Showing posts with label ukanomitama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ukanomitama. Show all posts

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.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tahara Shrine


Tahara Shrine is a large shrine located at the foot of the hills north of Matsue castle. It is approached up a long flight of steps flanked by dozens of stone lanterns and komainu. Notable are a pair of komainu that are the largest in the San-in region. Most if not all of the komainu and lanterns are made of Kimachi sandstone, quarried not far away on the shore of Lake Shinji.


Another interesting feature is that 12 of the lanterns are topped with small sculptures of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.

Also known as Tawara Shrine, it includes a branch of the Kasuga Taisha, and the main halls shimenawa is I believe Kasuga style, being braided rather than twisted. The shrine is listed in the 8th Century Izumo Fudoki and has therefore existed for close to a thousand years before Matsue and its castle came into being. The shrine was originally located 500 meters away but was moved here during the war between the Amago and Mori clans.


One of the secondary shrines in the grounds had a polypropylene shimenawa that shows how even plastic can achieve wabi sabi!!


The shrine features a twin pair of hondens. In the east honden are enshrined Futsunushi, Takemikazuchi, and Amenokoyane. The latter two kami are considered ancestors of the Nakatomi-Fujiwara clan, and Futsunushi is the ancestor of the Mononobe. In Izumo records it was Futsunushi who came from the High Plain of Heaven to entreat Okuninushi to give Japan to Amaterasu and her descendants. According to Yamato stories it was Takemikazuchi and Futsunushi, and appears to be a rewriting of the myths to favor the powerful Fujiwara.

The west hinden enshrines Ukanomitama, the child of Susano now mostly identified as Inari.


Behind the hondens a path leads into the forest and a grove of sacred trees with numerous altars scattered around their bases.


Secondary shrines within the grounds include Inari, various aragami, Kojin, Suijin etc

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Yasaka Shrine


Well, this place is about as familiar as any in Japan, recognizable to anyone who has been to Kyoto, it is of course the entrance to Yasaka Shrine in Gion, home of the Gion Matsuri.


Until 1868 it was known as Gion Sha, but the name was changed when the government "seperated" the Buddhas and Kami. The original kami was Gozu Tenno, the Ox-Head Heavenly King, a god of epidmics and relief from epidemics. Originally an Indian god, he became associated with Susano.


The main kami is now Susano, but the shrine is very much a family affair with many members of his family also enshrined here. There is Kushinada, his wife, or rather one of his wives, then there is Yashimajinumi, a son born to Susano and Kushinada. he is Okuninushi's great, great, great grandfather. Next comes Isotake and his sisters Oyatsuhime and Tsumatsuhime. All three have connections with tree planting and wood production, and all three came over to Japan with Susano from Korea, so must have been born to another "wife".


Next a couple of Susano's offspring connected to food, especially grains, Otoshi and Ukanomitama. Ukanomitama is well known as Inari, and Otoshi was born to Susano and Oyamatsumi's daughter. There are many Otoshi shrines around, and interestingly he had many, many children who were worshipped by "immigrant" clans.


Finally there is Suserihime ( or Suseribime), a daughter of Susano who became one of Okuninushi's wives. Not bad considering there was 4 or 5 generations between them.

The meaning of all these kami lineages, in my opinion, is to show intermarriage and alliances between powerful clans. What becomes clear is that the lineages tracing back to Susano dominated early Japan, and the Yamato story of Amaterasu and Susano being siblings is the attempt by the later arrivals, the Yamato, to co-opt the ruling clans into their own history and therefore their divine claim to rule.