Kurufushi Shrine is located in Takachiho-cho, Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture. The shrine is dedicated to Amatsuhikohikohono-niniginomikoto.
In earlier days when there was no building erected on the site, the mountain itself was the subject of worship and it was counted as one of the Eighty Eight Takachiho Shrines. In 1694, the shrine was built by the lord of the Nobeoka Clan and the people of the village, who were deeply devoted to their faith.
According to Kojiki, the oldest surviving book, Niniginomikoto descended to the top of “Mount Kujifuru” in Takachiho. This Mount Kujifuru is believed to be today’s Mount Kurufuru where, halfway up the side, the Kurufushi Shrine stands. In the vicinity are some other mythological sites including Shioujiga-mine which is said to be the birth place of Emperor Jinmu’s brothers, as well as theTakamagaharayouhaisho and Takachioho-hi Monument.
Kurufushi Shrine is a tranquil place surrounded by woods. Visiting this shrine, along with theTakachiho Shrine and the Amanoiwato Shrine is called sansha mairi (three shrines visit) and the practice has been popular since the old days.
Suwa Shrine is located in Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture, and it is also commonly known as Chinzeitaisha. This shrine is the main shrine in Nagasaki that honors the Suwa, Morisaki and Sumiyoshi Deities.
During the Koji Period (1555~1557), a part of the holy spirit of the deity at Suwa Shrine in the Shino region was transferred to a newly-built Suwa Shrine in Nagasaki. Oomura Sumitada, the local lord, who had been converted to Christianity, however, had donated the City of Nagasaki to the Society of Jesus and so he destroyed almost all the Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in the city. In 624, due to the efforts of Aoki Kensei, the chief priest of a shrine in the Hizen Karatsu region, the Suwa, Morisaki and Sumiyoshi Shrines were all combined into one shrine. It was in 1648 that this shrine was built at its current location. It was destroyed by fire in 1857, but it then restored in 1869 after 10 years of rebuilding. The shrine became as we see it today in 1984, when major repairs were done to commemorate its 360th anniversary.
The Suwa shrine was affectionately called “Osuwa-sama” by the locals and every autumn it holds the Nagasaki Kunchi Festival, one of the Three Greatest Festivals in Japan.
Nishinomiya Shrine stands in the middle of Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, in the part of the city known to produce one of the highest-quality sake brands - Nadagogou. Nishinomiya Shrine is the head Ebisu shrine that presides over more than 3,500 Ebisu shrines. It is also commonly known as “Nishinomiya no Ebe-ssan”.
It is not known when the shrine was first founded, however, it appeared in a document from 1172, suggesting it already existed at that time. It was during the Muromachi Period, when the Seven Lucky Gods became widely popular and songs and plays related to them were broadly shown nationally. At that time, Ebisu, who was a deity of wealth and one of the Seven Lucky Gods, came to be known and worshiped all over the country. The Ebisu dance performed in front of the Nishinomiya Shrine is said to be the foundation of the Oosaka Bunraku and Awaji Puppet Theaters.
The Toyotomi Family and the Tokugawa Family, the subsequent leaders of Japan, also embraced and protected the shrine and Ebisu worship and, as local commerce developed, Ebisu became deeply rooted and honored as the deity of prosperity in business.
The shrine was destroyed by fire during the Second World War and restored fully in 1961. The Ooneribei wall, built during the Muromachi Period and the Omote Daimon gate in the Momoyama architectural style are designated as National Important Cultural Assets.
For three days at the beginning of each year, from January 9th through 11th, a big festival called “Touka Ebisu” is held and the shrine becomes filled with more than 1 million visitors.
Naminoue-guu is a shrine that stands in Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture, and it is regarded as the main guardian of Okinawa. Naminoue (translated as “on top of waves”) is, as name suggests, located on the top of a hill overlooking the waters of the East China Sea.
There is no record of its foundation but it is said to have originated from a Niraikana belief, a utopia believed in Okinawa. In the 14th century, as a result of divine revelation, the Ryuukyuu government built the Namino-guu Shrine to honor the Kunamo Three Deities. The shrine was entirely destroyed in the Second World War, but it was restored due to the efforts of an association of people from Hawaii and Okinawa.
As visitors walk toward the entrance path and pass under two torii gates, they come to a towering vermillion building with a pair of stone-carved, vermilion-colored guardian dogs, one on each side. The dogs look similar to Seesaa, a legendary creature that drives evil spirits away. Inside the shrine complex there are two small shrines: Ukishima Shrine that worships Amaterasu-oomikami and Yomochi Shrine that worships the deity associated with business and industry. In the vicinity of the Naminoue-guu Shrine are Gokoku-ji Temple and Confucius Mausoleum. As it is also close to the town center, the shrine is a popular destination for residents and it attracts many visitors celebrating the New Year in Okinawa’s own original style.
Monzen-machi is a town that was established around the prominent temples and shrines as stores and business developed to serve visitors to the temples and the shrines.
A town that is developed around a shrine is called aTorii-mae-machi (a town in front of torii) and a town established by religious followers is called Jinai-cho or Shake-machi, all of which are widely categorized as Monzen-machi.
Some noted Monzen-machi are: Narita City, Chiba Prefecture, - developed around the Shinshou-ji Temple, Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture - developed around theTosho-gu Shrine, Futarasan Shrine and Rinnou-ji Temple, Ise City, Mie Prefecture - developed around the Ise Shrine, Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture - developed around the Izumo Taisha Shrine, located in Kotohira-cho and Nakatado-gun, Kagawa Prefecture - developed around the Kotohira-gu Shrine.
Monzen-machi is sometimes defined as a religious city. It embodies the urban culture (chounin bunka) born and developed during the Edo Period when society was relatively peaceful and people’s lives were influenced by and served by temples and shrines.
Yasaka Shrine in Kokura, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture, is the highest ranked shrine in the city and it stands on the ruin of the Kitanomaru building of Kokura Castle. The shrine was once called Gionsha and it was located in Imoji-machi. It was renamed Yasaka Shrine in the Meiji Period and transferred to íts current location in 1934.
The shrine already existed in the beginning of the Heian Period (794 to 1185) and it honored the god Susanouno-mikoto. After the Battle of Sekigahara (1600), Hosokawa Tadaoki was awarded a fiefdom in Kokura and he moved to Kokura Castle from Tango. He rebuilt the shrine in Imoji-machi and named it Gionsha, at where twelve deities including Susanouno-mikoto were worshiped.
According to legend, during his hunting trip with a falcon, Tadaoki found a small shrine and peeked inside for closer look at the statue of a deity. Suddenly, a falcon flew out from the shrine and damaged Tadaoki’s eyes with its talons. Facing the possible crisis of losing his eyes, Tadaoki saw it as a god’s punishment and he built a magnificent shrine to ask for forgiveness. His eyes are said to have healed after that.
Yasaka Shrine has long been deeply venerated as a guardian shrine by locals. The Kokura Gion Festival, held every July, is known as one of the Three Greatest Gion Festivals in Japan and the splendid performance of the Gion Taiko Drum is a must-see event that enchants spectators.
On top of Mount Torigata in Asuka-mura, Nara, sits Asukaniimasu Shrine.
Asukaniimasu Shrine traces its origins to the mythological age when Ookuninushi-no-kami dedicated the spirit of Kanayaruno-mikoto, a guardian god of the Imperial Family, to Ikazuchinoka mountain. This is considered to be one of the holy mountains to which a god might descend. In 829, as directed by an oracle, the spirit of Kanayaruno-mikoto was transferred to Mount Torigata.
The shrine was burned down in 1725 and its structure was restored to its current state in 1781 by Uemura Ietoshi, the head of the Takatoshi Clan.
On the first Sunday of every February, an event called The Onda Festival takes place at the shrine to pray for a rich harvest and family prosperity. The festival is a religious ritual that represents life and it is one of the “Three Unusual Festivals” in Western Japan.
At the beginning of the performance, two men wearing masks of Tengu, the mythological goblin, and Okina, an old man, both holding a bamboo stick called “sasara”, begin chasing the audience around- adults and children alike, and whacking them on the behind. Once the men come back to the stage in front of the shrine, they perform the ritual of the rice harvest including prowling the rice paddy and planting rice. This is followed by the wedding of Tengu and Otafuku, representing a woman.
Kaiko no Mori, located in Uzumasa, Kyoto, is officially called Konoshimanimasu-amateru-mitama Shrine. It is also affectionately known as Konoshima Shrine by the local people.
It is believed that this shrine was built in the year 604. Kaiko no Mori, which means “silkworm shrine”, was thought by Hatashi, an expatriate from the Korean Peninsula, to be the location of the deity of sericulture, or silkworm raising and also the deity of the textile industry. The shrine was burned in a number of wars and the current structure was most likely restored after the Meiji period.
In the west of the shrine is a spring-water pond called Mototadasu Pond. In the middle of this pond stands a torii called Mihashira Torii. Torii are large gates, erected at the entrance to Shinto Shrines or other sacred places. The Mihashira torii has an unusual design and it is considered one of the “Kyoto Three Torii”. It has three columns and it looks triangle-shaped from above. In the middle is a holly seat where the spirit of the deity sits. The origin of the torii is not known, but the current torii is thought to have been built in 1831.
Kaiko no Mori still has many followers especially from the silk-reeling industry. It is also worshiped as the location of the guardian deity of the town.