Aoso Shrine in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, is the headquarters of Aoso shrines all over the country. It was founded in 852 by Hozumi Yasumasa, the ancestor of the current shrine priest’s family, who came to this area from Kyoto. He enshrined Amaterasu Omikami (the sun goddess), Ame no Minakanushi no Kami (the god of the universe), and Tsukuyomi no Kami (the god of the moon) in the cave where holy water sprang out; hereby the shrine is famous as the place where the sun, the stars and the moon are enshrined together.
Yasumasa taught the villagers how to grow hemp plants. It is said that the shrine name “Aoso,” which literally means Green Hemp, was derived from this episode. The shrine has been known for its divine power to cure and prevent palsy, and it is said that if you visit this shrine three times, you will never be stricken with palsy for the rest of your life.
As the Hozumi clan was involved in maritime industry, the shrine is also worshipped as the deity of navigation safety. The famous fine water “Osuzu” springs out in the precinct. A lot of visitors come to take a drink of this holy water.
Shinmeisha Shrine is located in Wakuya Hinata in Wakuya Town, Miyagi Prefecture. The enshrined deities are Amaterasu Omikami and Amenonakanushi no Kami. The origin of the shrine is not clear, but it is said that it was originally located in Kozutsumi Village in present Watari Town and enshrined Uganomitama no Kami. In 1591, when Watari Motomune, the ruler of this area, was transferred to Wakuya, he relocated the shrine to its current location, which was said to be a holy place associated with Shiogama Shrine.
Haiden (the oratory) of Shinmeisha Shrine is designated as a cultural property by the prefecture as one of the few Genroku-era structures. It was constructed in 1698. It is a 3-bay wide and 2-bay deep wooden building with a copper roof in Irimoya-zukuri (hip and gabled) style. No painting is applied to the building.
The front side has the 1-bay step-canopy. The railing is built around three sides of the building. The carved decorations are painted with white pigment made of burnt seashell.
The gable pediments are embellished with large bottle-shaped struts cut out to fit over rainbow beams. The ridge is covered with decorative boards with a symmetrical three-fold pattern and turnip-shaped cover boards.
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.
Mt Gessan is one of the three mountains in the Dewa Sanzan group, and is located in Tagawa, Yamagata prefecture.
Mt Gessan is 1984m high and stands almost in the middle of Yamagata prefecture. It lies in the northern part of Bandai Asahi National Park and is a treasure house of nature that includes animals, plants and primary forest like beech.
The name of Gessan ('moon mountain') derives from the fact that it appears to be as enormous as a half-moon. The mountain has always been linked to religion and there is a shrine at the top dedicated to Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto, a brother of the goddess Amaterasu-omikami.
The mountain has also been a place for ascetic training. Many practitioners have visited here to worship Gessan-okami, but most of them have not felt ready enough and have gone back. Their route back is still known as the 'Return of Practitioners' although hikers take this road today. Mt. Gessan is a spiritual mountain with great views and alpine plants.
Hamana Shosha Shinmeigu Shrine is located in Mikkabi-cho, Kita-ku, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Pref. The enshrined deity is Amaterasu Sume Omikami. The time of the foundation is unknown. It is said that the shrine was originally founded by Agatanushi (a provincial chief) of Hamana to enshrine his ancestral deity, Ohta no Mikoto. In 940, when the area around the shrine was dedicated to Ise Shrine, the enshrined deity was changed to Amaterasu Sume Omikami and Ota no Mikoto was moved to a sessha (an attached shrine) in the precinct.
Honden (the main hall) is an old-styled Itakura-zukuri (the style used for a log storage house), or generally called Seiro-zukuri, the same style used for the original main halls of Ise Jingu Shrine and Atsuta Jingu Shrine. It was originally use for storing the offerings from a mountain village of Hamana Kanbe. The thatched roof of Honden bears the crest of Mitsudomoe made of copper, which has become coated with verdigris and the entire hall is covered with a net to keep away birds. Honden Hall was designated as a National Important Cultural Property in 1993.
Takanabe Taishi is the generic name of about 700 stone Buddhist statues located in Takanabe-cho, Koyu-gun, Miyazaki Pref. The statues were carved by Yasukichi Iwaoka (1889-1977), who devoted his half a lifetime to this feat. Distressed by a series of robbing of Mochida Kofun, Yasukichi turned over his family business to his son at the age of 40 and began to carve stone statues to console the souls of the ancient chieftains. In 1931, he obtained a part of land, where a group of kofun are located, and invited a stone workman from Usuki, Oita Pref. to learn how to carve statues.
The stone statues included the huge statues of Fudo Myoo, Inari Okami, Twelve Yakushi Nyorai, Juichimen Kanzeon (11-faced Kanzeon), Amaterasu Okami, Susanoo no Mikoto and various other small statues. Prayers, requiem and the feelings that people handed down since the ancient times are all embodied in these statues.
Yowara Shrine is located in Nango-cho, Minami-Naka-gun, Miyazaki Pref. The enshrined deity is Amaterasu Omikami (the sun goddess). With the apportioned spirit of the deity of Udo Jingu Shrine, it was established in 1658 by Ito Sukehisa, the lord of the Obi domain. The shrine was called Yowara-yama Daigongen and revered by the generations of the domain lord. Having been donated a huge territory, the shrine was flourished to be ranked with Udo Jingu Shrine in the eastern part of the domain.
Honden (the main hall) built in 1707 was originally in Hachiman-zukuri style but it was rebuilt into Gongen-zukuiri building in 1798. Honden is prefecturally designated as a tangible cultural property. Romon Gate and Shoro (the bell tower) are also designated as tangible cultural properties by the prefecture. The shrine used to be crowded with people from nearby villages, who offered prayers for good marriages and rich harvest. One of the prefecture’s famous folk song, Yowara Mairi, sings about this custom of visiting Yowara Shrine. Today the shrine is thronged with visitors on a New Year’s Day.
Hibara Shrine located at the foot of Mt. Miwa in Sakurai City, Nara Pref. is one of sessha shrines (attached shrines) to Omiwa Shrine. This shrine is also called “Moto-Ise” because the place in which the shrine is located is considered to be a village named “Yamato no Kasanui-mura” of Wa (a name of ancient Japan), where Toyosuki Irihime no Mikoto, a daughter of Emperor Sujin, enshrined Yata no Kagami, which is the sacred mirror presumably housed at Ise Shrine and is considered to be Amaterasu Omikami (the Sun Goddess) itself. After the shrine was attached to Omiwa Shrine, Amaterasu Omikami is still enshrined as its main saishin (the enshrined deity). As is the case with Omiwa Shrine, the shrine has no Honden, which contains the Goshintai (the sacred body of the god) because Mt. Miwa itself is considered to be the Goshintai, which visitors worship from Mitsu-dorii Gate. The ancient-styled Torii-gate at the entrance to the precinct is made of straw-rope tied up to the two pillars. Taken up in many poems of Manyoshu, this place is filled with deep and mysterious atmosphere of the ancient times.