Kashima Jingu Part Two

This is a part two entry of Kashima Jingu. For those who missed the first entry, please visit this.

The enshrined deity of Kashima Jingu and Nakatomi clan

In part one entry, I described that "Takemikazuchi (タケミカヅチ) is commonly regarded as the enshrined deity of Kashima Jingu." whereas Kashima Jingu, of course, officially declares that the enshrined chief deity is Takemikazuchi. It is, however, not crystal clear because Kashima Jingu was not depicted in two Japan chronicles (Kojiki and Nihon Shoki). 
On the other hand, in Hitachi Fudoki (= Chronography in Hitachi province/常陸国風土記) compiled in A.D. 713, the name of the enshrined deity of Kashima Jingu is outlined "Kashima no Amano Ohkami (香島の天の大神= Eminent deity of Kashima)", who descended from the heaven (= territory reigned by Amaterasu called Takamagahara) earlier than the grandson of Amaterasu, Ninigi (ニニギ), did (tenson kohrin/天孫降臨). After all, Hitachi Fudoki did not annotate "Kashima no Amano Ohkami" to be identical to Takemikazuchi.

The first official articles describing the Takemikazuchi being the enshrined deity of Kashima Jingu are Kogo Shui (古語拾遺) compiled in A.D. 807 and Kasugasai norito (春日祭祝詞) in Engishiki-jinmeicho (延喜式神名帳). Kasugasai norito (春日祭祝詞) was said to be compiled when Kasuga taisha (春日大社) was founded in A.D. 768 (older than Kogo Shui). I will elaborate on it below.

How come Takemikazuchi has become an official enshrined chief deity of Kashima Jingu???

The rise of the Nakatomi clan (中臣氏) probably could account for this. Let me briefly review who Nakatomi clan was. 
Along with Inbe clan (忌部氏), Nakatomi clan was responsible for conducting the national rites. The clan claims themselves to be the descendants of Amenokoyane (アメノコヤネ), a deity who was the first to send "norito (祝詞)" when Ameterasu hid herself away behind Amano Iwato (Heavenly door made of rock). For those who are interested in this incident, please visit Amanoyasugawara entryIt is also presumed that Amenokoyane is the offspring of Takemikazuchi because his alternative name, Amatariwake (天足別命), is identical to that of Takemikazuchi's son. 

During Emperor Sujin's reign (B.C. 97- B.C 30), Kashima deity bestowed the divine message to Kamukikikatsu Ohnakatomi (大中臣神聞勝命), who soon advocated Emperor Sujin to donate Kashima Jingu armed weapons. The additional divine message was delivered to Ominosayama Nakatomi (中臣臣狭山命) during Emperor Keikoh (景行天皇)'s reign (A.D. 71-130), who donated Kashima Jingu three ships. The Mifune festival (御船祭) that still takes place every 12 years (on the 2nd of September) even in the 21st century delineates the process of welcoming the messengers sent from Emperor Keikoh.

Kamatari shrine located in the middle of the residential area
In the 7th century when Kamatari Nakatomi (中臣鎌足) who grabbed political influence after Taika reform (大化の改新) at 645, a new family name, Fujiwara (the most distinguished clan in ancient Japan), was granted from the Emperor Tenji to Kamatari when he passed away in A. D. 669. 

It should be noted that the project of compiling Japan chronicles (Kojiki and Nihon Shoki) was initiated by Emperor Tenmu (天武天皇)'s order. Kamatari's son, Fuhito Fujiwara (藤原不比等), had a great influence upon the project because his oldest daughter, Miyako Fujiwara (藤原宮子), is the wife (= Empress) of Emperor Tenmu. She delivered a son, who later on became the Emperor Shohmu (聖武天皇). The meaning of "Fuhito" is "incomparative=invincible! Yeah, his first name explicates his personality and the power he'd grasped. The more political power Fujiwara clan won, the higher divinity Kashima Jingu rose. Well, to be more precise, Fuhito was allegedly able to implement to bestow Takemikazuchi a more prestige in chronicles. History is recorded based on the winner's point of view, you know.  

Kamatari shrine enshrining Kamatari Nakatomi
I repeat. Kashima Jingu was the one out of only three shines called "Jingu".  Even in Fuhito's era, Kashima Jingu was an ancient, distinguished and honored shrine for enshrined deity's military attainments of conquering the new territories (northern part of Japan). It is not surprising to suspect that Fuhito made some cosmetic changes in official chronicles that Fujiwara clan was descendent from Amenokoyane, who is presumed to be a son of Takemikazuchi. Kamatari was rumored to be originated from Hitachi province (sort of hearsay evidence though). In a local newspaper in Hitachi Province (Hitachi fudoki issued in A.D. 713) in which Fuhito had no influence on editing, the chief deity of the prestigious Kashima Jingu was not Takemikazuchi but "Kashima no Amano Ohkami (Eminent deity of Kashima)". In 768, Kasugasai norito (春日祭祝詞) was released from Kasuga shrine that is owned by Fujiwara clan, stating that Takemikazuchi was the enshrined chief deity of Kashima Jingu. It took them 53 years to identify Takemikazuchi the ideal deity enshrined in Kashima Jingu. 

That way, the formula "Kashima no Amano Ohkami=Takemikazuchi" was established.

From Isle of redolence (香島) to the isle of deer 
(鹿島)- Kashima

In 768, Fujiwara clan founded Kasuga Taisha (春日大社) in Nara by carrying the spirit of Takemikazuchi on white deer's back. Besides, Futsunushi, Amenokoyane and Himegami (Koyane's wife) were enshrined there, too. The four deities are collectively called "Kasuga deity (春日神)"

Image from Wiki
That feat took almost a year and the offsprings of the holy white deer flourished. Yes, deer you can meet, touch and give snacks at Nara park originated from Kashima. Unlike their cousins in Nara, deer settling in Kashima Jingu are not free to roam around. Around 30 deer are tamed in the garden.

After the success of the long journey of transferring the spirit of Takemikazuchi, deer is considered to be a holy animal (subordinate to the high-ranking divine spirits) in Kashima Jingu. In the 5th century, Kashima was originally described in Kanji as "香島 (Isle of redolence)". Later on, the kanji was changed to 鹿島 (isle of deer).

The statue of deer

Emperor Jimmu and Futsumitama sword

As described in part one entry, Takemikazuchi appears in Japan chronicles three times. When the Emperor Jimmu made up his mind leaving Himuka (current Miyazaki Prefecture) and headed for the eastern part of Japan, Nara, to conquer (called "Jimmu Tohsei (神武東征)"), his troops faced big trouble after trouble. When they were stuck at Yoshino (southern part of Nara prefecture), Takemikazuchi gave Takakuraji (高倉下) a command to deliver a holy sword called "Futsumitama (フツミタマ)" to Jimmu, which resulted in the triumph of Jimmu's troops. Out of Emperor Jimmu's gratitude to the support from Takemikazuchi, Kashima Jingu was founded on the first year of Jimmu's reign (B.C. 660). 

Futsumitama, originally owned by Takemikazuchi, is dedicated at Isonokami Jingu (石上神宮). It was never returned to Kashima Jingu after all. 

Image from Kashima digital museum
As an alternative,  the gigantic 2.71 meter-long holy blade named "Futsunomitamano tsurugi (韴霊剣)", registered as National treasure, used to be preserved in the main hall of Kashima Jingu. In fact, Kashima Jingu was the place to worship a holy sword.

The layout of the main hall

Toward where does the deity look?

Once again let's ponder at where the enshrined deity is gazing. By looking at the layout of the main hall and the orientation of the sanctum, it appears that the enshrine deity looks toward the Okunomiya (= inner shrine/奥宮) where the fierce spirit, aratama (荒魂) of Takemikazuchi, was worshipped (whereas merciful spirit/nigitama is enshrined in the sanctum of the main hall).


In appears to me, just by looking at the layout of Kashima Jingu, that Okunomiya is a gatekeeper for safeguarding the "Kaname-ishi (pinning stone/要石).

it is commonly regarded that, back in olden days, people presumed that the earthquake struck when the catfish living underground made moves. To prevent earthquakes, the whim of that underground beast must have been subdued. That's what the Kaname-ishi is all about; to pin the monster underground. The concave-shaped boulder looks like a pebble, however, only the tip of rock-berg is surfaced. Nobody knows the actual size. 

Around Edo period, it was believed that underground catfish causing the earthquake became docile thanks to Takemikazuchi and Futsunushi's divinity. But this narrative sounds quite poetic to me, which made me feel like exploring what truth was behind it...


According to the Nihon Shoki, Takemikazuchi descended to the Hitachi province that had been the hostile ground under the sway of the local power organized by Kagaseo (香香背男). BTW, is it just a coincidence that two "Ka/ga (香)" of "Kashima" are on his name??? It seems to me that his name implies that he is the bloke (o=男) living and/or born in ka (=香; abbreviation of Kashima???), who is against (se=背) the Amaterasu administration.
According to the Kashima Jingu's article, Takemikazuchi descended onto the Iwakura (sacred stone/磐座). He and Futsunushi dispatched Takehazuchi (建葉槌命) to exterminate Kagaseo. BTW, Takehazuchi is enshrined at Takafusa shrine located just in front of the main hall of Kashima Jingu and traditionally back in olden days visitors were told to pray at Takefusa shrine first, then the main hall. There must be a reason but it was lost in translation...

Takafusa shrine (right), enshrining Takehazuchi (建葉槌命) and Kari-den (left)
Later on, the commentaries of that war to eradicate Kagaseo's municipal power turned into the legend that Takemikazuchi and Futsunushi pinned the misbehaved catfish (a symbol of Kagaseo?) with kaname-ishi. The word earthquake might insinuate the Kagaseo's rampage??? 

All in all, it can be interpreted that Takemikazuchi, as skilled Admiral, sent troops to Kashima by a battleship, settled the general headquarter to the place where Kaname-ishi is embedded and pitched the military base camp on the place where Jingu's main hall is currently built. His division eventually wiped out the local opponents. Mission complete.

That being said, it seems to me that Kashima district was the battlefront like wall-street in Manhattan and the Kashima Jingu was built to commemorate the triumph of the Admiral "Kashima no Amano Ohkami".

Thank you for reading to the end.


1 comment:

  1. The photos are incredible, they convey the culture of this country. Thanks for sharing!


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