Friday, January 30, 2009

Otoshi Shrine, Hamada

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The Otoshi Shrine in Hamada is built on a small rise overlooking the harbor. The shrine looks abandoned, but the usual stack of rakes and shovels used to keep the grounds clean can be found at the side of the main building, and a friend tells me he has been here to watch kagura in the kagura-den. Otoshi is one of Susano's sons, and is primarily associated with rice growing.

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There is a secondary shrine to Inari, a very small Ebisu shrine, and a Sumiyoshi Shrine within the grounds. Behind the shrine is a small Benten shrine. The head Sumiyoshi Shrine is in Osaka and is associated with safety on sea journeys. Hamada was the provincial capital of Iwami, and as most travel in ancient Japan was by sea I suspect this was where officials from Yamato would arrive.

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The shrine was built on the site of a much older shrine. In the 8th Century an Awashima Shrine was built here. Now a small Awashima shrine is located in the temple next door. Awashima shrine is in Mie, near Ise, and is associated with fishing and specifically pearl-diving.

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The 2 Zuijin (shrine guardians) located inside the Sumiyoshi shrine indicate that it was a more important shrine in times gone by.

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Just below the shrine is a monument to and the grave of Ohatsu no Kagamiyama, a local woman who is the main character in a well known Kabuki play, Kagamiyama. The story was written for Bunraku puppetry first and then later transferred to Kabuki, and concerns 2 of the most popular themes in Japanese stories, suicide, and revenge.

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The area around the shrine is great for wandering and is composed mainly of alleys and very narrow streets, with a lot of funky old buildings and interesting small temples.

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