Category Archives: Kami

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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Suwa Taisha Harumiya and Akimiya

Harumiya kagura-den in front of heihaiden

Harumiya and Akimiya, Lower Suwa Shrines

The Lower Shrines are on the north side of Lake Suwa. They are the Harumiya and the Akimiya, whose enshrined kami is said to be Yasakatome, spouse of Takeminakata.

Harumiya, Spring Shrine

Harumiya means Spring Shrine. It is in a shady location, and it has a sugi tree as goshintai. It has a haiden prayer hall but no honden containing a sacred object. The lack of a honden and having a sacred sugi tree indicate that this is an exceedingly old shrine, pre-Shinto, related to nature reverence. Having learned that this is where Yasakatome resides in the spring, we could feel her serene presence. It is said that she moves to Akimiya in the autumn. In the previous post we had learned that Takeminakata comes to visit her in wintertime.

Heihaiden prayer hall

A guide to Harumiya precinct can be found here.

Akimiya, Autumn Shrine

Temizuya with hot spring water

Akimiya means Autumn Shrine. It has the ichii tree as goshintai; there is no honden containing any sacred object. Akimiya has an exceptionally hot water temizuya for hand washing. Beware!

Heihaiden of Akimiya

When we approached the heihaiden prayer hall, the priest was performing a ritual (photo left below). After that, just before 5 o’clock, the priest conducted an additional ritual. There was chanting and the heavy beat of the taiko drum. We realized that this was a closing ceremony when we turned around to visit the shrine office to buy an amulet and found the windows being closed. We felt it was a privilege to be at the shrine at that dusky time of day. Somehow the kami seemed to be nearer…

A guide to Akimiya precinct can be found here.

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Suwa Taisha Honmiya and Maemiya

Suwa Region

The Suwa region surrounding Lake Suwa lies at the foot of the Yatsugatake mountains in Nagano. It is steeped in mystery and legend from prehistoric times. The presence of kami and nature spirits can still be felt today. Suwa is dominated by the presence of Suwa Taisha, the grand shrine of Suwa, noted for its exciting Onbashira festival. The four shrine locations of Suwa Taisha each have four of these giant pillars.

Wosite and Lake Suwa

We wanted to visit Suwa because it connects with our Wosite research of Jomon Japan through the son and grandsons of Sosanowo (Susanoo), brother of Amateru. After Sosanowo, his son Onamuchi governed the land of Izumo. Although his people lived well, Onamuchi ignored the unification sought by Amateru in the central land. Onamuchi, popularly called Omononushi and Okuninushi, had two sons of note in this story. Kusuhiko received the title Kotoshironushi and he became the second Omononushi.

When Kusuhiko advised his father Onamuchi to give up Izumo to unify with Amateru, Onamuchi didn’t comply right away. Kusuhiko’s brother Takeminakata resisted on their father’s behalf, and was chased by the central force led by Takemikazuchi from Izumo to the umi (lake) of Shinano. There, Takeminakata surrendered, saying Suwa! Alas! Thus this umi is known as Suwako, Lake Suwa; it is the largest lake in Nagano prefecture.

Suwa Taisha 諏訪大社

Suwa Taisha is ichinomiya first shrine of Shinano. Gosaishin enshrined kami are: Takeminakata, his wife Yasakatome, and Yaekotoshironushi (Kusuhiko, Takeminakata’s brother).

Wikipedia has something curious to say about Suwa Taisha: “Although these [Takeminaka and Yasakatome] are the official identities of the shrine’s gods, most of its rituals are actually not so much concerned with their identities but with their character as Mishaguji , local agricultural and fertility deities. The name ‘Takeminakata’ in fact does not appear in historical records of the Upper Shrine’s religious rites; rather, the focus of worship in these rituals are often identified as the Mishaguji.”

And about Mishaguji:  “Believed to be spirits that inhabit natural objects like trees or rocks that could also be called upon to possess  humans or objects during religious rituals, Mishaguji are also thought to be god(s) of boundaries and protector(s) of communities. Worship of the Mishaguji occupied a central place in the religious beliefs of the Suwa region in Nagano prior to the arrival of the Yamato state iin the area. “

There are four Suwa sha shrines, two north of the lake, two south. These are ancient shrines; i.e., they were sacred places to the ancient people long before Shinto shrines were built. Honmiya has Mt Moriya itself as its goshintai sacred object. The Maemiya or earlier shrine has a honden containing a sacred object within. These two sha on the south side of Suwako are called the Upper Shrines. The kami is Takeminakata.

The other two sha are called the Lower Shrine; they are on the north side of Lake Suwa. Their enshrined kami is Yasakatome, spouse of Takeminakata. The Harumiya Spring Shrine has a sugi tree as goshintai,  and Akimiya Autumn Shrine has the ichii tree; they indicate prehistoric nature reverence.

Suwa Taisha Honmiya

The Honmiya is the main shrine with large grounds and is immensely popular. It is comprised of a number of halls.

Suwa Taisha Maemiya 前宮

Maemiya means former shrine, and it must be the first of the Suwa shrines. It is much more modest and charming. On a hillside, the Maemiya felt cool and refreshing.

There is a lovely brook at the base of this shrine where people can fill up their plastic bottles with cold, pure mountain water.

You can read about Suwa Taisha here. Our report on Suwa Taisha continues in the next post on Harumiya and Akimiya.

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Ōharano Jinja  大原野神社

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Ōharano Jinja  大原野神社

Ōharano Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Nishikyō-ku, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. Ōharano is dedicated to Amenokoyane, who composed the Mikasahumi document in Wosite.

Amenokoyane

Amenokoyane was a great-great-grandson of Toyoke Kami. He was named the first Kagami Tomi by Amateru Amakami. His responsibility was to discern light (ka) from dark (ga) and to keep society on the Amenaru Path. Amenokoyane received the honor name, Kasuga Kami. He was buried at the ancient Hiraoka Jinja in Osaka. Later in 768, he was enshrined at the Kasuga Taisha in Heijō-kyo (Nara) by his descendants, the Fujiwara. The capital was at Heijō-kyo from 710–40 and from 745–84. 

DSC06112 Oharano

DSC06113 Oharano altar

Emperor Kanmu transfered the capital from Heijō-kyo to Nagaoka-kyo (784-794). Nagaoka-kyo was located in the current Mukō  City and Nishikyō-ku which is part of Kyoto City. Kanmu enshrined Kasuga Myojin here at Ōharano Jinja. The main shrine building was constructed in the year 850 in the style of the Kasuga Taisha. There are four handsome honden behind the haiden prayer hall. We can only see the tips of two sets of chigi. The four enshrined kami are (1) Takemikazuchi, (2) Futsunushi, (3) Amenokoyane (Kasuga Kami) and (4) his wife, Hime Kasuga.

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Koisawa-ike

The Koisawa-ike Pond was built as a facsimile of the Kasuga Taisha’s Sarusawa-ike. It is a famous spot for viewing colored leaves. Overlooking the pond is Wakamiya auxiliary shrine which honors Ameno-oshi-kumone-no-mikoto, son of Amenokoyane. 

DSC06117 Wakamiya Sha

DSC06118 Koisawa-ike

DSC06120Kouyou

Ōharano Jinja is a lovely spot for autumn colors and for feeling a connection with the spirit of the wise Amenokoyane.

Map

https://www.behance.net/gallery/69551523/KYOTO-OHARANO-JINJA-MAP

 

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Seoritsuhime and Sakunado Jinja

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Sakunado Jinja, 2018.10

Lake Biwa

Sakunado Jinja 佐久奈度神社 is an integral part of the Lake Biwa river system of Shiga Prefecture. Biwako, as the lake is called, is the largest lake in all Japan. The lake was called Awaumi in olden times, and gradually the pronunciation changed so that the area around the lake is called Ōmi. The area has been occupied since at least the Initial Jōmon period (~9300 years ago). Biwako has only one major outlet, the Setagawa  瀬田川, which becomes the Uji 宇治川 downstream, then the Yodo 淀川, before it flows into the Seto Inland Sea at Osaka.

Sakunado Jinja  佐久奈度神社

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Sakunado Jinja overlooks the Setagawa. It is the shrine that ‘oversees’ the river system. The enshrined kami are the four haraedo purification kami, the first and foremost of them being Seoritsuhime 瀬織津姫. Note that the first syllable, the first character, in the name of Seoritsuhime and of Setagawa is Se, which means swift current. 

Setagawa River

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The view of the Setagawa from Sakunado Jinja looks peaceful. However, just upstream to the right (the east) of this spot is the treacherous bend with its strong undertow. Many young people have lost their lives playing here.

SakunadoJinjaMap

Sakunado Jinja is at the bottom of this map, where the Setagawa turns west. Note that the Setagawa drains southward out of Lake Biwa near Ishiyama. Downstream from the Sakunado, the river’s name changes to Ujigawa, Uji River, as it flows into Kyoto. The Uji merges with two other rivers, the Katsura–gawa and the Kizugawa in Kyoto Prefecture. The Katsura has its headwaters in the mountains of Kyoto Prefecture, while the Kizu comes from Mie Prefecture. Starting from the confluence of these three rivers, the main river becomes the Yodo River. It flows south, through the city of Osaka, into Osaka Bay. The length of the river is 75 km (47 mi). 

Oharai Norito

This is the shrine of the Nakatomi Ōharai no Norito purification invocation to Seoritsuhime Kami.

Jinja Home Page 

Sakunado Jinja  佐久奈度神社   http://sakunado.jp/

 

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