Category Archives: kami

Naka-kuni of Wosite was in Omi (Lake Biwa)

Lake Biwa of Ōmi and six Wosite shrines

Lake Biwa

If you have visited Shiga prefecture surrounding Lake Biwa, you may have heard its old name, Ōmi. What is Ōmi? Ōmi may be spelled out as Oumi, O-umi, where O is great and umi is body of water. In Wosite times it was called Awa-umi. The body of water is Biwako, Lake Biwa, but that is its modern name from the Edo period. The earliest civilization was centered at Ōmi. In fact, the area was called Naka-kuni, the center of the land. This is where Isanami and Isanagi made their home.

Lake Biwa is the largest lake in Japan. It clearly shows on maps of Japan. It is also one of the most ancient lakes in the world, 4.5 million years old. However, its maximum depth is only 104 m, so it is far from being one of the world’s deepest lakes. For comparison, Lake Baikal in southern Russia is the world’s deepest lake, 1,642 m. The deepest lake in the United States is Crater Lake in southern Oregon. Its depth is 594 m.

While hundreds of small rivers flow into Lake Biwa, there is only one outflow, the Seta river. The Seto river leads to the Uji River, then the Katsura and the Kizu. Further downstream is the Yodo River which exits into Osaka Bay.

Human beings have lived around Lake Biwa for more than 20,000 years, as archaeological evidence demonstrates.

Ashihara no Nakatsukuni

Ashihara no Nakatsukuni is a puzzling name for the land of Japan in the myths of the 8th century Kojiki document. Here is the Wosite explanation for this name. Nakatsukuni is another way of saying Naka-kuni. Ashihara means field of reeds, because the low-lying area around Lake Biwa was marshy and covered with reeds. Why was attention called to the reed fields? Wosite people were proud to have reclaimed the marshy land by draining excess water and planting rice fields. It may seem amazing that there was such engineering ability in those days.

Lake Biwa, Center of Wosite Civilization

The people of Wosite settled in the environs of Lake Biwa. When Isanami and Isanagi made it their center of unification, they called it Naka-kuni, the Center of the Land. And where, in Naka-kuni was the actual center? It may have been in the district of Takashima, now Takashima City of Shiga Prefecture.

Takashima City, Adogawa Town

Takashima City, on the left bank of Biwako, is made up of several towns including Takashima Town and Adogawa Town. If you have read our previous post on Kusuhiko’s forest, you will have seen that the forest is located in Adogawa, and a map of Takashima is shown. This location is marked by the red arrow in upper left of mep.

The discovery of the Hotuma Tutaye document was traced to this area. Mr. Yoshinosuke Matsumoto found a manuscript, of three chapters written in Wosite characters, which was entitled, Hotuma Tutaye, Sacred Treasure of the Mio Shrine, Sanjo Village, Takashima County, Province of Ōmi. The shrine and the village no longer exist. But Mr. Matsumoto eventually located all forty chapters of the Hotuma Tutaye at Hiyoshi Taisha.

Wosite Shrines

The arrows in the above map of Ōmi point to six important Wosite shrines. They are, counter clockwise from upper left:

Yorogi Jinja, in Adogawa, Kusuhiko’s forest

Shirahige Jinja, in Takashima, with torii in Lake Biwa, Sarutahiko Sirahige

Hiyoshi Taisha, where all 40 ayas of Hotsuma Tutaye in Waniko Yasutoshi’s hand were stored

Sakunado Jinja, in Otsu, Seoritsuhime’s main shrine

Sasaki Jinja, in Ōmi Hachiman, Sakunami Kami of sake-making

Taga Taisha, in Taga, Isanagi Taga no Kami, Toyoke, and Amateru

In Summary, people have lived around Lake Biwa since ancient times. The Wosite civilization took root in Ōmi, and Isanami and Isanagi made Takashima their center of activity. There are many places associated with Wosite kami which are now Shinto shrines. The first Wosite document discovered by Y. Matsumoto, the Hotuma Tutaye, had once been kept in a shrine in Takashima.

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Kusihiko’s 10,000 Trees

Yorogi Jinja in what remains of Kusihiko’s forest of 10,000 trees

Kusihiko was the son of Ohonamuchi, and he convinced his father to cede the land of Izumo to Amateru, bringing peace and stability to the Wosite World which was centered in Omi (present-day Shiga-ken). For this, Kusihiko is associated with Suwa Taisha in Nagano. Kusihiko played an important role in Amateru’s government. We will have more to tell about Kusihiko’s accomplishments. Here, we give the back-story of Kusihiko’s healing forest, Yorogi-no-mori.

This story about Kusihiko is told in Aya 10 of the Hotuma Tutaye Wosite document:

Now the Takamimusubi commanded Ohonamuchi’s son Kushihiko, saying: “Kushihiko, the Mononushi. If you wed a woman from your own land, your status will fall. You should take my daughter Mihotsuhime, command the 80 myriad nobles and serve as protector of the heavenly grandchild Ninikine.” Thereupon, Kushihiko was granted land at Yorogi in Awaumi (now the Yorogi Shrine in Takashima County, Shiga Prefecture), where he pioneered the cultivation of medicinal herbs. Kushihiko planted a herb garden here, growing thousands of plants and myriad trees (yoro-ki, origin of the place names Yorogi no Mori and Nishi-Yurugi in Takashima County). He crushed and tasted each herb, studied its medicinal effect, and gave them all new names.
For generations, people would come to this Yorogi Palace to be cured of illness. Even birds and animals received treatment here, and the foundations were laid for medicine as practised in ancient Japan.

http://www.hotsuma.gr.jp/aya/aya10-e.html

The area around Yorogi Jinja was once a vast forest, Kusihiko’s forest. Now only portions remain. Okunomichi has visited Kusihiko’s Yorogi no Miya. You can read about it here. The enshrined kami at Yorogi Jinja is Kusihiko’s son Mihohiko Komori, also known as Mikumari (a misnomer for Mi-Komori).

Even though Yorogi no miya today is small and surrounded by rice fields, it retains an aura of quiet dignity reminiscent of Kusihiko’s healing plants and trees.

Approach to Yorogi Jinja through Kusihiko’s forest

Where is Kusihiko’s forest? Below is a map of Takashima City and Adogawa Machi Town. The blue area on the right is labeled Biwako, Lake Biwa. Encircled is the Adogawa Eki train station. The smaller oval indicates Yorogi, the location of the Yorogi Jinja and the remaining forest.

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Achihiko Omoikane, the First Hiyomi-no-miya

Togakushi Jinja Chu-sha

Togakushi Jinja

Achihiko Omoikane is enshrined as Omoikane at the Chu-sha of the famed Togakushi Jinja in Nagano-ken. Togakushi Jinja commemorates the myth of the Amanoiwato cave which was opened by Tajikarao. Omoikane is described as the kami who organized the kagura dance by Amanouzume. Tajikarao, Omoikane’s first son, is enshrined at the Oku-sha of Togakushi. And the second son, Uwaharu, is enshrined at Hoko-sha of Togakushi.

Achihiko Omoikane

Achihiko was a man of great achievement, as recorded in the Wosite documents. He held the post of Hidari-no-tomi for Amateru, and he managed the construction of Amateru’s Isawa no Miya home in Ise.

Achihiko was a great-grandson of Toyoke Kami, the wise fifth Takamimusubi. Achihiko married Hiruko Wakahime, Toyoke’s granddaughter and Amateru’s sister, at which time he acquired his alternate name, Omoikane. We wrote about Wakahime earlier in these pages.

Achihiko Omoikane’s genealogy is shown in this chart from Gejirin. At left is Toyoke (トヨケ), followed by his daughter Isanami (イサナミ), mother of Hiruko (ヒルコ) Wakahime. On the bottom line of the chart we see Yasokine (ヤソキネ), Takakine (タカキネ), and Omoikane (オモヒカネ Omohikane).

Hiruko and Omoikane marry, and the first two children are Tajikarao (タチカラヲ Tatikarawo) and Uwaharu (ウワハル).

Achi Jinja and Mt Ena

Mt Ena

Achihiko is the Achi kami for which a town in Nagano-ken is named. There is a shrine called Achi Jinja, due east of Mt Ena. Wosite documents consider this to be Achihiko Omoikane’s final resting place. Achi Jinja not only spun-off its kami to Togakushi, it may have been the original Togakushi Jinja.

The peak of Mt Ena is known in Wosite literature as the site of sacred storage of Amateru’s ena placenta. The Ena Jinja is due west of Mt Ena, on the Gifu-ken side of the mountain.

Omoikane and the Calendar

May 22, 2019 at Kanayama Megaliths

During the time of Amateru, the 8th Amakami, a more precise solar calendar was sought; such a calendar was created by Omoikane. Omoikane made the lunar calendar into a solar calendar by introducing a leap-month. He was given the title of Hiyomi-no-miya, the one who knows the solar calendar. The next to hold the position was Amefutaye Murakumo, and the third was Omoikane’s son Tatikarawo.

Hotuma Tutaye 24-8

Omoikane     koyomi tukurite 
koko ni ari   Noti Murakumo ni
yuzuri oku.   ...
Tatikarawo   woya no atotote
koko ni ari

According to Wosite, the Takamimusubi of Hitakami (now Tohoku area) were responsible for maintaining a calendar. We note that Achihiko Omoikane is great-grandson of the fifth Takamimusubi Toyoke.

A solar calendar from Wosite times still operates in the mountains of Hida Kanayama. Constructed of megaliths, this sun-tracking station determines a super-accurate solar calendar. See posts, for example, https://iwakage.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/kanayama-megalithic-solar-calendar/.

Kanayama Solar Calendar

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Mt Ena and Ena Jinja

Mt Ena stands between Gifu and Nagano prefectures

Mt Ena and Ena Jinja on Iwakage blogsite

An article of interest to readers of WoshiteWorld has been posted at: https://iwakage.wordpress.com/2019/06/11/ena-jinja/.

Here are some excerpts from that post.

Mt Ena 恵那山(えなさん)2,191 m

Mt Ena is a very sacred mountain from ancient Wosite times. The region around Mt Ena contains some important sites in the story of Amateru Amakami. Isanami gave birth to Amateru at the place now known as Chiarai Jinja (lower left side of the map). Chiarai, chi-arai, refers to washing the blood of Amateru’s birth. His placenta (ena) was buried at the top of Mt Ena for safekeeping and for his protection in life. There is a shrine at the peak of Mt Ena, and another at a lower elevation directly to the west. 

Area around Mt Ena, from Chiarai Jinja and Ena Jinja in west to Achi Jinja in east

Looking far to the east, we see Achi Shrine Okumiya. This is the burial place of Achihiko Omoikane, Amateru’s brother-in-law and Hiyominomiya, master of the solar calendar. In this region between Mt Ena and Mt Kasagi to its west, many megaliths can be found. There is a distinct possibility that these megaliths form a system for the determination of a solar calendar from Jomon times roughly 5,000 years ago. Maruyama Jinja in the upper left of this map is one possible solar site. 

Ena Jinja 恵那神社

Ena Jinja is an ancient shrine whose establishment is unknown. It occupies two sites, the Okumiya being at the top of Mt Ena. The more accessible maemiya shrine is in the foothills due west of Mt Ena. A drive up from the valley, alongside tumbling streams, takes us to the parking lot of the shrine where there’s more water gushing out of the slope.

View from Ena Jinja toward setting sun of winter solstice

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