Mukabaki Shrine located at the southern foot of Mt. Mukabaki in the western part of Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture, is a historic shrine founded in 718 by transferring the deity from Kumano Taisha Shrine in present Wakayama Prefecture. The enshrined deities are Izanagi no Mikoto, Izanami no Mikoto and Yamato Takeru no Mikoto. Being called Mukabakidake Sansho Daigongen (the Great Three Gods of Mt. Mukabaki), the shrine was worshipped by the successive lords of the Hyuga domain.
The huge precinct is covered with densely grown trees, among which the main hall stands in the tranquil atmosphere. The trail up Mt. Mukabaki starts from the precinct.
Mt. Mukabaki (813 m) is a fine mountain with precipitous flat cliff, which looks like a folding screen. It was named so when Yamato Takeru visited this place to conquer the Kumaso tribe and said that the mountain looked like a “mukabaki,” which was a fur to wrap around the waist.
Sangasho Shrine Annual Festival is held at Sangasho Shrine in Gokase-cho, Miyazaki Pref. This historic shrine was founded in the Shotai era (898-901). The main hall is all made of zelkova tree and the excellent Nagare-zukuri style is employed there. It enshrines the deities of Izanagi and Izanami. The annual festival is held on the last Saturday of September every year. The Araodori Dance performed in the precinct by men in warrior costume is a traditional performing art with a history of 400 years. The dance is composed of the two parts; the gallant dance in line and the elegant one in circle. Together with the annual festival at Chunobori Shrine on the next day, the two festivals are the most famous festivals in Gokase-cho.
The Hibayama mountains located in the middle of Chugoku Range and on the border of Hiroshima and Shimane prefectures consist of the mountains with more than 1,200 m above sea level. These mountains and the surrounding areas are known for rare grassland plants and rich natural forest.
The main peak, Mt. Hibayama, has been the object of worship since the ancient times, because it is believed that the tomb of Izanami no Mikoto, a goddess of creation and death written in Kojiki, is located at the top of this mountain. With a pair of yew trees standing as the gate at the south front, the tomb, “Goryo,” gives a solemn and holy impression.
Mt. Hibayama is also a treasure trove of plants. The rich forest includes beech and oak trees. Hydrangea serrata, Japanese hydrangea vine and Tricyrtis affinis come into flower in summer, while Kawaranadeshiko (Dianthus superbus) and Tsuriganeninjin (Adenophora triphylla var. japonica) bloom one after another from summer through fall. As it is very cool even in summer (10 ℃ on the average), the Hibayama mountains are visited by a lot of hikers.
Izusan Shrine located in Izusan, Atami City, Shizuoka Pref. is a historic shrine, which was listed in the Engishiki (codes and procedures on national rites and prayers) in the Heian period (794-1192) and designated as the headquarters of all the tutelary shrines in the Kanto region during the Kamakura period (1192-1333). The enshrined deities are Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto. This is the virtual head of all the Izusan shrines, Izu shrines and Hashiriyu shrines all over the country. The exact foundation date is unknown, but the shrine record says it was founded in 5th to 4th centuries B.C. The original shrine was built in Mt. Higane, and then moved to Mt. Hongusan. There are several opinions about the transition of the shrine, but according to the dominant one, it was moved o this place in 836 by the priest Kenan of Kai province (present-day Yamanashi Pref.). The shrine is famous for the power to realize one’s cherished desire, because Minamoto no Yoritomo prayed for the revival of Genji at this shrine and succeeded in defeating Heike and established the Kamakura Shogunate. The shrine is also said to have the power to bring good fortune in marriage, because young Yoritomo and Hojo Masako had a date in the precinct.
Onokoro-jima Shrine is known as the mythological site of the birth of Japan and is located in Enami Shimohada, Awaji City in Awaji Island, the most southerly city of Hyogo Prefecture.
Onokoro-jima Shrine enshrines two deities: Izanagi and Izanimi who appeared in the myth of the birth of Japan described in the oldest written works: Kojiki and Nihonshoki. According to the legend, in the age of gods, when these two deities stood across a floating bridge of heaven and started churning the sea below with a halberd, seawater dripping from the edge of the halberd formed into islands and created eights islands including Awaji Island.
In the grounds of the shrine stands a beautiful vermillion Torii gate which towers 21.7 meters high and is regarded as one of the Japanese Three Great Torii along with Heian-jinguu Shrine and Miyajima. A stone slab also stands in the grounds inscribed with a famous haiku by Hattori Fuusetsu, a subordinate of Matasuo Bashou:
Ume ichirin, ichirin hodono, atatakasa
(A single flower on a plum tree, I feel the warmth of spring.)
Onokoro-jima Shrine is recently enjoying a new popularity among young people who visit the shrine for romantic help.
After the father and sons of the Shido-Shogun (Four Warriors) went their different ways and brought peace to the Tohoku area, they were reunited here in the Aizu area. This legend is the derivation of the name 'Aizu (where rivers meet)'. During this time, the Shido-Shogun humbly enshrined Izanaginomikoto and Izanaminomikoto, the gods of peace for the nation and endeavor for the nation, at this site on Mt Onkagura near the border of Niigata Prefecture.
These are the legendary origins of Isasumi Shrine. Soon after, in 522, the enshrined gods were first moved respectfully to Mt Hakase, then to Mt Myojingatake, and finally to the Takadaminamibara area. In 560, a shrine was built in the current location of Higashibara.
In the 1,400 years that have passed since then, Isasumi Shrine has become one of the most prestigious shrines of the Aizu area, with the rank of Iwashironokuni-ichinomiya-Aizusouchinnshu. National and Prefectural Significant Cultural Assets such as the Shuurushikonndousoushinyo and the Wooden Koma-inu Statue are kept there.
The shrine is held in respect not only from within the prefecture but from outside, too, as a guardian of industry and culture, longevity and traffic safety. The Shido-Shogun legend tells the story of the initiation of farming techniques and leading cultures, proving that this is the origin of the distinct Aizu culture.
Taga Taisha Shrine, located in Taga-cho, Inukami-gun, Shiga Pref. is the main shrine of Taga shrines in the country. Taga Taisha Shrine has been called by a friendly nickname of “Otaga-san” and has been visited by a lot of people since the ancient times. As it is sung in the folk song “if you visit Ise, then why not Taga? Ise is a child of Taga …,” here at Taga Taisha Shrine, Izanagi and Izanami, the parents of Amaterasu Oomikami, the main god at Ise Grand Shrine, are enshrined. The both shrines have been linked each other for a long period of time. According to the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters), Izanagi and Izanami descended from the heaven on this town of Taga. So, the town of Taga developed as the shrine town of Taga Taisha Shrine, where the god and goddess of longevity and marriage are enshrined. The precinct has an area of 60,000 sq. m. The shrine is said to be originated in a shrine temple of Tendai Sect, Fudoin, founded in 1494. It changed its name from Taga Shrine to Taga Taisha Shrine in 1947.
Manto Festival is held at Taga Taisha Shrine at Taga Town in Shiga Pref. This town of Taga, with a legend that Izanagi and Izanami (forefathers of Japan) came down from the heaven at this place, has been flourished as a market town (monzenmachi) of Taga Taisha Shrine, which is worshipped by local people as the place enshrines the gods of marriage and longevity. Manto Festival is carried out from August 3-5 every year to pray to the ancestors for their protection, for the enshrined god of Izanami is considered to be the guardian of Yomi no Kuni (the land of the dead). At the twilight of August 3, Goshinka (holy fire) Festival is held in Mt. Sugizakayama, where a holy fire is lit according to the traditional procedures. The fire is then relayed from Tsukinomiya Shrine at the foot of the mountain to Taga Taisha Shrine by 15 local elementary school children. On the arrival of the sacred fire, it is transferred to 10,000 chochin lanterns, which are dedicated by the worshippers nationwide. Manto Festival is a charming sight of summer, which has been handed down since the time of the Kojiki.