Sunday, May 3, 2009
Isonokami Shrine is located in the hills east of Tenri, Nara Prefecture. In the early days of the Yamato State it was a center of power as at least 2 emperors lived in the vicinity, and 2 princes hid here during the succession disputes that occurred after every death of an Emperor.
It was the treasure house of the Mononobe clan, one of the king-making powerful families, along with the Soga, Nakatomi, etc, whose support determined which prince became Emperor. Often described as Armorers or Imperial Guards, the Mononobe looked after ritual/political "treasures", many of which were swords.
The main kami of the shrine is Futsunomitama, a divine sword used by the mythical first emperor Jimmu. Another sword, the Shichishito, in the shrines treasury was made in 369 by the King of Paekche and given to the Yamato. Legend has it that the sword used by Susano to slay Orochi is also stored here. Amenohiboko, according to the ancient Yamato myths was a prince from Korea who settled in Japan. He brought with him ten "treasures" that are also thought to be stored at isonokami.
There is a secondary shrine to Izumo Takeo here that unusually for a secondary shrine is on higher ground than the main shrine leading some historians to suggest that maybe the Izumo shrine was here first.