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.
Nakayama Shrine in Kadogawa Town, Miyazaki Prefecture, is said to have been founded in 857, when the deity at Izumo Taisha Shrine was transferred to this shrine.
Onamuchi no Mikoto and three other deities are enshrined. Onamuchi no Mikoto is another name for Okuninushi no Mikoto. As Okuninushi no Mikoto is known as the god of nation-building, farming, business and medicine as well as love stories with many princesses, the shrine was famous for the divine power of marriage tie. It was believed that if a young man and a woman passed each other in the front approach of the shrine, they would fall in love with each other.
As there is a song about the shrine, which goes, “Nakayama-san is a good god because if you don’t have any kimono, you can visit him naked, and if you don’t have any sandals, you can visit him with bare feet,” it is said that, in the ancient times, men were allowed to visit the shrine even only in loincloth, and women in koshimaki (waist wrap).
The grand festival held on January 7 every year is famous as a naked festival, in which both toshi-otoko (men whose zodiacal sign corresponds to the year's sign) and men of Yaku-doshi (the unlucky age) wearing only white loincloth, white tabi (Japanese socks) and white headbands run up the stone steps to the precinct, shouting loud encouragement. In the precinct, they pour cold water onto the head and all over the body to purify themselves and pray for the safety and a good health of their family.
Tatekoshi Shrine located at the top of the hill next to Guzeiji Temple in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine known for housing the guardian god of this area. The enshrined deities are Ukano Mitama no Kami, Omiyahime no Kami and Sarutahiko no Kami.
It is said that Kobodaishi Kukai transferred the deity of Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto to this place and founded this shrine as an attached shrine of the temple when he founded Guzeiji Temple in 811. As the area around the shrine was on the Old Oshu Kaido Road and the Abukuma River, it was called “Tatenokoshi,” which meant “the strategic spot to protect the lord’s residence” from the enemies; hereby the shrine was named Tatekoshi Shrine. In 1867, the shrine was separated from the temple according to the ban of Shinbutsu Shugo (the fusion of Shinto and Buddhism) by the Meiji government.
At the entrance of the shrine is a unique stone lantern erected in 1924. The lantern is supported by four Sumo wrestlers and a fox is placed inside the lantern. The main gate and shrine pavilions were burned down by fires and the present buildings were all constructed in the Showa period.
Kumano Nachi Shrine in Takadate, Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine. The enshrined deity is Kotosakao no Mikoto and other six deities. Its origin dates back to 719, when a fisherman living in Yuriage in present Natori City discovered a sacred body at the bottom of the sea and enshrined it at the top of Mt. Takadate, naming it Haguro Daigongen Shrine.
Later in the late Heian period, an old shrine priestess in Natori received a message from Kumano Gongen, the deity of Kumano Sanzan in Kii province (present-day Wakayama Prefecture), and decided to found the three shrines composing the Kumano Sanzan in Natori. She transferred the deity at Kumano Nachi Shrine to Haguro Daigongen Shrine, and renamed it Kumano Nachi Shrine.
In the shrine office, about 160 wall hanging Buddha images and copper mirrors, which were made in the Kamakura period (1192-1333), are preserved. Of these, 37 hanging Buddha images and 4 copper mirrors are nationally designated Important Cultural Properties. In the precinct, a huge Japanese conifer tree called “Koya-maki” with a trunk diameter of 112 cm vigorously extends its branches. Presently, the shrine is famous for housing the god of a rich harvest and a bumper catch.
Kiryu Tenmangu Shrine in Tenjin-cho, Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture is a historic shrine founded during the reign of Emperor Keiko (reigned 71-130) as Isobe Myojin Shrine. The enshrined deities are Amenohohi no Mikoto and Sugawara no Michizane. Later in the Kan'o era (around 1350), it was relocated to the present place, where the deity of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto was transferred, and renamed Kiryu Tenmangu Shrine. The shrine thrived during the Edo period (1603-1868), when it was designated as the oratory of the Tokugawa family and the textile fair was regularly held in the precinct.
The shrine building was constructed in 1793. As is called “the shrine on the rock,” its Honden (the main hall) and Heiden (the votive offerings hall) stand on the rock stratum. All the main buildings of the shrine (Honden, Heiden and Haiden) are collectively designated as a prefectural Important Cultural Property “Shaden (shrine buildings) of Kiryu Tenmangu” in that the best techniques in architecture decoration of the time were gathered in those buildings.
Koizumi Inari Shrine is in Koizumi-cho, Isesaki City, Gunma Prefecture. The enshrined deities are Ukano Mitama no Mikoto and Onamuchi no Mikoto. According to the shrine record, it was founded during the reign of Emperor Sujin (reigned B.C. 97-30), when Fushimi Inari Daimyojin of Fushimi in Kyoto was transferred to this place by the Imperial order. Large-scale repair works were given to the shrine buildings by the lord of the province Hisanaga Genbei in 1600.
The shrine is characterized by its torii gates. More than 200 torii gates that were dedicated by worshippers are erected in front of Haiden (the oratory) in three lines, continuing as long as 100 m. Together with the O-torii Gate, 22.17 m in height and the largest in the prefecture, the torii gates create a fantastic landscape.
Believed to have the power to bring business success, the shrine is visited by a lot of worshippers not only on New Year’s Day but also on the 1st and the 15th day of each month.
Imayama Hachimangu Shrine is located at the top of a hill, which commands a view of Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture. Enshrining 10 deities, the shrine is worshipped by local people as the guardian god of the city. It is the largest shrine in the northern part of the prefecture
Going along the front approach, which is surrounded with densely grown trees, you will see the two-storied vermillion main gate standing atop the steep stone steps. The huge precinct is dotted with several historic shrine buildings including the impressive Honden hall. The stone statues of Chinese lion-dogs on either side of the entrance of the main hall tell of the shrine’s long history.
It is said that Tsuchimochi Naotsuna, the local lord of this area transferred the deity of Usa Hachimangu Shrine (in present-day Oita Prefecture) and founded this shrine in 750 as the god to guard the ominous direction of the Castle. According to the book “Usa Kagami,” this area was a part of the territory possessed by Usa Hachimangu Shrine and annual tribute was collected by the shrine. As Usa was far away from the town and it was very difficult for local people to visit Usa Hachimangu Shrine, the foundation of Imayama Shrine was welcomed by local people. The shrine had been protected by the successive lords of the domain during the Edo period (1603-1868).
Uechi Hachimangu Shrine in the town of Uechi in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, is a historic shrine pertaining to the Genji (Minamoto) clan. The enshrined deities are Emperor Ojin, Emperor Nintoku and Amaterasu Omikami (the Sun Goddess).
In 1184, when Minamoto no Noriyori, a younger brother of Minamoto no Yoritomo, was on his way to the battle with the Taira clan, he took a rest at the residence of Omi Toroku, who was a powerful local warrior. As he found that a small shrine located next to the residence was a Hachimangu shrine, which enshrined the ancestors of the Minamoto clan, he prayed for his victory there.
Having won the battles with the Taira clan, Noriyori was appointed as the governor of Mikawa province and returned to this place in 1190. He thanked the god for his victory and constructed Uechi Hachimangu Shrine, to which he transferred the deity of the small shrine and the deity at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura.
The shrine is famous for Ukonzakura cherry tree (Prunus lannesiana E. H. Wils. cv. Grandiflora), which produces pale green double blossoms. It was dedicated by the town of Uechi in 1947, when Haiden was newly constructed. It is called “Bijin-zakura (Beauty Cherry)” and said to have power to bring happiness.