Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sanku Shrine, Hamada

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As the name suggests, Sanku shrine is actually 3 different shrines grouped together. Located on Rte 186 on the way out of Hamada, the shrine with the biggest honden is actually the least used.

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It's the first shrine I've come across that enshrines Tajikarao, the "strong man" kami who pulled Amaterasu out of the cave. He is also one of the kami that descended from "the high plain of heaven" with Ninigi. His head shrine is up in Nagano at Togakushi Mountain, which legend has is the rock door that hid Amaterasu.

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Right next to the main shrine is Ashio Shrine, and it is used a lot, so much so that it had a new shrine building built last year.

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Ashio shrine is where you go to pray if you have any foot or leg problems, which is why so many pairs of straw sandals are left as offerings.

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The kami of Ashio shrine is Sarutahiko who was a giant of a man with a huge red nose, often depicted looking like a tengu. He was an "earthly" kami who met the Imperial party descending from heaven and guided them. He ended up marrying uzume.

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I've never come across Sarutahiko being connected with foot healing before, so its probably a local thing. Actually, none of the local people I asked knew the kami's name was Sarutahiko, a not uncommon phenomenon.

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The third shrine is on the other side of the river and the tunnel of vermillion torii mark it as an Inari shrine. At first I thought it was a private shrine as to get to it you have to walk through a lumbermill and also it is not marked on the map. Companies will often build a company shrine to Inari.

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As I drove by a couple of days ago I noticed that all the trees lining the path up to the shrine were sakura in full bloom.

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