Category Archives: Jinja

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