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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Gatekeeper deities in Itsukushima Shrine

This is a part 3 entry of Itsukushima Shrine.

In almost all cases of visiting a shrine, worshippers go through torii gate first and walk on entrance path (参道) to approach Haiden Hall (拝殿). In the case of going and worshipping Itsukushima shrine, it is unrealistic to do so even when it is at the ebb. Although the entrance of Itsukushima shrine is situated on northeastern shore, I am going to explain buildings, structures, and shrines present in Itsukushima shrine according to the route from bayside (= torii gate).




After passing under the big torii gate and walking toward main hall (本殿), the first shrine located at the corners of flat stage (平舞台) is called Kadomaroudo shrine (門客人神社).

Image from Hatsukaichi city

The one to the left enshrines "Kushiiwamado no kami (櫛石窓神)" and the other to the right enshrines "Toyoiwamado no kami (豊石窓神)". The two deities are also called "Amanoiwatowake no kami (= Gatekeeper deity at the Heaven's gate made of rock/天岩門別神), who appeared in Japan chronicle where Ninigi(ニニギ), a grandson of Amaterasu (アマテラス), descended from heaven (Tenson ko-rin/天孫降臨). 


Kushiiwamado safeguarding at the left corner

Deities who followed Ninigi are called "Itsutomonowo (= five accompanied deities/五伴諸)" that include Amenokoyame (天児屋命), Futodama (布刀玉命), Amanouzume (天宇受売命), Ishikoridome (伊斯許理度売命), Tamanooya nomikoto (玉祖命). Besides, when Amaterasu sent Ninigi to pacify earth (= hostile ground), she passed him the Imperial regalia (= three sacred treasures of Japan/三種の神器) and asked three deities to support him. Three deities are named "Omoikane (思金神)", Anemotajikarao (天手力男神), and Amanoiwatowake (天岩門別神), the Gatekeepers of heaven's gate. Amanoiwatowake is said to be the offspring of Amanofutodama (天太玉神).

Obviously, the Amanoiwatowake's mission was to be at corners of the gate and secure Ninigi against invasions of the evil. Interestingly, their positions are always fixed - Kushiiwamado enshrined at left and Toyoiwamado at the right.

It makes perfect sense to me that two gatekeeper deities are enshrined at the very front of Itsukushima shrine, assuming that the two deities can protect the shrine from high tides caused by typhoons.



To be continued...

3 comments:

  1. Blogging is the new poetry. I find it wonderful and amazing in many ways.

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  2. This is really a wonderful post.

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