Category Archives: Jinja

Iwate Shrines of Seoritsuhime

DSC03537 Mt Iwate C

Seoritsuhime is the guardian spirit of rapids, rivers, and purification. She was also an accomplished woman of the Wosite World. Yamanomiya has posted a series of reports on Seoritsuhime shrines in Tono and Hanamaki, Iwate. The series begins with the post, Iwate Shrines of Seoritsuhime .

This post begins a series on eight shrines of Seoritsuhime in Iwate prefecture. At the core is a group of five related shrines in Tōno. They are as well connected geometrically, Genbu claims. There is a legend in Tōno about three sister megami (female kami). Three of the shrines represent the sisters, the fourth the mother. All are shrines of Seoritsuhime.

The sites visited include:

  • Kitakami River source: Yuhazu no Izumi at Mido Kannon, Iwate town
  • Sakuramatsu Jinja and Fudo Taki, Hachimantai
  • Ishigami Jinja, Tōno
  • Kamiwakare Jinja, Tōno
  • Hayachine Jinja, Tōno
  • Rokko-ushi Jinja, Tōno
  • Izu Jinja, Tōno
  • Tsuzuki Ishi, Connected Rocks, Tōno
  • Hayachine Jinja, Hanamaki

Tsubaki Jinja, Nagoya

DSC04171 male chigi

Yamanomiya, our sister site, has posted a visit to the Tsubaki Jinja in Nagoya. It turns out that this shrine honors three of the great Wosite persons we have met here on Woshite World. They are Toyoke-sama, his grandson the Amakami Amateru, and the latter’s consort Seoritsuhime.






Toyouke Ōkami


Toyoke-sama.  Our beloved Toyoke-sama is also known as Toyoke Kami and Toyouke Ōkami 豊受大神. Toyoke-sama was arguably the greatest kami of Hotsuma. He is remembered as the father of Isanami and grandfather of Amateru. Amateru came to study with him when he was sixteen. Toyoke-sama imparted to the future Amakami of Yamato the wisdom of the ancestors known as the To-no-Wosite teachings of the Ame-naru Michi, the Way of Universe. 

The teaching is for all, and especially for leaders of society, to embody high principles of human behavior: honesty, integrity, and caring for the welfare of others.

Hutakami.  Toyoke’s daughter Isako became Isanami, spouse of Isanagi. The couple are known as Hutakami (Futakami), the kami couple of myth and legend. The Hutakami went throughout the land of Hinomoto teaching the Awa no Uta, the Song of Universe, containing all 48 of the syllables of Wosite language, promoting speech for improved communication and cooperation as well as for promoting good health and vitality.

Takamimusubi.  Toyoke was descended from Ta-no-Kunisatsuchi. Toyoke’s imina birth name was Tamakine. This means he was a man of tama spirit. We notice the many local words beginning with Ta. Tamakine became the fifth Takamimusubi in Hitakami which we now call Tohoku. Hi-taka-mi means to see the sun high in the sky. A remnant of Hitakami remains in the name of the major Tohoku river, Kitakami-gawa, whose old name was indeed Hitakami-gawa.

Taga.  The center of Hitakami was at Tagajo (Taka-jo), east of current Sendai. You can get there after a short train ride. You will be shown the remains of a former government center. There is still a large stone inscribed in more recent times, called the Keta-tsubo. On this rise may have been located the Yamate-miya of Toyoke. Nearby are several shrines named Taga Jinja. One of these, we believe, is the original shrine of Toyoke. This shrine spun off the Taga Taisha in Ōmi (now Shiga-ken). Why Ōmi? Ōmi was the center of Yamato under the care of Isanami and Isanagi.

We visited Taga Taisha. It is a large shrine that hosts a million devotees on New Year’s Hatsumode. By looking for the oldest part of the keidai precincts, we found Toyoke’s hokora next to Amateru’s.

Tanba.  Toyoke lived to a ripe age. When he was quite along in years, there was a disturbance in the region we call Kyotango in Kyoto-fu near the Japan Sea. Amateru asked Toyoke-sama to manage the situation from a base in Miyazu. Toyoke-sama transferred from Hitakami to Tanba and all went well and the people prospered. Toyoke-sama taught how to raise the five grains such as rice, wheat, and beans, and also how to raise silkworms for weaving.

When Toyoke-sama felt his lifeforce dwindling, he called for a tomb to be dug in the mountain of Kujigatake. He would prepare for his last breath. When Amateru heard about his grandfather, he rushed to his side. He entered Toyoke’s tomb and received the final teaching. Thus Amateru was initiated into the high level of wisdom. Then Amateru was sent out and the tomb sealed. The people were in such grief that Amateru stayed for a while to comfort them.

Toyoke’s tomb is said to be on Mt. Kujigatake (Kushi-gatake, also called Manai-gatake) where there is a manai spring. At the foot of Kujigatake is a shrine called Hinumanai Jinja. Toyoke Ōkami is the revered deity. The monument shown above mentions Five Grains. It is said that half-way up the mountain is an altar rock for the offering of five grains and other foods.

When Amateru himself came to the end of his life, he had a tomb built nearby. Amateru’s trusted friend, Sarutahiko, was the last to see Amateru in his tomb.

Futomani.  Toyoke-sama is the author of the Futomani Motoake chart which was employed as an aid for teaching cosmology and as a guide for decision-making. Amateru complemented the Futomani by selecting its 128 waka. We wouldn’t be surprised if Toyoke-sama also organized the Wosite syllabary into the neat, logical system that it is.


Motoake chart from Julian-Way

The son of Toyoke-sama also attended the lessons with Amateru, and he became the sixth Takamimusubi.

ukesuteme     ne no kuni ni kite     tamakine ni …

Ukesuteme came to Ne no kuni to see Tamakine …   from Hotsuma Tsutae Aya 15

Another Kunisatsuchi, Ta’s brother, Ka-no-Kunisatsuchi, had gone to China, and he had a descendant named Ukesuteme. Ukesuteme came to Hitakami to study with Toyoke accompanied by the sister of Isanagi from the land of Ne. Shirayama-hime (Kokori-hime) and Ukesuteme both excelled in acquiring the wisdom of To.

ukesuteme korohin kimi to      tinami ai

After Ukesuteme returned to the Korohin mountains and married the ruler of Akagata, they had a son. Consequently, admired for her wisdom as for her nurturing, she became known as Nishi no Haha, Mother of the West. In China, the Mother of the West has the name Xi Wangmu. She is one of the Seven Immortals. In Taoist paintings she holds the Peach of Immortality in her hand. In the Wosite literature, it is written that she received peach branches from Toyoke-sama to plant in Korohin.

Alternate identities.  Another name for the kami of food is Ukanomitama. And Toyouke’s most popular identity is Inari, the kami of the rice fields. The Inari shrines are the most plentiful in Japan, grounded in folk religion. Inari devotees may not realize the connection with the sage of Hitakami.

Toyouke at Ise and Moto-Ise Shrines:  Probably due to Toyouke’s reknown as provider of Five Grains and foodstuffs, his name has morphed into the female Toyouke-hime no kami at the Geku Outer Shrine of Ise Jingu. And yet, the chigi of the honden is cut vertically in male sotosogi fashion! As it is at the Moto-Ise shrines Hinumanai Jinja and Manai Jinja Okumiya of Kono Jinja (below).


Remembering Toyoke-sama

Let us remember Toyoke-sama who served the people of Hinomoto during their critical developmental period. Toyoke-sama, the great sage, set society’s tone of compassion based on a deep connection with Universe.  And, in remembering Tamakine Toyoke-sama, we do not forget our own tama nature.


Sasaki (Sake) Jinja

The Wosite story behind Sasaki Jinja relates it to the first sake and the kami Sukunami,


There is a shrine called 沙沙貴神社(ささきじんじゃ)Sasaki Jinja in Azuchi city, Shiga-ken. The current Sasaki Shrine faces a mountain. In olden times a shrine was on the mountain called Inokuti-yama. Its honor name was Sasake-yama, Splendid Mountain. Both names Inokuti and Sasake are found in the poem. Later, Sasake-yama changed to Sasaki-yama. Now it is called Kinugasa-yama.

In other words, the name of the mountain changed from Inokuti-yama (猪口山) to Sasake-yama to Sasaki-yama (沙沙貴山 or 佐々木山) to finally today’s Kinugasa-yama (繖山). [There are different ways of writing Sasaki in kanji characters, because after all it is a very ancient Woshite word from pre-kanji times.]

The enshrined kami of Sasaki Jinja is said to be Sukuna-hikona, a later historical personage and no doubt a distortion of the name Sukunami. 

307px-基礎自治体位置図_25381.svgHere is a map of Shiga which surrounds Biwako. The map shows the location of Azuchi (the small orange area) in Shiga (large pink area). The entrance of the current Sasaki Jinja looks northeastward to Inokuti-yama, now Kinugasa-yama. Probably the summer solstice sun would rise over Kinugasa-yama, as seen from the entrance.

The Sasaki clan seems to be the benefactor of this shrine, since their kamon family crest is displayed throughout the grounds. Do you suppose they know the origin of their family name?

Updated 2017.01.02


Rokkosan:  Mukoyama and Mukatsuhime


The modern city of Kobe lies between the Rokkosan 六甲山 mountains and the sea. In a previous post, we wrote about the megaliths of Rokkosan. These mountains are the locale of a fascinating story with both historical and linguistic interest.

Hotsuma History.  During the times of Amateru Amakami in the Hotsuma Tsutae document, the mountains were known as Mukoyama, and the peak as Mukatsu-mine. The land of Muko was the domain of the Kanasaki family. When Isanami and Isanagi were unable to keep their first-born daughter Hiruko, they sent her to Kanasaki for fostering. There, Hiruko was lovingly raised and taught the art of waka poetry. Hiruko became so skilled with the kototama word power of waka that she became known as Wakahime. The area of Muko is called Hirota, perhaps because of her fostering. For his kindness, Kanasaki is known as Sumiyoshi Kami.

Wakahime was the elder sister…

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Iwaya Jinja 岩屋神社, Kyoto

岩屋神社(いわやじんじゃ),  京都府京都市山科区.

Hand-drawn ema

Iwaya Jinja is in Yamashina Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture.

Torii Iwaya


Yamashina Ward is in southeast Kyoto. On the ema of Iwaya Jinja is written ” ichinomiya of Yamashina.” This very old shrine was originally a sacred place on the mountain with two megaliths. This explains its name (iwa, boulders; iwaya, “house” of boulders). They are called ingan and yogan, female and male rocks where kami descend. You can see photos of them at the official site of the shrine, link given below. The 奥之院 oku-no-in is only 2 km from the main honden which is on a street off the old post road to Edo. But the path to oku-no-in is so rocky and difficult that we were dissuaded from taking it. If you wish to try it, go off grounds through the red torii in the back.

Path to Okunoin

The front torii of Iwaya Jinja faces south. The three main kami are Ameno-Oshihomimi-no-mikoto, his wife Takahatachi-hime-no-mikoto, and their son Nigihayahi-no-mikoto. Note, Oshihomimi was the son and heir of the 8th Amakami Amateru.

There are seven shrines on the precincts. Among them, the Daijingu honors Amateru Okami and his grandfather Toyouke Okami.

Toyouke sha

Also in Yamashina Ward is Himukai Jinja, 日向神社(現日向大神宮, currently named Himukai-daijingu Shrine). This shrine, too, is very old and it enshrines Toyouke and Amateru.

Iwaya Jinja Ema


Shirahige Jinja, Omi

Torii in Biwako

An earlier post gave the lineage of the family called Sirahige. This post is about a visit to Shirahige Jinja in Omi. Remember how Yamato began in Awa-no-kuni, around Lake Biwa in Omi-no-kuni.

Shirahige Jinja (白鬚神社) is in Takashima, Shiga-ken, located on the western shore of Lake Biwa. It is separated from the lake by a busy highway. Its first torii stands 58 m offshore at a height of 10 m. From the second torii of the jinja, the sun will rise through the torii on the lake on equinox days, for the shrine faces east, as most old shrines do.

This old shrine was established by Yamato-hime, daughter of Suinin Tenno in the 25th year of his reign. The enshrined kami are Sarutahiko Okami and Shirahige Myojin. Sarutahiko is best known as the kami of the land who guided Ninigi, grandson of Amateru, in the tenson-korin tale. He is called the kami who opens the way.

Torii and haidenShirahige Myojin is an old man with a white beard, and he represents longevity. From our Woshite studies, we consider Sarutahiko and Shirahige (Sirahige) to be one. Recall our earlier post describing the great healing abilities of Sarutahiko and how he was the only one that Amateru met with just before his passing.

The haiden is unpainted wood that gives it a rustic feeling.


There are eleven sha on the premises. On the yama beyond the red torii is the Toyouke Daijingu (last photo). It enshrines Toyouke Okami, grandfather of Amateru and great-grandfather of Oshihomimi.

Sha on yama

Toyouke Daijingu

The sha-mon is the mitsu-domoe.

Shirahige Jinja Omamori