shrine, the guardians are foxes, with red hats and scarves rather than bibs.

I visited at the end of July and a Chinow was in place inside the torii. These purification hoops can be found at different times of the year nowadays, but as I encountered one a few days earlier it seems that this time of the year is the norm in Okayama.

The roosters on the ema suggest they have been hanging there for nine years.

The main hall dates back to when the shrine was moved here in 1683 and is an Important Cultural Property of the city.

The Hanya carving is quite unusual and is there for protection.

As is common at Inari shrines, there are a lot of smaller, Inari shrines in the grounds.

I visited on the 4th day of my walk along the Chugoku Kannon Pilgrimage and the previous post in the series is Tsuyama Castle.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Kumenan Kamo Shrine


Kamo Shrine is the collective name given to the pair of famous shrines in the north of Kyoto, Kamigamo, and Shimogamo.

This branch shrine in Kumenan Town in the north of Okayama was established in 835 by a notable who moved here from Kyoto.

The shrine enshrines ancestral deities of the Kamo family, one male and one female, but the chigi on the roof indicates that the male is given predominance.

I spent the night here in late July, on the night between my 3rd and 4th days walking the Chugoku Kannon pilgrimage. I would have liked to sleep but the mosquitoes would not allow it.

Tanjoji Temple, my reason for being here, was just a across the valley. The entry to the shrine had a chinowa. A couple of days previously I had been to a shrine in Okayama City that also had one, and in that post you can find a little more detail of what a chinowa is.

Another Japan

Monday, February 3, 2020

Chinowa at Okayama Shrine

Chinowa at Okayama Shrine

A chinowa is a ring made out of a kind of reed/grass that can be found at shrines and is used as a form of purification. You pass through the hoop 3 times to cleanse yourself of sin and pollution.

Traditionally they were set up for the last days of the 6th lunar month, though nowadays they can be found at various times. Their legendary origin is attributed to Susano, the mythical founder of the Izumo culture and polity.

I encountered this one on July 25th at the entrance to Okayama Shrine in downtown Okayama City. Believed to have been founded in the 9th Century, the shrine was located across the river where Okayama Castle now stands and was moved here when the castle was constructed.

Over the years it has accumulated various kami and there are also various sub-shrines in the grounds. Like much of Okayama City it was destroyed by air raids back in the war and is now a modest concrete structure.

Chinowa at Okayama Shrine

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kasuga Shrine, Hagi


The Kasuga Shrine in Hagi is located on the southern edge of the old samurai district and is one of the approximately 3000  branches of the famous Kasuga Taisha in Nara which is the family shrine of the Fujiwara Family, arguably the most powerful family in Japan for many centuries.


Though most common nowadays, stone komainu were a later feature and were preceded by wooden ones inside the shrine building or later in the zuijinmon.


By the side of the shrine building is an old chinowa, a ring used for purification. usually in the spring a new one will be made and erected in front of the shrine and parishioners will pass through it.


The main kami enshrined here are the same 4 as Kasuga Taisha, Amenokoyane, Takemikazuchi, Futsunushi, both of whom took part in kuniyuzuri, and Himegami, which seems to be a generic name for consorts of male kami. According to Izumo records only Futsunushi came to Izumo for the kuniyuzuri.


The signboard also lists another kami that I had not heard of before:- Iwatsutsuno-o, who, like Takemikazuchi was formed from the blood left on the sword Izanagi used to slay the fire god with.

There were some secondary shrines in the grounds but the signboard gave no details....


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Origin of shimenawa


Shimenawa, the ropes usually made of rice-straw though increasingly of plastic, are found in many places in Japan though typically at shrines. They can be found wrapped around sacred rocks, sacred trees, strung across torii, shrine entrance gates, and across shrine structures. they come in a huge diversity of styles and sizes up to the 5 ton giant at Izumo Taisha.


There are many theories as to the origin of shimenawa, many connecting it to the use of rope to mark possession of things or space, and I have also read that it originates in the rope tied around the campsite of central Asian nomads, but the simple truth is nobody knows for sure.


When it comes to the mythological origin of the shimenawa however we are given two different origins, one connected to Amaterasu and the other to Susano. Not surprisingly the myth connected to Amaterasu is by far the dominant.


According to the Iwato myth, wherein Amaterasu hides herself away in a cave and plunges the world into darkness, she is finally tempted out by the dance of Uzume, and after Tajikarao pulls her out another kami stretches a rope across the cave entrance to stop Amaterasu from going back in. I realize that myths do not have to make sense, but this story makes no sense at all because if a shimenawa is supposed to stop a kami from entering a space, then why are they used to mark space that is inhabited by kami?


In Okayama there is a story that tells how Susano instructed the local people how to make a chinowa, a hoop woven out of reeds or sometimes rice straw that by passing through purifies the person. Further north in Tottori a similar story tells how in return for a kindness Susano teaches a local man how to string a rope along the street to purify it and keep out disease. Shimenawa mark sacred space, and in Japan the sacred is equated with purity, so these stories make much more sense.


So why is the Amaterasu version the most common? Since the beginning of recorded history the Yamato have been denigrating Susano and elevating Amaterasu. Much of contemporary "shinto" is still tied to Imperial Shinto and the State Shinto of the late 19th Century. These forms of shinto placed the imperial family and Amaterasu at the apex and this is still put forward today. The Yamato were relative latecomers, even their own myths say that Susano and his descendants ruled over "Japan" before they did, so it makes sense that some of Japanese culture must originate from Izumo traditions.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Shoki a la Peckinpah

I thought I would post a slightly longer video of Iwami kagura. A dance usually last 45 minutes, but for now I post the final sequence of Shoki by my local kagura group Tanijyugo Shachu.

In the synopsis for the dance it says that Shoki subdues the demon with his ring of miscanthus reed and then stabs him and kills him.

In this version I counted more than 20 stabs!!!


The hoop of miscanthus reed is still used today and is called a Chinowa. Passing through the ring is supposed to protect you from communicable diseases.