Kannonji City in Kagawa Prefecture uniquely has two Holy Sites of Shikoku in one premise; Jin’nein Temple (the 68th) and Kannonji Temple (the 69th). These temples were originally a part of Kotohiki (Harp Play) Hachimangu Shrine founded in 703 by Priest Nissho, who had received a divine message from Hachiman Daimyojin with the tune of Japanese harp heard from a boat on the sea. Jin’nein was also built at this time as an attached temple to the shrine.
In the Daido era (806-809), Kobo Daishi enshrined Amida Buddha、which was Honjibutsu (Buddhist counterpart of the deity of the shrine) and designated the shrine as the 68th of the 88 Holy Sites of Shikoku. Then he carved Sho Kanzeon Bosatsu (Sacred Form of Kannon) and built the formal seven buildings of a temple in the nearby mountain, and named it Kannonji Temple, which was designated as the 69th.
Later in the Meiji period (1868-1912), when temples and shrines were separated according to the Shinbutsu Bunri policy of the national government, Honjibutsu Amida Buddha of Kotohiki Hachimangu Shrine was removed to Nishi-Kondo Hall of Kannonji Temple, which became the main hall of Jin’nein Temple; hereby two temples has been located in the same premise since then. Jin’nein temple is up the stone steps from Kannonji Temple.
Himure Hachimangu Shrine in Miyauchi Town in Omihachiman City, Shiga Prefecture, is a historic shrine visited by a lot of historical figures. It is said that the shrine was founded by Takenouchi no Sukune by the order of the 13th emperor Seimu in 131, when Seimu ascended the throne at Takaanaho Palace.
It was given the present name by the 15th emperor Ojin when he traveled to Omi province and his tentative palace was set up at this shrine. As the emperor saw double rings around the sun, he ordered to build a shrine hall here and named Himure no Yashiro Hachimangu Shrine, which means Sun Gathering Shrine.
Later during the reign of Empress Jito (690-697), the shrine was renamed Himure Shrine after the poem written by Fujiwara no Fuhito when he visited this shrine. According to one theory, the name “Himure” was derived from Hifure no Omi, the founder of the Wani clan, which ruled the northern part of Nara Basin from the 5th to 6th centuries.
As the shrine housing Homutawake no Mikoto, the god of war, it was visited by many powerful warrior clans including the Ashikaga and the Tokugawa clans. At the time of the Mongol Invasions of Japan, the Japanese Imperial court presented heihaku (offerings) to the shrine. After the Battle of Sekigahara, Tokugawa Ieyasu also visited this shrine.
In 1966, the shrine was renamed Himure Hachimangu Shrine. A lot of important cultural properties are preserved in the repository.
Nokami Hachimangu Shrine is an old and distinguished shrine located in Kimino-cho, Kaiso-gun, Wakayama Pref. It is said that the shrine dates back to the period during the reign of Emperor Kinmei (around A.D. 550). It is one of the 3 largest Hachiman shrines in Japan. As a branch shrine of Iwashimizu Shrine in Kyoto, Nokami Shrine has been worshipped by people for a long time. The shrine is also known for a lot of nationally designated cultural properties including the Main Hall built in the Azuchi Momoyama period (1568-1598), the Main Hall of Takeuchi Shrine (one of the branch shrines), and a sword. Brilliant vermillion of the Main Hall reminds us of its ancient flourishing times. At the autumn festival held on Sunday in the middle of October every year, flamboyant Shishimai dance (lion dance) is dedicated to the god and a lot of local people come to enjoy the festival.
There are two shrines standing next to each other in the town of Asuke in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture. The larger one is Asuke Hachimangu Shrine, which is a historic shrine founded in 652, and the smaller is Asuke Shrine, a relatively new shrine founded in 1902.
The enshrined deity at Asuke Shrine is Asuke Shigenori, the feudal lord of this area in the late Kamakura period (1192-1333). He fought on the side of Emperor Go-Daigo and was besieged in a castle in Mt. Kasagiyama in Kyoto to resist the Kamakura Shogunate forces. Feared as a dauntless general and a master-hand at archery, he fiercely fought in the battles but was finally captured and beheaded at Rokujo-Kawara in Kyoto.
Asuke Town has been famous for archery since the ancient times. Beside the torii gate of Asuke Shrine stands “Goose Monument,” a stone monument inscribed with a haiku poem on the deathbed composed by a person named Kyuemon, who had mistakenly shot a goose and entered the priesthood. The poem goes “Precedent death of a goose // blazed my way // to the Pure Land.”
Asuke Hachimangu Shrine in the town of Asuke in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, is a historic shrine founded in 673. As the deity of traffic safety, recovery from illness and safe delivery, it has been worshipped by people from far and wide.
Honden (the main hall) is an elegant 3-bay building in Nagare-zukuri (flowing style) with a cypress-barked roof. It was designated as an Important Cultural Property in 1950 by the national government. As the remnant of Shinbutsu Shugo (fusion of Shinto and Buddhism) practiced until the beginning of the Meiji period (1868-1912), there is a bell tower in the precinct. The huge cedar tree, which is presumed to be 500 yeas old, is a designated Natural Monument of Toyota City.
The wooden plaque “Teppo-no-matouchi-zu Hangaku” was made and dedicated in 1612 by Sawada Shiroemon, a local master of gunnery. It is one of the four existing wooden plaques that depict the shooting scenes.
In January, visitors are treated with Nanakusa-gayu (rice porridge with seven herbs of spring) in hope for good health in the coming year. At the annual festival held in October, the gorgeous mikoshi parade is performed.
Amagoi Kasa-odori is a rain dance ritual performed at Noda Shrine in Noda Town, Kariya City, Aichi Prefecture, in late August every year. The dance is dedicated in front of the altar after the holy sake and candles are offered. The rain dance has been handed down for nearly 300 years since 1712. Although it was discontinued in the early Show period (1926-1989), it was revived by the local preservation group and has been performed to this day. It is designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Property by the city.
When the singers start to sing the rain-making song and the shrine priest performs the purification ritual, the dancers in yukata with the bottoms tucked up into the obi belts and the sleeves tucked up with red tasuki sashes and wearing the wide-brimmed straw hats appear in the dancing field. They stand face-to-face on both sides of the drums with short drumsticks called “Tsuroro” in their hands and start to dance in a refreshing manner. During the dance, the dancers look up at the sky to the blowing of the conch horns.
Jugoya Festival (Moon Festival), or popularly called “Jugoya-san,” is held on around the 15th day of the 8th lunar month every year in Hyuga City, Miyazaki Prefecture. The whole city is wrapped in a festival mood with a lot of tourists from inside and outside the prefecture.
It is said that this festival originates in the festival of Tomitaka Hachimangu Shrine, which was founded by Nasu no Yoichi and Kudo Suketsune to bolster the morale of the soldiers of their troops, who had come to Kyushu in pursuit of the Heike warriors having escaped from the battle field at Dannoura. The enshrined deity at this shrine was transferred from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura at this time.
On the festival day, the parade of Mitate-zaiku, the flower floats and the dancing teams walk through the city. In the recent years, Hyuga Jugoya-daiko drum performance is added to the festival program, which further warms up the festival mood in the streets.
Hososhima Harbor Festival is an annual summer festival of Hososhima Hachimangu Shrine held from Friday to Sunday in late August in the area around Hososhima Harbor in Hyuga City, Miyazaki Prefecture. It is famous for violent bumping of Taiko-dai (the float with a Japanese drum on it) and known as a kind of Kenka-matsuri (fight festival), which is similar to the famous Danjiri Festival.
The festival began in 1889 in cerebration of the municipalization of villages and towns in the old system, by which Hososhima became a municipality together with other towns of Miyazaki, Miyakonojo, Nobeoka and Aburatsu. It is said that the style of the festival was borrowed from the one practiced in a town in the Kansai district, with which Hososhima had a close connection in the old days.
The festival reaches its climax when the fierce bumping of the two Taiko-dai floats starts at night, while the boat carrying mikoshi (portable shrine in which the deity resides) sails through the sea in the harbor, guarded by a lot of fishing boats decorated with bumper catch flags. Praying for navigation safety and a bumper catch, the whole town is bustled with people during the festival period.