Tag Archives: Shirayamahime

Hokuriku: Imizu Shrines

2018-05-19 10.04.40

Takaoka-Jyo Koen

Two Imizu Shrines

There are two shrines in Takaoka-shi, Toyama-ken, with the name Imizu. They are both ichinomiya first shrine of Etchuu.

Imizu Jinja 射水神社

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2018-05-19 10.21.51 Kukurihime-Shirayama

The first one we visited was on the high grounds of the former Takaoka-jyo castle. It is now a public park with woods and streams in the middle of town. The enshrined deity is Ninigi no mikoto, grandchild of Amaterasu (Amateru) of Ise Jingu. Also known as Futagami for his promotion of cultivating rice, harvesting of five grains, and increasing commerce. The shrine has an ancient and honorable origin. Other gosaishin are Ooyamakui no kami, Jinushi no kami, Kukurihime no kami, and Take-minakata no kami. Kukurihime no kami is none other than Shirayamahime, aunt of Amateru. Please note that the chigi is female-cut, and the only female kami enshrined here is Kukurihime Shirayamahime.



The photo below is from the pamphlet of Imizu Jinja. It shows the Takaoka-Jyo Koen in the foreground, former site of Takaoka Castle on a flat hill surrounded by the moat. The shrine is in the center, adjacent to the grassy lawn. In the background is Futagami mountain.

Futagamiyam & Takaoka-jyo


Futagami-Imizu Jinja 二上射水神社

2018-05-19 10.46.43 Futagami-Imizu Jinja



The smaller Futagami-Imizu shrine lies at the southern foot of the Futagami mountain. Futagami mountain is shintaisan, the sacred object of worship, and the deity is Futagami-Okami. The shrine faces due south, and the Futagami yama is behind it in the north.

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2018-05-19 10.58.08 Map

This is an old village shrine with an unspecified pedigree going back at least to the year 717. This shrine claims a miraculous 築山 Tsukiyama, constructed mountain, although we are not sure what it is. According to an old document called the Hakusan-ki, this was the original ichinomiya of Etchu but they lacked power to keep this position and lost it to the Imizu Jinja at Takaoka Jyo. As to who is the Futagami, various theories say Ninigi, Takeuchi, Amanomurakumo, and Oonamuchi.





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.




A Visit to the Land of Ne


I paid a visit to the Land of Ne (Koyene) from which hailed Takahito. He is known as the founding father Izanagi through the 8th century classic, the Kojiki. I was searching for his sister, Shirayama-hime, the lady of the White Mountain. Takahito and Shirayama are both mentioned prominently in the Hotsuma Tsutae, an even more ancient document.

The White Mountain, Shirayama, is today called Hakusan. I visited it from Ishikawa-ken in the area on the Japan Sea coast known as Hokuriku, northwest Honshu. It straddles three other prefectures: Fukui, Gifu, and Toyama. Hakusan is a beautiful mountain range and the center of the Hakusan National Park, shown above. Around its footills, as well as at one of its peaks, there are a number of Shirayamahime jinja associated with mountain faith of Hakusan. Until the 8th century, people did not climb sacred mountains, and this is certainly a sacred mountain.

The above map of Hakusan National Park indicates the highest altitudes in dark red-brown shade. This is the Ishikawa west side of the mountains. The other side includes the place of deep snow called Shirakawa-go, part of the ancient land of Hida from Toyama, Takayama, and down to Gifu. I had traveled that route just last year.


Our group visited several of these shrines. We found the old mountain shrines most interesting. In this snowy region, they are enclosed  within glass outer walls. Sliding doors glide open to allow prayer access to the devotee.

Seoritsuhime, the wife of ruler Amateru, is remembered in several shrines in this area. Both of these hime are regarded as kami of water and of purity. Seoritsuhime is invoked in the Shinto norito of purification and she whisks away one’s impurities into rivers that plunge ultimately into the sea.

The national park is popular with mountain climbers and skiers. As we drove up the mountain, we passed through many tunnels and saw many dams. This is a vital watershed area, the source of four great rivers, and produces not only water for drinking and agriculture but also hydroelectric power.


Shirayamahime is known also as Kokorihime in Hotsuma Tsutae. In the Nihon Shoki her name appears as Kukurihime which means one who binds. Another name is Kikurihime which means one who hears. As the latter, she is regarded as an aspect of 11-Headed Kwannon who listens and responds to people’s pleas.

Shirayamahime appears in Hotsuma Tsutae in Ayas 1, 4, and 24. In the former, when her sister-in-law Isanami gives birth to Amateru, Shirayamahime is the one who gives him his first bath. She is Amateru’s aunt. Shirayamahime is the first to hear the infant speak his name, Uhirugi, spirit of the sun. For this she was called Kikurihime, although at other times Kokorihime.

Aya 24 tells about Ninikine’s travels, by palanquin provided by Ukesuteme, through the Shirayama peaks in the Land of Koshi (Koyene). Together with Ukesuteme, Shirayamahime studied the secret teachings of To no Woshite with Lord Toyoke in his palace in Hitakami. Ukesuteme is the original name of the immortal Mother of the West, Xi Wangmu to the Chinese. This leads me to suspect that Shirayamahime and Ukesuteme may have been masters of The Way and possibly acquired supernatural abilities.

While Shirayama is the name of the hime, Hakusan has become the name of the mountain and the mountain faith. Interestingly, the hongu main shrine in Kanazawa City is called Shirayamahime Jinja while the okunomiya mountain-top shrine is Hakusan Jinja.

Matsuo Basho in the Land of Ne

White Winds of Autumn.   Matsuo Basho preceded me here on his famous trip chronicled in Oku no Hosomichi. He was at the famous Natadera Temple in 1689.

ishiyama no     ishi yori shiroi     aki no kaze

whiter than the stones     of Stone Mountain     are the winds of autumn.



Grasshopper in the Helmet.   When I visited Tada Jinja in Komatsu, I learned that Basho had also been here and is memorialized at his own shrine within the Tada shrine grounds. Tada Jinja possesses the elegant helmet of Saito Sanemori, a famous warrior of old.  Basho, as he did in his natsugusa ya haiku, expresses his sadness at lives lost in battles.

muzan ya na     kabuto no shita ni     kirigirisu

grasshopper     under the helmet     how tragic!




Shrines in the Land of Ne

It’s been said that there are 3,000 shrines affiliated with Shirayamahime, Hakusan, and Kukurihime. Of course, many of them are in the land of Ne. We visited a number of them and you can read about them at our sister site: www.yamanomiya.wordpress.com.

Life in the Land of Ne

What have I learned from this trip? Something about the preciousness of human life and the courage of those living in harsh yet beautiful environments. I could see that people nevertheless deeply appreciate the gifts of nature such as the mountains which are home of kami and the source of pure water of life.

Updated 2017.01.17