Agō Kiyohiko on Kototama

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Agō Kiyohiko on Kototama

“Kototama no michi is explained in super-ancient history of Biwako’s esoteric doctrine. Dr. Agō accomplished this momentous research in a lifetime career as pioneering director of the Biwako Research Center. “ 

These statements were retrieved in November 2013 from the website of the Biwako Research Center. The website is no longer online. Biwako, largest lake in Japan, lies in the center of Shiga Prefecture. It is of particular interest to students of Wosite as the Naka-Kuni Central Land of Isanami and Isanagi. Biwako is also of historical interest to geologists, biologists, archaeologists, and anthropologists as a region rich in human and natural activity from ancient times.

Agō Kiyohiko, former electrical engineer who spent his long retirement years studying ancient matters such as Wosite, made the following remarks about Kototama on this website.

“Kototama is the recognized spiritual function of Japan’s ancient language.”

“Kototama is a language…

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Kusihiko’s Yorogi in Awaumi: Yorogi Jinja and Ota Jinja

Ota Jinja

Ota Jinja

Ota Jinja is one of the Hiyoshi shrines in the Yorogi area. It is a simple shrine with just one building. The grounds are next to a rice field, newly planted and still flooded in late May.

In the precinct, one closed house with a main hall and two stone lanterns.

Enshrined kami are 太田神 Ota Kami and 宇須賣命 Ame-no-Uzume. A theory says Sarutahiko is also enshrined here. 元は、新宮とも呼ばれた神社で、現在、青柳にある日吉神社の飛地境内社で、社地を太田の馬場ともいい、式内・大田神社の論社。Before, the jinja was called 新宮 Shingu, now it is a detached shrine of 日吉神社 Hiyoshi Jinja in Aoyagi.

Yorogi Jinja

Yorogi Jinja

At last, we have found Kusihiko’s Yorogi Jinja!

How touching it is to find it on a rise, tucked in between rice fields. It still retains some of the forest of trees. Somehow it seems “brave” to have withstood the storms of time for more than two thousand years. And also it’s sad that so little of Kusihiko’s forest remains.

Gosaishin: 子守神 Komori 勝手神 Katsute Kami. Komori is son of Kusihiko and the third Omononusi. Affectionately called Komori-san, he is the kami of looking after children (komori). It is said that he had 18 daughters and 18 sons.

Yorogi Jinja is one of the detached shrines of Hiyoshi Jinja. You can see the trees surrounding Hiyoshi Jinja in the left background of the photo above.

Haiden of Yorogi Jinja

Photos by Okunomichi 2019

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Kusihiko’s Yorogi in Awaumi: Hiyoshi Jinja

Hiyoshi Jinja

Our series on Yorogi shrines continues. Hiyoshi is another name for Hie, as in the nearby Hie Taisha and Mt Hie-zan. When searching for Yorogi forest, we found two Hiyoshi Jinja. Let’s call them Hiyoshi Jinja A and B.

Hiyoshi Jinja A

This Hiyoshi Jinja enshrines Ninigi no Mikoto. There are several sha on the shrine precinct. There is a sacred spot marked as the original site for Ise Jingu, and there is a small mound of sand.

Original site of Ise Jingu

Hiyoshi Jinja B (Nishi-Yurugi Hiyoshi Jinja)

This Hiyoshi Jinja is affiliated with Yorogi Jinja, as this signboard explains. This Hiyoshi Jinja has a main shrine with the three kami: Ayakashikone no Kami, Ichikishimahime no Mikoto, and Tachibanahime no Mikoto. This shrine is known as 西万木日吉神社(にしゆるぎひよしじんじゃ)Nishi-Yurugi Hiyoshi Jinja.

Three other shrines located on these premises are: Akiba Jinja, Tenmon Jinja, and Inari Jinja. Off-premise affiliated shrines are: Ota Jinja, Yorogi Jinja, and Hachiman Jinja. We would next visit Ota and Yorogi Jinja.

Photos by Okunomichi 2019

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Kusihiko’s Yorogi in Awaumi: Imamiya

Kusihiko and Yorogi

Kusihiko was an important advisor to Amateru Amakami. As the eldest son of Ohnamuchi, he helped with the unification of Ohnamuchi’s land of Izumo. His service earned him various titles, among them Kotoshironushi and later he became known as Ebisu, the laughing kami. Kusihiko was granted land in the Takashima area of Awaumi (Omi) which is present-day Shiga-ken. Upon this land, he planted thousands of medicinal plants and trees. He called it Yorogi (Yoroki), where yoro means ten thousand and ki means trees.

Yorogi is also pronounced Yurugi, and there is a place called Nishi-Yurugi in Takashima County. Some people remember when Higashi and Nishi-Yurugi were a vast forest. Higashi-Yurugi is now Aoyagi, and Nishi-Yurugi is Adogawa. We went to Adogawa in search of Kusihiko’s Yorogi forest.

And it was some search! We first inquired at the tourist information office at the Adogawa michinoeki. We were given a map of the local area and vague information about nearby shrines. We began walking in the general direction but we were not sure where we were going. We almost stumbled onto a shrine called the Imamiya. This was not the Yorogi Jinja we sought. We would have to rely on a knowledgeable taxi driver. Fortunately the driver who turned up knew all about shrines.

We found five shrine sites in the immediate area, and one of them is still called Yorogi Jinja. We report our findings in three reports:

  1. Imamiya
  2. Hiyoshi Jinja (2)
  3. Yorogi Jinja and Ota Jinja

Imamiya Jinja

The enshrined kami of Imamiya Jinja is Ōyamakui no Mikoto. Genbu says: 大山咋神は大年神の御子神, Ōyamakui Kami is Ōtoshi Kami’s son。Ōyamakui is the kami of Mount Hie in Shiga prefecture. This deity is commonly known as Hie-no-kami. Imamiya is associated with the Hiyoshi Jinja group.

We next visited two Hiyoshi Jinja sites.

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Iizuna Jinja

First torii of Iizuna Jinja Oku no miya on Mt Iizuna

Mt Iizuna 飯縄山

Mt Iizuna straddles Nagano’s northern city of Nagano. 1,917m tall, it is one of Nagano’s Hokushingogaku Northern Five Peaks. Mount Iizuna​ is a mountain located ten kilometers north-northwest of the heart of Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture. Together with Mount Reisenji, Mount Menō, and others, it forms the Iizuna range. This mountain is a sacred site for mountain-based religious sects such as Shugendo.

About the name of Mt Iizuna 飯縄山. When Iizuna is written as 飯砂, the first character is cooked rice, and the second is sand. It refers to a complex of microorganisms such as fungi and algae found locally in Shinshu, “Tengu-no-mugi meshi” (Tengu boiled rice). In other words, people going into these mountains may have found some edible fungi.

GPS coordinates: Latitude: 36° 43′ 59.99″ N, Longitude: 138° 07′ 60.00″ E

Iizuna Jinja

Iizuna Shrine History. This shrine dates to 270 CE, 15th year of Ōjin emperor. It enshrined Tenjin ōdomichi mikoto on the summit of the mountain, and it was originally called īnawa Daimyōjin. 

Satomiya 里宮 of Iizuna Jinja. The Satomiya of Iizuna Shrine is 10km south of Okumiya. The village shrine of Iizuna Jinja is reported on by Genbu who says, although the shrine’s kami is Ukemoti, it is really Inari Kami. Genbu further describes Ukemoti as a kami of food in general, and is the Inari kami in the many Inari shrines around the country. The Inari shrines are readily identified by the pair of guardian foxes which protect the rice crop.

奧宮 Okumiya of Iizuna Jinja. The inner shrine of Iizuna Jinja is located at the top of Mt Iizuna. From here you can see Mt. Fuji and Mt. Asanami 浅聞山 in the southeastern part, Togakushi mountain peaks, Otozuma-yama 乙妻 and Nishidake in the northwest, other mountains of Shinshu in the north, mountains in the Hida Japan Alps in the southwest, literally 360 degrees. 

Seeking Iizuna Jinja. We were recommended to visit Iizuna Jinja since we would be at Mt Togakushi and Mt Iizuna would be nearby. We were already embarked on our journey when the cryptic message came in: Iizuna shrine may be the origin of the Inari shrine system. We had no time to do preliminary research, so after visiting Togakushi Jinja, we started to look for Iizuna Jinja.

Our navigation system took us to a paved parking lot in the forest on the slopes of Mt Iizuna. Right in front of us stood a torii and beyond it was a narrow trail over exposed tree roots. A foray up the trail led to a second torii but the rest of the way was obscured. This was the trail to the okumiya which we never reached, and we almost got lost on the way back.

We tried two other Iizuna sites but they were in non-descript locations (that offered no clue as to a nearby shrine) and yielded nothing. Later, our friend confessed to being taken to sha at these three locations  by a local resident. Unfortunately, we did not have a knowledgable guide. However, we did have an adventure on the mountainside of Mt Iizuna before departing Nagano!

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Togakushi and Togakushi Jinja

Opening of the heavenly door by Tajiikarao as Ame-no-Uzume dances and myriad of kami welcome the emerging Amateru

Togakushi

Togakushi Village and the nearby Togakushi Shrine are situated in the north of Nagano within the Joshinetsu National Park, a 45-min drive from Nagano City. This volcanic area is at an altitude of 1,200m at the foot of the two volcanoes, Mt Togakushi 戸隠山 (1,904m) and Mt Iizuna 飯縄山 (1,917m).

Deeply steeped in mystery, Togakushi is part of the Ama-no-iwato Hirake myth, the opening of the Heavenly Cave Door. Ama-no-Uzume danced and Tatikarawo (Tajikarao) opened the Amanoiwato, and the door flew to Shinano/Nagano. Togakushi means hidden door.

Togakushi Jinja 戸隠神社 N 36.76, E 138.07, Alt 1289m 

Togakushi Jinja consists of five shrines at three shrine locations: the lower, middle, and upper shrine areas. The lower area has shrines 宝光社 Hōkō-sha  (Treasure of Light) and 火之御子社 Hino-miko-sha. The middle site has the 中社 Chū-sha (Middle Shrine). The upper area consists of the 奥社 Oku-sha (Deep Sanctuary) and 九頭龍社 Kuzuryu-sha.

Togakushi Jinja may have originated at Achi Jinja in southern Nagano. Togakushi’s Chū-sha and Achi Jinja both enshrine Omoikane.

Oku-sha 奥社

First torii to Oku-sha; map showing route from first torii through path of cedars up to Oku-sha; arrival at Zuishinmon gate before the upwards climb

Oku-sha, the oldest of the five, is the sanctuary of the shrine high up in the mountains. The Oku-sha enshrines Amateru and Tatikarawo (Tajikarao). The map shows the long path from the first torii to the Oku-sha. We went as far as the Zuishinmon Gate. The rest of the way would be all uphill. This site is considered a power spot and is immensely popular with those visiting the shrine as well as the walking-impaired who could enjoy the smooth walkways through nature.

Genbu.net has this to say about Oku-sha. The original kami of this sha were nine dragon-kami who dwell in rock caves. Dragons are associated with water and will relieve tooth decay problems if one prays to them. The legend of Tajikarao was introduced later.

Zuishinmon Gate of Togakushi Oku-Sha

Chū-sha 中社 Center Shrine

Chū-sha
Haiden of Chū-sha
Sazare-taki

Chū-sha means middle or center shrine. It is physically located in the center of the array of five Togakushi shrines. The second Togakushi sha (after Oku sha) to be establlished was Hōkō-sha, and Chū-sha was created midway between the two. Chū-sha enshrines the kami Omoikane. It is commonly said that Omoikane is “the kami who organized the kagura dance performance in front of the cave”. We have yet to find this reference in the Hotuma Tutaye Wosite document. However, the document tells us that Omoikane is the father of Tatikarawo who opened the cave door. Also known as Achihiko in Wosite history, Omoikane is a great-grandson of Toyoke Takamimusubi and he held the post of Hiyomi-no-miya, Master of the Solar Calendar, for Amateru. Omoikane is generally considered to be a kami of wisdom. The full story of Omoikane can be found in the Wosite documents.

Sacred tree

Hinomiko Sha 火之御子社, 日之御子社

Hinomiko Sha enshrines Ame-no-Uzume, the female kami whose dancing lured Amateru out of the cave. Also enshrined are Takamimusubi, Oshihomimi (son of Amateru), and his daughter Takuhatachichihime. In Wosite history, the best-known Takamimusubi is the grandfather of Amateru. It is said that the name Hinomiko refers to a kami of fire (hi), which seems rather out of place here. If the word Hinomiko were written with the character for sun (hi) instead of fire, 日之御子社, Hinomiko would mean the son of the kami of the sun, namely Amateru. This would make more sense.

Genbu.net has a comment on the name and the enshrined kami. Based on Oku-sha’s kami Tajikarao and Chu-sha’s Omoikane, Genbu says that Hinomiko sha’s kami Ame-no-Uzume is in error and she should have been named elsewhere.

Hōkō-sha and Kuzuryu-sha

We were unable to visit two of the five Togakushi sha. Hōkō-sha enshrines Ama-no-Uwaharu (another son of Omoikane) and a guard in the tenson korin myth. Kuzuryu Jinja Nine Dragon Shrine enshrines a water kami known as Kuzuryuu no Ookami from ancient times, or Benzaiten from later Buddhist times. In Japanese thought, dragons are associated with water, as is Benzaiten. We missed these two because we were unable to park the car at the Hōkō-sha, and the other is located at the top near Oku-Sha.

Kuzuryusha sits next to Okusha, and has been the central deity for the Togakushi worship as the local deity since the old time. As the deity who presides over the water, it is worshiped by the people engaged in agriculture in the wide area along Torii, Kusu and Susobana rivers, as well as the Echigo region, which is connected through the underground water.
Though the date of foundation is unknown, it was enshrined as the local deity before the enshrinement of Ame-no-tajikarao-no-mikoto. It is worshiped for its divine virtue of realization of wishes. It is also worshiped as the god of [dental] caries as well as of matchmaking.

From http://en.nagano-cvb.or.jp/modules/sightseeing/page/376
Togakushi Jinja plaque at Chū-sha

The comment about the original deity of Togakushi being a dragon-water being can lead one to regard the Togakushi shrines as being ancient sacred places honoring kami of nature such as water and fire. Later, historical figures were added, and even later some Buddhist elements were incorporated. There is still much that remains a mystery about Togakushi.

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Lake Suwa

Lake Suwa  N 36.05, E 138.11, Alt. 769 m

Lake Suwa (諏訪湖 Suwa-ko) is the largest lake in Shinano. It is fed by the small rivers of the Kiso Mountains. Lake Suwa is the primary source of the Tenryu River. The Tenryū River (天竜川 Tenryū-gawa) has a length of 213 km; it is the ninth longest river in Japan. The Tenryu flows through Aichi and Shizuoka prefectures.

“According to Shinto legend, the male god Takeminakata would cross the lake to visit the female god Yasakatome at her shrine on the other side. The crossing was evidenced by the god’s footsteps on the ice that left a sinusoidal ice ridge, known as the omiwatari in Japanese.”  [From National Geographic]

We stayed at the Saginoyu Hotel on the road around the lake (sagi, heron; yu, hot bath). The water of the onsen hot spring was the color of coffee. There were ashi reeds growing at Suwa lakeside. We wonder if these are similar to the ashi of Lake Biwa which are the namesake of Ashihara no Nakatsukuni, the so-called Central Land of the Reed Plains. We will explain this in relation to the Naka-Kuni of Isanami and Isanagi at Oumi Lake Biwa in the Wosite documents.

Yatsugatake Mountains

The Yatsugatake 南八ヶ岳 mountain range extends for 30 km north to south on the east side of Lake Suwa. We found the following story here.

The following story is in ancient mythology.
Yatsugatake compared heights with Mount Fuji. And Yatsgatake won.
But Mount Fuji gave a kick at him. Then Yatsugatake had broken into many mountains. So Mount Fuji became the highest mountain.
Yatsugatake’s sister, Mount Tateshina (the northernmost peak, 2,530 m), wept at his broken figure.
And her tears created Lake Suwa.

Here is an alternate version.

According to legend, Yatsugatake was once higher than Mount Fuji,, but Konohanasakuya-hime, the goddess of Mount Fuji, tore it down out of jealousy, leaving the collection of peaks we have today.

View of Yatsugatake from Lake Suwa

All photo credits: Okunomichi 2019

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