Maroudo Shrine in Itsukushima Shrine

This is part five entry of Itsukushima shrine (厳島神社) in Miyajima island.

Maroudo shrine purification hall

Let's assume that you are approaching the shrine from the big torii gate that looks floating in the ocean. To the left there is sessha shrine (摂社/subordinate to main one) called Maroudo (= guest) shrine (客神社). In reality, this is the first shrine visitors worshipping and praying as this is the closest shrine from the entrance.


The family crest of Itsukushima shrine is called "Mitsumori nijuukikkou ni kenhanabishi  (三つ盛り二重亀甲に剣花菱) meaning triplet (三盛り) double-tortoiseshells (二重亀甲) embedding swords () and diamond-shaped flower (花菱). This crest is well known as that of Izumo Ooyashiro (出雲大社), although Izumo has the singular form. Just to remind you that Izumo Ooyashiro enshrines Okuni (大国主), BTW.

Itsukushima shrine family crest - triplet
Is there a relationship between Itsukushima shrine and Izumo Ooyashiro???


Family crest of Izumo Taisha at Yatsuashimon (= 8 legged gate)

Five male deities, Masakatsuakatsukachihayahi amenooshihomimi (マサカツアカツカチハヤヒアメノオシホミミ), Amenohohi (アメノホヒ), Amatsuhikone (アマツヒコネ), Ikutsuhikone (イクツヒコネ), and Kumanokusubi (クマノクスビ) are enshrined in Maroudo shrine. These dudes are born by ritual ceremony called "Ukei (= covenant trial by pledge/誓約)", made between Amaterasu (アマテラス) and Susanoo (スサノヲ). Since they were born from Amaterasu's accessory (アマテラスの玉) named "Yasakaninoihomisumaru (八坂瓊之五百箇御統)", they are considered to be offsprings of Amaterasu.
Needless to say, three enshrined deities, Takiribime (タキリビメ), Ichikishimahime (イチキシマヒメ), and Tagitsuhime (タキツヒメ) in Itsukushima shrine were also born during Ukei ceremony. The name of the shrine came from Ichikishimahime, BTW. Since they were born from Susanoo's sword (スサノヲの剣) named "Totsukanotsurugi (十拳剣)", they are considered to be Susanoo's offsprings.

Image from Wiki
It should be mentioned that the probable reason why Izumo Ooyashiro and Itsukushima shrine share the same type of family crest is that Izumokuninomiyakko (出雲国造) clan, who's been taking care of all the ritual ceremonies in Izumo Ooyashiro, declares that they are descendent from Amenohohi (天穂日命). When you see shrines having this type of family crest, enshrined deities must have something to do with above mentioned five male and three female deities.

On the other hand, shinto priest at Itsukushima shrine has been heredity of Saeki clan (佐伯氏). Kuramoto Saeki (佐伯鞍職), the first shinto priest, received divine message from Ichikishimahime and built Itsukushima shrine in AD 593. The family crest of Saeki family is Gyouyou Kuyou (杏葉九曜 see below) that is different from shrine's family crest. This is probably because Saeki clan is a prominent deity in Aki province but they are not descendant from three enshrined deities.

Saeki clan's family emblem-杏葉九曜
Collectively, five male deities enshrined in maroudo shrine and three female deities enshrined in main hall are siblings and that's why five brothers are invited to be at maroudo shrine.


Sumiyoshi Shrine In Shimonoseki City Part 2

This is part 2 entry of Sumiyoshi shrine (住吉神社) in Shimonoseki city.

To the eastern part of the shrine there is a big and old camphor tree that is believed to be planted by Takenouchi Sukune around 1800 years ago. To be precise, the current tree with the trunk 60 meter in girth grows from an old stump. 

Divine tree planted by Takenouchi Sukune

Takenouchi Sukune is enshrined in the middle of Main hall, facing just in front of Haiden hall. When you stand in front of Haiden hall and ring the bell in the middle, then you are praying to him. 

"Why is he enshrined there?", you may wonder.

He is a legendary statesman serving under fifth emperors (KeikoSeimuChuaiOhjin, and Nintoku). Although there is no reliable record in terms of his age, he is known for his longevity. For instance, according to Mizukagami (水鏡) that was written in the early Kamakura period around 1195, he passed away at the age of 280 in Nintoku 55th (AD367).
According to Kojiki, twenty seven clans declared to be descendent from him. These clans include Soga (蘇我), Kose (巨勢), Ki (), and so on... He is enshrined at several shrines such as Koura Taisha (高良大社), Ichinomiya in Chikugo Province, Ube shrine (宇倍神社), Ichinomiya in Inaba Province, and a couple of more.

1 Yen issued in 1916

His portrait was featured in the old version of banknotes of the Japanese yen


Sumiyoshi Shrine In Shimonoseki city

Sumiyoshi shrine (住吉神社) in shimonoseki city (下関市) is the most prestigious shrine called Ichinomiya (一宮) in Nagato Province, (長門国), an ancient district located at the far-western part of mainland Honshu. Along with Sumiyoshi Taisha in Osaka (大阪住吉大社and Sumiyoshi shrine in Hakata (博多住吉神社), the shrine is one of the three biggest shrines worshipping three deities called "Sumiyoshi sanjin (住吉三神)" a generic name for Sokutsutsunowo (底筒男), Nakatsutsunowo (中筒男), and Uwatsutsunowo (上筒男). They were born when Izanagi (伊邪那岐) had a purification ceremony called "misogi ()" soon after he managed to escape from the Land of Yomi (World of darkness/黄泉の国). Interestingly, this story only appears in Kojiki.

Both chronicles, Kojiki and Nihon shoki, mentioned that Izanagi had misogi in the river (or brackish water) at Awagihare in Tachibanano oto in Tsukushi, Himuka (筑紫の日向の橘の小戸の阿波岐原), which is considered to be in current Fukuoka city. The name of this place is phrased in Norito (祝詞), an ancient Japanese Liturgy.

Image from Wikipedia
As you can see from the photo above (image from Wikipedia) main hall, built in AD1370 and registered as national treasure (国宝), is composed of five compartments where five deities are individually enshrined - from left to right (west to east), Sumiyoshi sanjin (住吉三神) in the first hall, Emperor Ohjin (応神天皇) in the second, Takenouchi, Sukune (武内宿禰) in the third which faces to Haiden hall (拝殿), Empress Jingu (神功皇后) in the fourth, and Takeminakata (建御名方) in the fifth. It is said that the aratama (=brutal soul/荒魂) of Sumiyoshi sanjin is enshrined in Shimonoseki Sumiyoshi shrine, whereas their nigitama (= harmonious soul/和魂) is enshrined in Osaka Sumiyoshi taisha.

The history of the shrine started off when Empress Jingu and her troops returned from Korea for reign. Although Japan chronicles argued that her troops conquered southern part of Korea, there is no historical evidence supporting her reign in Korea (see this link for more detail).

According to Nihon shoki, Sumiyoshi Taijin (住吉大神 = Sumiyoshi sanjin) supported to nagivate her troops to safely land to Silla (新羅). Three years after her stay in Korea, Empress Jingu received an oracle from Sumiyoshi Taijin to enshrine brutal spirit at Yamadanomura (山田邑) in Nagato province and appointed Anatonoataehondachi (穴門直践立) to be the principal priest. Upon request Anatonoataehondachi  built small shrine (祠) in the place where current Sumiyoshi shrine is located.

During the reign of the 13th Emperor Seimu (成務天皇 AD131-191), spirits of Emperor Ohjin, Takenouchi no Sukune, and Empress Jingu are transferred from Umi Hachimangu (宇美八幡宮) in Fukuoka prefecture. Takeminakata was enshrined much later but we are not certain when it exactly was...

Small divine bridge (神橋)

Unfortunately the construction went on when I visited but the weather was undoubtedly beautiful.

To be continued


Bund Sightseeing Tunnel in Shanghai

Images from archive... Since these image were taken in China, I decided to post here...

It was summertime in 2013 when I was in Shanghai for the conference and I had a chance to walk around downtown. 

Bund sightseeing tunnel lies under the Huangpu river (黄浦江), connecting the Bund and Lujiazui area of Pudong district.

After paying 50 yuan, unmanned transparent compartments will take you to the bizarre world. It takes about 4 minutes to run 646 meter tunnel. 

It's open from 8:00 to 22:30 (from May to October) or from 8:00 to 22:00 (from November to April).



Kashiigu (香椎宮) is the shrine located in Fukuoka city, Kyushu (= nine provinces). I've long wanted to explore Kyushu area and eventually had an opportunity to visit shrines, although I had only two days. 

As you can tell from the photos, it's been raining when I visited Kashiigu:(

You may realize that in Kyushu area a myriad of shrines enshrine Emperor Chuai/Tarashinakatsuhikono sumeramikoto (仲哀天皇/帯中日子天皇), his wife Empress Jingu/Okunagatarashihimenomikoto (神功皇后/息長帯比売命), and their offspring, Emperor Ohjin/Hondawakenomikoto (応神天皇/誉田別尊) because Emperor Chuai's troops visited many places in Kyushu.

They stayed in Tsukushi Province (筑紫郡) that was located within Fukuoka Prefecture to conquer Kumaso (熊襲), a rebel against Emperor's dynasty, who were settled mostly in southern part of Kyushu. 

Stone monument of Chuai's HQ settlement

When Emperor Chuai headquartered in Tsukushi province, his wife Empress Jingu was suddenly struck a condition called "spirit possession" and that's when she received a divine message. However, Emperor Chuai didn't take it into consideration and blamed the deity. Owing to his faithfulness deed, he passed away there a year later after the divine message. Widow Jingu built his mausoleum in a place called Furumiya (= old palace/古宮). It was AD200... 

Furumiya - Chuai's original mausoleum
In AD724, Empress Jingu's mausoleum was built there, too. That's why Kashiigu was considered to be the mausoleum and therefore it's been called "Kashii (香椎) byo (=mausoleum/廟) until 10th Century. It wasn't an ordinary shrine then.

View from the middle gate
Main hall (本殿) is registered as important cultural property of Japan (重要文化財) because the hall is built in an unique structure called "Kashii tsukuri (香椎造)".

Haiden hall
Needless to say, Kashiigu enshrines Emperor Chuai and Empress Jingu as primary deities, Emperor Ohjin and Sumiyoshi Ohkami (住吉大神) as subordinates. Why Sumiyoshi Ohkami enshrined??? Don't worry. I will explain later in the upcoming entry!

I've never seen Komainu (狛犬) having such a small face! It's so muscular that reminds me of Gozirra.


Kintai Bridge

When I returned from the trip to Mijamija Island, I stopped by at one of the most famous (in a bizarre way) bridges in Japan. It is called Kintai bridge (or Kintaikyo bridge/錦帯橋橋) that was built in 1673.

The bridge consists of five arches made of wood. The bridge has 193.3 meter long and 5 meter width to spans across Nishiki river (錦川),  

Until Meiji restoration only Samurai and wealthy local merchants were allowed to cross the bridge. At present, fee to cross bridge costs 300 JPY (adult). The toll gate is open from 8 to 17, however, it is possible to cross bridge before/after opening hours as long as you drop entrance fee in the box located at toll gate.

Alternatively you can cross river by boat!


Pindola Bharadvaja

Adjacent to Miyajima shrine Daiganji-temple (大願寺) is located. The temple is also known as Kikyozan Hohkoin (亀居山放光院). It belongs to Mt. Koya Shingon school (高野山真言宗). The temple is dedicated to Benzaiten (弁財天), which was transferred from Itsukushima shrine after Meiji restoration.

In front of the main hall, there is wooden statue named Pindora Bharadvaja, who was one of four Arhats asked by the Buddha to remain in the world to propagate Dharma. In Japan he is called "Binzuru sonja (賓頭盧尊者), an abbreviation of Biodora Baradaja (賓度羅跋囉惰闍). 

As you can see, the wooden statue is pretty worn out. This is due to the belief that he is reputed to have healing powers. Visitors rub a part of this effigy that corresponds to the sick or weak parts of their bodies. 

Does it mean kids touching his head have problem of brain cancer???


Jizo statues in Daisho-in

This is part two entry of Daisho-in (大聖院) in Miyajima island, which is photo only but I hope you can grasp the atmosphere and solemnness of the temple. Words are not always required to express...