Showing posts with label kojin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kojin. Show all posts

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Io-ji Temple 54 on the Kyushu Pilgrimage


Io-ji temple is not very large and is located not too far from the ruins of Yatsushiro Castle in Yatsushiro. The temple was patronized by the Matsui Clan who rued the area from the mid 17th Century. The chunky stone Nio guarding the temple are very much in Kyushu style.

The honzon of the temple is Yakushi Nyorai, housed in a seperate Yakushi-do. There are several Kanno statues in the grounds and a couple of Fudo Myo.

There is a shrine to Ashite Kojin, and many ema in the shape of legs and hands were left there.

There was a statue and a painting of some deity riding a white horse, but I have no idea who it is.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Hitsu Shrine

Usually when I am walking a pilgrimage I have studied the maps and have a pretty good idea of what shrines I will be passing, but Hitsu Shrine was a surprise as it was not marked on the maps, though it most obviously is a shrine.

The main kami is Futsunushi, a martial kami connected with swords. here in Izumo it is most strongly connected to the Mononobe Clan, though it was taken over by the Nakatomi-Fujiwara when they wiped out the Mononobe. In Izumo it was Futsunushi who arranged the handover of Japan to the Yamato in the Kuniyuzuri myth.

Within the grounds was a Wakamiya Shrine, though it did not indicate which kami was enshrined in it, possibly hachiman. There was also a small Inari Shrine.

Behind the main shrine was a Kojin altar with the rope serpent wrapped around a tree.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kurami Shrine

Kurami Shrine is yet another small shrine with an ancient pedigree. It is listed in both the Izumo Fudoki and the Engi Shiki. Izumo has more shrines listed in the Engi Shiki than any other provinces other than the home provinces of Yamashiro, Yamato, and Ise, an indication of the importance of Izumo in ancient times. The previous group of shrine I had visited today all had a strong yamato influnce in the kami enshrined, and it would be interesting to find out what the historical reasosn were for this. At Kurami we are a back to more Izumo kami.

The primary kami here is Takaokami, formed from the blood that dripped from Izanagis sword after he slew Kagutsuji, the kami of fire that killed Izanami. There are, of course, numerous versions of the story but the most common suggest it is a kami with connection to water and rain and is also considered the main kami of Kifune shrines.

The secondary kami is Hayatsumuji, and he seems to be a kami of wind. There is a mention of him in connection with Amewakahiko, the second emissary sent by Amaterasu to ask Okuninushi to cede Japan to the Yamato and who, like the first emissary chose to stay with Okuninushi. After  Amewakahikos death his body was carried back to the High Plain of Heaven by Hayatsumji.

Other kami enshrined here are Tsurugihiko, a son of Susano but not mentioned in Yamato myths. A shrine to him near Matsue claims he is a kami prayed to for safe return from war. Susano is enshrined here as well as Ukanomitama, another child of Susano most commonly eqauted with Inari, Also enshrined here is Takeminakata, the son of Okuninushi who was against the ceding of the land to the Yamato and who is the primary kami of Suwa shrines.

In the grounds were two aktars to Kojin, neither of which seemed particularly fresh.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Take Shrine

Take Shrine, another small village shrine on the shore of Nakaumi, gives the appearance of being abandoned. The grounds have not been kept up and there are no signs of activity. However, it was once a fairly important shrine, being listed in the Engi Shiki, which meant it received offering from the imperial government. Behind the shrine are two altars to Kojin, but they look as if the rope serpent has not been replaced for several years.

The 2 kami enshrined here are Takemikazuchi and Futsunishi, 2 martial kami associated with the ceding of Japan to the Yamato. The Kojiki has Takemikazuchi being the kami that Amaterasu sent down to Japan to ask Okuninushi to cede the land. the Nihonshoki says it was both takemikazuchi and Futsunushi. The Izumo Fudoki mentions only Futsunushi. So why the disparity?

In a nutshell, the Kojiki is really just a family history, a justification for the ruling clans divine right to rule Japan. At the time of its writing one of the most, if not the most, powerful clan was the Nakatomi/Fujiwara, who by this time had appropriated Takemikazuchi as one of "their" kami. The Nihonshoki was the official national history in Chinese style. It is much larger and contains many, many variations on the stories, reflecting the diversity of "histories" that existed at that time just as "Japan" was being formed out of many regional polities. The Fudoki were local gazeteers written to compile local histories, legends, and features.

The Kojiki was pretty much ignored for a thousand years until the Edo Period when National Learning scholars began to analyze the language of it. It really came to prominence with the rise of State Shinto and its focus on the Imperial family.  As noted above, the Nihon Shoki, sometimes called Nihongi, is much more detailed and therefore took longer to be completed but in my opinion is a far more interesting read. The Fudoki are almost completely lost, but the Izumo Fudoki is complete and is largely the reason why Izumo legends are so well known. Futsunushi, mentioned in the Izumo Fudoki was associated with the Mononobe Clan, the ancestor of which is buried near Izumo. The Mononobe were destroyed by the Nakatomi in their rise to power. I think this brief explaination shows why the three different versions of the myth exist.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Junisho Shrine

Junisho Jinja

Junisho Shrine is another small village shrine on the banks of the Nakaumi just about 1k north of Oi Shrine. Junisho means "twelve places" and refers to the 12 different kami enshrined here.

The first two are Izanagi and Izanami, the brother-sister, husband-wife, pair who really are the most important of the Japanese kami. It was they who created the Japanese islands and populated them with a whole pantheon of kami.

Among the kami created by Izanagi and Izanami perhaps the most important are the siblings Amaterasu and Susano, both also enshrined here. Amaterasu is often called the most important Japanese kami, but that is really just a hangover from State Shinto, her importance being that the imperial family claim descent from her. In real terms Susano is more important. He "descended" to Japan long before the descendants of Amaterasu, and there are far more shrines in Japan to Susano and his lineage than there are for Amaterasu and her lineage.

Between them, by "trial of pledge", Amaterasu and Susano created the  Gonansan Joshin, 5 male and 3 female kami, 6 of whom are enshrined here. The three females, often called the Munakata Kami, were kami strongly connected with travel between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. They are Tagitsuhime, Takiribime, and Ichikishimahime. The three male are Kumanokusubi, Ikutsuhikone, and Amenohohi. Its not clear why 2 of the eight are not enshrined here, nor why the only kami enshrined here, Konohanasakuyahime, that is not part of the obvious grouping of twelve.

There is also an altar/shrine to Kojin.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Oi Shrine

Oi Shrine is a small village shrine on the shore of the Nakaumi. It is listed in the Izumo Fudoki and therefore must be at least 1300 years old. In the Fudoka it was called Oisha and the kami enshrined was Okuninushi. However the main kami is now Amaterasu, along with Amenokoyane, Nakatsutsu (one of the Sumiyoshi kami), Yamato Takeru, & Homuda Wake (Ojin), along with Okuninushi.

It woud be interesting to know why this whole slew of Yamato kami came to supplant the local Okuninushi, but I can find no information as to when or why this happened.

There is a small Inari shrine next to the main shrine, and, like all the shrines in the region, altars to the local Kojin, in this case 4 in total. Before the twentieth Century these would have been out in the local communities, but the government, in their bid to strengthen their new Shinto religion, closed many of the local shrines and forced the local people to move their altars/shrines to a central shrine more often than not enshrining a "national" kami.

It is obvious that these Kojin altars are the site of much more activity than the main shrine.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Kora Shrine

Kora Shrine

Kora Shrine, located on the small hillside overlooking the Ohashi River just before it empties into the Nakaumi, appears to be just a small, local shrine, however, it is listed in the 8th Century Izumo Fudoki, though using different kanji to write the name.

The kami enshrined is is listed as Tamatare, known as Kora no Tamatare, the main kami of Kora Taisha a big shrine near Kurume in Fukuoka. According to the myth, he was a "minister" serving Jingu during the mythical subjugation of Korea. He is represented as having a long white beard. (Quite a handsome guy :))

The main shrine itself seems barely used, however, there is a substantial altar to Kojin with a very, very long body, and this seems to be the main focus of the shrine.

Kojin is often called the Kami of the Hearth, but here in Izumo its identity is more complex. It is a mix of land kami, ujigami, Tanokami, etc and is obviously the main kami for the people of the area, as opposed to the elite and rulers of the area.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Kojin of Rokusho Shrine

Rokusho Shrine, like all the other shrines in this part of Izumo, have altars to the land kami Kojin, represented as a serpent made of rice straw.

Nowhere near the scale or complexity of the ones at nearby Adakaya Shrine, and lacking eyes, nostrils, or a tongue, they are however more complex than the equivalent serpents in my area.

Here there are 5 separate altars, suggesting that they come from 5 different communities in the area.

Curiously, one thing they all lack is bodies. They are just heads. I have never seen that before, usually the serpentine body is wrapped around a tree.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Adakaya Shrine

Adakaya Jinja

Adakaya Shrine is most well known as being the starting point and destination of the Horanenya, the massive boat festival that takes place just once every 12 years. The boats used in the festival can be seen in the grounds of the shrine.

The main kami is Adakayanushitakigihime, indicating that Takigihime, one of Okuninushi's many daughters ruled over this area. The areas name, Adakaya, suggest a link with the ancient Korean kingdom of Kaya.

Within the grounds are secondary shrines to Kunisokotachi, another name for kunitokotachi, one of the primordial kami of the universe, Susano, Inari, and Omodaru, a kami I had not heard of before, but belongs to the generation of kami just prior to Izanagi and Izanami.

The most interesting aspect of the shrine is the two altars to Kojin which I have posted about before.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage Day 10 Iya to Higashi Matsue

I made an early start for the tenth day of this pilgrimage walk, and the approaching dawn heralded another glorious day of fine weather.

I would be visiting 2 temples of the pilgrimage, but many more shrines.

Part of my route will be along an older "shinto" pilgrimage, the Ou Rokusho, that connects 6 of the oldest shrines in this area that used to be the provincial capital when centralized government was first set up.

Kojin would be much in evidence. My route will take me inland along the southern edge of a wide valley, and then back along the northern edge. My starting point and finishing point are only a few kilometers apart.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Kojin Altars at Iya Shrine

Like almost every shrine I have visited in this part of Izumo, Iya Shrine has an altar to the land kami Kojin. Most shrines have one, but some have more. Iya has two which suggest that before the government mandated shrine closures of the early twentieth Century these altars would have been out in the hamlets.

Like the Kojins at Adakaya Shrine, which I will be revisiting on the next day of this pilgrimage walk, these kojin have quite large heads. In the above photo you can see the tongue sticking out.

Two rings of bamboo represent the eyes. These may not be the grandest Kojin Ive come across but they are impressive. The amount of work that has gone into their creation and the sheer number of gohei planted in front of them is a clear indication of their importance to the local people.

I have done a lot of research on the similar kami in my region, known as Omoto, and I really want to contact some people up here in Izumo and find out more about Kojin and any differences there are from Omoto.