Showing posts with label uganomitama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label uganomitama. Show all posts

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hachizu Shrine


After leaving Usa Hachimangu and heading towards the Kunisaki Peninsula I chose to avoid the main road and instead headed through the back roads through the village of Hachizu where I stopped in at Hachizu Shrine.


There is a very unusual mix of kami enshrined here, the primary being Amenominakanushi, by some accounts the first kami to come into being, yet very little is known or written about him. There were apparently no ancient shrines deicated to him, but in the Meiji era when the buddhas and kami were seperated, many shrines chose to rename Myoken, the deity of the North Star, Amenominakanushi....


The next is Yaekotoshironushi, another version of the name Kotoshironushi, the son of Okuninushi and now more commonly equated with Ebisu. Then there is the pair of kami Mikahayahi and Hihahayahi who who created out of blood dripping from the sword that Izanagi used to kill the god of fire. Finally there is Uganomitama, the female aspect of Inari.


I am guessing that the pile of rice straw is to make new shimenawa. Secondary shrines within the grounds include Kibune, Tenjin, Konpira, Gion, Inari, Dosojin, and Wakamiya.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Children's Inari Shrine


The 4th shrine I visited on my walk around Matsue was yet another Inari Shrine, knowns as the Children's Inari. It is well known mainly due to the writings of Lafcadio Hearn.


It was built by the Lord of Matsue as a subsidiary shrine of the Jozan Inari within the nearby castle grounds and he named it Komori Shrine which means child guardian.


In Hearns day mothers would come here to ask for help with their children that refused to take baths or have their heads shaved.


Nowadays those two problems are rare but parents leave prayers for any kind of problems they are having with their children, most often illness.


There is a smaller Inari shrine just behind the main building. There are many Inaris. According to the signboard at the shrine the main kami is listed as Uganomitama, the female as opposed to the more usual male Ukanomiama.

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!!!