Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sugio Hachimangu, Ichiki.

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The village of Ichiki lies on the upper reaches of the Yato River at the base of a mountain that has a small ski resort on it. The Hachiman shrine lies in the centre of the village.
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There are a lot of smaller, secondary shrines within the grounds of the main shrine. There is a shrine to Konpira, a very popular kami that originally came from India, a Kannayago Shrine, the kami of metal-workers, the ever popular Inari, the god of harvests (and geisha!), and an Omoto Shrine, the local land-kami. Every 6 years Omoto Kagura is performed here.

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100 years ago most, if not all, of these secondary shrines would have been scattered about in small local communities. That was the essence of the traditional religion, local, mostly nature-based gods. The government began a program that closed half of the shrines in the country. They didn't close any Hachiman shrines, as the God of War was an important national kami, and that was the point. The small local shrines were all moved into a central "national" shrine, where national rituals and national kami would become the focus of peoples attention.

On my walks around the backcountry of Japan I have been pleasantly surprised to see a few local shrines being re-established.

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