Monthly Archives: October 2013

Kototama Practice of Mikusa no Kantakara

OMIYA GENPI BOOKMIKUSA NO KANTAKARA, three sacred treasures. This is a kototama-in (word-mudra) practice in which mysterious power of universe comes to you. The three treasures are kagami, tama, and tsurugi. These are three sacred practices.

Kagami = mirror representing the body of sun;  Tama = jewel representing spirit of moon, symbol of kami;  Tsurugi = sword representing energy of stars.


Note that each treasure has two parts. Mudra #1 is the same for all three mikusa, but the kototama chants differ. See the book for kototama and mudras.

Kagami practice #1 – show your real self, cleanse it.  #2 – remove dirt from bad things around you.

Tama practice #1 – cleanse your tama, your soul-jewel.  #2 – bring ame-tsuchi (heaven-earth) inside & outside.

Tsurugi practice. Note: Here, tsurugi is the Murakumo no tsurugi, the sword that Susanoo took out of Yamata no Orochi’s tail. The eight-headed Orochi here represents troubles, desires,etc. Cut them with tsurugi, the double-edged sword. When you cut enemy, you can also cut yourself if you have bad thoughts, so be careful when you use it; be clear-minded.

#1 – polish the sword.  #2 – deal with the enemy.


Oharai is most important to do at beginning of practice: purify the place, person, and osonae offering. Wave the nusa paper wand, or its equivalent practice.

Shime-no-in, as in the straw rope called shimenawa, sets the boundary of the pure space.

We do the oharai and the shime-no in before embarking on the mikusa practice.

MISOGI AS OHARAI. Misogi has outer and inner aspects, i.e., omote and ura. The outer is the standing under the waterfall. The inner can be explained by the word misogi which is mimi-soso-gi. Mimi is ear, and misogi is the listening to all the sounds of the universe, cleansing the spirit, and bringing kajiri to your ear, where kajiri is a promise made to kami.

In mudras, the fingers making promises (kajiri) with kami. Fingers are called yubi (yu is hot water, and hi is fire in kototama).

This teaching is from the Genpi book of Omiya Shirou shown above.




Tagajo Tsubo-no Ishibumi

Matsuo Basho, 1644-1694, left Edo on his famous journey to oku-no-hosomichi in 1689. He wrote in his travel diary:

[From The Essential Basho by Sam Hamill, Shambhala, 1998, pp 14-15]

‘At Taga Castle, we found the most ancient monument Tsubo-no-ishibumi, in Ichikawa Village. It’s about six feet high and three feet wide. We struggled to read the inscription under heavy moss:

          This Castle Was Built by Shogun Ono-no-Azumabito in 724. In 762, His Majesty’s Commanding General Emi-no-Asakari Supervised Repairs.

‘Dated from the time of Emperor Shomu, Tsubo-no-ishibumi inspired many a poet. Floods and landslides buried trails and markers, trees have grown and died, making this monument very difficult to find. The past remains hidden in clouds of memory. Still it returned us to memories from a thousand years before. Such a moment is the reason for a pilgrimage: infirmities forgotten, the ancients remembered, joyous tears trembled in my eyes.’

Note:  Emperor Shomu [聖武天皇, Shōmu-tennō, 701 – June 4, 756]

Photos taken at Tagajo, seat of ancient government, outside of Sendai, on October 12, 2010 below.


Ishibumi at Tagajo

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From Hotsuma Tsutae, Aya 4 as posted in, we read that about the Toyoke’s palace at Tagajo:

‘Followed in turn by their retainers and servants, they [Toyoke, Isanami, Isanagi, and Amateru] now slowly moved on their way to Hitakami, Land of the Rising Sun. There, they all arrived safely at the Palace of Yamate (Sendai), the Ketatsubo government seat. As they arrived, the person of the Prince let out a dazzling radiance that shone out in all directions. Golden flowers blossomed all around, and the sand and fish in the sea, the trees and plants on the mountains, all shone with a golden yellow. Toyoke, moved by this sight, now bestowed on the Prince the imina or personal name of “Wakahito”, the Prince of Light. … Having thus entered the Palace of Yamate in the Land of Hitakami, the Prince now threw himself into earnest study of the Amenaru-Michi (“Way of Heaven”, the ways of sovereign government) at the new Amatsu Palace (“Palace of Heaven”). ‘

According to Mr. Takabatake of Japan Translation Center, Ketatsubo no hi (Tsubo no Ishibumi) at Tagajo may be the monument to commemorate Toyoke entering Taga palace on the ketatsubo palanquin. This monument is one of the oldest three important tsubos in Japan. [A tsubo is marks a special, often sacred, spot.]

From the display regarding the tsubo-no-ishibumi monument at the Tohoku History Museum display:

‘The two-meter high stone monument stands near the south gate of Tagajo. It was erected in 762 when Tagajo was rebuilt. The carved text refers to the location of Tagajo and its original construction in 724.’


Above is photo of the monument displayed in the museum. The image has been enhanced to enable reading of the inscription. The actual engraving is quite illegible as my Tagajo photo shows.

Taga Jinja in Tagajo City

In search of Toyoke, in June 2012, we visited Taga Jinja in Tagajo City, Miyagi ken. Southeast of the Mutsu government ruins, it is next to the Tagajo old temple ruins. It is listed in the Engishiki. Previously, in 2010 we had seen the two small Taga jinjas at the Mutsu government ruins, also in Tagajo City. At that time, we had felt Toyoke’s presence. But further study indicated that there is a Taga Taisha in Omi, now Shiga-ken, and that it was split off from a Taga Jinja in Mutsu. We now believe that this Taga Jinja is the origin of the large taisha in Shiga.

We parked in front of a large public space which turned out to be the iseki ruins of a ceremonial site of which little is known; the local government is calling it an old temple site, even though they have no evidence that it is Buddhist. Walking out to the road, we saw a sign indicating that the Taga Jinja was this way. This is the first view we had; notice the ‘old temple site’ on the left. We see the white sign and the torii entrance on the right.

The jinja is quite charming. Should we call it a hokura instead? It’s barely large enough for one person to pray at. If you enlarge the fourth photo by clicking on it, you’ll see the sun and moon carved into the doors of the haiden-honden (there is no separate honden).

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We stayed for a while here because it felt so serene and comforting.

Mr. Takabatake of Japan Translation Center says that the Taga jinjas are the former palaces of Amateru’s son and heir, Oshihomimi.  ‘Taga’ is the posthumous name of Isanagi.  ‘Ta’ means to order, to put right, to save. ‘Ga’ means darkness. Thus, Taga would mean to put darkness to order.

We wanted next to see the famous iris gardens of Tagajo City, so we parked near the train station and started walking. On the way, we came to the hill – or is it a man-made mound? – that we had seen on our earlier trip. We decided to take a short cut by going up then down the other side. The kaidan turned out to be the entrance to a small shrine. Tonight’s research revealed its name, Ukishima Jinja, and that it is somehow connected to Taga Jinja. Was it a coincidence?

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We walked down the other side of the hill and across two roads and finally found the iris growing in profusion. We had missed the peak season, but it was splendid just the same.

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