Showing posts with label onusa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label onusa. Show all posts

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Nishinomiya Ebisu Shrine


Nishinomiya Ebisu Shrine is certainly the most popular and well-known shrine in the city of Nishinomiya in Hyogo.

Nishinomiya means "West Shrine" and the shrine the city is named after is actually Hirota Shrine.

To the north of Nishinomiya Ebisu, Hirota Shrine was in ancient times a very important shrine, and it is believed that the Ebisu Shrine was sometimes referred to as "Southern Shrine" indicating its branch relationship to Hirota.

There are three hondens behind the main shrine. One enshrines Ebisu, one enshrines Amaterasu and Okuninushi, and the third enshrines Susano.

The enshrinement of Amaterasu and Okuninushi occurred in the early years of Meiji when the shrine officially separated from Hirota. Not sure when the Susano enshrinement happened.

There seems to have been some dispute over the Okuninushi Shrine. It seems at one point the whole shrine was renamed Okuninushi Shrine but then later separated from the Ebisu Shrine. After 1945 the Okuninushi became a sub-shrine of the Ebisu.

The main hall is a post-war reconstruction of the 17th century building. I also believe it underwent further reairs following the Hanshin Earthquake.

There are numerous secondary shrines within the large grounds, including the aforementioned Okuninushi Nishi Shrine which also enshrines Sukunahiko, and a Kojin Shrine (photo 4 )

There is also an Atago Shrine, and an Okiebisu shrine, enshrining the "wild/turbulent" aspect of Ebisu relocated to within the grounds  in early Meiji. (second to last photo)

There is a Benzaiten Shrine and a Rokkosan Shrine, an Inari Shrine, but also an Ugatama Shrine from before Meiji when Inari became equated with Ugatama. There are two shrines connected to sake brewing, a Matsuo Shrine, and an Umemiya Shrine.

The most interesting subsidiary shrine for me was the Hyakudayu Shrine which enshrines a kami connected to puppeteering. It is said that one of the reasons for the widespread adoption of Ebisu nationwide was due to Ebisu stories told in puppet plays.

Nishinomiys Ebisu is considered by some to be the head shrine of all Ebisu shrines nationwide, and the version of Ebisu here is the one based on Hiruko, sometimes called "Leech Child" born of Izanagi and Izanami who failed to follow the correct protocol and so their first child was born without limbs or skeleton. It was placed in a basket and set adrift.

One version of the story has the basket sailing to Hokkaido where the child is raised by Ainu. Another version of Ebisu is equated with Kotoshirunushi, a son of Okuninushi, and so some consider his main shrine of Miho Shrine in Shimane to be the head Ebisu shrine.

Certainly the pairing of Ebisu and Daikoku, another variation of  Okuninushi, as two of the Seven Lucky Gods, explains Ebisu's popularity among businesses and commerce, whereas Ebisu as the patron deity of fishermen suggests a different heritage perhaps.

The Toka Ebisu Festival takes place on January 10th and includes the Lucky Man Race wherein thousands of hopefuls race from the main gate to the main shrine building.

I was here very early on June 10th and preparations were underway for a ceremony at the Okiebisu Shrine.....

This was my first stop on day 3 of my walk along the Kinki Fudo Myo pilgrimage. The previous post was on my last stop of day 2, the Kifune Shrine in Amagasaki.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Pacifying the River Gods

Last week while across the river heading to pick up some firewood I was surprised to see some villagers from the little hamlet in a procession with a large Onusa heading to the riverbank. The next day, the 5th of May, both my village and the small town on the other bank would be having the Suijin Matsuri and would be doing the same thing, but this was the first time I had seen Ushiroyama doing it.

We all live on the banks of the Gonokawa River, the longest river in West Japan,  and like all river here it is prone to flooding and causing damage as well as drowning people. Its for this reason that the priest over in Kawado told me that the Suijin matsuri is the most important ceremony of the year. The end of the ceremony involves placing a large Onusa, most commonly referred to in English as a purification wand, attached to a long length of bamboo and hung over the river at several points to pacify Suijin, the river god.

This is a photo of the largest Onusa, from the biggest of the Suijin festivals held in Kawado. I did not attend this year as I was away but I have posted on it before, here, here, and here.

The biggest Onusa on our side of the river is this one, on a large sacred tree at the point on the river that used to be the main, and dangerous, crossing before the bridge was built. I have posted on the Tanijyugo Suijin Matsuri here and here. The small red arrow in the photo points to where the next photo was taken

As part of the Tanijyugo Suijin Matsuri a second Onusa is placed on the riverbank further downstream where my hamlet reached the river above the spot where legend has it a Kappa lives

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Month of Little Sleep part 5


Wednesday night was Omoto Matsuri up in Nakano. Honoring the local kami Omotojin, these matsuris only take place, in the villages that still have them, every six or 7 years and are therefore more important than the annual matsuri. The event took place in the shrines kaguraden, but the villagers had built a huge temporary shelter out of bamboo and blue tarps to keep everyone protected from the weather....


As we arrived the Iwato dance was underway....


After that first dance it was time for rituals and ceremony to begin and first the representation of Omoto, a coiled rope snake with red tongue was brought in and set on the temporary altar. Later the snake will be uncoiled and used in some shamanic rituals, and next day he will be taken to a sacred tree and wrapped around its base.


Next three priests conducted a purification of the space that culminated with the scattering of rice grains over the space and the audience/congregation.....


The other priests now entered, 7 in total, and they were all purified with the Onusa. The priests had come from all over the district. Most shrines do not have a resident priest, and the few priests that do live in the countryside are responsible for a large number of shrines. For Omoto rituals there may be as many as ten priests who take part.


next came the lengthy ritual of placing the offerings on the altar. Mostly shinsen, food offerings, but also other types known as heihaku. Compared to a more usual shrine ceremony, the number of offerings was quite large as befitting the importance of Omoto.


Next a series of norito were read to Omoto, after which the offerings were removed, rather more quickly than they were placed, and then Omoto was placed above the tengai to "observe" the nights dances and the altar dismantled so the dancing could continue.....

Monday, June 27, 2011

Kenkun Shrine


Kenkun Shrine, also known as Takeisao Shrine, is located on a small hill, Funaoka Yama, in the northeast of Kyoto.


With its roofs of cedar bark shingles, the shrine looks to be old, but in fact was not founded until 1880. It enshrines the great warlord Oda Nobunaga.


The shrine is very much a part of State Shinto, the emperor-centric religion created in the Meiji era. Many of the old Japanese heroes who were considered to have been imperial loyalists were enshrined at this time, as well as Nobunaga, Toyotomi was also enshrined in Kyoto at Toyokuni Shrine.


This is an Onusa, a purification wand used in all ceremonies.


There were several smaller shrines on the hillside, including this Inari Shrine.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tanijyugo Suijin Matsuri

On Wednesday (May 5th) it was Childrens Day, but in my area it was also time for the annual Suijin Matsuri. Usually we go over the river to the matsuri in Kawado, a rather grand affair with processions and boats etc. Previous posts can be found here.

This year I decided to visit our local matsuri, far more low-key, and becoming more low-key year by year.


The shrine is dominated by 2 huge pieces of giant bamboo, at leat 12 meters long, to which are attached Onusa, a type of purification wand. These will be taken down to 2 spots on the river and replace last years.


The Onusa are laid in front of the offering table in front of the Suijin Mikoshi. In former times the mikoshi would then be carried down to the 2 spots by the villagers. More recently it was carried by a pick-up truck. This year, for the first time, it will stay in the shrine as there are simply too few villagers taking part. Other than the priest and the 2 musicians and 5 village elders, I was the only person there.


Most villages no longer have a priest, but ours lives right next to the shrine, and I noticed what a great garden he has.


After the ceremonies that consisted mostly of purifiication rituals and the reading of norito ( commonly called shinto prayers, but more akin to "reports" to the kami) the 6 of us manhandled the huge Onusa down the shrine steps to the river.


One was tied to a little truck to be carried downriver a few hundred meters to the second Suijin spot.