Miyajidake Shrine

Miyajidake Shrine (宮地嶽神社) is located in Fukutsu city, Fukuoka Prefecture. Based upon Japan chronicles, Kojiki/古事記 and Nihon-shoki/日本書紀, the shrine is said to be founded around 1,700 years ago when Empress Jingu/Okunagatarashihimenomikoto (神功皇后/息長帯比売命) stopped by at Mt. Miyajidake for praying a victory of conquering the southern part of Korea (although there is no historical evidence supporting her reign in Korea. See this link for more detail). The deities to whom Empress Jingu prayed for triumph were Munakata three sisters, "Tagirihine (タギリヒメ)", "Ichikishimabine (イチキシマヒメ)" and "Tagitsubine (タギツヒメ).

Currently, Empress Jingu is enshrined as a main deity and Katsumura-ookami/勝村大神 (藤之高麿) and Katsuyori ookami/勝頼大神 (藤之助麿) are also enshrined as supporting ones. The two supporting deities are considered to be the local clan reigning around Mt. Miyajitake who went to Korea to support Empress Jingu. However, enshrined deities varied with eras...  

At Miyajitake shrine, there are three objects that are ranked the first place in Japan.

The first one is the biggest shinenawa (注連縄). It is 11 meter long with a diameter of 2. 6 meters, weighed at around 3000 kg. It is replaced annually.

The biggest shimenawa in Japan
The second one is the biggest drum/taiko (太鼓) with a diameter of 2.2 meters. Well to be strictly precise, there is drum that is even bigger than this but the shrine claims that their taiko is the biggest that is made of all Japanese materials.
Image from Miyajitake shrine HP
The third object is the biggest bell, weighed at 350 kg that is donated by an ardent believer.

Image from Miyajitake shrine HP

Below is copy&paste the text from shrine's HP. When you have a chance to visit the shrine, why don't you try to find "shining rubbing black cow?"

In Japan, there’s a folk belief that if you stroke a statue of a seated cow, your illness will be cured. This statue is called “nade-ushi (stroking cow)”. It’s believed that your illness will be cured by stroking a nade-ushi statue at the same part of the body where you have the illness. While many shrines across Japan have this nade-ushi, our shrine’s nade-ushi is tiny and cute. It sits quietly in a special place in the vast premises of the shrine. Please try to find our nade-ushi!

The precinct of shrine is quite vast. I spent more than 2 hours there, although there was a constant rainfall there. To be honest, I didn't care above-mentioned three No.1 objects in the shrine... What I wanted to see there was the ancient grave (Kofun/古墳 in Japanese), named Miyajitake Kofun (宮地嶽古墳) that is presumably made in 6th century. I will post part two entry in the future... so stay tuned!

To be continued...

P.S. Official English shrine booklet is available here!


Munakata Taisha Nakatsu-Gu In Ohshima Island

This is the entry inspired by the decision made by The World Heritage Committee held in Krakow in July, 2017. "Sacred island of Okinoshima and associated sites in the Munakata" is now in UNESCO's world heritage site list!

Okinoshima Island (沖ノ島) is located midway between the Kyushu island and the Korean peninsula. The sacred island, along with three nearby reefs and four other related sites were given world heritage status at the UN body’s annual summit in Krakow, Poland.

Okinishima is 97 hectares (240 acres) island invisible in the scale of this map...

In principle, Okinoshima is owned by Munakata Grand shrine (宗像大社) and only the shinto priest can reside in the sacred island. No women are ever permitted to land Okinoshima. It could be due to the fact that enshrined deity, Tagirihime (タギリヒメ)" is a female deity who are jealous at the same gender... If you are a man, there is a only one way to land. Until this year, only 200 jackpod "male" winners are permitted to land for attending the annual ritual ceremony that takes place on the 27th of May. The chance is only once a year!!!!

You may wonder why on 27th of May???

Because it's one day after my birthday...  


Tsushima battle in 1905 (Image from Wikipedia)

The data is set based on the fact that in 1905 the then-shinto priest eyewitnessed the battle of Tsushima (or Naval Battle of the Sea of Japan), a major naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). 

On my birthday, 26th of May, 200 lucky men who are blessed by Tagirihime female shinto deity get together in Ohshima island (大島), located between Okinoshima and Kyushu, and stay one night there. Everybody can land on Ohshima island and all the photos I posted here were taken in Ohshima island where Munakata Taisha Nanatsu-gu (宗像大社中津宮) is located. Next day, they head for Okinoshima island. Before they go ashore, they must observe centuries-old rituals, including taking their clothes off and undergoing misogi ()– bathing naked in the sea to rid themselves of impurities (see video above!!!). 

They are prohibited from taking home mementoes, including small objects such twigs, pebbles and blades of grass, according to the island’s websiteThe objective of permitting 200 men in sacred island is to honour sailors who died in a nearby naval battle during the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese war.

After visiting Ohshima island, landing on Okinoshima sacred island became one of my "must visit" destination list.

However, Takayuki Ashizu, the chief priest at Munakata Taisha, said the ban on tourism – and women – would stay in place, despite a flood of inquiries from travel agencies.

We wouldn’t open Okinoshima to the public even if it is inscribed on the Unesco cultural heritage list, because people shouldn’t visit out of curiosity.” Ashizu told the Japan Times last year... 

Oh, well. One of my dream's over.... 
Hang on. There are two ways to land Okinoshima. One is to be a shinto priest at Munakata shrine and the second is to be a scholar in shinto history and land for research! 

It takes 15- 25 min to get to Ohshima island by ferry from mainland Kyushu island (time table is available only in Japanese here). It costs ¥560 JPY one way (adult).

To be continued...