Category Archives: Woshite

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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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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Kototama of Wosite and Hotsuma

Kototama

Kototama, which is written in kanji as 言霊, is the study and practice of the energy/power in words and speech. Kototama can be translated as “the spirit of words,” and as “the language of Spirit.” Kototama refers to the power of human words to create, to create things. Okunomichi has several posts on this topic and they can be found by using the Search box to the right and entering “Kototama”.

Wosite Language

The Wosite language used in writing the Hotsuma Tsutae, the Futomani, and the Mikasafumi documents is a Kototama language. Wosite studies are posted at https://woshiteworld.wordpress.com/. Recently, WoshiteWorld has published posts on the Kototama of Hotsuma and Wosite. They are: “The Kototama of Wosite,” and ““Process of Kototama”. In addition, there is a discussion of the waka poetry of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.

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Hokuriku: Nou Hakusan Jinja

2018-05-16 18.05.53 Nou Hakusan Jinja

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. 2018-05-16 18.03.56 Benten Iwa

Benten Iwa

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.

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Kimi no Na Wa and Musubi

kumihimo musubi S

Preface

Kimi no Na Wa is an extremely popular and powerful anime movie directed by Makoto Shinkai. We say “powerful” in that it is thought-provoking of matters outside the ordinary limits of time and space.

Musubi.  Kumihimo is a Japanese braiding method for making decorative and functional cords, and it is depicted in several scenes in the movie. Musubi is a knot, a tying together, of connecting people and things. The photo shows two kumihimo cords in a musubi knot.

Motohisa Yamakage has taught Koshinto through books such as The Essence of Shinto. Yamakage Sensei writes, “Musubi means to unite or bind together. … the concept of musubi signifies the proliferation of life and spirit. … the very process of creating and giving birth to life and spirit is described as musubi and we [Koshinto] place it in very high regard.”

Time and Space.  We have related the Tanabata Festival tale as the weaving of time and space. This is an observance since early Jomon times that takes place in the seventh night of the seventh lunar month, when the moon is only half-full and the stars in the Milky Way can clearly be seen. The word tanabata means a kind of weaving loom. So picture a fabric being woven with threads of warp and woof. The threads of the warp represent the flow of time, and the shuttling of the woof creates space.

Kimi no Na wa (君の名は) is an international hit movie, entitled Your Name in English. The warping and entangling of time and space is the theme of this metaphysical movie. Perhaps that’s why millions of people find the movie so intriguing.

In today’s essay, we consider how the movie conveys the message of Musubi through the imagery of braiding.

Early on in the movie, we see that Mitsuha lives with her sister and grandmother in a very small town in the rural land of Hida. Grandmother is priestess of an old shrine which has as its goshintai sacred object a megalith in the center of a meteor crater. Mitsuha serves as miko-san shrine maiden and performs a ritual at the shrine. Grandmother is also teaching Mitsuha to braid cords in the style of kumihimo. What, we wonder, is the significance of these elements?

Musubi in Kimi no Na wa

Grandmother’s explanation of Musubi uses the imagery of kumihimo. In one scene, Mitsuha and her sister are going with their grandmother on a pilgrimage to the sacred place of the megalith. On the way, Grandmother is explaining Musubi. We have restored the original word, kami, to the subtitles.

Musubi is the old way of calling the local guardian kami.

Tying thread is Musubi. Connecting people is Musubi.

These are all the kami’s power.

So the braided cords that we make are the kami’s art and represent the flow of time itself.

They converge and take shape. They twist, tangle, sometimes unravel, break, then connect again.

Musubi-knotting. That’s time.

Musubi

From the above, we can see that the concept of musubi is that of gathering and connecting. Grandmother has explained how people are connected in time and space, and she stresses the time element. This is the basic theme of the movie.

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Toyouke Ōkami

 

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Toyoke-sama.  Our beloved Toyoke-sama is also known as Toyoke Kami and Toyouke Ōkami 豊受大神. Toyoke-sama was arguably the greatest kami of Hotsuma. He is remembered as the father of Isanami and grandfather of Amateru. Amateru came to study with him when he was sixteen. Toyoke-sama imparted to the future Amakami of Yamato the wisdom of the ancestors known as the To-no-Wosite teachings of the Ame-naru Michi, the Way of Universe. 

The teaching is for all, and especially for leaders of society, to embody high principles of human behavior: honesty, integrity, and caring for the welfare of others.

Hutakami.  Toyoke’s daughter Hisako became Isanami, spouse of Isanagi. The couple are known as Hutakami (Futakami), the kami couple of myth and legend. The Hutakami went throughout the land of Hinomoto teaching the Awa no Uta, the Song of Universe, containing all 48 of the syllables of Wosite language, promoting speech for improved communication and cooperation as well as for promoting good health and vitality.

Takamimusubi.  Toyoke was descended from Ta-no-Kunisatsuchi. Toyoke’s imina birth name was Tamakine. This means he was a man of tama spirit. We notice the many local words beginning with Ta. Tamakine became the fifth Takamimusubi in Hitakami which we now call Tohoku. Hi-taka-mi means to see the sun high in the sky. A remnant of Hitakami remains in the name of the major Tohoku river, Kitakami-gawa, whose old name was indeed Hitakami-gawa.

Taga.  The center of Hitakami was at Tagajo (Taka-jo), east of current Sendai. You can get there after a short train ride. You will be shown the remains of a former government center. There is still a large stone inscribed in more recent times, called the Keta-tsubo. On this rise may have been located the Yamate-miya of Toyoke. Nearby are several shrines named Taga Jinja. One of these, we believe, is the original shrine of Toyoke. This shrine spun off the Taga Taisha in Ōmi (now Shiga-ken). Why Ōmi? Ōmi was the center of Yamato under the care of Isanami and Isanagi.

We visited Taga Taisha. It is a large shrine that hosts a million devotees on New Year’s Hatsumode. By looking for the oldest part of the keidai precincts, we found Toyoke’s hokora next to Amateru’s.

Tanba.  Toyoke lived to a ripe age. When he was quite along in years, there was a disturbance in the region we call Kyotango in Kyoto-fu near the Japan Sea. Amateru asked Toyoke-sama to manage the situation from a base in Miyazu. Toyoke-sama transferred from Hitakami to Tanba and all went well and the people prospered. Toyoke-sama taught how to raise the five grains such as rice, wheat, and beans, and also how to raise silkworms for weaving.

When Toyoke-sama felt his lifeforce dwindling, he called for a tomb to be dug in the mountain of Kujigatake. He would prepare for his last breath. When Amateru heard about his grandfather, he rushed to his side. He entered Toyoke’s tomb and received the final teaching. Thus Amateru was initiated into the high level of wisdom. Then Amateru was sent out and the tomb sealed. The people were in such grief that Amateru stayed for a while to comfort them.

Toyoke’s tomb is said to be on Mt. Kujigatake (Kushi-gatake, also called Manai-gatake) where there is a manai spring. At the foot of Kujigatake is a shrine called Hinumanai Jinja. Toyoke Ōkami is the revered deity. The monument shown above mentions Five Grains. It is said that half-way up the mountain is an altar rock for the offering of five grains and other foods.

When Amateru himself came to the end of his life, he had a tomb built nearby. Amateru’s trusted friend, Sarutahiko, was the last to see Amateru in his tomb.

Futomani.  Toyoke-sama is the author of the Futomani Motoake chart which was employed as an aid for teaching cosmology and as a guide for decision-making. Amateru complemented the Futomani by selecting its 128 waka. We wouldn’t be surprised if Toyoke-sama also organized the Wosite syllabary into the neat, logical system that it is.

awa_motoake

Motoake chart from Julian-Way

Another grandson of Toyoke-sama also attended the lessons with Amateru, and he became Takagi, the seventh Takamimusubi.

ukesuteme     ne no kuni ni kite     tamakine ni …

Ukesuteme came to Ne no kuni to see Tamakine …   from Hotsuma Tsutae Aya 15

Another Kunisatsuchi, Ta’s brother, Ka-no-Kunisatsuchi, had gone to China, and he had a descendant named Ukesuteme. Ukesuteme came to Hitakami to study with Toyoke accompanied by the sister of Isanagi from the land of Ne. Shirayama-hime (Kokori-hime) and Ukesuteme both excelled in acquiring the wisdom of To.

ukesuteme korohin kimi to      tinami ai

After Ukesuteme returned to the Korohin mountains and married the ruler of Akagata, they had a son. Consequently, admired for her wisdom as for her nurturing, she became known as Nishi no Haha, Mother of the West. In China, the Mother of the West has the name Xi Wangu. She is one of the Seven Immortals. In Taoist paintings she holds the Peach of Immortality in her hand. In the Wosite literature, it is written that she received peach branches from Toyoke-sama to plant in Korohin.

Alternate identities.  Another name for the kami of food is Ukanomitama. And Toyouke’s most popular identity is Inari, the kami of the rice fields. The Inari shrines are the most plentiful in Japan, grounded in folk religion. Inari devotees may not realize the connection with the sage of Hitakami.

Toyouke at Ise and Moto-Ise Shrines:  Probably due to Toyouke’s reknown as provider of Five Grains and foodstuffs, his name has morphed into the female Toyouke-hime no kami at the Geku Outer Shrine of Ise Jingu. And yet, the chigi of the honden is cut vertically in male sotosogi fashion! As it is at the Moto-Ise shrines Hinumanai Jinja and Manai Jinja Okumiya of Kono Jinja (below).

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Remembering Toyoke-sama

Let us remember Toyoke-sama who served the people of Hinomoto during their critical developmental period. Toyoke-sama, the great sage, set society’s tone of compassion based on a deep connection with Universe  And in remembering Tamakine Toyoke-sama, we do not forget our own tama nature.

Note:  This has been cross-posted from  https://woshiteworld.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/toyouke-okami/

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Hotsuma Tsutae Aya One: “tati maiya” by Waniko

ayame-001

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:  info2@jtc.co.jp.

tati-maiya