Hi-no-michi Map, Izanagi Jingu, May 2016
In our post on Woshite World, https://woshiteworld.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/894/, we mentioned a mystery of an alignment of shrines that has been proposed at Isanagi Jingu on Awajishima, in Awaji-no-kuni. We first encountered it here, Onogoro and Kuni-umi Myth. Then we received much information from Hitoshi Uchiyama. We are grateful to him for sharing the results of his research.
There is a theory that all the “Awa” place names are related in some way. For the sake of discussion, let us disregard the kanji rendering of “Awa.” There are several different kanji and they may be totally irrelevant to the reasoning of the story. We must remember that Awa is a word from Isanami/Isanagi times, long before kanji was introduced into the written language. That is to say, “Awa” would have been written in Woshite moji with the Woshite syllables for “A” and “Wa.” In hiragana, it is written あわ.
Awaji. We have noted that Isanagi Jingu on Awaji island has a monument with a map of shrine alignments called Hi-no-michi. Hi-no-michi means path of the sun. This shrine is ichinomiya of Awaji. Note that Awaji means road to Awa.
Awa-no-kuni. There are two Awa-no-kuni we’ve mentioned so far. The original at Oumi from the time of Isanami and Isanagi. The other is Awa-no-kuni on Shikoku, adjacent to Awaji (now Tokushima, home of the popular awa-odori). There is a third Awa in today’s Chiba-ken. And there is an indirect connection between Kumano and Awa in Chiba through some place names in common, such as Shirahama and Katsu-ura.
Awa in Hida. Norikuradake, Mt. Norikura, in Hida was once called Awa-dake, Mt. Awa. And, at the border of Hida and Shinano kuni (now Nagano), there is Abo-toge Pass, written with kanji that can be read “Awa-toge.” This makes four places where Awa is found.
Miyazaki. Now, let’s introduce the (possibly) unifying element, Jimmu Tenno. He bore the name Kamuyamato-Iwarehiko in the seventh century BCE, a sixth-generation descendant of Isanami and Isanagi. He unified the land of Yamato beginning from Miyazaku, Kyushu. The Miyazaki area was called Himuka or Hyuga.
Iwarehiko developed plantations in different areas. Fusa-no-kuni is in present Chiba-ken. During the campaign, Iwarehiko was also in Osaka and Kumano. The similarity of cultures can be noted among Hyugo/Miyazaki, Awa/Shikoku, Kumano (east coast of Kii), and Awa/Chiba. These are all places visited by Iwarebiko. One can surmise that he is possibly the unifying factor among them. A look at the southern coastlines of Honshu, Shikoku and the eastern part of Kyushu — all places where he has been — can be convincing.
Alignment Theory. This reasoning has led some to believe that perhaps Iwarehiko is the one who initiated the alignment of shrines such as that on the Hi-no-Michi of Isanagi Jingu on Awajishima. The shrine’s GPS coordinates are 34.46, 134.85.
Shrines of the Hi-no-Michi Alignment. There are four cardinal directions and four solsticial directions, centered at Isanagi Jingu. At latitude 35 degrees, the solstice directions are 30 degrees north and south of east and west. (At latitude 34.5, the solstice angles are less than 30 degrees.) This makes for the stunning geometry seen in the alignment map. The cardinal shrines are:
North: Izushi Jinja 出石 神社 (ichinomiya of Tajima 但馬国 , Tamba-no-kuni)
East: Ise Jingu 伊勢神宮 (内宮 Naigu)
South: Yuzuruha Jinja 諭鶴羽（ユズルハ）, Awajishima
West: Kaijin Jinja 海神 神社（かいじんじんじゃ）, Tsushima
The solsticial shrines are:
SSR: Suwa Taisha 諏訪大社 (ichinomiya of Shinano 信濃国一宮)
WSR: Kumano Taisha 熊野大社
WSS: Takachiho Jinja 高千穂神社, Ama-no-Iwato Jinja 天岩戸神社
SSS: Izumo Taisha 出雲大社 (ichinomiya of Izumo), Hinomisaki Jinja 日御碕神社