Showing posts with label oyamazumi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oyamazumi. Show all posts

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Konomine Shrine


When you finally reach the entrance to Konomineji Temple, the 27th on the Shikoku Pilgrimage, the steps fork, left to the main gate of the temple, and right further on up the mountain to Konomine Shrine.

Founded, according to legend, by Gyoki in the 8th century, the shrine and temple were in fact one single sacred site, and where the shrine now stands was in all probability the original site. Nowadays the shrine is considered the okunoin, the inner sanctuary, of the temple, which also suggests it was the original site.

In 1869 things changed with the governments "separation of the Buddhas and Kami, a process akin to separating the white and the yolk from a scrambled egg. Several of the "temples" on the Shikoku pilgrimage were primarily shrines before this time, just as many of the now-famous shrines in Japan were actually temples.

Most of the pilgrims and visitors to the temple don't make the extra climb up to the shrine, and unlike the temple the shrine is uninhabited, so  its a little more rundown, although it is obvious it was a much grander place in former times. There are several other small shrines around the grounds too.

The main kami now enshrined here is Oyamazumi, a kami of mountains, in  a sense the "older brother" of Amaterasu, and a kami with strong ties to Izumo. The most well known shrine to Oyamazumi would be the one on Omisjima Island between Shikoku and Honshu. Amaterasu and some other kami are listed, but I would seriously think they are much later additions.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Enya Shrine

Enya Shrine is the tutelary shrine of Izumo and is located south of downtown. It used to be called Yamuya Shrine, and the main kami enshrined is Yamuyahiko and his wife Yamuyahime.

Yamuyahiko was a grandson of Okuninushi, and other than that I can find no information about him.

The shrine is very old, being listed in the Izumo Fudoki of 720, as well as the Engishiki.

Also enshrined in the main shrine is Kotoshironushi, Oyamazumi, and Ojin,.... a strange mix of kami. Enshrining Ojin makes it a hachimangu, though it is not officially named that,  it is considered the number one of Izumo's eight Hachimangu. Hachiman must have been enshrined here much later.

Secondary shrines within the precincts are to Inari, Tenjin, and Aragami, among others...

There was a nice pair of small, wooden komainu in the Zuijinmon.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Many hands, some feet: Kono Shrine

Where ever I go in Japan I am always on the lookout for shrines to explore. The number I have visited by now numbers in the thousands. My way favorite way to find shrines is by walking, but on car journeys my eyes are always peeled for torii. And so it was as we were driving up Rte 53 heading towards Tottori City passing through Chizu Town.


Kono Shrine, known locally as Nyakuichisan, appeared to be a fairly standard village shrine, but the whole point of exploring is to see if there is anything interesting or unusual. And here there certainly was.....

Inside the main shrine building was shelf upon shelf of wooden cutouts of hands and feet. They are a form of ema, votive tablet, and here is where you come if you have any kind of problem with your hands or feet.


Many of the ema were made by the local priest, and a stack was left in front of the building for petitioners to take and use. The priest asks for nothing in return, but the I suspect the saisenbako ( the wooden box on the front steps of shrines for donations) contains more money than most do. You write your name and address on the ema and then leave at the shrine. An unusual variation on the custom of leaving ema here is that if your prayers are answered, and you receive relief or healing for whatever ailment you were suffering, then you come back a second time and leave a second ema as thanks to the kami.


The origin of this custom lies in a legend from Okayama, south of Chizu. There was a benevolent giant name of Sanbutaro ( or Sanbotaro). He was so large that he could reach Kyoto in only three strides!! His head was buried down in Okayama, but for some reason that I have been unable to find out, his hands and feet were buried here.


Kono shrine is an amalgamation of 4 local shrines, so there are seven main kami enshrined here in all. The first, Susano, is well known to anyone who reads this blog. He is my favorite kami and the culture hero who created Izumo culture. According to Yamato mythology he is the brother of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess ancestor of the Imperial clan. The second is Onamuchi, which is another name for Okuninushi, the Izumo kami who "gave" Japan to the descendants of Amaterasu. Okuninushi is either the son of, or the 6th generation descendant of Susano, depending on which version of the myths you read. Most myths associated with Okuninushi take place in Inaba, the old name for Tottori. The third is Oyamazumi, the great Mountain God. He is the older brother of Amaterasu and Susano, and one of his daughters married Ninigi, Amaterasu's grandson who descended from heaven and took over Japan from Okuninushi. The son from this marriage was Jimmu, the mythical first emperor of Japan. The fourth is Uganomitama which is a kami of grains, and seems to be a female aspect of the similar Ukanomitama. Nowadays equated with Inari. A child of Susano and another daughter of Oyamazumi. Confused? There's more.....


The fifth is Oshihominomikoto, the father of Ninigi, and therefore the son of Amaterasu. Actually Oshihomi was one of 5 boys created by Susano which he gave to Amaterasu. She created 3 girls that she gave to Susano ( the Munakata sisters). The sixth is Hikohohodeminomikoto, a son of Ninigi. The seventh is Homusubi, the kami of fire, whose birth killed his mother Izanami. A sibling of Amaterasu, Susano, and Oyamazumi. Lots of incest in the genealogy of the kami!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tanzan Shrine


Probably the first thing you notice at Tanzan Shrine is the rather unusual 13-story pagoda. Pagodas are of course Buddhist, and this was a temple and monastery complex until the government made it a "shinto" shrine in early Meiji.


The pagoda was built on top of the bones of Kamatari Nakatomi by his son Joe Fujiwara and the temple was primarily a private family mausoleum until later when it came under the wing of the Tendai sect and expanded.


Nearby is where Kamatari met with Prince Nakano Oe (later Emperor Tenji) and plotted the assasination of Soga no Iruka.

The Soga were the most powerful clan and most probably ruled Japan at that time, the Imperial family being mere figureheads (like they were for most of history). After their fall the Fujiwara ( the new family name of the Nakatomi) in essence ruled Japan for the next 1,000 years or more.

The history of the ruling elites of Japan, like many other places, reads like a gangster novel, assasinations, plots, revenge, inter-gang warfare, etc. and in truth the distinction between gangster and ruler is a very fine one indeed.


Leading away from the main building a line of torii lead to 3 shrines to Inari. There are in fact and incredibly large number of Inaris, though there are collectively lumped together as one.

There are numerous other sub-shrines within the grounds, a Shinmei Shrine dedicated to Amaterasu, a Sugiyama Shrine dedicated to Isotakeru, the son of Susano that came with him from Korea, the local Mountain God, an Okami Shrine to Suijin the water god, and a branch of Hie Shrine enshrining Oyamazumi, probably dating from the time the Tendai sect took over the temple.


When I went to Tanzan many years ago it was hard to reach, even though it is close to Asuka, though now they have built a new road directly from Asuka that I believe is open.

Tanzan is very popular during the Fall when the leaves are changing.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Asuka Nimasu Shrine


Asuka Nimasu Shrine in Asuka, the ancient capital of early Japan is a very old shrine and is one of the possible sources of the name of Asuka.

The three main kami enshrined here are Kotoshironushi, Takamimusubi, and Kayanarumi.

Kotoshironushi is an Izumo kami, one of Okuninushi's sons, nowadays equated with Ebisu. Kayanarumi is a daughter of Kotoshironushi, and Takamimusubi is one of the three "creator" kami. In some versions of the Kuniyuzuri myth that explains the ceding of Japan from Okuninushi to the Yamato, it is Takamimusubi who orders the process and not Amaterasu, and in fact Ninigi who descends to rule over Japan is the grandson of both Amaterasu and Takamimusubi.

Kayanarumi is the most interesting of the three, and an alternate name for her is Asuka no Kannabi mi Hime no kami, and this relates to what happened after Kuniyuzuri. Okuninushi decided to place himself and several of his relatives in the Kannabi (sacred mountains) surrounding Yamato, and Kayanarumi was placed in a mountain in Asuka, so it seems likely that she was the original main kami of the shrine.


There are a lot of secondary shrines within the grounds, enshrining Onamuchi (the name of Okuninushi enshrined in nearby Miwa), Oyamazumi, an Asuka Yamaguchi Shrine, and Sarutahiko.


There is also an Inari Shrine, one for Konpira, one for Daijingu, and one for Shirahige, a Korean god brought over with immigrants who settled in the Lake Biwa area.


When we look at some of the things for sale in the small office of the shrine it becomes clear what the focus of the shrine is,..... fertility!

This is a male/female sake cup.


The shrine is home to a famous matsuri, the Onda matsuri, which includes a performance with masked dancers that includes explicit representations of the sex act.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Suga Shrine, Matsubara, Hamada

Suga Shrine

Tucked away against the hill is the Suga Shrine in the little fishing village of Matsubara.

The shrine grounds were being used as a car park, and the place did not look like a very busy shrine.

Suga Shrine

It has a fairly large honden though, leading me to think it was a more important shrine in earlier days.

The Kami enshrined in Suga shrines are Susano and his wife Kushinada. Within the shrine grounds are smaller secondary shrines, Hachiman, Atago, and a Mishima shrine enshrining Oyamazumi.

Suga Shrine

The original Suga shrine is located in the mountains of Izumo, and is believed to be the site of the "palace" built by Susano after he slew the serpent Yamata no Orochi and married Kushinada. Susano then wrote a poem....

Many clouds rise up
clouds appear to form a fence
holding this couple;
They form layers of a fence
Oh, the layers of that fence.

This is considered to be the first example of a Tanka in Japanese history.