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

1 comment:

  1. As someone just reading Kojiki for the first time this is very informative and helpful, thank you! Some great photos too...I particularly like the photos of the bells and the small bridge as they have some nice contrasts :) x


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