Nou Hakusan Jinja
Benten Iwa 弁天岩
Benten iwa is an eye-catching small island immediately off-shore near the Nou Hakusan Jinja. The two sites are geologically connected, having the same type of stone. Benten is short for Benzaiten, deity of water, originally the Hindu Saraswati. Made by the eruption of the submarine volcano of Fossa Magna 3 million years ago, Benten Iwa is one of the Geosites of Itoigawa Geopark. Itsukushima shrine to Benzaiten (Ichikishima-hime) as the guardian deity of the sea is on the island. The Itsukushima Shrine is considered a satellite shrine of Hakusan. The lighthouse continues to light the way for fishing boats coming back to the Nosei fishing port. There are large koinobori carp kites swimming in the strong wind over the Japan Sea.
Nou Hakusan Jinja 能生白山神社
The Nou Hakusan Jinja is on the side of a small yama near Benten Iwa. In a sense, Benten Iwa is an extension of the mountain. Nou Hakusan is a Hakusan jinja in the Nou district. The honden was built in 1515, although it must have an older origin as a sacred place. Nou Hakusan contains a number of relics of Hakusan Worship and is a bridge to the Nou Region’s ancient history. It is a Nationally Registered Important Cultural Property. The top photo shows the thatched roof of the prayer hall which resembles that of the Amatsu Jinja, shown earlier.
Kukurihime (Shirayamahime) was the earlier gosaishin. Shirayamahime is the guardian of Hakusan. During the Meiji period, her name was replaced by Nunokawa-hime’s. The current gosaishin are Nunakawahime 奴奈川姫命, Isanagi no Mikoto 伊佐奈岐命 、and 大己貴命 Oonamuchi no Mikoto. The kami trio of Shirayamahime (original gosaishin), Isanagi, and Oonamuchi are closely connected in the Hotsuma Tsutaye. Isanagi was the father of Amateru. When Amateru was born, Shirayamahime heard him speak his name, Uhirugi. That is how she received her Kukurihime name (she heard him). Amateru’s younger brother was Sosanowo, and Oonamuchi was Sosanowo’s son.
Nou Hakusan Honden
While the dramatic building of the haiden faces the open grounds, the mysterious honden is in the woods behind the haiden.
Akiha Jinja 秋葉神社
On the grounds of Nou Hakusan is a small shrine, the Akiha Jinja. The next post will show another Akiha Jinja in Itoigawa town.
Nou Hakusan Akiha Jinja
All photos by Okunomichi 2018.
The Amatsu and Nou Hakusan shrines have such strikingly similar architectures, namely their thatched roofs, that we are reporting them sequentially. They are both in the city of Itoigawa (糸魚川), Niigata-ken (新潟県), and they both enshrine Nunakawa-hime, the heroine of this region, plus other kami of interest to those who study the Woshite documents.
Amatsu Jinja 天津神社
Amatsu Jinja, ichinomiya of Echigo (Niigata), is a few minutes walk from Itoigawa station. When you arrive at the site, cross over a bridge and turn to your left to the temizuya, then resume your path. You are taken to a higher level so you are on a yama. You make a final left turn and suddenly the striking haiden prayer hall comes into view on your left. The hall has an immense thatched roof. There are three altars in the haiden: 奴奈川神社 (Nunokawa Jinja)、天津社 (Amatsu Sha)、住吉の扁額 (Sumiyoshi Hengaku).
The primary gosaishin of Amatsu Jinja is Amatsu-hikohikoho-ninigi-no-mikoto, or Ninikine. Ninikine (Ninigi) is enshrined in several sacred sites in this Hokuriku area of Niigata and Toyama, far from his home area of Kansai. Ninikine is Wakeikazuchi, kami of Kamigamo Jinja in Kyoto. Also enshrined here are Amenokoyane no Ookami and Futodama no Mikoto; both are mentioned in Aya 20 of Hotsuma Tsutaye. Amenokoyane was Tsurugi no Tomi to Amateru. He was the author of Mikasafumi.
Amatsu Jinja Honden
The Amatsu honden is detached from the haiden and is in the back with other hokora. In the background of the haiden photo, you can see a row of hokora. The one that is visible in the photo is Nunakawa-hime Jinja, left of the honden. Nunakawa-hime is a popular heroine of Itoigawa and she is regarded as kami of jade found in the area. There is a dragon carved on the lintel, closeup photo.
On the right of the honden is the 聖神社 Hijiri Jinja (聖 hijiri means sacred).
Next to it is a compound of small stone hokora, and they have the great charm of age.
Note: This has been cross-posted from https://woshiteworld.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/toyouke-okami/
tati maiya mihuyu kami oki
Standing up; when 3 years old hair-cutting ceremony
hatuhi-moti Awa no uya ma hi
New Year’s day mochi, gave respect to Awa
momo ni hina ayame ni ti maki
peach for Hinamatsuri, iris and mochi
tanahata ya kiku-kuri iwahi.
Tanabata, chrysanthemum-chestnut festival.
This is a continuation of the previous post, with a continuation of the verse. In this passage we see the traditional Japanese festivals of the year: New Year’s day, third month Hinamatsuri Peach Festival, fifth month Boys’ Day Iris Festival, seventh month Tanahata Weaving Loom Star Festival (more about Tanahata Hosi Maturi in another article), and ninth month Chrysanthemum-Chestnut Festival. Many people even today think that the Tanahata or Tanabata festival came from China. You can see that it originated in the land of Wosite. It perhaps, much later in the Heian period, combined with the Chinese Weaver festival of Qixi.
As for the Peach Festival, WoshiteWorld has posted three articles beginning with https://woshiteworld.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/origin-of-hinamatsuri/
Again, we thank JTC and Mr. Takabatake for kindly permitting us to present these excerpts from the Waniko book. For further information about the book, please refer to http://www.jtc.co.jp/english/hotsuma/hotsuma.html and contact: email@example.com.
These opening lines from the Hotsuma Tsutae appear in the Waniko edition published by the Japan Translation Center in 2001 and 2016. They are shown here with the kind permission of Mr. Seiji Takabatake of JTC. We wanted to show you how beautifully the writing of Waniko Yasutoshi from 1779 has been reproduced. For further information, please see our earlier post.
Hotsuma Tsutae Aya One
Hotsuma Tsutae Mihata no Hatu: Kitu no na to homusi saru aya
Sore waka wa wakahime no kami
That waka of Wakahime Kami,
suterarete hirota to sotatu
Given away and taken up to raise
kanasaki no tuma no chi wo ete
Kanasaki’s wife gave her milk
awa-u-wa ya te uti sio no me
Baby clapping awa-u-wa with the gentle wife.
ume-re-hi wa kasimi-ke sonae
On her birthday, he made an offering of cooked food.
The Japan Translation Center has recently (2016) republished the Hotsuma Tsutae as written out by Waniko Yasutoshi in 1779. It is a fine collector’s edition with cover embossed in gold lettering, the title being a facsimile of Waniko’s handwriting. You can read about Waniko’s work here:
We will show excerpts from the book in the next two posts.
The JTC also publishes The Hotsuma Legends, 1999, by Yoshinosuke Matsumoto and The World of Hotsuma Legends, 1996, by Mitsuru Ikeda. For further information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Hotsuma Tsutae is an alternate history of ancient Japan.
The oldest version now available to us was copied in the
year 1779, but it is said to have been first written more
than 1,800 years ago.
The Waniko original version of the Hotsuma Tsutae, plus
a commentary on the course of tradition of the Hotsuma Tsutae
by Yoshinosuke Matsumoto.
The Japan Translation Center is working on a progressive
translation of the text into contemporary Japanese, and
thence into English. For further details, visit
Woshite World has posted three articles about the Hinamatsuri Peach Festival, also known as Girls Day or Dolls Day on March 3.
“It is said that Hinamatsuri originated in the Heian period as a form of play with dolls. In modern times it is a Girls Day festival held on the third day of March. One of the main elements is a display of dolls of Emperor and Empress (Tennnou and Kougou) and their court in Heian period dress. This is the true story behind Hinamatsuri and it reveals why it is also the peach blossom festival. This is the charming tale of childhood friends who became the fourth Amakami. The deep significance to their wedding is that it was the first time that the Amakami were recognized as a couple, and this led to societal changeover to a family-based system.”
The origin of this festival is described in Hotsuma Tsutae, Verse 265ff. It is the love story of the fourth Amakami, Uhitini and Suhitini. You can read the first part of the three-part post here: