Monday, November 21, 2016

Takami Shrine

Takami shrine (高見神社) is located at the heart of Kitakyushu city, Fukuoka Prefecture.

In the main hall 12 enshrined deities include (1) Amenominakanushi (天之御中主神), (2) Takamimusubi (髙御産巣日神), (3) Kamimusubi (神産巣日神), (4) Umashiashikabihikoji (可美葦芽彦遅神), (5) Amenotokotachi (天之常立神), (6) Kuninotokotachi (国之常立神), (7) Toyokumonu (豊雲野神), (8) Amaterasu (天照大御神), (9) Amenooshihomimi (天忍穂耳命), (10) Ninigi (皇孫瓊々杵命), (11) Hikohohodemi/Hoori (彦穂々手見命), (12) Ugayafukiaezu (鵜萱葺不合命). 


I am afraid that not so many readers are familiar with them, except (8) Amaterasu (天照大御神) but I tell you that they all are really big names and the list of them are like all star game members to me!!

The first 5 deities are collectively called "Kotoamatsukami (別天津神), who appeared at the time of the creation of the universe in Japan methodologies, Kojiki and Nihon Shoki. Unlike the later gods, these deities were born without any procreation. They are asexual and also called "Hitorigami (独神)". They are described as hiding themselves away once they achieved awareness. 

Later on, seven deities called "Kamiyonanayo - Seven Generations of the Age of the Gods"(神世七代)" appeared with whom (6) Kuninotokotachi (国之常立神) and (7) Toyokumonu (豊雲野神) are included. I would like to list the remaining 5 deities of Seven Generations but I should omit here... So let's continue introducing the remaining enshrined deities.

(8) Amaterasu's son is (9) Amenooshihomimi (天忍穂耳命), the son of (9) Amenooshihomimi (天忍穂耳命) is (10) Ninigi (皇孫瓊々杵命), Ninigi's son is (11) Hikohohodemi/Hoori (彦穂々手見命/ホオリ or Yamasachihiko/山幸彦) and Hoori's son is (12) Ugayafukiaezu (鵜萱葺不合命) who is a father of the first Emperor Jimmu (Iwarebiko)!!!

Again Whew!!!

In Wakamiya (若宮社), Emperor Nintoku (大雀命/仁徳天皇) and his wife Iwanohime (石之比売命) are enshrined.

In Sougozen (惣御前社) three female deities called "Munakata three sister deities Takiribine (多紀理毘売命), Ichikishimabine (市杵島比売命) and Tagitsuhime (多岐都比売命)" are enshrined. They are born in the ritual ceremony "Ukei (誓約)" made between Amaterasu and Susanoo, younger brother of Amaterasu.

At last in Saishu (歳守社) Ohkuni (大己貴命) and Toyoukebine (豊受姫命) are enshrined. Ohkuni is well known deity enshrined in Izumo ohyashiro (出雲大社) whereas Toyoukebine is know to be enshrined at Geguu (outer palace/外宮) in Ise grand shrine (伊勢神宮). This combination of deities is bit bizarre to me as I can't find significant relationship between them... 

Whew!!! One more time.

While preparing this entry, I found intriguing fact that the in such a small area there are seven shrines named "Takami shrine"!!!

1. 鷹見神社 4-5-1, Inokuma, Mizukami, Onga, Fukuoka, 807-0001
2. 鷹見神社折尾 10-56, Minami-takami, Yahatanishi, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, 807-0833
3. 高見神社 7-15, Norimatsu, Yahatanishi, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, 807-0831 
4. 鷹見神社 2-13-9, Einomaru, Yahatanishi, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, 807-0851
5. 鷹見神社 2-13-6, Anoo, Yahatanishi, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, 806-0049
6鷹見神社 Ichinose, Yahatanishi, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, 806-0063
7. 高見神社 1-1-1, Takami, Yahatahigashi, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, 805-0016 - this is the one I visited.

I repeat. The pronunciation is the same but two different Kanjis are used for "Taka" - one is 高/hight and the second is 鷹/falcon. 

Family emblem of the shrine, falcon feathers

Guess what

The family emblem of all shrines holds the same, falcon feather (鷹羽). This was my first time to see the unique emblem in my eyes!!!

Main Hall

It is said that the shrine was founded when Empress Jingu visited the hill by Doukai bay (洞海湾) where she prayed for the triumph of conquering the southern part of Korea/三韓征伐 (around AD 200???) by enshrining twelve ancestral deities of Royal family (= her ancestors) that are list above.

In 1896 when Yawata (or Yahata) Steel Works (八幡製鐵所 ) was launched there, the spirits of enshrined deities were transferred to the Toyoyama Hachiman shrine (豊山八幡神社) where the spirits stayed for 37 years.

The current Takami shrine was established in 1933 due to the celebration of current 125th Emperor Akihito, as well as the establishment of Japan Iron & Steel Co., Ltd (日本製鐵株式會社 1934-1950)...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Shikaumi Shrine

Shikaumi shrine (志賀海神社) is located in Shikanoshima island (志賀島), Fukuoka Prefecture (福岡県).Shikanoshima is indeed an island, however, it is connected to Kyushu island via Umi no nakamichi (海の中道), which is a tombolo.

So called "Watatsumi sanshin (= three deities related to the sea/綿津見三神) are enshrined. "Wata" means ocean (海) in Ancient Japanese, "tsu" means 'of/の' and "mi" means spirit. After passing the Tower gate (楼門), three main halls are ahead of you. From the left through middle to right; Naka(=middle/)tsuwatatsumi (仲津綿津見神), Soko(=bottom/底)tsuwatatsumi (底津綿津見神) and Uwa(=surface/表)tsuwatatsumi (表津綿津見神) are enshrined, respectively. 

They appear in the chapter called "Kamiumi (=the birth of the gods/神産み)" in Japanese mythologiesKojiki (古事記) and Nihon shoki (日本書紀). When Izanagi (イザナギ) came back from Yomi (=the world of the death/黄泉), he performed "misogi (the purification ceremony/禊)" through which numerous deities are born (Purification of Izanagi). Watatsumi three deities are born at the same time as Sumiyoshi three deities (住吉三神) were.

Tiny divine bridge in front of romon gate

In Japanese mythology, Azumi clan (安曇氏) claims to be the descendant of Watatsumi sanshin. They are believed to be one of the main marine traders and later on they scattered all over Japan. When the town is named "Azumi" (阿曇/安曇) or "Atsumi" (厚見/厚海/渥美/阿積/泉/熱海/飽海), they are likely to be the places where Azumi clan used to settle!!!

Oh dear...!

In the precinct of the shrine, more than 10,000 deer horns are dedicated in the Rokkakudo hall (鹿角堂).

It was so unfortunate that it was raining when I visited there (as you can see from photos above) because Shikanoshima island (志賀島) is such a breathtaking place!!! 

Please enjoy official video of Shikaumi shrine!!!

As all of visitor are aware of, I am Shinto geek (otaku), visiting as many shrines as possible when I am in Japan. Shikaumi shrine is definitely one of my favorite shrines utterly worth visiting!!! I bet I will visit once again when the weather is nice xD.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hofu Tenmangu

Hofu Tenmangu (防府天満宮), located in Hofu city (防府市), Yamaguchi Prefecture (山口県), is one of the three main shrines dedicated to Tenjin (天神), Michizane Sugawara (菅原道真). The other two major Tenmangu include Kitano Tenmangu (北野天満宮) in Kyoto and Dazaifu Tenmangu (太宰府天満宮) in Fukuoka.

Rohmon Gate (楼門)

The shrine claims to be the oldest Tenmangu estabiished a year after the death of Michizane Sugawara in AD 904. The precinct of the shrine is believed to be one of the places where Michizane Sugawara stopped by when he was exiled to Dazaifu (太宰府) where he passed away in 903. Fujiwara clan members who plotted his downfall believed that Michizane passed away with grudges...

The first Torii gate
Soon after his death the Kyoto citizen in the capital suffered from natural disasters. Since the dehydration persisted since his death, the ritual ceremony to pray for rain took place in June 26th, 930. After the praying dark and thick clouds appeared and covered the Heian capital. 

In principle, the ceremony was successful!!! 
Except the following unexpected incident...

Shimenawa pillars
An after the long-awaited rainfall, the palace was struck by lightning, resulting in several casualties who grabbed the power in the palace. Three months after eyewitnessing the unprecedented disaster, Emperor Daigo passed away.  Based upon the "coincidence", Michizane is worshipped as Tenmandaijizai Tenjin (天満大自在天神).

In AD 909 Tokihira Fujiwara (藤原時平), who expelled Michizane, passed away at the age of 39. Besides epidemic diseases were rife all over. Prince Yasuakira (保明親王), the second son of Emperor Daigo, passed away in AD 923 and his son, Yoshiyori (慶頼王), grandchild of Emperor Daigo, passed away, too in AD 925.

The statue of cow is always somewhere in Tenmangu shrine because there are several folklore saying that "Michizane's Chinese animal is cow", "He had a ride in cow when he was exiled to Dazaifu.", "He loved cow and was loved by cow.", "Cow saved him from assassination.", "The place of Dazaifu Tenmangu was assigned by his cow.", and s on... Cow is considered as a Messenger of God" in Tenmangu shrines.

Tenmangu is located in the Hofu city center and contributed to the development of the town since its foundation.

Panoramic view of the town is all yours (free of charge)!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hakozakigu Ikejimaden

This is a part two entry of Hakozakigu (筥崎宮) in Fukuoka Prefecture. 

To the east, there are complex of auxiliary shrines called sessha (摂社). Myriad of hanging straw sandals were hung up there, which caught my attention...

From right to left Ikejima Palace (池島殿), Takeuchi shrine (武内社), Otokogu Palace (乙子宮), Sumiyoshi Palace (住吉殿), Inari shrine (稲荷社)
Enshrined deity in Ikejima Palace are Kagutsuchi (賀具土命), Okutsuhiko (奥津彦命) and Okutsuhime (奥津彦姫). The name of the Palace, Ikejima came from the fact that there used to be a pond (ike/池) and an island (shima or jima/島) in the pond. 

As far as I know Kaguchuchi is a god of fire, however, here Kaguchuchi has been worshipped as a deity of healing diseases related to feet and hands. It makes sense that people who suffer from limb diseases come to visit there and pray. When the disease is cured, they deposit straw sandals...

The remaining deities, Okutsuhiko and Okutsuhime, are also know to be the deity of fire in cooking stove... They are all related to fire somehow...

The annual ritual ceremony (池島殿祭) takes place on the 27th of June (starting at 11 AM).

Sunday, May 22, 2016


Hakozakigu (筥崎宮) is the most prestigious shrine in Chikuzen Province (筑前国) and considered to be one of the three great Hachimangu in Japan. The other two involve Iwashimizu Hachimangu (岩清水八幡宮) in Kyoto and Usa Jingu (宇佐神宮) in Usa city, Ohita Prefecture. Hako (筥) means oval-shaped box.

Since the shrine is named Hachimangu, the enshrined deities are 15th Emperor Ohjin (応神天皇), his mom Empress Jingu (神功皇后), and Tamayorohime (玉依姫).

The shrine started it's history in AD 921 when the spirits of above enshrined deities were transferred from Daibu Hachimangu (大分八幡宮) located in Fukuoka Prefecture. Initially Hakozakigu was located by the Genkai sea (玄界灘). Two years later (AD 923) it was moved to the current location.

The shrine is famous for its plaque "敵国降伏" denoting "Surrender of the hostile nation". The plaque was the enlarged version of its original one written in plain paper by the 60th Emperor Daigo (醍醐天皇) in AD 922. He prepared 37 copies because the main hall was composed of 34 pillars and three deities were enshrined (altogether 37). Besides he was 37 years old when he wrote. It became well-known when Emperor Kameyama (亀山天皇) wrote it in AD 1274 because Mongol invasion (元寇) took place then.

As you can see, it was raining like crazy when I was there:(((

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Iminomiya Shrine

Iminomiya Shrine (忌宮神社) is the second prestigious shrine (Ninomiya/二ノ宮) in Nagato Province (長門国 currently a part of Yamaguchi Prefecture). The precinct of shrine is considered to be the place where 14th Emperor Chuai (仲哀天皇) stayed for seven years during his conquest of Kumaso (熊襲平定) and built the Palace called Toyoura no Mia (豊浦宮) in AD 192.

The enshrined deities are Emperor Chiai, of course, his wife, Empress Jingu (神功皇后), and their offspring, Emperor Ohjin (応神天皇).

After taking government affairs there for 7 years there, Emperor Chuai, along with Empress Jingu, moved to Kashiigu (please check my entry) in Tsukushi Province. In AD 199, Emperor Chuai passed away...

According to the Nihon Shoki, Empress Jingu led an army in an invasion of Korea and returned to Japan victorious after three years. However, there is no evidence of her rule in any part of Korea. Anyway, it is said that she stopped by 

Iminomiya Shrine on her way back from Korea and enshrined her husband, Emperor Chuai in the shrine...

As you can see in photos, there are tons of pigeons and some chickens all over and I was just overwhelmed by them... Well, to be honest, I was bit scared at them (yes, I am a chicken-shit) but the local lass had no problem with getting along with them!