Showing posts with label ox. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ox. Show all posts

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Maruyama Shrine Awa Ikeda


Maruyama is the name of a small hill in the town of Awa Ikeda in what is now Miyoshi cIty, Tokushima, on Shikoku.

Maruyama is a very common name as it literally means "round mountain", ... we have one a few kilometers from my place.

Ikeda is also a very common placename, so it is prefaced with Awa, the old name for the province to distinguish it from other Ikeda's around the country.

The shrine is fairly unexceptional, just a typical village shrine.

There are a variety of ways of reading the enshrined kami's name but they are all versions of the great Izumo kami Susano. Here it seems it was probably Gozu Tenno, the original "plague god" of Gion whose origin is disputed but heavily connected with Korea, as is Susano.

The honden is fairly new, and other than that I can find no other info on the shrine. I visited at the start of day 4 of my walk along the Shikoku Fudo Myo Pilgrimage. The previous post in the series was on the walk along the river to end the day before.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Ushiki Tenmangu


Ushiki is a small farming village on the bank of the Koishiwara River that runs from the mountains to the NE down to the Chikugo River. On the opposite bank is the town of Amagi where I had just visited Kotokuin Temple.

Walking west towards the next temple, Nyoirinji, the "Frog Temple", as was my habit I stopped in at any shrines I passed.

Most people would walk right past such a small, local shrine, but I was always on the lookout for interesting and unique artwork like carvings or statues, but also because such shrines have connections to local and national history.

There was nothing unusual in the art of this shrine, but its history throws some light onto a little known aspect of fairly recent "religious" history. This is now a Tenmangu,  enshrining Sugawara Michizane, a national shrine with many bramches, especially in this area. However, local records list it as a Ta shrine, with a couple of obscure kami.

The shrine has a large ancient tree with a couple of small shrines at its base. Interestingly the shintai, the object within the shrine that is inhabited by the kami when it descends, is arge stone. Most sources nowadays stress that shintai are mostly mirrors, though that is very much a modern creation of modern state shinto. Many shintai used to be Buddhist statues, and many small, local shrines, like here, used a stone. The mirror was linked with Amaterasu, the Imperial ancestor who is nowadays said to be central to shinto.

I suspect that this was the original shrine. In the early 20th century the government initiated a program of shrine closures which resulted in half of the shrines in Japan being closed. These were all local, often nature-based shrines with sacred trees. The trees were cut down and sold as lumber and locals were forced to worship at a national shrine.

One way some communities resisted this program was by very quickly enshrining a national kami in the shrine and therefore spared the destruction of the sacred tree. There are examples of this in my own area.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Path of Light at KitanoTenmangu Kurume


A long, straight road leads to the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine near Kurume, and is known as the "path of light" as in mid-March and mid-October the sun sets at the end of the road. This is obviously close to the equinoxes.....

The shrine was established in 1054 as a branch of the Kitano Tenmangu in Kyoto, the original shrine deifying the angry ghost of Michizane Sugawara.

A giant Camphor tree in the grounds is said to be over a thousand years old.

Most striking is that the impressive gatehouse is painted red. Yesterday I posted on some of the guardians here.

The area is well known for Kappa and there is s story of a kappa and Michizane. The mummified hand of the kappa is shown to the public once a year.

Tenmangu shrines are very popular with students praying for success with exams, but are also known for calligraphy.

There are often statues of an Ox at Tenmangu shrines as it became a symbol after an ox carrying the corpse of Sugawara Michizane stopped and refused to move further and so that was the spot he was buried, now Dazaifu Tenmangu a little further north in Fukuoka.