Sangasho Shrine located in Gokase-cho in the northwest part of Miyazaki Pref. in central Kyushu is a shrine famous for seasonal flowers. The shrine originates in the hokora (small shrine) at the top of Mt. Futagami, which is believed to be the place of Tenson Korin (the Sun goddess’ descent to earth). Later during the Shotai era (898-901) the hokora was moved to the foot of the mountain and Sangasho Shrine was founded. It enshrines the deities of Izanagi and Izanami. The shrine was rebuilt in 1571. The present Honden (main hall) built in 1817 is made of one zelkova tree and the excellent Nagare-zukuri style is employed there. Exquisite wood carvings by master craftsmen of the time are especially beautiful. From the middle of April through the end of May, when the annual spring is festival is held, 12,000 stocks of alpine roses burst out in the precinct. Camellia and weeping cherry blossoms are also splendid when they are in full bloom. The gallant Araodori Dance by male dancers in warrior costume is a nationally designated Important Intangible Cultural Property. It is dedicated to the deities of this shrine on the last Saturday of September every year.
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.
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.
The Manai Waterfall in Takachiho Town, Miyazaki Prefecture, is an impressive waterfall, which symbolizes Takachiho, the land of myths and legends. It is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Waterfalls.
Takachiho, a small mountain town situated in the center of Kyushu, in northern Miyazaki is one of the most sacred places in Japan, where the grandchild of Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, descended from the High Plain of Heaven. Takachiho is full of fascination for tourists, such as the sea of clouds floating over mountain villages, Takachiho Gorge with mystic atmosphere, simple and old-fashioned farm houses with chigi (ornamental crossbeams on the gable, mostly seen in a Shinto shrine) on the roofs and glorious mountains covered with tender green in spring and crimson foliage in fall.
The Manai Waterfall flows down the 17-meter perpendicular cliff made of columnar basalt in Takachiho Gorge. The waterfall gently flows down into the deep green water between the towering cliffs lit by the gentle sunlight. It is a breathtakingly beautiful landscape. The boats are available for rent and visitors can get right close to the waterfall.
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.
Torii are usually found in front of a Shinto shrine and mark the boundary of the sacred realm of the gods from that of the human world. Torii act as gates and entrances to the realm of the gods. Although Torii can sometimes be found in mausoleums or temples, they usually symbolize Shintoism. There are a number of different theories as toToriis’ origins. One theory suggests that they originated from the simple act of placing a bird perch in front of a god. This theory is closely linked to the legend of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, who hid herself behind a rock and so caused an eclipse. Villagers placed all the town’s cockerels on a perch in front of the rock and the birds’ noise made the goddess curious enough to come out from her hiding place. Other theories take into account foreign influences: for example the torana architectural style used in Hinduism and Buddhism in India, or the Chinese tradition of Kahyou or sotte. Whichever theory is correct, torii, as they are today, were first established around the 8th century. The origin of the word “torii” is also disputed. One theory suggests it came from a chicken’s perch which is also pronounced “torii”. Another theory is that it is derived from the word “toriiru” which means “pass through”. It is also said that the word ‘torii’ may come from the word torana. Torii have two basic styles: Shimei torii and Myoujin torii, with a number of variations further derived from these two styles. The basic structure of torii usually consists of two cylindrical vertical posts topped by two crossbars; the top crossbar is called sasagi and the crossbar below is called shimagi, a third crossbar (nuki) is placed farther down to support the posts.
Tado Taisha is a shrine located in Tado-cho, Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture. Its tutelary deity is Amatsu-hikone, the 3rd child of the sun goddess Amaterasu-Ookami.
Because it enshrines one of the sons of Amaterasu-Ookami, the shrine has a strong connection with the Ise Grand Shrine, as can be seen from the famous poem: 'If you come to Ise Shrine to worship, then you should visit Tado Shrine, too. If you don't, then your visit will only be half of what it could be.'
The shrine is also commonly known as Kita-ise-daijinja, Tado-daijinja, and so on. In the case of Tado Taisha, the name stands for Tado-jinja as the main structure, combined with other additional minor small shrines in the vicinity. From ancient times, Mt Tado (403m) has been worshipped as a divine mountain, as can be seen from the Iwakura (sacred stone) found halfway up the mountain.
The shrine is said to have been first constructed in the mid-5th century during the reign of Emperor Yuuryaku. It was burned down by Nobunaga Oda in 1571, but rebuilt in 1605 by Tadakatsu Honda. The shrine holds seven National Important Cultural Assets including Tado-kyou, Jingu-jigaran-engi-narabini-shizai-chou, and others.