Hokkaido Jingu Shrine located in Miyagaoka, Chuo-ku, Sapporo City is one of the major shrines in Hokkaido. The enshrined deities are Okunitama no Kami, Onamuchi no Kami, Sukunahikona no Kami and Emperor Meiji. It was founded in 1869, when the Meiji government decided to set on the development of the land in Hokkaido and they enshrined the three deities to guard the land. In 1871, the name of this new shrine was decided as Sapporo Shrine and the construction of the buildings started. Since then the shrine has been worshipped as the guardian god of Hokkaido as well as the family god of the people living in this island. In 1964, Emperor Meiji was enshrined together and it changed the name to Hokkaido Jingu Shrine.
The precinct is known as a cherry blossom viewing spot. On the annual festival day in June, mikoshi and floats with ohayashi musicians parade in the city. The shrine is selected as “the New Ichinomiya Shrine of Ezo Province (literally meaning “a modern version of the first shrine of Ezo province)” by a civilian shrine pilgrimage group named Zenkoku Ichinomiya-Kai.
Miyazaki Jingu Shrine (Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture) is a historic and prestigious shrine surrounded by huge untouched forest. The total area of the precinct is 260,000 sq m. The enshrined deity is Emperor Jinmu, the first emperor in Japan. It is said that the shrine was founded by Takeiwatatsu no Mikoto, a grandson of Emperor Jinmu and the founder of Kyushu, but the exact era of the foundation is unknown.
The shrine hall is uniquely made only of Japanese cedar wood from the town of Sano (Takaharu-cho, Miyazaki Prefecture), where, it is believed, Emperor Jinmu was born. Old wooden building in Shinmei-nagare-zukuri style (an ancient shrine architectural style) gives a stately impression.
In the eastern side of the front approach stands a huge wisteria tree (Wisteria floribunda f. alba), which is designated as a national Natural Monument. It is estimated to be over 400 years old, but some say 800.
The shrine is the site of many festivals throughout the year. The biggest is the “Gojinko Festival,” or formally “Miyazaki Jingu Taisai,” held every October. During this festival, there is a parade of richly decorated “Shan Shan” horses (so named due to the sound of the bells they wear) and 1,000 people dressed in traditional Japanese clothing, marching the 5 km way from the shrine to the middle of town.
Isonokami Jingu is a shrine located in Tenri City, Nara Pref. It is also called “Isonokami Furu Jingu” or “Isonokami Futsu no Mitama Shrine,” for it is said that the shrine originates in the story that Ikagashikoo no Mikoto of Mononobe clan enshrined the royal sward of “Futsu no Mitama no Tsurugi,” which had been worshipped at the Imperial court, at this place during the reign of Emperor Sujin (B.C. 97-30). From this story, the shrine is thought to be the oldest shrine in Japan. During the reign of Emperor Suinin (B.C. 29-A.D. 70), 1,000 swards were dedicated to the shrine and later another sacred sward of “Ame no Habakiri” was also dedicated. The shrine had flourished until the end of Heian period (794-1185), but began to decline from the Kamakura period onward. In 1874, the sacred body of “Futsu no Mitama no Tsurugi” sward was excavated and the present main hall was built at the excavation site. In the ancient times there was no main hall at this shrine. Instead, the sanctuary area was enclosed with the hedge made of stones with sward-shaped heads. No visitors have been allowed to step into the sanctuary since the age of the gods.
Kashihara Jingu Shrine is located at the southeastern foot of Mt. Unebiyama in Kashihara City, Nara Pref. It was constructed in 1890 at the site of Unebi Kashihara-gu, where, according to Nihon Shoki (the Chronicles of Japan), Japan’s first emperor, Jinmu, is said to have acceded to the throne. The deities enshrined are Emperor and Empress Jinmu and his consort, Hime-Tatara-Isuzu-Hime no Mikoto. The precinct has an area of as much as 500,000 square meters. Emperor Jinmu’s Tomb and many other imperial tombs are located in the surrounding area. Shinka-den Hall, the Kashikodokoro (imperial sanctuary) of Kyoto Palace was relocated to this place and used as the Main Hall. The Inner Haiden Hall (a hall of oratory) is used for New Year’s visit and Kigen-sai Festival (the regnal day of Emperor Jinmu and the National Foundation Day set up by the Meiji government). On the day of Jinmu-sai Festival, which is held on April 4 every year, a lot of people come to see a large-scale parade of people including several groups in ancient costume going through the town and appreciate Noh, Kyogen, and Kuzuso (an ancient dance performed at Imperial court).
Usa Shrine, a National Treasure, is the mother shrine of the 40,000 Hachiman shrines located all over the country. The shrine stands, along with Ise Shrine, as the two main shrines of the Imperial Court, and was built in its current location in the year 725 during the Nara period.
The structure of Usa Shrine was rebuilt from 1855 through 1861 and was restored in 1985. The shrine features crimson pillars, white walls and uses Japanese cedar bark. The inner structure and the outer structure are of Kiritsuma-style roofing and between them, a gold-colored rain trough, more often known as the Golden Trough of Usa, runs through.
The architecture of Usa Shrine is representative of Hachiman-style architecture. Apart from the religious structures, there are countless ancient remains and graves excavated here, along with remains of the airstrip and aircraft hangars of the Usa Naval Air Corp used during World War II. Here, at Usa Shrine, history from ancient to modern times can be felt.
Meiji Jingu Shrine is in Shibuya, Tokyo. The shrine is most visited by Japanese people on New Year’s Day.
In the 45th year of the Meiji period, the Meiji Emperor died and in the 3rd year of the following Taisho period, the Empress Shoken the queen mother died. Yoyogi was selected for the establishment of a shrine dedicated to their spirits.
In the 20th year of the Showa period, almost all the original buildings were razed during the Greater East Asia War. In the 33rd year of the Showa period, the present shrine as reconstructed.
Meiji Shrine also has outer gardens (gaien). In the 19th year of the Meiji period, the outer garden was set up at the Aoyama military training ground, which was for the Konoeshidan (the Imperial Guard). Now, the training areas have been relocated to the Shinjuku and Minato wards in Tokyo, while the area was turned into a park with an art museum, the Constitution Memorial Hall (renamed after the war as the Meiji Memorial Hall), an athletic stadium and a baseball field.
At the shrine, you can see your fortune with a piece of paper called ‘Omigoro’. This ‘paper fortune’ does not forecast bad or good, but carries one of 30 Waka poems regarding ‘humanity and ethics’, selected from among more than 100,000 poems that were composed by the Showa Emperor and Shoken Empress. Each ‘paper fortune’ has a comment about the poem, and the poems tell us the historical backdrop of the changes from feudalism to democracy.
Minase Shrine is an old historic shrine located in Osaka Pref. It enshrines the three emperors of Gotoba, Tsuchimikado, and Juntoku. The shrine originates in Mieido (an image hall) that was built by Nobunari Fujiwara and his son Chikanari at the vacant lot of the emperor Gotoba’s beloved palace of Minase in 1240. The present main hall was reconstructed during the Kanei era (1624−1643) with the timber that had been used for Naishidokoro of Kyoto Imperial Palace. Its Shin-mon (holy gate) is one of Osaka Prefecture’s Important Cultural Properties. Two of the shrine collection, the Statue of the Emperor Gotoba and his original handwriting of okibumi (the last testament), are designated as National treasures. The water springing out in the precinct is called “Rikyu-no-mizu (water of the imperial villa).” This is the only one spring water in Osaka that is selected as one of “Japan’s 100 Fine Water” by the Ministry of Environment. In the precinct of the shrine there is also a tea house in Shoin-zukuri style of the early Edo period.